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Rory Keene

Rory Keene is an accomplished criminal barrister across the spectrum of criminal law, with a focus on jury advocacy in the gravest criminal proceedings and an emphasis on private criminal defence in fraud, drugs and violence.

He accepts instructions as a direct-access criminal barrister and is often instructed from the earliest pre charge stages of criminal proceedings through to appeal. He is renowned for achieving remarkable results when defending at trial.

He has appeared in numerous high profile criminal cases, appeared for the editor of a well-known national tabloid and several defendants suggested to be the figureheads of intentional criminal networks.

From the beginning of his career, Rory developed a reputation at the highest level: He acted as junior in the Privy Counsel at 1 year call, received his first junior brief in a murder at 2 years’ call and first led at 5 years’ call.

He is appointed to the highest level of prosecution (grade 4) appears on behalf of HMRC in the VAT tribunal.

Rory’s main areas of practice:

  • Professional fraud and misconduct
  • Commercial fraud
  • Drugs
  • Murder and manslaughter
  • Corruption
  • Money laundering
  • Tax avoidance/Evasion/VAT fraud
  • Health and safety
  • Food and drugs
Notable cases

Murder and Manslaughter

The Essex Lorry deaths case: Acting for the first defendant [‘GN’] in R v Ronan Hughes & Others: relating to the manslaughter of 39 Vietnamese nationals found dead inside a lorry at Purfleet, Essex.

R v M F H: shooting in Kilburn, Murder sentence reduced on appeal.  

R v TW: Successful CCRC submission; Murder.

R v Shabaz Khan: client [‘TC’] alleged to have entrapped the deceased, where he was brutally attacked before being driven out to the Pete district and cast down a ravine. Acquitted of murder. 

R v MIK: client alleged to have perpetrated a knife attack on 3 men and a woman  (attempted murder x 4) in a home address in Windsor, the most serious attack resulting in the complainants permanent loss of the use of his arm. The client was a highly regarded city financier who believed he had been lured to the address and was forced to act in self-defence.  Acquitted.

R v Turkson: client alleged to have conducted a brutal skull stabbing. Acquitted. 

R v Neville Knight EWCA Crim 237: Successful appeal against a Life Sentence

R v Mercieca & Others: Gangland murder.  



R v Jesus Guiterrez Marcos: The client was alleged to have arranged 2 direct flights from Colombia on a private hire jet, and imported 1000 kilos Cocaine. Client fled the country on the day the second importation was discovered and was extradited back to the UK from Thailand. Acquitted.

R v Wozniak: Conspiracy to import 1, 500 kilos Class A: client received 6 ½ years after a Newton Trial.

R. v Hyde (Daniel) & 7 others  [2016] EWCA Crim 1031: the court considered then powers of the single judge in relation to granting leave to appeal against sentence.

R v Martin O’Neil & Others: Importation of Cocaine: Client [‘JS’], a well-known Essex figure, Acquitted on this 3rd occasion of Cocaine importation, despite 2 previous convictions for identical offences of Cocaine importation).

R v Jamie Green & Others: 250 kilos Cocaine, brought in off the Isle of Wight; later ‘the freshwater 5’.

Heath, Miller & Matthew v Government of the United States of America [2002] UKPC 3: Extradition to the US and the conformity of the 1870 Act with the St Christopher and Nevis constitution (Client US Government).



R v EM: Banker represented on abuse of process in fraudulent loan application matter. The client was the youngest ever board member at Lehman Brothers and had gone on to establish a successful special situations fund. Prosecution accepted dramatically reduced pleas with no ancillary orders, i.e. no disqualification.

R v NS Alongside Josh Normanton succeeded in the defence of a director (licensed accountant) who was accused of fraudulent trading connected with the business activities of her accountancy firm; an advance fee fraud.

Askaris Information Technology Ltd v Revenue and Customs Commissioners. (client HMRC) £1,000, 000 input tax denial / disruption. Appeal denied

R v Wren & Others: Land banking fraud. Client [‘DB’]  was the sole director of the trading company for 2 years in a 4 year fraud. Acquitted (all other directors and defendants convicted). 

R v Wilmot: £4 million cheat. Client [‘CT’] the sole director acquitted (all other directors convicted).

R v WB: International conspiracy Re duty evasion. Associated VAT tribunal Re quarterly reclaims of £29 million. Acquitted.

  • Watford Grammar School for Boys
  • BSc (Hons) UMIST (University of Manchester)
  • Inns of Court School of Law (Very Competent)