John Farmer


John Farmer has vast experience as a specialist Criminal barrister. The geographic spread of his practice encompasses London, East Anglia and the East Midlands but he is engaged on very serious criminal matters on a nationwide basis.

His practice embraces all serious criminal matters with an emphasis on top end violence, particularly murder and manslaughter, very serious sexual offences, heavy duty drug conspiracies and causing death by dangerous driving matters. He regularly prosecutes and defends numerous rapes, murders and drugs trials and prides himself in getting results quickly. To demonstrate this, in a snapshot of cases undertaken in a two week period recently the prosecution dropped three rape cases in which John was defending.

Prosecuting and defending serious drugs cases and large scale commercial dishonesty has given John exposure to, and significant experience of Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) matters. Of these cases, numerous matters have had confiscation values of £1 million and more. In two counties where John has prosecuted these offences have given rise to the biggest single recovery ever in each of the Counties.

In 2012 John Farmer received a commendation from the Chief Constable of Cambridge for his work on Operation Northwood. This operation, launched in September 2009, resulted in 67 arrests, 35 people charged with offences and a total of 198 charges being made, resulting in a total of custodial sentences in excess of 50 years being handed down. John took the cases through the Crown Court, “superbly presenting the evidence for the prosecution” and was awarded a commendation for his “dedication and professionalism in supporting the prosecution and superbly presenting the evidence to the court”.

Over the years John has had experience of a wide range of regulatory work, notably Health & Safety matters, and his practise has given him considerable experience in dealing with a wide range of experts – a skill which is utilised across all practice areas.

Chambers & Partners recommends Peter as a leading practitioner in crime:

“He regularly handles the most serious cases of murder, manslaughter and rape, and is also highly experienced in large-scale drug offences and fraud".

"Highly experienced advocate whose practice extends from the South Eastern Circuit to London and beyond".

"If you're up against him, you know it will be tough. He's a formidable opponent".

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  • Called to the Bar 1970
  • MA – Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge

Associations and memberships

  • Member of Gray’s Inn
  • South Eastern Circuit
  • Criminal Bar Association
  • Previous Chairman East Anglia Bar Mess and Ex offico member of South Eastern Circuit
  • Grade 4 CPS Prosecutor

Notable cases

Serious Crime/Fraud/Proceeds of Crime

R v P Prosecuted Prisoner serving life in high security prisons who alleged to have assaulted prisoner officers in two separate incidents and slashed another prisoner’s face as revenge for that prisoner slighting Kamal Bourgass , the Wood Green Ricin terrorist, who was the most significant supporter of the Taliban. The defence was that whilst the motive was correct, the offender was a prisoner who gave evidence for the defence: he was serving life, minimum 30 years for murder.

R v Quinton Leading junior. Prosecution of defendant charged with soliciting a hit man to murder her husband.

1. BBC

R v. Y Prosecuted solicitation to murder. The defendant was already in prison for soliciting to murder his wife. He now sought to solicit others, through the agency of fellow prisoners, finally to murder his wife.

R v F and others – led Sara Walker (C.P.S.) Prosecuted multi-handed manslaughter involving the killing of a prisoner by fellow inmates within a prison environment. Death not caused by direct blows but direct blows a trigger to death from pre existing heart condition.

R v P Leading Defence Counsel in a baby shaking case. The “triad” was present but not a single mark on the deceased. History of intense care of apparently genetically damaged child. Defence of ‘over lay’

R v Kumari-Baker – led Claire Matthews Led Claire Matthews on a highly publicised successful prosecution of a mother for the murder of her two teenage daughters by multiple stabbing. Defence was diminished responsibility. Convicted.

1. BBC

2. Times Online

3. Times Online

4. Telegraph

R –v- Terence Smith Leading defence counsel in a murder trial. Defendant acquitted of allegedly drug-related murder on identification defence.

R-v-Keogh & O’Connor Leading Defence counsel at the Old Bailey. Official Secrets Act prosecution arising from distribution of a Memo concerning a meeting between Prime Minister Blair and George Bush during Iraq War period.

Regina v Avery and others Leading counsel for the Crown in a trial involving allegations of public nuisance and blackmail by Animal Rights Activists (Huntingdon Life Sciences)

R v. Melchett and others Prosecuted Greenpeace members in GM crop protest at Norwich Crown Court

R -v- Street and others – led Andrew Shaw Operation Adrenalin – a four police force investigation into a series of armed robberies with firearms, aggravated burglaries and ram raids in Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire and Essex. All convicted.

R v. Moody Led for Defence at Norwich Crown Court.Double murder of defendant’s former partner and her new partner.Audio recording of all fatal events. A challenging case where a diminished responsibility defence was put forward.

R v. Clarke Defence. Ipswich Crown Court double murder trial. There was a real issue of whether second person was killed or died of natural causes. The background was the hard drinking culture of street life.

R v. Branch Led Angela Rafferty for defence of gypsy accused of murdering his elderly mother and gravely injuring father before setting fire to caravan in which they lived. Acquitted.

R v. L and others Led prosecution of 10 persons involved in organising various cannabis factories.

