2 Bedford Row

Brian Altman QC

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Practice Areas

Brian's specialisms are in white collar crime, business investigations, as well as regulatory work. His practice has included advising high net worth individuals, multinational corporations, private clients, here and abroad, Middle Eastern royalty and the UK Government, on a wide variety of esoteric issues as well as internal reviews and investigations.

In January 2017, Brian was appointed Lead Counsel to the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse. Brian led in Inquiry hearings in 2017 in the 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 against people of public prominence linked to Westminster. He is leading counsel to the investigation into institutional responses concerning allegations of child sexual abuse made against Lord Janner of Braunstone QC, and he is also leading counsel to the investigation into Effective Leadership in Child Protection taking place in December 2020.

He has been leading a team advising Post Office Ltd in relation to the CCRC's referrals in 2020 to the Court of Appeal and to the Crown Court of the historic convictions of postmasters or theft, false accounting and fraud.

Examples of his other work include advising an Estonian company regarding a potential private prosecution in England regarding a European-wide fraud; a well-known property magnate on issues arising in the course of commercial 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, on instruction by Singaporean lawyers; a nationwide firm of solicitors on issues arising in private litigation 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; 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 sexual offences; 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.

Other prosecution instructions include for the CMA in a construction industry-wide cartel case, for the SFO in blockbuster cases and for the FCA in insider dealing.

Recently, Brian was instructed to prosecute the first trial of the high profile killing of PC Harper in Berkshire in August 2019 who was dragged to his death behind a car being driven away from a theft. The first trial which took place in March 2020 had to be aborted in its third week due to the impact of Covid-19 on the jury. Brian was unable to prosecute the retrial in June 2020 due to other pre-existing professional commitments.

In 2018, 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. Examples of other very high profile 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 fired the fatal shot, and the victim had been the unintended target. This landmark case passed through a seven justice Supreme Court and a five 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.

He prosecuted Khalid Ali, a former 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. He was instructed to prosecute Moazzam Begg for alleged terrorism offences arising from the conflict in Syria, and he prosecuted several other cases arising out of the conflict in Syria. Also, Brian led for the prosecution in 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.


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. Joint Head of Chambers at 2 Bedford Row from 2019.

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