Member of Chambers Profile

Tom Nicholson

Year of Call: 2001



Tom is a leading criminal barrister, with a reputation for the thoroughness of his preparation and excellence of his advocacy.

His expertise extends to the following areas:-

The prosecution of complex, multi-handed or sensitive police/SOCA operations.

  • Sole prosecution counsel for over 40 defendants in Operation Benbradagh, a major undercover drugs operation pioneering this jurisdiction’s use of long-term community infiltration.
  • In March 2010 he was awarded a commendation by the Home Secretary for the professional presentation of the Crown’s case in Operation Hornblower, a major investigation into Afghan people-smuggling.
  • Junior counsel for the Crown in Operation Opaco, regarded as the largest ecstasy seizure in this country (along with 14 kilos of cocaine).
  • Junior counsel for the Crown in a number of firearms trials, investigated by the Trident specialist police unit, involving sensitive PII and operational issues.
  • Cases with complex legal issues, such as the use of s.20 OAP 1861 to prosecute those ‘recklessly’ infecting their partners with HIV – appeared for the Crown in the Court of Appeal in R v Porter, a case of national media interest (the ‘Aids Avenger’).

Defending serious or difficult cases

  • Experienced at representing police officers, for example fatal/near fatal accidents involving police officers responding to 999 calls.
  • Experienced at defending those charged with serious sexual offences, such as a 16yr old charged with the rape of his 6yr old brother
  • Expertise in all aspects of road traffic offences, including drink-driving and intoximeter challenges.
  • Regularly instructed to deal with ‘difficult’ clients, such as those with mental or physical health difficulties.
  • Firearms – BASC recommended counsel, specialising in firearms revocation appeals and ‘antique’ defences.

Regulatory/disciplinary work

  • Experienced advocate in both police and prison disciplinary tribunals
  • Proficiency in liquor licensing under the new regime.


  • Tom was awarded the Prince of Wales scholarship from Gray’s Inn.
  • He was awarded the Blackstone Prize for academic distinction in the PGDL from Nottingham Law School (2nd in year)
  • He graduated with First Class Honours in English Literature and Latin from Durham University.

Notable cases

  • R v Niazi &Ors
    Represented the Crown in a series of Afghan people-smuggling trials, leading to a commendation from the Home Secretary for the professional presentation of the case.
  • R v B
    Represented defendant charged with two counts of s.18 GBH, causing permanent brain damage.
  • R v Stokes&Ors
    Represented the Crown in this massive SOCA drugs conspiracy case, with complex PII and disclosure issues.
  • R –v- Porter
    Represented the Crown in the Court of Appeal following the conviction of Sarah Porter for infecting her lover with the HIV virus, contrary to Section 20 OAP 1861, a case of international media interest.
  • R v X
    Represented a defendant who had pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving, having killed a 73 year old lady in Brighton.
  • R –v- Ogilvie
    Represented the Crown at a trial and in the Court of Appeal following conviction for burglary in a case issuing guidance regarding timing witnesses’ recollection of events.
  • R –v- Hocking
    Represented a police officer who had knocked down and killed a milkman when answering a 999 emergency call.
  • R –v- Roberts
    Junior for the Crown in a 2-week trial before Mr Justice Aikens involving a series of armed robberies by a terminally ill man.
  • R –v- Davenport
    Prosecuted Croydon’s ground-breaking use of external video-link for a paralysed victim of domestic violence, building an expertise in the forensic use of technology.
  • R –v- X
    Defended a 16 year old youth for multiple counts of rape against his 6 year old brother.

Academic articles/submissions

  • Submitted a paper on behalf of the CBA to the Joint Committee in the House of Lords on the Corruption Bill
  • Submitted a published paper in response to the Government White Paper regarding payments to witnesses in criminal cases.
  • Submitted an article to the BASC regarding the law on appeals following the revocation / refusal of a firearms or shotgun certificate.

Professional memberships

  • Member of the CBA and Association of Regulatory and Disciplinary Lawyers