David has an extensive criminal litigation background. Regularly acting for individuals and companies in high profile cases, he specialises in providing advice at the crucial early stages of an investigation. This includes representing clients who are arrested and interviewed under caution, challenging the legality of search warrants and other investigatory powers and making pre-charge representations to the police and prosecuting authorities.
Astute and practical in his approach, David’s early involvement in the case can make the difference between being charged with an offence or not. Should matters progress to court he is meticulous in his preparation and has a high acquittal rate.
David acts for defendants, witnesses and victims in a broad range of criminal matters, including: serious assaults, sexual offences, internet and cyber crime, road traffic offences, theft, drugs offences, harassment and murder.
He has significant experience in representing high profile individuals (including sports stars, celebrities and senior executives) who come into contact with the authorities. Whether the client is in the public eye already or wishes to avoid publicity at all costs, David understands the importance of reputation management and adopts a tenacious yet discreet approach, with a view to getting the best possible result for the client.
David’s ‘white collar’ crime practice includes acting for companies and individuals accused of complex financial investigations involving fraud, overseas corruption and mutual legal assistance (MLA). He specialises in defending tax evasion/fraud allegations brought by HMRC and has developed a specialist expertise in advising in cross border tax litigation involving MLA requests between Member States.
David has experience in defending money laundering allegations under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002, as well as the associated proceedings relating to restraint, forfeiture and confiscation.
He acts for individuals in investigations and prosecutions brought by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC), The National Crime Agency (NCA), The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) and the Information Commissioners Office (ICO) – see list of notable cases below.
Notable Cases (in the public domain)
- R v X (on-going) – Representing 4 accountants in a high profile investigation relating to allegations of tax evasion.
- R v Y (on-going) – Representing a Hedge Fund, following HMRC dawn raid. Advising on legality of searches and technical aspects of mutual legal assistance between member states.
- R v PN (2017) – Acted for a former CFO investigated for Data Protection Act offences in large scale operation by the ICO (Operation Spruce). Following representations to the ICO no further action was taken.
- R v CB (2015) – Represented celebrity accused of sexual assault. Defended the client at his police station interview. No further action was taken.
- R v BF (2015) – Represented a former British Airways Pilot in high profile case relating to historic sexual offences.
- R v AL (2015) – Represented Premiership footballer accused of assault. Defended the client at his police interview under caution and thereafter made successful representations to the police that no further action should be taken.
- R v FB and GB (2014) – Acted for two Directors facing allegations of fraudulent trading against the Ministry of Defence. On 3 November 2014 at Southwark Crown Court, following seven years of litigation, not guilty verdicts were officially entered. The Prosecution decision not to proceed with this matter followed substantial representations made to the reviewing lawyer as to why the defendants should not be prosecuted.
- R v AV (2014) – Acted for a solicitor accused of causing death by careless driving during her trial at Southwark Crown Court. The client was acquitted.
- R v LR (2013) – Represented Premiership Footballer accused of rape allegations at his police interview and beyond. In January 2014 the case was formally dropped by the CPS with no further action being taken.
- R v SW (2013) – Represented a Taxidermist accused of fraud and breaches of the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). Following significant disclosure and abuse of process arguments, the prosecution conceded that the client was unable to have a fair trial.
- R v JC (2012) – Acted for a property developer in relation to corruption allegations between himself and the Government of the Turks & Caicos Islands. A civil recovery settlement was agreed with no criminal findings.
- R v AS (2012) – Acted for Premiership Footballer following his arrest for dangerous driving. The client received a financial penalty and avoided a custodial sentence.
- R v W (2011) – Acted for two directors of a multi-million pound scrap metal business, accused of conspiracy of handling stolen beer kegs. Following written representations to the CPS and abuse of process arguments the Prosecution dropped the case against both clients.
- R v TT (2010) – Represented the father of England Footballer John Terry for supply of Class A drugs following a News of the World Sting.
- R v RM (2010) – Acted for an individual in a wide scale Cartel/Competition Act investigation by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) into an automotive component supply company.
- Baha Mousa Public Inquiry (2009) – Acted for a number of soldiers who were witnesses at this large scale Public Inquiry, which investigated the death in custody of Iraqi Hotel receptionist, Baha Mousa, following interrogation by British troops.
- R v DJ (2008) – Represented an interpreter in the British Army in relation to misconduct in a public office and Official Secrets Act charges.
What clients say
“Thank you for all your help during the interview, it was such a stressful day, and although not something that I enjoyed, so great to have you advising me.”
“My son and I were arrested in March 2010 and charged with fraud to the value of £2.1 million in June 2011. It is difficult to express the trauma that we and our families endured over four years until the case against us was dismissed..…. If I had not met David and we had remained with the previous solicitors I believe that we could be serving a prison sentence now as a result of the sheer amount of mud thrown and the unfairness of the investigation. I cannot speak highly enough of David and his team. He undertook the task of defending us with the disadvantage of being at least two years behind the prosecution. The team worked tirelessly to understand and manage the heavy, complex prosecution case against a background of procrastination and a lack of openness by the police.”
“From every aspect of the litigation together with all the practical things…..You will never know how much you have helped us get through this period in our lives, but from the bottom of both our hearts thank you.”
Professional societies and memberships
Publications and articles
- Changes to the Code for Crown Prosecutors, November 2018, Lexis Nexis
- New guidance for prosecutors will make the slow grind of our legal system worse, November2018, The Times
- Government pressure driving HMRC’s scatter gun approach to criminal investigations, Accountancy Age
- The law regarding entrapment, Law Society Gazette,
- CPS and police struggle under the load of sex abuse investigations
- Podcast on entrapment, for CPD cast
- What the Budget means for tax avoidance , economia
- UK Turns Up Heat On Alleged Tax Evaders With Strict Liability Offence, Wealth Briefing
- Could transparency kill offshore law?, The Times
- Cameron’s tax proposals more bark than bite ,Spear's
- Scope of new tax evasion offence ‘compliance nightmare’, Law Society Gazette
- Tax evaders to feel full force of the law, The Independent
- Government softens plan to criminalise unwitting offshore tax evasion , The Guardian
- Law firms oppose HMRC’s plans to make failure to prevent tax evasion a criminal offence, Managing Partner
- HMRC amends draft measures on offshore tax evasion, STEP
David has a confidence-inspiring style in which he clearly demonstrates his considerable knowledge and experience of criminal law but also possesses the rare ability to transfer this confidence to the client."
Chambers and Partners, 2019
"criminal expert David Sleight (is) also active in sports litigation"
Legal 500 UK
Legal 500 UK 2019
"...esteemed for his intellectual capacity and ability in both serious sexual offence and motor crime cases..."
Chambers and Partners, 2016
"...He is very relaxed in his manner but his approach to work is incredibly diligent and hard-working. He has superb judgement and a great manner with clients..."
Chambers and Partners, 2016