Ian Henderson QC

  • Year of Call 1990
  • |
  • Silk 2016

Ian is an experienced and persuasive advocate. He is a very popular and busy silk who is comfortable dealing with difficult, serious and high profile cases.

Career Overview

Ian’s first 10 years of practice was at 8 Kings Bench Walk the Chambers of Leonard Woodley QC. In 2001, together with six others he set up Farringdon Chambers. It is now a flourishing and vibrant organisation. In 2016 Ian became the first “home grown” silk and in 2017 he became Head of Chambers.

Since taking silk Ian’s practice has crystallised into one where he almost exclusively defends in murders. He has spent significant parts of the last 3 years practicing at the Old Bailey, working with and holding his own with some the most highly regarded advocates in the country.

Ian is individually ranked in both the Legal 500 and Chambers and Partners.

Areas of Expertise

Ian only defends and has built his reputation and his practice on a solid foundation of hard graft. He is tactically astute, methodical in his preparation and fluent in his legal submissions (both oral and written). His cross examination is direct and no nonsense and his speeches are skilful and comprehensive. He knows how to make a jury listen and he is always passionate about his cases.

Ian is user friendly and excellent with clients both professional and lay. His communication skills are second to none. He is an advocate who gets the job done and he does not disappoint.

His practice encompasses a full range of serious top end criminal defence work both publicly funded and private. His specialist areas are murder, sexual offences and drugs conspiracies. For a number of years these have been the mainstay of his practice although he is equally at home with receiving instructions in cases involving financial crime and related areas. In addition to the above Ian has also undertaken Federation cases before the Crown Court and at disciplinary tribunal level. He is currently expanding into Health and Safety work. He also receives instructions from insurance companies in relation to Road Traffic work.

In relation to cases involving sexual offences his expertise is wide ranging. He has regularly appeared in cases involving child witnesses, historical allegations, the use of intermediaries, gang rapes and multiple victim cases as well as trials which involve issues of consent between adults. His approach is methodical, direct and fearless. He is able to tackle complex and delicate matters with a deft touch whilst at the same time ensuring that a clients case is presented wholeheartedly to a jury. His approach has ensured that this is an area where his instructing solicitors come back to him time and again and colleagues regularly ask for advice.

Notable Cases

2020. R v B. 7 week trial. Isleworth Crown Court. Attempted murder and firearms

Against a background of significant drug dealing my client was the quartermaster charged with storing drugs and a number of firearms and related ammunition. In a separate incident he was responsible for delivering a loaded handgun used to attempt to kill rivals who were in his group's territory. He was present with the shooter throughout the episode. The case was based on CCTV, cell site, eye witness accounts and bad character. There was a cut throat with the first defendant. My client was very young and had a low IQ. There were some special measures.

2020. R v W. 1 week trial. Northampton Crown Court

Causing serious injury by dangerous driving. My client was a lorry driver who was accused of driving dangerously by crossing an unlit A road at night and leaving the tail of his lorry protruding into the outside carriageway. The case involved the calling and challenging of expert witnesses. It was highly charged and had significant consequences both in the criminal jurisdiction and in relation to ongoing proceedings. He was acquitted of all charges.

2020. R v C. Court of Appeal. Appeal against conviction

C was convicted of the stranger rape of X in 2016 and made the subject of a hospital order with restriction. In June 2016 I represented S who was also charged with counts alleging stranger rape against X on a later occasion. S was acquitted on all counts.

Following the acquittals, C’s original counsel began the process of appealing his conviction. He subsequently retired from the Bar and I was asked to take over the appeal.

Once instructed I changed the emphasis of the appeal and ultimately we were granted leave in relation to fresh evidence in the form of witnesses, S41/previous false allegations and other relevant background material. The appeal was successful and a retrial was ordered. Ultimately I applied for an order under S8 Criminal Appeals Act 1968 seeking an order of acquittal in relation to all counts which was granted in May 2020.

This was a long, complex, unusual and taxing case. It involved a very steep learning curve but ultimately was one of the most rewarding cases I have been involved in at the Bar.

2019. R v M. 7 week trial. St Albans CC. Allegation of serious sexual and physical assaults against a toddler

My client was the baby's mother and the co defendant her boyfriend. This was an out and out cut throat. My client was acquitted of all of the main charges and the co defendant was convicted. There was a very significant body of medical evidence from a vast array of doctors and copious social service records. A number of social workers gave evidence. The crown relied upon odontology and experts were called on all sides concerning both admissibility and on the substantive issues. Heavy reliance was placed upon social media and phone evidence. My client had learning difficulties and was supported by an intermediary. It was a very taxing case with a number of novel issues. We were first on the Indictment. My client received a suspended sentence.

