Michelle Nelson QC

Call: 1994 | Silk: 2019

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  • A top-class silk who sees the bigger picture and the fine detail, and has complete, calm command of both. Excellent drafting skills and highly persuasive in their written submissions. Hard working, proactive and pragmatic.

    Legal 500 (2021)
  • Skilful in court, and consistently able to outmanoeuvre the opposition tactically.

    Chambers UK (2021)
  • Personal profile

    Michelle Nelson defends and prosecutes across the criminal spectrum. She has a strong background in prosecuting and has prosecuted in some of the most serious, difficult and high profile Crime cases.

    As Treasury Counsel she has been involved in the prosecution of a large number of high profile murder and manslaughter cases. She has also prosecuted fraud and large scale money laundering on behalf of the SFO, RCPO and DBIURR.

    Her defence work includes general crime, fraud and murder. Her work includes dealing with restraint and confiscation and she has worked at the Asset Forfeiture Unit of the RCPO advising on and pursuing restraint and forfeiture. She has advised on and represented the Attorney General in the Court of Appeal on unduly lenient sentence appeals.

    Other work includes advising appellants in Privy Council appeals. Michelle appeared as prosecution junior, led by Max Hill QC, in Channel 4’s The Trial (2017) in which real juries, together with actual barristers and judges, tried a fictional murder case in order to explore the workings of the jury system. She has also appeared as a panellist on Radio 4’s Unreliable Evidence on Sentencing (2017) alongside Treacy LJ, the Attorney-General and the Legal Director of the Howard League.


    A top-class silk who sees the bigger picture and the fine detail, and has complete, calm command of both. Excellent drafting skills and highly persuasive in their written submissions. Hard working, proactive and pragmatic.

    ― Legal 500 (2021)

    Skilful in court, and consistently able to outmanoeuvre the opposition tactically.

    ― Chambers UK (2021)

    In cross-examination, she is insightful and tenacious.

    ― Legal 500 (2020)

    She is a very skilled advocate and very approachable.

    ― Chambers UK (2020)

    An exceptionally gifted and hard-working barrister who is ‘frighteningly good’.

    ― Chambers UK (2018)

    Michelle is an extremely hard worker who misses absolutely nothing in terms of her preparation.

    ― Chambers UK (2018)

    Her capacity for hard work is exceptional and she has great tactical awareness.

    ― Legal 500 (2017)

    Murder & Manslaughter

    Michelle has successfully defended and prosecuted a wide range of Murder & Manslaughter cases.

    Featured cases

    • R v M (2016) – Death from carbon monoxide poisoning caused by a blocked flue during building works found to be in breach of Health and Safety regulations.
    • R v Lukelo-Mami & Ors (2016) – Murder and conspiracy to pervert the course of justice. This involved the group stabbing of a victim with a fatal wound to one leg and four other non-contributory wounds. The defence ran self-defence as an argument. The case involved anonymous witnesses, child witnesses and cell confession evidence. [Press Report]
    • R v O and others (2016) – In this murder case it was alleged to be a joint enterprise stabbing, with three defendants in the hallway (where the stabbing occurred) and two others outside, with the door was closed. The case was the first at the Central Criminal Court to give effect to the Supreme Court’s decision in Jogee.
    • R v West (2014–2015) – Instructed as prosecution junior in the murder of an alcoholic father, stabbed by his son. At retrial the defendant pleaded guilty to manslaughter by reason of loss of control. [Press Report]
    • R v J (2014) – Instructed to defend the historic allegation of murder of PC Blakelock, that had taken place 28 years earlier.
    • R v G and others (2012) – Instructed to prosecute the “Stockwell shooting”. This concerned a five-year-old girl left paralysed by a shot which missed the intended victim, who was uninjured. The principle of “transferred malice” was ruled not to apply in an attempted murder charge, and at trial the central issue was proving intent on the part of the three defendants to cause the victim grievous bodily harm where she was not the intended victim.
    • R v B (2012) – Instructed to prosecute a Hungarian national accused of double murder by stabbing his male flatmate twice and a female friend twenty times. The Crown rejected the defendant’s plea to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility: convicted after trial.
    • R v O (2011) – Instructed to prosecute allegations of attempting to kill two police officers by slitting the throat of one and slashing the head of another. A sentence of 25 years was upheld by the Court of Appeal.
    • R v C and R v T (2011) – Instructed to prosecute two murders who set fire to their female partners.
    • R v R (2011) – Instructed to prosecute a single punch murder brought with the leave of the Attorney General, following the death of the victim. The defendant pleaded guilty to s20 inflicting grievous bodily harm, having left victim hospitalised in an almost vegetative state. The issue on appeal was whether an increased sentence that resulted in the defendant returning to prison was correct. The sentence was upheld by the Court of Appeal [2011] 1 Cr App. R (S) 127 CA.
    • R v Miah & Choudhury [2011] Crim L.R 662 CA – This concerned two murders and three attempted murders committed by a 14-year-old defendant with his older (20) cousin, by arson. The case gives guidance on (i) the approach to severance in “cut throat” cases and (ii) sentencing a very young defendant and an adult for murder.
    • R v C (2011) – Death of a teenage girl and injury to her boyfriend, who worked part-time at the venue, from carbon monoxide poisoning caused by breaches of Health and Safety regulations in relation to his employer’s faulty heater. Successfully argued that the regulations applied to the boyfriend as he was entitled to be treated as an employee.
    • R v B (2008) – Instructed to prosecute a murder involving a young female defendant who was subsequently acquitted. The prosecution witnesses were friends of either the victim or the defendant, requiring considered legal advice as to the use of and extent to which the prosecution were obliged or able to rely on them.

