Michael Skelley

Call: 1991

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    • Michael is extremely intelligent and an incredibly deep-thinker. He is very client-friendly and always one or several steps ahead of the prosecution. In advocacy, he is persuasive by being quietly, sensibly, persuasive.

      Legal 500 (2024)
    • The meticulous attention to detail and conscientious preparation mean that Michael is nearly always the best informed person in the courtroom.

      Legal 500 (2023)
    • Michael is extremely thorough in his preparation of cases, engages very well with clients and a very able advocate.

      Legal 500 (2022)
    • Fantastic knowledge of the law. Early and enthusiastic engagement with solicitors. Strategic, smart, frank, and thorough. Tactics that always make sense. Good with clients, and respected by Judges and Prosecutors.

      Legal 500 (2021)
    Michael Skelley

    Personal profile

    Michael Skelley has established a reputation as an accomplished jury advocate defending a broad spectrum of Crime work.

    Michael brings commitment and careful analysis to all of his cases, seeking to develop the right tactical approach. His aim is always to bring a case to life for the jury, identifying the features which are most likely to lead to an acquittal.

    He believes in establishing a rapport with his client, and a bond of professional trust with his instructing solicitors. He also tries to bring sensitivity and support to the families of his clients. He offers a track record of hard work, meticulous preparation, perceptive analysis and high quality, thoughtful advocacy.

    Over recent years Michael has increasingly been asked to represent clients on a private basis. Michael is ranked in the Legal 500 (2019) Seriously good: a conscientious, diligent, measured and persuasive advocate.


    Michael is extremely intelligent and an incredibly deep-thinker. He is very client-friendly and always one or several steps ahead of the prosecution. In advocacy, he is persuasive by being quietly, sensibly, persuasive.

    ― Legal 500 (2024)

    "The meticulous attention to detail and conscientious preparation mean that Michael is nearly always the best informed person in the courtroom."

    ― Legal 500 (2023)

    "Michael is extremely thorough in his preparation of cases, engages very well with clients and a very able advocate."

    ― Legal 500 (2022)

    “Fantastic knowledge of the law. Early and enthusiastic engagement with solicitors. Strategic, smart, frank, and thorough. Tactics that always make sense. Good with clients, and respected by Judges and Prosecutors.”

    ― Legal 500 (2021)

    “His precise and effective questioning helps enormously.”

    ― Legal 500 (2020)


    Michael’s relish for detail and his desire to distil complex evidence into a jury-friendly form have under-pinned his success in defending fraud trials. He has regularly been instructed as a leading junior and led junior, and has been involved in larger scale cases (including VHCC work).

    Featured Cases

    • R v PY (2018) – Appeared as a leading junior defending PY, who was charged with eleven counts of fraud (involving multiple fraudulent claims for benefit) and identity theft (relating to obtaining false UK passports). During the nine week trial, the client was said to have established several false identities and to have obtained more than £750,000 in benefit over the course of a decade.
    • R v PR (2016) – Defending a single mother in a large-scale conspiracy to facilitate unlawful immigration, involving a web of sham companies and complex financial transactions designed to manipulate the immigration system in favour of applicants.
    • R v MS (2014) – Successfully defended an accountant in a three-week mortgage fraud.
    • R v BR (2013) – Represented an alleged key member of a multi-million pound ‘boiler room’ scam run from Spain, involving the telephone sales of different types of advance fee fraud, including escort agency and debt management businesses. Acquitted of two charges of conspiracy to defraud after an 11-week trial.
    • R v RG (2011) – A series of conspiracy to defraud and false accounting charges, arising from a 5-year investigation into Vintage Hallmark PLC by the SFO. The allegations related to an investment programme in Scotch whisky and other alcohol products which brought in nearly £30m. RG was one of the three original partners of the business and became a Director of the PLC and was acquitted of counts of false accounting. The SFO decided not to seek a re-trial, and RG was acquitted of all remaining counts.

