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. Case highlights include representing the former CEO of Cambridge Analytica in the Facebook data breach scandal and other high profile matters (see notable cases below).
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.
Criminal Defence and Police Investigations
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 well known 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.
- R v AN (2018) – Acting for the former CEO of Cambridge Analytica in relation to the Facebook Data Breach scandal including representing the client at his hearing before the DCMS Parliamentary Select Committee.
- R v GM (2017) – Represented a Hedge Fund manager at Southwark Crown Court following allegations of controlling and coercive behaviour and assault against his wife. The client was acquitted of all charges.
- 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 Y (2015) – Ongoing representation of a Hedge Fund, following HMRC dawn raid. Advising on the legality of searches and technical aspects of mutual legal assistance between member states.
- R v X (2015) – Representing 4 accountants in an ongoing high profile investigation relating to allegations of tax evasion.
- 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, Press Highlights, Speaking Engagements & Blogs
- One minute with... David Sleight - Writes for Tax Journal, February 2020
- The Corporate Offence of Failure to Prevent the Facilitation of Tax Evasion - October 2019
- Coming soon: the Domestic Abuse Bill - May 2019
- Changes to the Code for Crown Prosecutors - Interviewed by Lexis Nexis, November 2018
- New guidance for prosecutors will make the slow grind of our legal system worse - Writes for The Times, November 2018
- HMRC takes on off-shore tax evasion - October 2017
- Will the new corporate offence of failure to prevent tax evasion and enhanced international tax transparency change the landscape for tax investigations? - October 2017
- Failure to prevent tax evasion? Responsibility shifted from HMRC onto companies - October 2017
- Corporate Crime Q&A: The new corporate offence of failure to prevent tax evasion - September 2017
- 50 years on from the Sexual Offences Act 1967 - July 2017
- Bahamas succumbs to OECD pressure to implement the Common Reporting Standards - June 2017
- United Arab Emirates: the latest "tax haven" to sign up to enhanced tax transparency - May 2017
- HMRC continue to clampdown on aggressive tax avoidance schemes - May 2017
- Budget 2017: 35 "New" ways to tackle tax avoidance and evasion - March 2017
- Beckham's HMRC "Red Card" is a sign of the times - February 2017
- Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) - Is the CPS Strategy Working? - February 2017
- Government pressure driving HMRC’s scatter gun approach to criminal investigations - Writes for Accountancy Age, April 2016
- The law regarding entrapment - Quoted in Law Society Gazette
- Podcast on entrapment, for CPD cast
- What the Budget means for tax avoidance - Writes for Economia
- UK Turns Up Heat On Alleged Tax Evaders With Strict Liability Offence - Wealth Briefing
- Could transparency kill offshore law? Quoted in The Times - April 2016
- Cameron’s tax proposals more bark than bite - Quoted in Spear's, April 2016
- Scope of new tax evasion offence ‘compliance nightmare’ - Quoted in Law Society Gazette, April 2016
- Tax evaders to feel full force of the law - Comments in The Independent, December 2015
- Government softens plan to criminalise unwitting offshore tax evasion - Comments in The Guardian, December 2015
- Law firms oppose HMRC’s plans to make failure to prevent tax evasion a criminal offence - Quoted in Managing Partner
- HMRC amends draft measures on offshore tax evasion - Comments in STEP, December 2015
- CPS and police struggle under the load of sex abuse investigations - October 2015