2019. R v U. 3 week trial. CCC. before HHJ Lucraft QC, the Chief Coroner.

This was a retrial. Murder and attempted child destruction. Allegation that the defendant killed his pregnant ex wife with a crossbow. The Crown’s case was that the defendant had planned a revenge attack on his ex wife's family for a number of years. He carried out his plan by arming himself with two crossbows, hiding in the shed and attacking the family when his own children had departed for school. It was asserted that he had taken cable ties to incapacitate his ex wife and her husband with the intention of killing at least them both while their own very young children were in the house. This was a very serious, emotionally charged and sensitive case which attracted significant national press interest and required a deft touch. 

2019. R v C. 9 week trial. CCC. 5 handed murder and attempted murder.

We were first on the Indictment and consequently had to deal with the general issues in addition to the more specific. This was a gang based revenge attack which was part of a series of tit-for-tat killings. It related to North London rival gangs. The case was based on CCTV, eye witness accounts and phone evidence. My client was seen on CCTV with two firearms and there was forensic material to support the crown’s case. There was a significant  bad character application both in relation to gang membership and individual criminality. My client was significantly convicted. There was a direct cut throat but also a more subtle vying for the best position as between the others. There were a number of very experienced counsel on all sides and it was a challenging trial. All defendants were very young.

2019. R v A. 4 week retrial before HHJ Goymer. A 2 handed conspiracy to defraud and perverting the course of justice.

This case involved a multi million pound defrauding of the LAA by a firm of solicitors over a 6 year period. My client had a role which held significant responsibility and involved a major breach of trust. He ran the billing department and submitted the fee claims. The case involved an understanding of immigration case files, billing, LAA processes, handwriting and fingerprints. Submissions were made in the first trial about the admissibility of the Home Office database and the ambit of the fraud. The case was set against the convictions in the first trial of the principal and her husband. This changed the dynamic of the second trial. A careful tip-toeing through a potential cut throat with the new co-defendant was the most difficult aspect of the retrial. My client was acquitted.

2019. R v C. 3 week trial. Maidstone CC. murder and attempted murder

Heard before Mrs J Farbey, the crown's case was that in an act of revenge for his wife being unfaithful, the defendant deliberately set light to the former matrimonial home intending to kill both his 12 year old daughter and his mother in law in order to punish his wife. The crown's case was based upon evidence from a Tag expert, eyewitness accounts, CCTV, telephone evidence, social media messages and confessions made over a period of time. There was a background of domestic violence and threats, injunctions and breaches of bail. This was a case where many of the witnesses became very emotional and was highly charged, with family members and friends on different sides, some giving evidence for the crown.

2019. R v M. 7 week trial. CCC. 3 handed murder

A 3 handed murder with an additional, separate allegation of attempted murder being tried at the same time, it having been joined pre trial. The case involved an out and out cut throat between the co defendants. The crown’s allegations were based upon CCTV, ANPR, Cell site, Telephone contact and DNA evidence. There was a very substantial body of bad character and unused material. There was a background of gang rivalry and drugs. There were references to previous gang killings of young men which were said to form the motive for both sets of offences. 

2019. R v R. 6 week trial. Luton CC. 5 handed murder

Revenge attack on a rival drug dealer in his own home. The crown’s case was based on CCTV, cell site, phone contact and descriptions made in difficult circumstances. There were significant issues of bad character and cut throat defences. The Crown called a witness who was awaiting sentence for murder to give evidence of a confession made by one of the defendants which impacted upon them all.

2019. R v X. 3 week trial. CCC before the Recorder of London

Murder and attempted child destruction. Allegation that the defendant killed his pregnant ex wife with a crossbow. The Crown’s case was that the defendant had planned a revenge attack on his ex wife's family for a number of years. He carried out his plan by arming himself with two crossbows, hiding in the shed and attacking the family when his own children had departed for school. It was asserted that he had taken cable ties to incapacitate his ex wife and her husband with the intention of killing at least them both while their own very young children were in the house. This was a very serious, emotionally charged and sensitive case which attracted significant national press interest and required a deft touch. The jury were discharged for legal reasons during their fourth day of deliberations. The retrial is fixed for the end of 2019.

