Phil Barnes

Phil Barnes

Year of call:

2014, Middle Temple


Phil Barnes


Deputy District Judge (Magistrates' Court) - 2017
Recorder - 2019


Criminal Bar Assocation
Northern Circuit


University of Leicester (LL.B Hons)

Those unfamiliar with Phil’s history should not be fooled by the 2014 call date. By the time he came to the Bar to take up the offer of tenancy here at 9 St John Street, Phil had already built himself a formidable reputation as an advocate.

In 2005 he qualified as a solicitor with a busy specialist criminal practice, and by 2008 he was a solicitor-advocate spending his daily life before judge and jury in the Crown Courts. Along the way, the head of Cardiff University’s law school wrote a letter describing him as "one of the most talented young solicitors we have ever had through the duty solicitor programme".

Having earned his stripes in the eyes of both the bench and the Bar, Phil was offered the chance to join the criminal team at 9 SJS in December 2014.  He hasn't looked back since. 

From his start as a dedicated defence lawyer, Phil's portfolio has diversified to include a wide mixture of work on both sides of the courtroom. 

He is a category 3 prosecutor and a specialist rape and sexual offences advocate, and is also instructed on a regular basis by the CPS complex casework unit, particularly in relation to gangland, firearms and organized crime prosecutions. He has recently begun prosecuting counter-terrorism work, and he has a very strong grounding in the most complex disclosure, intelligence handling and technical expert evidence. He has significant experience of assisting senior counsel, and has successfully led more junior counsel in multi-handed prosecution work.

Phil is instructed to defend in the most serious of cases, and has represented defendants charged with murder, manslaughter, rape, fraud, cyber-crimes, drug importation and supply, and fatal driving offences, to name but a few. He has developed a particular reputation for successfully defending professionals such as police officers, care staff and prison officers charged with abusing those in their care or otherwise taking advantage of their positions of authority.

In 2017 Phil was appointed as a Deputy District Judge (Magistrates' Court), sitting for 10 weeks a year across the North of England. In September 2019 he was appointed as a Recorder.

Throughout all these roles Phil prides himself on delivering the expertise demanded of the Bar, layered with the diligence, touch and understanding carried over from his years as a solicitor.


  • Operation Leopard (2018-2019) – junior counsel for the prosecution in the series of trials arising out of the Salford gangland feud which resulted in two firearms murders (including that of Paul Massey) and several attempted murders (including the shooting of seven-year old Christian Hickey and his mother on their front doorstep). The main defendant received a whole-life term of imprisonment.
  • R v GW (Operation Samurai) (2018) – defending alone in a multi-handed, multi-million-pound drugs supply conspiracy.
  • Operation Speedway (2018) – leading junior for the prosecution in a 14-defendant conspiracy to commit armed robbery and to launder the proceeds through fixed-odds betting terminals.
  • R v CC (2018) – prosecuting the first case in Greater Manchester for the offence of possessing articles with intent to convert imitation firearms, relating to the importation of part-manufactured assault rifle components from the United States – a case involving significant technical expert evidence.
  • R v GM, MR and PS (2017) – prosecuting three defendants for conspiracies to supply various drugs as well as possession of firearms with intent to endanger life. The lead defendant received a sentence of 23 years, which was upheld on appeal.
  • R v WH (2017) – defending a prison officer for offences of violence against an inmate in the course of a disturbance in HMP Manchester.
  • R v DW (2017) – defending a police community support officer accused of perverting the course of justice arising out of an investigation into her conduct in office.
  • R v PF (2017) – defending a police officer charged with serious violence during a sports event.
  • Operation Serpent (2016) – led junior, prosecuting multiple defendants for the importation of numerous kilogram-plus quantities of heroin via the postal system.
  • R v MC (2016) – defending a care worker charged with the physical abuse of a severely autistic patient under his care.
  • R v CS (2014) – junior counsel for the first defendant in a two-handed double-homicide case (murder and manslaughter) involving cut-throat defences and issues of cross-admissibility.
  • R v JD (2014) - defending one of two professional sportsmen charged with rape of a young female in a hotel room. The case involved careful exploration of the issues around consent and the impact of alcohol consumption, and much of the evidence was derived from social media traffic between the parties.
  • R v JKB (2013) - defending, alone, representing a defendant charged with attempted murder and wounding with intent.
  • R v AD (2013) - led junior, defending in a serial stranger-rape case where the defendant was accused of using very serious violence in order to commit offences against a total of five women.

Specialist Areas of Practice:


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