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John David Clifford

Year of Call: 1998


  • MPhil Criminology (Trinity Hall, Cambridge)

Area of work



John has extensive experience in serious and complex criminal litigation acting as both Leading and Junior Counsel in cases involving Organised Crime, Attempt Murder, Rape and Serious Sexual Offences, Conspiracy to Supply Class A drugs, Firearms & Drugs Importation, Fraud and Appellate Advocacy. He has been referred to as,’ ‘careful, diligent, determined and well prepared', and 'conducting himself with the highest standards in Court’.

•       Grade 4 Prosecutor on CPS Advocates Panel. 

•       Level 4 Prosecutor on CPS Serious Crime Group Advocates Panel.

•       Rape and Child Abuse CPS Panel Advocate.

Organised Crime

Operation Meaning – Kingston Crown Court

Instructed to Prosecute by CPS Organised Crime Division in case involving  prohibited firearm, ammunition and possession with intent to supply Class A drugs. Defendant made subject to two minimum mandatory sentences resulting in a term of 13 years imprisonment in total.

Operation Boilerman – Kingston Crown Court
Conspiracy to Supply Class A drugs
Instructed to Prosecute by CPS Organised Crime Division in investigation by National Crime Agency involving major conspiracy to supply 10kg cocaine at 90% purity with a street value approx. £1m. Both Defendants sentenced to 7 years and 6 years imprisonment respectively.

Operation Cliented – Maidstone Crown Court
Conspiracy to Supply Class B drugs.
Instructed to Prosecute by CPS Organised Crime Division in investigation by National Crime Agency involving major conspiracy to supply ½ tonne cannabis imported from Holland.

Operation Ravehood – Blackfriars Crown Court
Possession with intent to Supply Class A & Production of Class B drugs
Prosecuted case instructed by National Crime Agency involving investigation into Class A drugs supply and Organised Criminal Network. Surveillance on Defendant who was driving a van found to have secret compartments for transporting controlled drugs. There was ½ kg cocaine at 90% purity and a cannabis factory seized at Defendant’s address. Sentenced to 8 years imprisonment.

Other Conspiracy to Supply Class A & Firearms

R –v- Brown – Kingston Crown Court

Operation Trident investigation into importation of firearms from Slovenia. Package intercepted containing a number of pistols and fully automatic machine gun at courier depot. Defendant had previous conviction for the armed robbery of a bank. Defendant convicted and sentenced to 10 years imprisonment.

Operation V-Rod – Woolwich Crown Court
Operation Trident investigation into County Drugs line from South-East London to Somerset. Five Defendants arrested in vehicle on M25 with 300 wraps of cocaine and heroin as well as drugs paraphernalia. Investigation involved ANPR, forensic and cell site analysis. Case linked to Operation Hatchling and Forge run by Avon & Somerset Police into prolific drug dealing in Somerset. All Defendants convicted and sentenced to a total of 26 ½ years imprisonment.

R –v- Riaz & Taj Uddin – Snaresbrook Crown Court
Conspiracy to Supply Class A drugs; Conspiracy to transfer firearms, Conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation.
Prosecuted Operation Trident investigation into an Organised Criminal Network involving the supply and use of firearms, supply of controlled Class A & B drugs on a commercial scale including importation of over 10kg of heroin from Pakistan and participation in fraudulent identity theft. Both Defendants convicted after trial and sentenced to a total of 25 years imprisonment.

R-v- Mirembe & Ors - Isleworth Crown Court
Conspiracy to supply Class A drugs. 
Instructed as Lead Prosecution Counsel. The principal defendant, Wilson Mirembe, was running an organised criminal drug supply network from his prison cell. Operation Trident Gang Command carried out surveillance in Maidenhead. One vehicle was stopped which was found to be loaded with 8 kilos of ketamine, 8 kilos of mephedrone and eight kilos of methadrone-hydrochloride, also known as meow meow. More than £54,500 in cash was discovered. Sentenced to 9 years imprisonment.
http://www.maidenhead-advertiser.co.uk/News/Areas/Maidenhead/Nine-men-jailed-following-Maidenhead-drug-bust-17102013.html in two other vehicles.

Attempt Murder & Other Serious Violence

R –v- Cooke – Inner London Crown Court
Attempt Murder
Prosecuted Attempt Murder case in which vulnerable elderly victim was stabbed several times in his own home, suffering serious injuries including a punctured lung. Pathologist and body mapping report on severity and causation of injuries. Defendant convicted of GBH with intent after trial. Convicted and sentenced under dangerousness provisions in Criminal Justice Act 2003 and sentenced to 15 years imprisonment.

R –v- Harwood – Blackfriars Crown Court.
Attempt Murder
Instructed to Prosecute. The Defendant was represented by a Q.C. Victim sustained life changing injuries in a domestic related incident. Convicted and sentenced under dangerousness provisions in Criminal Justice Act 2003 to an equivalent sentence of 18 years imprisonment.

R-v- Darren Scott - Central Criminal Court
Attempt Murder
Instructed to Prosecute case in which the Defendant befriended the victim on the gay dating app 'Grindr' and stayed at his Mayfair address during which time he told friends that the victim's flat was his own and helped himself to use of the victim's credit cards. After two weeks during the course of which both had a sexual relationship, the Defendant stabbed the victim as he lay in bed twenty two times, causing life changing injuries.
The case involved the use of blood splatter forensic analysis, complex mobile and cell site analysis.
The Defendant was convicted and sentenced to 17 years imprisonment.