2019: R v DJN. 4 week trial. CCC. Firearms

4 handed possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life and conspiracy to cause GBH with intent. This was a high profile trial which attracted significant national media interest. It involved a "ride out”. The defendants were masked, had surgical gloves, multiple weapons including a firearm, they were in rival gang territory in a stolen vehicle with a full can of petrol in the boot. None of the defendants had phones. Two of the defendants were recognised “drill” artist and this formed the background. There was a police chase during which officers discharged their firearms on numerous occasions. It was a gang case and involved significant anonymous hearsay and bad character material.

2018: R v A. CCC. 8 week trial. Murder

5 handed gang related homicide which involved the car jacking of a BMW which was used to run over the deceased in the street, but who surprisingly got to his feet and ran off despite the high speed impact. He was pursued and stabbed 15 times dying from his injuries. The case involved significant CCTV, phone and cell site material. Our case involved a close analysis of the use of the relevant phone and the identification of numbers not previously contacted. There was expert GAIT analysis which had to be managed as my client had an unusual walking pattern. It was an identification case. There was also a significant body of forensic evidence. The defendants were all very young.

2018: R v M. CCC. Sentence

Silks certificate granted for sentence because the defendant was convicted of the attempted murder of her 6 month old following a trial. The case involved novel submissions designed to invite the court to consider whether the case could be considered analogous to infanticide and/or to pass a sentence significantly outside the guidelines. This was an unusual and very interesting case but one which related to a highly charged and emotional scenario.
2018: R v C. Old Bailey. 1 week trial. 2 x attempted murder. C attempted to push one complainant into the path of an oncoming train at Tottenham Court Road and pushed a 90 year old male onto the tracks at Marble Arch. It was a case based on CCTV. Significant issues relating to mental health. National press interest.

2018: R v E. 2 week trial. Birmingham CC. Murder

2 weeks. Murder. Allegation that following an argument the defendant deliberately held the deceased to the side of his vehicle and drove off at speed causing fatal head injuries. The case centred on CCTV and the officer's interpretation. It was a very challenging and unusual case.

2018: R v X. 7 week trial. Southwark CC. 3 handed conspiracy to defraud

A 3 handed conspiracy to defraud and perverting the course of justice. This case involved a multi million pound defrauding of the LAA by a firm of solicitors over a 6 year period. My client had a role which held significant responsibility and involved a major breach of trust. He ran the billing department and submitted the fee claims. The case involved an understanding of immigration case files, billing, LAA processes, handwriting and fingerprints. Submissions were made about the admissibility of the Home Office database and the ambit of the fraud. It involved a subtle cut - throat defence with both of the co defendants and the highlighting of the case against a third party named as an alleged co conspirator late in the day by the crown. My client had a hung jury. Co defendants were convicted.

2018: R v G. 10 week trial. CCC. Murder

5 handed gang related murder involving young, category A defendants. Significant issues of bad character, relating to gang association, gang lyrics and other connected material. The case relied heavily upon analysis of CCTV and telephone evidence. There were a number of expert witness reports prepared by all parties to deal with different aspects of the identifications. There was a cut throat element to the case. It was a case which had a number of twists and turns including a co defendant developing a psychosis during my cross examination, leading to him being discharged from the trial.

2018: R v D. 13 week trial. CCC. 4 handed murder

Rival groups from within the Sikh community based in Birmingham and London. Revenge attack which involved swords, clubs and numerous other weapons. There was a very high level of violence involved. The killing was set against a backdrop of a number of incidents of tit-for-tat attacks. A defendant turned QE and entered into a contract with the prosecution to give evidence against his co-defendants and others, including my client who was subsequently charged with murder. The QE witness was in the witness box for over two weeks with substantial cross examination from all parties. The case involved voluminous CCTV, ANPR, phone data and cell site which all required a detailed analysis to enable me to challenge the crown’s case and bolster the defence. There were a number of participants in the killing who were not arrested but contact with phone numbers attributed to them was a real issue which had to be dealt with. There were defence witnesses including an alibi witness. It was a very challenging trial involving aspects of cut-throat and distancing from other defendants. There was a substantial body of forensic evidence. My client was said to have had a separate motive related to infidelity to want to kill the deceased and this required me to challenge a number of additional witnesses on the basis of a substantial body of material relation to crime reports and evidence going back of a number of years. My client was acquitted of murder. Convicted of manslaughter. It was a serious, substantial and unusual case.

