Claire Matthews


Claire Matthews works across the South Eastern Circuit, with an exclusively criminal law practice. With a practice almost equally divided between prosecuting and defending, she has been instructed in cases including armed robbery, serious violence, firearms, child abuse, serious sexual offences, major drugs, and mental health cases. She is regularly instructed in criminal cases involving expert evidence, complex third party issues, and cases with a particular emphasis on infant death/serious injury/neglect.

She has also been instructed as junior counsel in cases of murder, attempted murder, manslaughter, firearms offences, serious fraud and money laundering.

She has recently both prosecuted and defended parents/guardians in murder and manslaughter cases of alleged ‘Shaken Baby Syndrome’, and has a professional interest in medico-legal evidence.

Read more

Areas of practice


  • Called to the Bar 1998
  • LLB (Hull)

Associations and memberships

  • Member of Inner Temple
  • South Eastern Circuit (Secretary of the South Eastern Circuit Liaison Committee)
  • Criminal Bar Association
  • Junior Representative for the Cambridge & Peterborough Bar Mess
  • Grade 4 prosecutor and on the CPS panel of approved counsel for Rape cases

Notable cases

R V M & Ors

Successful defence of teenage defendant charged with murder. 8 week trial, led by Alastair Malcolm QC

1.Daily Mail

2. ITV

R v Daly et al

Successfully defended in alleged child exploitation ring. Trial lasting 8 weeks involved 5 defendants, those convicted facing sentences totaling 32 years. Complex issues concerning definitions of informed consent. See links below for more information:

1. ITV

2. BBC


4. BBC


R v CH

Represented a father charged s.18 of his newborn baby. Psychiatric issues relating to PTSD. Successfully argued for an exceptional non-custodial sentence.

R v MK

Prosecuted a defendant found unfit to be tried, for the rape of a complainant who had died since the rape. Described by the Judge as being unheard of in his vast experience, the entire case was based on a series of complex hearsay applications drafted by Claire in order to allow the case to proceed despite the death of the complainant. Intricate forensic evidence involving forensic, medical and fibre transfer evidence.

R v E

Successfully represented young defendant charged with multiple rapes/serious sexual assaults of two very young girls (from the age of 4/5 years old). Case involved cross examination of very young witnesses, complex issues of third party material, and a young troubled defendant

R v Rose

Successfully prosecuted case involving abduction and rape of a 12 year old girl by a 36 year old Army reservist who groomed her through social networking and the blackberry messenger service. Defendant was sentenced to 17 years.

1. BBC

2.Daily Mail

3. BBC

R v AR

Successfully represented a mother accused of s.18 GBH of her 15 month old baby by deliberating immersing him in a scalding bath. Case involved considerable and complex expert evidence, including evidence of a heating engineer, eminent plastics and reconstructive surgeons, and Consultant Paediatricians as to issues of child development.

R v R

Prosecuted a father for causing grievous bodily harm to his 9 week old baby son. Complex medical issues concerning inherited Rickets and Vitamin D deficiency.

R v Ali & Ors

Defence counsel in the case of a significant and widespread “crash for cash” conspiracy whereby staged car accidents formed the basis of a £500,000 fraud on various insurance companies over the course of several years.

R v P

Prosecuted woman who befriended and seduced a twelve year old boy. Huge media interest – see links below

1.Daily Mail

2. Express

3. The Sun

4. Mirror

5. Cambridge News

6. Cambridge News

R v Acas

Junior counsel (led by Karim Khalil QC) for the defence. Murder by repeatedly stamping on victim. The body was then hidden under a mattress at the same address.

1. BBC

2.Cambridge Times

3. BBC

R v S

Junior defence counsel in extremely complex baby murder case. Case involved complex medico-legal issues concerning genetic disorders in infants.

R v C

Junior defence counsel representing woman charged with the murder of her partner. Case involved interesting issues of previous domestic violence and complex bad character issues.

R v F

Defence counsel for lead defendant in multi-handed manslaughter, involving the alleged killing of a prisoner by fellow inmates within a prison environment. Expert evidence relating to previous medical condition of the deceased and likely impact on the pathological findings.

R v A

Successful prosecution for campaign of historic rapes and serious sexual abuse of numerous children, spanning 20 year period, and involving special needs witnesses through the use of intermediary and picture/image evidence. Sentenced to 16 years imprisonment.

R v K

Junior counsel for the Crown in double child murder. Successfully prosecuted mother for murder of her two teenage daughters.

R v S

Junior Defence Counsel in complex immigration/people trafficking fraud.

R v P

Junior Defence Counsel in baby shaking case. Significant medical issues – defence of ‘over lay’.

R v B and C

Junior Crown Counsel. Conspiracy to Murder, two defendants successfully prosecuted for arranging the torture and execution of a man by shooting and setting body on fire. Extradition proceedings.

R v H

Prosecuted series of allegations of rape, false imprisonment, and strangulation by man against partner.

R v J

Junior Crown Counsel in Major Organised Crime/Fine Arts investigation into antiquarian book fraud. Repatriation of proceeds of crime from Cuba for confiscation proceedings in High Court.

R v H

Junior Defence counsel in ‘suicide pact’ murder.

R v G

Prosecuted evidentially difficult death by dangerous driving involving significant causative/novus actus issues.

R v N

Represented defendant charged with Causing Death by Dangerous Driving whilst under the influence of Amphetamine. Case involved challenge to toxicological evidence and to propriety of roadside impairment tests. Cross-examination lead to a change in the wording of the Code of Practice in roadside impairment tests. Defendant convicted and sentenced to 6 years, later reduced on appeal to 4 years.

Directory recommendations

Chambers & Partners and Legal500 have given Claire Matthews their highest accolade – a ‘rated individual’ recommendation each year. See below for this and previous years comments:


"Her preparation is incredible, and she's so well respected, kind and reassuring with clients." "Very tactically astute".

Legal500 state in their 2020 directory:
"Prosecutes and defends with a particulart focus on serious violent or sexual offences".


"Her commitment, tenacious attitude and hard-working approach never fail to impress". "Her preparation is second to none and her ability to read the judiciary is incredible".

Legal500 state in their 2019 directory:
"Prosecutes and defends across a wide range of serious criminal cases".


"A courageous barrister, she is prepared to fight for her client and not afraid to say what needs to be said. Her client care is amazing".


"A superb advocate, she is tenacious and she is also extremely good with clients". "Her preparation is very good, very high calibre. Any case that requires a high level of information and concentration is where she would shine". "Recommended for serious murder and sexual offence cases".


"Has a broad criminal practice, equally divided between defending and prosecuting. Her caseload includes cases concerning child abuse, firearms, drugs and mental health among many other issues."


 "She is extremely intelligent, very good with the clients and very tactically astute."


"Receives praise as a talented junior who is renowned for her client oriented approach". "A junior barrister to watch, she acted for the prosecution in R v Diane Pullar, a high profile sexual abuse case".

Legal500 state in their 2017 directory:

“Highly experienced in sexual offence cases".