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 take up tenancy here at 9 St John Street, Phil was already a seasoned criminal practitioner with wide experience across the whole range of the criminal justice system – from motoring offences to murder and from the custody suite to the Court of Appeal.

In 2005 he qualified as a solicitor with a thriving regional criminal practice, and by 2008 he was one of Manchester's foremost higher court advocates, 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 program”.

It was only after having earned his stripes in the eyes of both the bench and the Bar that Phil was offered the chance to join the criminal team at 9 SJS in December 2014. 

And he hasn’t looked back. 

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 and, more recently, on the bench as well.

He is a category 3 prosecutor and a specialist rape and serious sexual offences (RASSO) advocate. He is frequently instructed by the CPS complex casework unit, particularly in relation to gangland, firearms and organised crime prosecutions and counter-terrorism work.  He has the strongest possible grounding in complex unused material review, disclosure and intelligence handling. 

Phil is a lawyer who can play every role in the team, having matured from the experienced solicitor to the diligent junior and the able leader - he has assisted some of the most eminent QCs in the country, and has led more junior counsel to success in complex multi-handed organised crime prosecutions.

But he remains committed to his roots as a defence lawyer too, and Phil has long been instructed to defend in the most serious of cases.  He has represented defendants charged with murder, manslaughter, rape, fraud, cyber-crimes, drug importation and supply and fatal driving offences, to name but a few.  In recent years he has developed a particular reputation for successfully defending professionals such as police officers, care staff and prison officers accused of abusing those in their care or of otherwise taking advantage of their positions of authority.

He continues to use his experience to progress his career.  In 2017 he was appointed as a Deputy District Judge (Magistrates’ Court), and in 2019 he was made a Recorder.

Hailing from a comprehensive school background, and having first-hand experience of all the various facets of the criminal justice system, Phil takes a keen interest in social mobility at the Bar and in encouraging talented individuals from all walks of life to consider a future in the law.  He regularly presents to schools and careers organisations and acts as a practitioner mentor for students in the Bar mock trial competition.

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.

And - just occasionally - he finds time to run, ride motorbikes, play and coach football and to mourn the sad demise of Bolton Wanderers.

Notable Cases & Press Reports

  • Operation Mowbray (2019) – prosecuting alone in a five-week, four-defendant trial involving eleven armed robberies of cash in transit vehicles.   All defendants were convicted, resulting in sentences totaling 77 years’ imprisonment.
  • 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.
  • 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.  Acquitted at trial.
  • 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.  Acquitted on a submission of no case to answer.
  • R v PF (2017) – defending a police officer charged with serious violence during a sports event. Acquitted at trial.
  • R v MC (2016) – defending a care worker, one of three who were charged with the physical abuse of a severely autistic patient under their care.  Acquitted at trial when both of the others were convicted.
  • 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 semi-professional footballers 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.  Acquitted at trial.
  • R v JKB (2013) - defending, alone, representing a defendant charged with attempted murder and wounding with intent.  Acquitted of all counts at trial on the basis of self-defence.

Prescribed Information

Phil Barnes is a practising barrister, regulated by the Bar Standards Board. Details of information held by the BSB about Phil can be found here

Phil’s clerks will provide no obligation quotations for all legal services that he offers. Phil accepts instructions on legal aid rates where those are available, details of which can be found here.  For other work, Phil usually charges a brief fee plus refresher fees for court hearings, with advisory, conference and other preparation work charged at an hourly rate. Phil aims to return paperwork within 10 working days, however his professional commitments, complexity and volume of documentation can affect these approximate timescales.

Specialist Areas of Practice:


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