2017 - 2018. R v H. 10 week trial. 8 handed conspiracy to murder

Hove Crown Court. 8 handed trial lasting 10 weeks. The first two defendants on the Indictment were “regional level” drug dealers with international links who were in financial difficulties and decided to kill two of their creditors. My client was said to be the hitman. He was arrested with a Tec-9 machine gun and ammunition shortly after a relevant meeting of the parties. This was a multi agency investigation which involved a wide range of evidence including probe, encrypted telephones, ANPR, cell site, phone download, data and contact together with undercover surveillance. There was substantial bad character material and significant submissions were made on abuse of process and disclosure. My client was acquitted on all counts.

2017. R v T. 9 week trial. CCC. murder

The killing of a rival drug dealer by shooting. T was one of three defendants charged with murder but was the only one acquitted of the main offence . He was convicted of manslaughter. Significant bad character issues. It was a CCTV and telephone case. It required very delicate handling as all defendants were young and the defence was presented without the co defendant's cases being in any way challenged or damaged.

2017. R v D. Double death by dangerous driving

week trial. Basildon CC. There were issues of impairment which necessitated cross examination of a crown expert on a significant study he relied upon. There were multiple experts in a variety of fields. The case required a great deal of sensitivity. There were very large groups from the families of both deceased and the defendant. Indeed, the proceedings were simultaneously shown in another court room via video/live link. The case was understandably very highly charged. All sides were extremely emotional.

2017. R v O. 7 day trial

Maidstone CC. 79 year old defendant. Ex school teacher who had sexually assaulted a male and two female pupils when they were between 8 and 11 years old. Complaints were made over 35 years later. Issues of cross admissibility, false memory and delay.

2017. R v G. 4 week trial. St. Albans CC. Murder

Full on cut throat with co defendant. My client was acquitted of murder and convicted of manslaughter. Co-defendant convicted of murder. Drugs related killing.

2017. R v O. 8 day re-trial. Maidstone CC

Conspiracy to supply Class A and witness intimidation. Defendant was in management role within a significant OCG in Kent. This was a telephone case base on cell site, co-locations and contact.

2017: R v S. 2 week trial. Maidstone CC

Foreign National charged with multiple counts of stranger rape. Unusually the complainant had been the victim of a very similar incident in the recent past. Substantial and complex S41 arguments and applications to admit suggestions of previous false allegations. There was a mass of unused material. I conducted the case on a Silk alone certificate. Complainant was extremely vulnerable and had a number of health issues. The defendant required an interpreter throughout. He was acquitted on all counts. Some of the issues involved in this case were genuinely novel. It was a truly exceptional case.

2017: R v B. 5 week trial before the Recorder of London. CCC

Allegations of Murder and causing/allowing the death of her 16 week old daughter. Cut throat defence with father of the child. The crown relied upon a plethora of leading experts in the following fields: pathology, paediatric pathology, radiology, osteoarticular pathology, neuro pathology, ophthalmic pathology and paediatrics. It was a stella line up.

This material had to be cross examined. There were substantial issues relating to domestic violence, bad character and disclosure. The case involved significant phone evidence, cell site and CCTV. My client was acquitted of murder. The case attracted national press coverage.

2017: R v O Ltd. 3 week trial. Chelmsford CC. Corporate manslaughter

Corporate Manslaughter and Health and Safety Offences. The case involved a subcontractor falling through a roof to his death. There was substantial cross examination of a Senior Environmental Health Officer, Senior Health and Safety Inspectors, a Chartered Quantity Surveyor, a Structural Engineer and other industry specialists. The defence involved allegations of collusion by some prosecution witnesses and was a cut throat against the subcontracting organisation.

2017: R v D. 2 week trial. Harrow CC. Firearms

Possession of firearms with intent to endanger life and Class A drugs supply. The case was originally linked to an attempted murder. The defence was duress.

2017: R v P. 1 week trial. Maidstone CC. Fraud

Fraud involving employee - breach of trust.

2016: R v W. 2 week trial. Canterbury CC. Rape and sexual assaults

Allegation of multiple rapes and sexual assaults by a defendant with severe learning difficulties on a complainant with significant physical disabilities and severe learning difficulties. Both had intermediaries. He had an intermediary throughout the proceedings. There was a complicated S41 application. The case required the preparation of an appropriately framed list of cross examination questions in line with the advocacy gateway, CPR and current case law. The document was approved by the court and intermediaries without correction. Cross examination was conducted without interruption. The defendant was acquitted on 4 of the 5 counts. There was a difficult sentencing exercise which required a deft touch. A determinate sentence was passed.