    See our Murder & Manslaughter team.


    Michelle has successfully defended and prosecuted these cases.

    Featured cases

    R v Alamgir &Ors (2016) – Instructed to prosecute this case concerning encouraging support for ISIS, a proscribed organisation, by giving speeches in private gatherings. It involved legal issues on the parameters of law and EHCR Articles 9 and 10 as well as the admissibility of mind-set material. Undercover officer evidence was also relied on. The defendant ran a defence based on their relationship with the Security Services before and during the time of the alleged offending. [Press Report]

    R v Tareena Shakil (2015) – The first prosecution of a female for taking a child and going to live in Syria under Terrorism Act 2006. [ Press Report]

    See our Terrorism team.

    Serious Violence

    Michelle has successfully prosecuted these cases.

    Featured cases

    • R v M & Ors (2017) – Multi-handed prosecution relating to sale of reactivated military firearms and the production of ammunition.

    See our Serious Violence team.

    Drugs Offences

    Michelle has successfully prosecuted these cases.

    Featured cases

    • R v B and others (2017) – Importation of drugs. Part of linked investigation into large scale importation of class B drugs from Europe

    See our Drugs Offences team.


    Michelle has successfully defended and prosecuted these cases.

    Featured cases

    • Operation Barber (2013–2014) – DBIS prosecution of a long firm fraud, operated over a period of eight years through a series of companies in the building trade. It involved 13 individuals and losses to creditors of over £6m.
    • Operation Fulcrum (2006–2007) – HMRC four-handed 12-month fraud prosecution relating to the movement of alcohol between bonded warehouses in three European countries and the UK (the first following the London City Bond and Butterworth disclosure reviews).
    • Bluethorne Communications Limited (2004–2007) – Instructed to prosecute a SFO conspiracy to defraud several mobile phone network companies. It involved fraudulent trading based on analysis of incomplete and complicated company accounts designed to cover removal of cash. All defendants pleaded guilty.
    • R v R & Ors (2003) – Instructed in the RCPO prosecution of a large MTIC import/export computer chip VAT fraud, involving seven defendants each of whom ran their own, legitimate and illegitimate, companies. The case involved tracing the movement of monies from the fraud and alleged drug dealing through London to Dubai, Los Angeles, New York and Iran.
    • Operation Chaucer (2002–2003) – SFO investigation into copyright fraud. The case was complicated by the fact that the victim company had conducted its own investigation. Conducted a disclosure review and concluded that the initial police investigation was seriously flawed. The SFO discontinued the investigation.
    • Inland Revenue Commissioners v Kingston Crown Court [2001] 4 All ER 721 [2001] EWHC Admin 581– Instructed to prosecute a city accountant who had advised a tax lawyer (see above). The case relied on the interpretation of correspondence and was complicated by the fact the main defendant had moved to Switzerland where there was no likely criminal offence with which to secure extradition. An international warrant was issued and he was arrested leaving Italy to return to Switzerland.
    • R v S and N (2000) – Inland Revenue prosecution against a tax lawyer for fraud who created his own bank in Tortola and purported to purchase four shipping companies, to which he lent sums equivalent to what they were each holding to satisfy corporation tax liability. The defendant then sought to off-set the “loans” against that liability, and argued that it was a legitimate tax scheme and that, as he owned the bank, he would never have sought repayment of the loans. There was legal argument as to whether the writing of a cheque necessarily involved more than a “promise to pay”. The defendant was convicted. Subsequent restraint and confiscation were heavily contested.

    See our Fraud team.


    All of these cases were pro bono.

    Featured cases

    • R v KS (2012) (“Lufkin DaVita murder case”) – Instructed by Amicus to advise in relation to an appeal to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeal in the case of a nurse convicted of the murder of five patients by injecting bleach into their dialysis lines.
    • R v L (2007) – Advice on an application for special leave to the Privy Council for an applicant on death row in Trinidad convicted of the murders of her baby daughter and her younger sister.
    • Advising re Jamaican Death row Cases (2004) and assisting attorneys defending in death row cases in Jamaica.

    See our International team.

    International Investigations

    Michelle has advised on the following cases.

    Featured cases

    • R v B (2017) – Advising in relation to the first prosecution for alleged child sex offending in Caribbean.
    • (2016) – Advising on the potential for private prosecution in the Caribbean.
    • R v M and others (2014–2015) – Defending the former Premier of the Turks and Caicos islands, charged with other government ministers with corruption relating to the sale of land. This involved advising on legislation drafted by the UK to prosecute the offending committed in the TCI; challenging the removal of the right to jury trial in the Court of Appeal; and drafting a Privy Council motion.

    See our International Investigations team.


    Leading Silk in the Legal 500 and Chambers UK Bar directories

    Professional appointments

    • Treasury Counsel (2009–2016)
    • SFA (A List) (2007–2009)


    • Middle Temple
    • CBA
    • South Eastern Circuit
    • Bar Council, RRC
    • Bar Council, PCCC (2002–2008)
    • Prison Reform Trust


    • Bar Council Working party on Response to the Government White Paper on proposed changes to the law of Bribery (2009–2010)

    Other experience