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Vanessa Thomson

Year of call 1998, Lincoln's Inn  

Areas of Expertise

Committee Member to The Nine Lives Foundation

"Vanessa is very helpful and has attention to detail, when speaking to lay clients she always put them at ease as she guides them through the process, and one feels that clients are always in a safe pair of hands when they are represented by her. She is extremely knowledgeable and is always well prepared."

Legal 500 2024

Crime: Leading Junior Band 2
Particularly sought-after for cases involving young or vulnerable witnesses.

Legal 500 2020

Crime – ranked Tier 1
“Recommended for defending in serious sexual offences cases.”

Legal 500 2019

"She has experience in representing vulnerable clients."

Legal 500, 2017

"Highly regarded for her sensitivity to clients who have mental health difficulties or are otherwise vulnerable."

Legal 500, 2015


Vanessa Thomson is Head of the Criminal Team at 9 St. John Street and has over 25 years experience of both prosecuting and defending cases of the utmost gravity and complexity.



Her practice encompasses serious and complicated cases including murder, manslaughter, attempted murder, rape and serious sexual assaults, gang related violence, large-scale drug conspiracies, fatal road traffic offences and fraud. She is instructed as both junior and leading junior counsel.

Her diligence, tenacity and experience mean that she is highly rated as a persuasive advocate. In addition, her down to earth manner ensures that lay clients, especially young and vulnerable defendants, and witnesses are instantly put at ease at every stage in the proceedings.

Miss Thomson is a Category 4 Prosecutor and has been appointed to the Rape and Child Sexual Abuse Panel. When instructed to prosecute, her services are engaged at an early stage to consider strategies for trial and ensure that witnesses are able to give their best evidence before the jury.

Miss Thomson has regularly been involved in murder and manslaughter trials. She is fully conversant and confident with pre-charge advice, disclosure, complex case preparation and advocacy in all the cases she is instructed in. Most recently she has prosecuted cases involving gross negligence manslaughter and a multi-defendant murder where the motive was retribution for a perceived wrong.

Miss Thomson works closely with instructing solicitors at each stage of a case and is always available to discuss any issues that may arise.


Operation Feverfew (2023) – Liverpool Crown Court. Junior prosecution counsel in the a multi-defendant murder trial. Eight defendants were convicted of the retribution murder and kidnap of a man who they wrongly believed had committed a serious sexual assault upon a young female.

Operation Acton (2022) – Preston Crown Court. Junior prosecution counsel in a case involving the gross negligence manslaughter of a young adult with Downs Syndrome. The parent carer had neglected to treat a serious illness and failed to feed them or seek medical attention for them. This led to extreme and avoidable suffering.

Operation Rivington (2021) – Minshull Street Crown Court. Leading junior counsel prosecuting a team of defendants involved in the conspiracy to transfer firearms and ammunition across the country.

R. v. Franks (2019) – Manchester Crown Court. Sole defence counsel instructed on behalf of a man in his 80’s accused of the murder of his wife. A plea to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility was accepted by the Crown and the defendant received a suspended sentence of imprisonment.

Operation Kellett (2020) – Bolton Crown Court. Sole counsel prosecuting a team of men involved in a conspiracy to cause an explosion where a hand grenade was thrown into a car in a residential area.

R. v. JB (2023) – Manchester Crown Court. Sole defence counsel for a man accused of multiple counts of rape and controlling and coercive behaviour. A thorough review of the unused material provided material which could be utilised in cross-examination which fundamentally undermined the complainant’s credibility. The defendant was acquitted after trial.

R. v. MR and Others (2022) – Minshull Street Crown Court. Sole defence counsel for a youth with learning difficulties charged with kidnap and serious assaults.

R. v. Simon Rose (2022) – Liverpool Crown Court. Sole prosecuting counsel in a case involving a service police officer charged with misconduct in a public office.

R. v. PL and AR (2022) – Manchester Crown Court – Sole counsel prosecuting a case involving serious harm caused to a baby who was six weeks old. This involved the presentation of complex medical evidence and careful cross examination of two young parents.

R. v. CM (2022) – Manchester Crown Court – Sole prosecuting counsel involving the rape and serious sexual assault of a child aged 8.

R. v. PM (2022) – Manchester Crown Court. Sole defence counsel for a man accused of serious sexual offences. The defendant had previous convictions for serious sexual offences which were very upsetting. Despite the admission of that evidence, the defendant was acquitted of the matters tried upon the indictment.

R. v. ST (2021) – Manchester Crown Court. Sole defence counsel for a man involved in the historic sexual abuse of schoolboys in various football teams in the 1980’s.

R. v. TB (2021) - Preston Crown Court. Sole defence counsel instructed on behalf of a female client who is involved in a large operation to supply Class A drugs in Lancashire.

R. v. MH (2022) – Minshull Street Crown Court. Sole defence counsel for a client involved in a multi-kilo supply of cannabis conspiracy. The defendant received a suspended sentence of imprisonment once a favourable basis of plea had been accepted.

R. v. GP (2020) – Minshull Street Crown Court. Sole prosecuting counsel in a case involving a complainant with severe autism who had accused a step-

parent of sexual offences. A number of strategies had to be deployed to assist the witness in giving her best evidence and to help her overcome the ordeal of giving evidence.

R. v. Dixon (2021) – Minshull Street Crown Court. Sole defence counsel in a case involving death by dangerous driving. The defendant entered a guilty plea to death by careless driving and received a suspended sentence of imprisonment.

R. v. DW (2019) – Minshull Street Court – Sole defence counsel for a man who was alcohol dependant and had learning difficulties charged with historic rape. This was a man who could barely function on a daily basis. With the assistance of an intermediary, he was able to provide instructions and present his evidence which led to his acquittal.

Scholarships and Prizes

Sir Thomas More Bursary, Lincoln's Inn


Member of the Denning Society
Criminal Bar Association


University of Liverpool, LLB (Hons)

Prescribed Information

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

Vanessa's clerks will provide no obligation quotations for all legal services that she offers. Vanessa accepts instructions on legal aid rates where those are available, details of which can be found here. For other work, Vanessa usually charges a brief fee plus refresher fees for court hearings, with advisory, conference and other preparation work charged at an hourly rate. Vanessa aims to return paperwork within 14 working days, however her professional commitments, complexity and volume of documentation can affect these approximate timescales.

Specialist Areas of Practice:


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