    Murder & Manslaughter

    Michael’s dedicated approach to his cases, and his passionate belief in representing his clients to the highest standard, has led to him being instructed to defend in several murder and manslaughter trials during recent years.

    Featured Cases

    • R v. HS (2021) Michael (together with Michelle Nelson QC) represented a youth charged with murder in what was alleged to be a revenge attack against the deceased. The homicide took place in the context of an attack on a van with a machete and a baseball bat. Issues of joint enterprise and unlawful act manslaughter. His client was acquitted of murder and section 18 GBH with intent; convicted of the lesser alternative of manslaughter.
    • R v CD (2016) – Junior counsel for a successful entrepreneur charged with conspiracy to murder by hiring a gang of contract killers to execute his daughter’s former partner. The trial involved a complex circumstantial case developed from mobile phone data, cell-site analysis and ANPR records.
    • R v RE (2013) – Acted on behalf of a property developer charged with murdering his wife. The Crown’s case relied on circumstantial evidence, as the Defendant’s wife had gone missing in 2006, and the police had found no trace of her since then. [Press report]
    • R v HN (2012) Defending a youth charged with murder arising from a dispute at a party between two groups of young men, and the alleged use of multiple knives taken to the scene. Issues of joint enterprise, the admissibility of “gang related” material, telephone traffic/cell-site and witness anonymity orders arose during the 10 week trial at the Central Criminal Court.
    • R v EM (2012) – Represented an 84-year-old defendant charged with the murder of his nephew who appeared to have been mistaken for a burglar by the defendant while suffering from an episode of delirium. Advised on the instruction of a series of expert medical reports, dealing with dementia and the effect of urinary tract infections on the elderly. The prosecution accepted a guilty plea to manslaughter on the basis of diminished responsibility: the court imposed a suspended sentence.

    Serious Violence

    Michael Skelley has acted in a wide variety of criminal defence work, including Terrorism, Serious Violence, Drugs Offences, and conspiracy cases.

    Featured Cases

    • R v. MC (2021) – Michael represented a defendant charged with terrorism offences arising from an alleged plot to blow up a police station with a hand grenade. The defendant had agreed to purchase a grenade from an undercover police officer. Numerous terrorist ‘manuals’ were recovered from his mobile phone. MC claimed that he wanted to emulate James Bond and was living a fantasy life.
    • R v. GP (2020) – Michael appeared on behalf of the alleged principal conspirator overseeing a professional gang of burglars who targeted high value warehouse premises using ‘Mission Impossible’ style techniques of unlawful entry, together with a conspiracy to launder the proceeds outside the UK.
    • R v SG (2018) – Successfully represented an 18-year-old defendant charged with wounding with intent. His client had become involved in a knife fight on a London Underground train, after he was stabbed by the first defendant in an unprovoked attack. His brother and cousins came to his aid and were charged with violent disorder. The three week trial involved a cut-throat defence with the first defendant and resulted in an acquittal.
    • R v LD (2018) – Successfully defended a client facing allegations of conspiracy to rob and robbery arising from the alleged use of sprayed ammonia and a firearm, targeting vehicle passengers and a Mercedes car. Part of the incident was captured on CCTV. This client was acquitted after a two week trial.
    • R v RM (2015) – Successfully represented a Registered Nurse charged with neglecting a patient after she took her own life following admission to a Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit. The defence advanced in the 3-week trial was that the death had been caused by a series of institutional failures at the privately run hospital, rather than the nurse’s neglect.
    • R v PV (2012) – Successfully represented a Defendant in a 6 week trial of a joint enterprise section 18 offence of causing GBH with intent, in which the alleged victim was left with permanent brain damage. There were substantial disputes with eye-witness evidence, and a number of legal arguments arising from CCTV footage.
    • R v KG (2011) – As sole counsel successfully represented Stonebridge rapper ‘K Koke’, charged with attempted murder by shooting the victim in the back with a sawn-off shotgun. KG denied any involvement in the shooting from the outset. The identification evidence was attacked and a successful submission of no case to answer was made.

