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John M Burton KC

John is a very experienced KC. He has conducted a large number of cases as a silk, including allegations of murder, fraud, serious sexual offences, blackmail, firearms, serious drug offences, terrorism and terrorism-related cases. He joined the Public Defender Service advocacy unit in 2014.

John Burton, QC
John Burton QC

Career highlights

Call: 1979
Silk: 2010

John was called to the Bar in 1979 and gained Silk, (King’s Counsel) in 2010. In 2008, he appeared in the Times Newspaper as “Lawyer of the Week” for his conduct of the successful appeal in the Court of Appeal case of Samina Malik, AKA “The Lyrical Terrorist”, who was reported to be the first female to be convicted under the provisions of the Terrorism Act 2000 and therefore the first to have her conviction quashed on appeal.

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Specialist areas


John’s fraud cases have involved immigration fraud, tax fraud, company fraud, and international banking fraud. He has also successfully taken some of these cases through the Court of Appeal.

Murder, manslaughter and serious violence

John has extensive experience in violent offences. A case that he took to the Court of Appeal is now one of the leading authorities on “loss of control” defences.

VHCC (Very high cost (criminal) cases)

Defended in numerous VHCC cases involving Fraud, Terrorism and POCA hearings. Currently instructed in one large-scale POCA hearing involving properties in the UK and abroad.

Complexity and scale of evidence

John has conducted many cases that have exceeded three months. The longest to date lasted eight months. He is accustomed to long and complex trials. He has dealt with cases involving vast quantities of papers, digital material and complex computer evidence. John is very experienced at, and interested in, scientific and medical issues, and in cross examining experts in these fields

Notable cases

R v Uddin 2018 (Fraud)

Eight-month VHCC case alleging an Immigration and Inland Revenue fraud against seven defendants. The case involved over 250,000 pages of evidence and involved allegation covering over five years. The client was a non-practising barrister who worked as an advisor for one of several linked immigration companies. The prosecution alleged that the defendants created many companies that then ‘employed’ immigration applicants on large salaries, deducting 40% tax from them each month. The large salaries ‘paid’ to them were then used to support their applications as tier one applicants. These are applicants who must acquire a number of points based upon the size of their income. At the end of the tax year the applicants, or someone purporting to be them, then reclaimed the tax back from the Inland Revenue. The fraud was that the companies only existed on paper and never employed anyone. False accounts had been created to make money loops whereby the same money was used repeatedly to appear as monthly income. No money was ever hand over to the Inland revenue and the claims for repayment were fraudulent. The defendant’s role was said to be assisting the applicants with the fraud. John drafted grounds of appeal against conviction to the Court of Appeal (see below).

R v Uddin 2021 – EWCA Crim 14 (Appeal)

John advised and settled grounds of appeal after an eight-month trial, on the basis that the trial judge had not summed up the defence adequately.

R v Carlo Dawes 2012 (Murder)

The Defendant arrived home in the early hours of the morning and discovered his wife asleep on the sofa with a sleeping man. The Defendant threw a vodka bottle at the victim, waking and stunning him at the same time and then got a knife which he plunged deep into the victim, killing him. He claimed that he acted in self defence but there were also a question of ‘loss of control’ in case. (John took the case on appeal to the Court of Appeal and this is now one of the leading authorities on ‘loss of control defences’.)

R v G 2020 (Serious sexual offences)

A case involving rape and sexual assault on a sex worker over a period of two days. John had represented the defendant in the past when he was acquitted of rape. The prosecution threatened to rely upon the previous acquittal in these proceedings and John was instructed to represent Mr G at trial.

R v AA 2021 (Drug offences)

The Defendant was charged with 12 others with offences of conspiracy to supply cocaine and money laundering. The prosecution alleged that this was a large conspiracy involving supply to much of the east coast of England and that AA and his brother were the ring leaders, involving supply of up to 30 kilos of cocaine over a period of six months. The conspiracy involved the use of encrypted ‘encro’ phones as well as ‘tumbler’ phones, phones that changed the phones identity IMEI code on each call. The police set up mobile surveillance of a large number of defendants and over 54,000 pages of evidence was served. Due to covid restrictions the defendant was only tried with his brother. The brother pleaded guilty on day 1 of the trial and so the defendant was tried alone on a case that lasted 6 weeks. He was convicted and sentenced to 14 years imprisonment, both conviction and sentence are now the subject of an appeal.

R v Abba Iqbal 2010 (Terrorism)

Representing the main Defendant in a six-week terrorism case referred to as the “Blackburn resistance” trial alleging that the Defendant and others were preparing for acts of terrorism, disseminating terrorist publications and possessing articles that were likely to be useful to terrorists. John took the matter on appeal to the court of Appeal and the case is referred to in the 2018 edition of Archbold at 25-186, relating to section 2 of the Terrorism Act 2006 and at 25-192 relating to section 5 of the Terrorism Act 2006. R. v. Iqbal (Abbas Niazi) and Iqbal (Ilyas Niazi), unreported, December 21, 2010, CA ([2010] EWCA Crim. 3215)