Ian Unsworth [Queen's Counsel: 2010]

Year of call

1992, Lincoln's Inn  [Queen's Counsel: 2010]

Areas of work

Serious and Complex Crime

Serious Fraud

Sports Law for organisations and elite individuals



Ian Unsworth QC has vast experience in dealing with cases of the utmost complexity, seriousness and sensitivity. 

His practice embraces serious and complex crime, serious fraud, regulatory, sports law and all areas requiring the skills of a specialist advocate.

His clients include prosecuting agencies, major defence firms, off shore prosecuting agencies, police forces, regulatory bodies, niche regulatory firms, FTSE 100 companies, company directors and organisations and individuals connected with professional sport.

He provides specialist advice to companies and directors.

He likes to be involved in cases from the earliest opportunity and embraces a team approach to litigation. Always accessible, Ian provides clear and robust advice to his clients in a direct and straightforward manner.

He works tirelessly for those instructing him and seeks to provide advocacy of the highest order. 

He is a Public (Direct) Access Qualified Barrister.


Ian Unsworth QC has appeared in hundreds of criminal cases over a period spanning 22 years. He has acted in countless cases involving Murder, International Drugs Conspiracies, Gangland Warfare, Serious Fraud, Corruption and all categories of Heavy Crime.

He relishes being involved in a case from a very early point.

He always seek to ensure that the key issues are identified at a very early stage. His work in Murder cases has brought about a keen interest in Pathology, Medicine generally and all areas of Forensic Science.

He is fully computer literate and at ease working in a paperless environment. The future is Apple!

His work in Complex Fraud cases has enabled him to gain considerable experience of Asset Tracing, Banking, Computer Law, Confiscation, Money Laundering, VAT frauds and numerous other instances of White Collar allegations.

Whether his client is an individual or an organisation, Ian will work tirelessly on their behalf and will always seek to ensure that no stone is left unturned in the pursut of a just outcome.


Before taking Silk Ian Unsworth QC was a member of the Attorney General's A List of Prosecuting Counsel and was also, at that time, one of only 2 Northern Circuit members of the Serious Fraud Office A List. He has vast experience in dealing with cases of the utmost complexity, seriousness and sensitivity.

He provides specialist advice and representation to a range of clients, including companies, company directors, FTSE 100 companies, SMEs, major defence firms, prosecuting agencies including CPS Fraud Group, off shore prosecuting agencies, police forces, regulatory bodies, niche regulatory firms as well as individuals.

He is a member of Fraud Barristers Direct which provides direct niche advice and specialist representation in cases involving allegations and investigations of white collar crime.

He has extensive knowledge of VAT Carousel Frauds, Asset Tracing, Banking and Computing Law, Confiscation, Off - Shore Jurisdictions, Money Laundering and all White Collar related crime.

His cases have involved enormous investigations involving alleged frauds worth hundreds of millions of pounds. Often, these cases involve monies being moved across several continents.

He likes to be involved in cases from the earliest opportunity and embrace a team approach to litigation.

He always seeks to be accessible, down to earth and provide clear and robust advice to his clients in a direct and straightforward manner. He works tirelessly for those instructing him and always seeks to provide oral and written advocacy of the highest order.


Ian Unsworth QC advises and represents International Athletes, Sporting Organisations, Sports Management Companies, Professional Footballers Rugby League players and other elite sporting individuals.

His knowledge of medical matters has meant that he has developed a keen interest in cases involving allegations of anti - doping as well as concussion.

He has appeared before Disciplinary and Regulatory Tribunals as well as the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne, Switzerland.

He has represented various professional sportsmen and other individuals connected with sport in proceedings before the Crown Court. 

He has a deep interest in many Sports, including Football, Rugby Union (being a qualified coach and former Chairman of a Junior and Minis section of a National League Rugby Union Club) and Golf (being a single figure handicap golfer as a junior).

His love  of multi - sports has led to him becoming an age - group triathlete: he is  now working (slowly) towards his first Ironman.

In 2014 he completed the Virgin London Marathon as well as the Great North Swim. 

Professionally Ian Unsworth QC sits as an RFU Disciplinary Chairman and Single Judicial Officer . He is on the RBS 6 Nations Panel and in the Summer of 2014 will be a Judicial Officer for the World Club Sevens Tournament.

In dealing with high profile athletes and organisations he understands the need for clear advice, discretion and sensitivity. 


Prior to becoming a Barrister, Ian Unsworth QC worked in a management role in private industry.

He graduated in Business Law and hence Ian has developed an expertise and a keen interest in Regulatory and Disciplinary Law.

His cases have included those involving Environment, Health and Safety, Business, Innovation and Skills, Revenue and Customs as well as Transport. His clients have included Government organisations, private individuals, small, medium and large organisations, FTSE 100 blue chip corporate bodies.

In  Disciplinary Proceedings he has acted in cases involving professionals both from commerce and cross-over areas of sport.

He is a firm believer in early advice and identification of the issues as being key to a successful outcome.