R v. H Prosecuted alone 8 defendants involved in one of three largest cannabis factories unearthed in the United Kingdom. Production was on an industrial scale in specially modified farm buildings.

R v. Burke Prosecution of an Aggravated Arson by dissatisfied litigant who, in the actual course of proceedings in the court room used petrol smuggled into court house. Called the sitting District Judge as a witness.

R v. Seel Represented a sex offender for breach of SOPA by exchanging “extraordinary sexual texts”. Successful submission of no case on Obscene Publications Act counts.

R v. Biriukas Represented the first defendant on the indictment. The defendant was a Lithuanian charged with 3 others with kidnapping another Lithuanian, the employee of an allegedly competing gangster. This case featured intense disclosure issues. The prosecution abandoned on day 6 during cross examination by John Farmer of the first witness who was also the complainant.

R v. K and others Prosecuted 5 Lithuanians involved inmultiple rape, trafficking in prostitution and sham marriages. All convicted after a series of trials.

R v. S-D Represented elderly defendant charged with attempted murder by multiple stab wounds of his carer who had, years before this, allegedly set fire to the house when the defendant was asleep and left him to burn.Convicted of section 18.

R v. X Successful prosecution of father for raping his daughter from age 11 – 16 during which he made her pregnant at 13 and “sold” her to business partner to permit him to rape her.

R v. Payne Prosecuted a Prison officer at Ipswich Crown Court for sexually abusing an inmate at a Young Offenders Institute.

R v. Mizan Defended a bulk professional handler and money launderer in a 2 week trial at Northampton Crown Court. Considerable POCA implications in aftermath.

R v. Reynolds and Reynolds In two separate trials, 2 years apart, John prosecutedfirst the father for double death by dangerous driving and then the daughter for double death by careless driving whilst under the influence of drugs.

R v. D and others Prosecuted a number of defendants involved in recovering a 400 kilo consignment of cannabis which had been in long term storage from East Anglia to the Midlands. All were convicted. After disputed Proceeds of Crime Act proceedings against D, an order exceeding £ 750K of Realisable Assets was made. At the time it was the highest figure in a single case in Norfolk. As an aside, D’s main witness in the trial was prosecuted for perjury and pleaded guilty.

R v. McGivern Prosecuted defendant for handling and money laundering. Most striking feature of case was that he had £ 500K in currency notes under the bath. Convicted after trial and then contested POCA. The benefit figure was in excess of £1.2 million and the realisable sum was over £900K, being the largest sum in a single case in Suffolk to that date.

R v. Bate Represented an accountant who carried out income tax fraud to assist the Managing Director (and owner) of the company for whom he worked. He received several hundred thousand pounds in payment. He pleaded guilty. Dealt with ensuing Proceeds of Crime proceedings by written submissions and argument in contested hearing reduced sum payable by over £100,000 and thereby avoided bankruptcy.

Regulatory Law

Norfolk Trading Standards v WE G & Sons represented 2 of partners in a sheep farming/trading business. prosecuted under the section 4(1) of the Animal Welfare Act 2006 for causing unnecessary suffering to sheep through failing to seek veterinary advice and under The Welfare of Animals (Transport) England Order 2006 for transporting sheep to the abattoir that were unfit to travel. Case against one partner dropped before case started and other stopped ion a successful submission at close of prosecution case.

A &Co Represented a Circus owner for breach of health and safety offences following an enquiry stimulated by a tragic death by falling of a trapeze artist which was not it subject of the prosecution.

B & Co Represented a sole trader demolition contractor for health and safety offences arising from death by falling from a roof of a sub-contractor.

C & Co Represented a main building contractor for major injury to employee of a sub-contractor by falling through an unprotected stair well.

D & Co Represented farming company for failing lawfully to control waste from a specialised crop

E & Co Represented race horse breeder for failing to control waste lawfully

F & Co Represented master and first officer of foreign registered ship arising from head on collision in the English Channel

G & Co Prosecuted a landlord and his friend for manslaughter, after an unqualified gas fitter was employed which led to the death of 2 tenants.

Sexual offences

R v. Kamauraus and others.Instructed by CCU Chelmsford , prosecuted 5 Lithuanians involved in multiple rape, trafficking in prostitution and sham marriages. All convicted after a series of trials.

R v. Richardson. Instructed by CPS Cambridge successful prosecution of father for raping his daughter from age 11 – 16 during which he made her pregnant at 13 and “sold” her to business partner to permit him to rape her. Convicted

R v. Payne. Instructed by CPS Ipswich Prosecuted a Prison officer for sexually abusing an inmate at a Young Offenders Institute. Convicted

R v. French. Instructed CPS Cambridge prosecuted repeat offender for sexual activity with a child (sexual intercourse)

R v. Redman. Instructed by CPS Cambridge, sexual activity with a child (sexual intercourse) by a serving police officer having started his offending before he was recruited.

R v. Eagle. Instructed by CPS Cambridge. Repeated Rapes against the defendant’s two sisters’ in law, both of whom suffered from profound learning difficulty.