    Human Trafficking

    Michael has appeared in a number of cases featuring unlawful immigration and reliance on the Modern Slavery Act 2015 defence.

    Featured Cases

    • R v AS (2017) Successfully represented a taxi driver charged with assisting unlawful immigration by transporting migrants. The jury in the original trial could not reach a verdict and his client was acquitted after a two week retrial at Wood Green Crown Court.
    • R v TB (2013) – Appeared on behalf of a defendant facing allegations of conspiracy to facilitate the illegal entry of non-UK citizens, by means of smuggling migrants through Dover.

    Sexual Offences

    Defending those accused of Sexual Offences is one of Michael Skelley’s areas of specialism. He has frequently been instructed in respect of allegations of rape and many other offences, including historic sexual allegations.

    Featured Cases

    • R v. WP (2021) – Successful defence of a client facing charges of historic sexual abuse against his step-daughter and her friend.
    • R v T (2017) – Successfully represented the housemaster of a boys’ boarding school facing multiple historic indecent assault allegations. There were four individual complainants, but the difficulty of the case was enhanced by the fact that one of them had made a complaint to the police in the 1980’s, when no further action had been taken. The three-week trial resulted in acquittals on all counts.
    • R v AP (2015) – Historic sexual allegations made by three members of the client’s family. An unusual aspect of this case was that two of the young girls had made allegations to their parents at the time, but the family had effectively decided to withhold the complaints from the police.
    • R v JA (2013) – Represented one of the Defendants who admitted offences of sexual abuse against pupils during the 1980’s at Caldicott Preparatory School.
    • R v CN (2013) – Successful defence of allegations of the attempted rape of his 12 year old daughter.
    • R v WD (2010) – Represented one of three family members facing historic allegations of systematic rape and child abuse during the 1970s; acquitted after a two week trial.

    Military Law

    Michael Skelley has appeared before the Court Martial, representing service personnel charged with fraud, sexual assault and violence.

    Featured Cases

    • R v B (2008) – Client was an RAF officer charged with fraud and theft in the course of his duty and as Treasurer of the Officers’ Mess.

    Road Traffic Offences

    Michael has regularly appeared on behalf of clients facing road traffic allegations. More recently, he has appeared in cases alleging causing death by dangerous driving.

    Featured Cases

    • R v CB (2022) – Successful defence of a young man charged with causing death by dangerous driving after a two week trial.
    • R v MF (2015) – Successfully represented an elderly lady charged with causing death by careless driving when her car had crossed the central reservation. The issue was whether this had been a deliberate evasive manoeuvre or a lapse of concentration.
    • R v RB (2010) – Defended a farmer charged with manslaughter and causing death by dangerous driving – following an incident when a wheel detached from his agricultural trailer, killing an 86-year-old pedestrian. His client was acquitted by the jury.


    Michael Skelley has advised on and appeared in numerous appeals to the Court of Appeal, Criminal Division. These have included successful appeals against both conviction and sentence.

    Featured Cases

    • R v Parviz Yousefi [2020] EWCA Crim 791 – As leading junior, successfully appealed the conviction of PY following his convictions after a 9 week trial at Isleworth Crown Court. The client had faced counts of fraud and obtaining false passports so as to facilitate a £750,000 fraud. The Court of Appeal quashed his convictions due to serious flaws in the trial judge’s summing up.
    • R v Bradley Rogers [2014] 2 Cr. App. R. 32 – Leading junior in a case testing the jurisdiction of the Crown Court to try allegations of money laundering committed outside the United Kingdom.
    • R v Akinyeme (Remi) [2008] RTR 20 – Successful appeal against a sentence of Imprisonment for Public Protection following conviction for causing death by dangerous driving. The client, who had been diagnosed with epilepsy and was not taking his recommended medication, had suffered a fit whilst driving and killed a cyclist.


    • University of Oxford, Trinity College – MA Jurisprudence


    • CBA

    Other expertise