Notable cases


R v Dickinson, Royston and Raynor - Murder - Nottingham 2014 

R v Dennis O'Neill - Murder - Liverpool 2014

R v Schofield, Dowling, Duffy - Murder - Nottingham 2014

R v John Clinton - Manslaughter - Liverpool 2014

R v Gary George - Murder Chester 2013

R v Kawalec and others- Murder in Carlisle 2013

Operation Foldahl - East End Gangland Double "Execution" murder - Old Bailey

R v Colin Clarke & Others - the murder of university medical student Muneeb Naseer

R v Jones, Rigby and Smith – the murder of John Jaundoo

R v Moore and others – the murder of Liverpool Cadet Joseph Lappin

R v Heaps – the murder of 3 year old Francesca Bimpson in night time arson attack

R v Wilkinson and Skelhorn - the murder of Thomas Thompson in Liverpool Edge Lane Hotel.

R v Wooley - Gangland murder of Michael Wright

R v Culshaw - Ritualistic killing – whole life order

R v Stephenson - Southport body under the boardwalk killing

R v Daniel Breaks - Horrific Murder on the Wirral resulting in 30 year term

R v Ashton & others - Gang related murder of Leon Small

R v McGarry & Wells - Teenagers charged with murder

R v Matthew Lucas - Cumbrian Chef involved in attempted murder of 2 people sleeping at house party.

R v Lightfoot – the assault of an off duty soldier by a Special Constable.


Operation Nahum – Police Corruption

Operation 48 – Police Corruption

International Drugs Conspiracies

Operation Needles – Major Drugs Ring with International Dimension

Operation Montrose – International Drugs conspiracies involving a number of trials involving UK and European Nationals

Operation Lima – International Drug Conspiracy involving sentences up to 26 years.

Operation Dedans – Large Scale International Drug conspiracy involving number of seizures including 70 kg of cocaine bound for UK

Operation Chamform – UK largest ever Amphetamine Factory

Operation Meniscus – Large Scale Drugs Enterprise/ Money Laundering

Operation Cirrate – Conspiracy to supply Class A & B drugs – number of defendants

Operation Tennyson – Large scale Drugs Importation – sentences totalled over 100 yearsOperation Walrus – Multi Million Pound Large Scale Greater Manchester Drugs Ring

Other cases of Interest

R v M & S – Police officers charged with Causing Death by Dangerous Driving following fatal collision occurring during training course (Case caused UK suspension of VASCAR training)

R v Volante – Isle of Man Gym Instructor convicted of numerous sexual allegations



Advising FTSE 100 company in complex and sensitive matter

Operation Shootout – multi-million pound alleged MTIC fraud

Operation Humidity – multi-million pound false invoice fraud

R v B & M – Alleged Multi Million Pound Customs Fraud – acted for acquitted director of shipping agency;

R v Dudley – Company Director convicted of Million Pound Long Firm Fraud;

Operation Cosgrove – Large Scale Insurance Fraud

Operation Abraid – Alleged Million Pound + International Money Laundering Fraud;

Operation Eggcups – Represented Individual accused of heading a large scale Excise Fraud – acquitted following extensive legal arguments

Operations Walrus 2 and 3 – large scale money laundering.



Appeared for FTSE 50 organisation in regulatory proceedings;

Appeared before the Traffic Commissioner in relation to major regulatory Public Inquiry.

Acted for various professionals in relation to disciplinary / regulatory matters

Represented International Athlete and prospective Olympian before the Court of Arbitration for Sport, Lausanne, Switzerland

Advised Management Company of Premier League and International Footballer

BERR v K – Defence of company director charged in UK’s first ever prosecution brought under the Chemical Weapons Act

Education & Qualifications

University of Huddersfield LLB (Hons) Business Law 1988-1991

Inns of Court School Of Law 1991-1992

Appointments & Memberships
  • Appointed to the SFO QC Panel: 2010 (as a Junior, a member of the SFO “A” List)
  • Appointed to the Attorney General’s “A” List: 2006
  • Appointed as Category 4 Prosecuting Counsel: 2003
  • Licensed as a Temporary Advocate in the Isle of Man 2008

Other Appointments

  • RFU Chairman of Disciplinary Appeals Panel and Single Judicial Officer


Recommended as a Leading Silk in both Chambers and Partners and the Legal 500 UK edition.

"Recognised particularly for his expertise in heavyweight crime cases, including those concerning complex murder and serious fraud. He acts for both the prosecution and defence" (Chambers and Partners 2014)

"The next superstar of the Northern Circuit. He is heavily in demand." - Chambers and Partners Legal Directory 2013

"Ian Unsworth QC has a practice that covers the most serious, sensitive and complex cases. In addition to heavyweight murders, he has extensive expertise in the area of fraud" - Chambers and Partners Legal Directory 2011

"Clients' appreciate Ian Unsworth’s understanding and approachable demeanour. He is praised for his ‘stout work recently in fraud and homicide cases’." - Chambers and Partners Legal Directory 2010


Interests: all sports, in particular, Rugby Union, Football and Golf. Running, Skiing and Wine.