2 Bedford Row

Brian Altman QC

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Practice Areas

Brian's specialisms are in criminal and regulatory work. His practice includes advising high net worth individuals, multinational corporations, private clients, here and abroad, and the UK Government, on a wide variety of esoteric issues as well as on internal reviews and investigations.

In January 2017, Brian was appointed Lead Counsel to the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse. Brian has led in Inquiry hearings in the 2017 Rochdale investigation which involved examining institutional failures regarding allegations of child sexual abuse committed by Cyril Smith and in the 2019 Westminster investigation which examined institutional failures regarding allegations of child sexual abuse made about people of public prominence linked to Westminster.

Examples of work include advising a European company regarding a potential private prosecution in the UK; a well-known property magnate on issues arising in litigation following false accusations made against him by the SFO; a property developer in an internal investigation of fraud; a high net worth Singaporean client accused of serious drugs offences in Singapore, instructed by Singaporean lawyers; a nationwide firm of solicitors on issues arising under the Official Secrets Acts; a US aerospace company on suspected money laundering and POCA compliance during a $100m acquisition of a British PLC; a public Swedish multinational corporation who suspected it was the victim of a €200m fraud arising during an acquisition by a British PLC of a €1.7bn part of its pan-European business; a Middle Eastern Royal family on issues of international State-led criminality; City of London insolvency practitioners on allegations of fraud underlying the tracing of £100m of hidden assets of a PLC; a well-known credit reference company during due diligence of a target company's systems, bearing on issues of cybercrime and data protection; a national construction PLC on POCA compliance; a significant high profile victim of phone hacking; a national postal retail service company on issues of corporate governance; the Bar Council on the Bribery Act 2010 and its application to the Bar; LOCOG pre-the 2012 Olympics on ticket touting offences online.

Examples of recent privately funded defence work include successfully defending a man accused of a large housing benefit fraud; a former chief police officer accused of sex crimes; a police officer in a high profile case accused of misconduct in public office arising from the murder of a Bristol man falsely alleged to have been a child abuser; a haulier accused of involvement in a large-scale conspiracy to supply drugs; in appeal proceedings, a large property company accused of breaches of an enforcement notice; a money lender who, having pleaded guilty to large-scale cross-border money laundering, avoided imprisonment.

Prosecution work has included instructions for the CMA in an industry-wide cartel case, the SFO in blockbuster cases and for the FCA in insider dealing.

Brian successfully prosecuted Russell Bishop in the notorious 'Babes in the Woods' murders prosecution from 1986, following a successful application to the Court of Appeal to quash his 1987 acquittals; a Taliban fighter for bomb-making offences in Afghanistan and preparation of terrorist acts in the UK; an Islamic State cyber-terrorist; an Islamic State-influenced plot to kill police or military personnel in London.

Past cases include instructions to prosecute Moazzam Begg for terrorism offences allegedly arising from the conflict in Syria, as well as several other cases arising out of the conflict in Syria; the case of alleged IRA man, John Downey, for the 1982 Hyde Park bombing, where the abuse of process argument turned on whether Downey had erroneously received a comfort letter from Government in 2007 amounting to a promise not to prosecute. Examples of other very high profile past cases include the prosecutions in 2008 and 2011 of Levi Bellfield for the murders of Milly Dowler, Amelie Delagrange and Marsha McDonnell, and the attempted murder of Kate Sheedy; the prosecution of Mark Dixie for the murder of Sally Anne Bowman; the prosecution of Armel Gnango, which was the murder of a Polish care worker killed in the crossfire of a gunfight between Gnango and another youth, where Gnango had not fire the fatal shot, and the victim had been the unintended target. This landmark case passed through a 7 justice Supreme Court and a 5 judge Court of Appeal on issues of joint enterprise, accessory liability and transferred malice. Gnango's murder conviction was restored on a prosecution appeal to the Supreme Court from the Court of Appeal.


Called to the Bar by Middle Temple in 1981. First Senior Treasury Counsel at the Central Criminal Court from December 2010 to June 2013. Senior Treasury Counsel at the Central Criminal Court from 2002 to 2013. Junior Treasury Counsel at the Central Criminal Court from 1997 to 2002. Recorder of the Crown Court since 2003. Appointed Queen's Counsel in 2008. Made a Bencher of Middle Temple in 2010.

Professional Memberships

South Eastern Circuit. Criminal Bar Association. Association of Regulatory and Disciplinary Lawyers.


King's College London


1978 - 1975

University of Amsterdam

Dip Eur Int

1979 - 1978

Inns of Court School of Law

Bar course

1981 - 1980