Christopher Johnston

Year of Call: 1983

Called in 1983 Chris has been in continuous practice at the Bar since 1983 and has a broad breadth of knowledge and experience with skills honed from thousands of cases. He is known to work extremely hard on case preparation and ensures he’s fully briefed before setting foot in court.

Chris provides excellent client care and ensures all concerned are kept abreast of case issues. He is a specialist criminal barrister who predominantly defends but also prosecutes. He is a Level 4 CPS advocate for the South Eastern [London/Non London] and Midland circuits. Chris has frequently been instructed in a number of leading criminal cases including; murder & manslaughter, kidnap with torture & blackmail, allegations of violent assaults, sexual offences & rape, , large scale organised drugs conspiracies, firearms offences and serious fraud.

He has acted as leading defence counsel in a large number of cases including murder. Chris’s abilities and successes have secured the backing of a large body of solicitors who regularly instruct him. He has worked extensively in sexual assault cases, involving historic allegations of familial sex, which have involved detailed forensic examination of social services files, educational and psychiatric reports. He has also undertaken the role of leading counsel in large-scale car-ringing cases, local authority internal frauds, sophisticated retail frauds and armed bank robberies. He’s regularly instructed in criminal appeals from referrals and appears for appellants in the Court of Appeal.

Chris has enjoyed a thriving practice in the Military Courts and is often abroad conducting court martial trials. In 2010, he was instructed by one of the “Magic Circle” firms to advise a multi-national company on an internal employee fraud. Chris has been a pupil supervisor since 1996.

Notable Cases

  • R v B 2018

    Snaresbrook CC. Successfully defended a warehouseman in £8m value drugs importation from Holland investigated by The Serious and Organised Crime Command. Operations Ultra, Bush

  • R v M 2018

    Successfully defended a man at The Central Criminal Court accused of wounding his brother with intent to cause GBH when he drove his truck onto the pavement at the victim.

  • R v K 2018

    Operation Cave, Wood Green CC, defended in a £1m tobacco and alcohol duty evasion organised crime case.

  • R v O 2017

    Operation Pileated, Cambridge CC Represented a defendant in a courier fraud conspiracy involving multiple elderly victims.

  • R v S 2017

    Operation Limit, Leicester CC. defended in an allegation of the supply of “Skorpion” machine gun and ammunition as part of organised crime group.

  • R v K 2017

    Nottingham CC, Operation Feast & Zephyr. Lead defence counsel in industrial scale cocaine supply from London to Northampton.

  • R v S 2017

    Leicester CC. Represented a man accused of serial rape and sexual offences on young boys in 1980s.

  • R v S 2017

    Leicester CC. Represented a male accused of serious sexual assault by penetration of a resident in a special needs care home.

  • R v A

    Snaresbrook CC. Prosecuted a teenage male for rape of 10 year-old sister.

  • R v B 2015

    Represented the alleged leader of gang of five men responsible for the kidnap, false imprisonment and torture of two separate victims and subsequent blackmail of the families.

  • R v S 2015

    Defended one of five men accused of largest haul of ram -raid burglaries of rural banks in East Anglia.

  • R v N 2015

    Successfully defended man accused of multiple rape counts.

  • R v H 2015

    Prosecuted a case of familial sexual allegations dating back to 1965.

  • R v G 2015

    Represented the man known as the “night stalker” in his appeal against conviction for several rapes of elderly people in their homes.

  • R v R 2014

    Represented man accused revenge slashing of former police officer investigating licensed taxi offences.

  • R v T 2015

    Successfully prosecuted a leader of a gang of men who had embarked upon a campaign of rape and sexual offences towards a 12-16 year old girl in Bucks in 2004-13.

  • R v M 2013

    £1.5 m VAT Evasion Prosecution Central CC for HMRC.

  • R v W 2012/13

    Leading defence counsel in the largest ever Flying Squad Bank Robbery Operation involving over 12 armed bank robberies spanning 10 years.

  • R v H 2013

    Successfully defended one of the three acquitted defendants out of ten Charlton FC fans accused of racist violence.

  • R v K 2013

    Defended man in multi handed trial in which he was accused of firearm possession in large Trident case.

  • R v T 2013

    Defence counsel in successful defence of man accused of domestic violence featuring all the accused’s children supporting his “battered wife”.

  • R v M 2013

    Successfully represented woman accused of stabbing her former boyfriend in the street.

  • R v C 2012

    Defence counsel in multi handed car ringing/burglary case in Maidstone CC.

  • R V A 2012

    Central CC. Successfully defended when led by QC man accused of murdering drugs rival with shotgun.

  • R v M 2010

    Conducted an appeal against conviction before full Court of Appeal in the case of an appellant who had been convicted of throwing acid over barristers appearing against him in a High Court action he was bringing. High Court barrister burned in courtroom acid attack.

  • R v M 2010

    Defended an alleged gang member accused of having a sawn off shotgun which was alleged to have been used to threaten others.

  • R v G and others 2008

    Represented a defendant who was acquitted of his part in a murder and further stabbing of another victim in an alleged racist gang attack in the Isle of Sheppey.

  • R v A 2009

    Familial historic sexual assault.

  • R v W 2007

    Leading defence counsel for one member of a cash-in-transit robbery gang. K.B., the leader of said gang, was a notorious criminal. The trial lasted three months and was conducted under the tightest security ever witnessed in an English court.

  • R v A 2007

    Representing as leading counsel one female member of a gang said to have committed the largest alleged fraud of its time on a health authority: NHS fraudsters jailed (From News Shopper).

  • R v H 2010

    Sexual assaults on children within a church congregation.

  • R v N 2010

    Random slashing of stranger giving rise to IPP sentence.

  • R v S and others 2010

    An internal fraud of a national bread manufacturer by managers worth £300k.

  • 2016

    Instructed for the Finance Officer of a business who along with others is accused of a £1.5m fraud on State/ local authority agencies in a trial listed for 2016.

Reported Cases

R v Pommel (1995) 2 Cr. App. R R v. Jason Graham [2007] EWCA Crim 1499


Criminal Bar Association South Eastern Circuit