2016: R v Nibbs. 2 week trial. CCC. Murder

Husband beheading wife. Extensive legal submissions relating to loss of control. Significant cross examination of pathologist

2016: R v H. 5 week trial. CCC. Murder

Attempted murder by shooting. Hung jury.

2016: R v B. 1 week trial. Maidstone CC. Rape

Allegations of historical sexual assaults and rape. Acquitted.

2016: R v Jacobs. 3 week trial. Inner London CC. Murder

Murder by arson.

2016: R v P. Sexual assault of children by a child

Woolwich CC. Successful submission of doli incapax at the conclusion of the prosecution case.

2016: R v Crosbie. 2 week trial. Cambridge CC. Murder (stabbing)

Significant issues of bad character - both defendant and non defendant.

2016: R v M. 3 week trial. Maidstone CC

Allegations of historical child rape by a child on a child. The case involved significant abuse of process arguments and required an extremely skilled and deft approach as it included allegations against the client’s father and the death of the complainants father in related proceedings. Hung Jury. Crown offered no evidence.

2016: R v Azadbakht. 5 week trial. Woolwich CC. Murder (stabbing)

The case involved a multiplicity of complex issues including a dying declaration, hostile witnesses, the waiver of privilege in the context of a cut throat defence and numerous bad character applications with cross applications. In total there were well in excess of 30 separate documents uploaded onto the applications section of the DCS.

2016: R v D. 2 week trial. Maidstone CC. Sexual offences

Allegations of assault by penetration and sexual assault. Both the victim and the defendant were vulnerable. Acquitted of the main count.

2016: R v J. Snaresbrook CC. Causing death by dangerous driving

The defendant was unfit to plead as a consequence of the injuries she sustained in the collision. It involved a fitness to plead hearing and a jury trial on the issue of whether the defendant did the act. The case had experts from a number of disciplines and required the presentation of a defence case without instructions when the incident had been caught on CCTV. "The Defendant was Absolutely Discharged"

2016: R v M. 1 week trial. Maidstone CC. Conspiracy to supply

Following on from a 9 handed 11 week trial for conspiracy to supply class A in 2015 (see below) involving millions of pounds of drugs where the defendant was the only one not convicted because the jury were hung; at his retrial he was acquitted on all counts. Case involved over 29,000 pages of evidence. Top end drugs conspiracy.

R v Bartholomew. 7 week trial. Hove CC. leading on a multi handed murder as a junior

Acquitted on all counts. All other leading counsel whose clients were charged with murder and the crown were silks.

R v Gelezinis. 12 week trial. Maidstone CC. 4 handed murder

Acquitted on all counts. He conducted the case without a junior. All other defence teams and the crown were represented by silk and junior.

R v H. 7 week trial. Woolwich CC. Multi handed conspiracy

Multi handed conspiracy to pervert the course of justice involving the discharging of firearms and a hand grenade. He appeared for the main defendant.

R v Van Doesburg. 4 week trial. Leeds CC

£16 million importation of cocaine. Leading. Acquitted.

R v M. 11 week trial. Maidstone CC. 9 handed drugs importation

9 handed, multi million pound importations and supply class A – hung jury. M was the only defendant charged with drugs not to be convicted.

R v D. 5 week trial. Wood Green CC. multi handed gang rape

Multi handed gang rape of a 14 year old girl. Acquitted.

R v M. 7 week trial. Snaresbrook CC. Rape

leading – two handed multiple rapes and sexual assaults involving young boys. He appeared for the main defendant.

R v F. 3 week trial. Croydon CC. Sexual offences

Allegations of serious sexual assaults including rape perpetrated against 3 young women involving the use of an animal. Acquitted


  • City of London Polytechnic. LLB Hons (Business Law).
  • Inns of Court – Bar Course.

Other Information

Ian is an Advocacy Trainer with Inner Temple.

In addition to his practice Ian is heavily involved in the running of chambers and has responsibility for the finances. He is also one of the Equality and Diversity Officers. He is a family man who still enjoys playing football and tennis.

Latest News

Chambers and Partners UK Bar Rankings 2020

October 14 2019

Farringdon Chambers have been ranked in Chambers UK Bar 2020 Directory alongside individual rankings for Ian Henderson QC, Molly Pinkus,...

Members of Farringdon Chambers ranked in Legal 500

October 01 2019

Farringdon Chambers are delighted to announce that nine members have been recognised in the 2020 Legal 500 UK Bar directory. The...

Latest Successful Cases

February 18 2019

Soraya Lawrence leading Elizabeth Lambert secure acquittal of their client for conspiracy to cause GBH in alleged gang warfare following...

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