R –v- Owen Saunders & Ors – Woolwich Crown Court
Attempt Murder
Prosecuted Case involving serious violence within the travelling community which resulted in one victim sustaining life changing injuries. One Defendant was represented by a Q.C. The victims did not appear on the day of trial and an application was made and granted to have the ‘sole and decisive’ evidence read to the jury under s.116 Criminal Justice Act 2003. Due to events, the Defence renewed the application on two further occasions and on each occasion the Court upheld the initial ruling.

R-v- Ky-Shan Muir - Blackfriars Crown Court
Violent Disorder
Prosecuted case in which the Defendant acted in an aggressive and threatening manner as the leader of a gang with a, 'Rambo-style' knife when he was challenged by the victim who was defending his friend at a party attended by nearly 400 young people at the Andover Community Centre. The victim was then dragged along the ground and stabbed in the thigh. Fifteen similar knives were seized from the Defendants room as well as rap lyrics which were of a violent and sadistic nature.
The Defendant was convicted and sentenced to 51 months imprisonment.
The case involved an anonymity and voice modulation application under s.88 Coroners and Justice Act 2009.

Sexual Offences

R –v- Walters – Kingston Crown Court

Rape & ABH

Prosecuted case where victim met Defendant through mutual friend on evening in question at her address. All three were drinking before Defendant followed victim upstairs and made unwanted advances in bedroom. When victim refused, Defendant hit her in the face causing a bloodied black eye. He then raped her. Successfully resisted Defence s.41 application to admit victim’s previous consensual sexual behaviour with four other males. Defendant convicted and sentenced to 10 years imprisonment.

R –v- Lukwiya – Blackfriars Crown Court
Historic Rape & Sexual Assaults
Prosecuted historic sexual abuse by uncle on niece involving 9 charges of indecent assault under 1956 Act, Attempted Rape and Rape. Ground rules hearing and use of Advocates Toolkit. Defendant convicted after trial and sentenced to 15 years imprisonment.

R –v- Ossoro – Woolwich Crown Court
Multiple Sexual Assaults
Prosecuted multiple sexual assault case in which private tutor was alleged to have sexually abused two young children aged 8 and 11 years old. Ground rules hearing and use of Advocates Toolkit. Defendant convicted after trial and sentenced to 7 ½ years imprisonment.

Immigration Offences

R-v- Kenan Bakht & John Howard - Wood Green Crown Court
AG Reference No. 48/49 of 2015
Conspiracy to facilitate unlawful immigration
Prosecuted case in which Bakht was a lecturer at the Kensington College of Business. The college was accredited to offer degree courses from the University of Wales, and a director of a company concerned in the recruitment of overseas students.
Over a period of about a year, Bakht and Howard plotted to provide false documents and educational certificates which enabled students to apply to the Home Office for visa extensions.
Students paid up to £4,000 each for the certificates. In total there were some 177 Home Office visa applications which were found to be fraudulent with a value of £300k.
Both Defendants were convicted. Sentences of 5 years for Bakht and 2 1/2 years imprisonment for Howard were subsequently increased by the Court of Appeal to 8 years and 5 years imprisonment respectively.

Court of Appeal

Operation Pibera [Part 1]
R –v- Brandford & Ors, Court of Appeal Criminal Division/Woolwich Crown Court
Conspiracy to Supply Class A drugs
Operation Pibera - Instructed to Prosecute as Leading Counsel. This case involved an investigation by Operation Trident Central Gangs Unit into multi handed county drugs lines operating out of London to the South Coast. All 15 Defendants were convicted. First three Defendants received sentences of imprisonment totalling 27 ½ years. On Appeal against Conviction the defence of duress was considered and: (i) the circumstances in which a judge is entitled to withdraw the defence from the jury, (ii) whether the fact that a threat was conveyed indirectly is a fatal bar to the defence, and (iii) whether the defence is available where there is mere pressure based on the exploitation of a relationship, see R. v. Brandford (2016) 160(48) S.J. 43, CA ([2016] EWCA Crim. 1794) and [2017] 4 W.L.R. 17. The Appeal against Conviction was dismissed. Case linked to Operation Pibera [Part 2] which involves three of these Defendants in a major investigation on charges under the Modern Slavery Act 2015.

R –v- GP & AL, Croydon Crown Court.
False Imprisonment & Sexual Assault
Prosecuted case where Defendants were represented by two Q.C’s. The case involved extensive legal argument around disclosure and abuse of process. A ruling that stayed the case was successfully appealed under s.58 Criminal Justice Act 2003 and a re-trial was ordered. In the Court of Appeal led by Duncan Atkinson Q.C. T.C.

Pupillage Supervisor

Inner Temple Bar Liaison Committee

Inner Temple Advocacy Assessor

Inner Temple Interviewing Panel member for BPTC Scholarship Awards

Evidence training for Metropolitan Police at Hendon

Visiting Lecturer King's College, London

Secretary to Chambers and Member of the Management Committee

Criminal bar Association

South-East Circuit    


Mr John Clifford is regulated by the Bar Standards Board, holds a current practising certificate and his details can be found on the BSB’s Barrister Register https://www.barstandardsboard.org.uk/regulatory-requirements/the-barristers'-register/

Mr John Clifford holds insurance cover for all legal services supplied through professional indemnity insurance with the Bar Mutual Indemnity Fund (BMIF) The coverage is worldwide subject to their terms which are available on their website https://www.barmutual.co.uk/

Mr John Clifford is registered with the Information Commissioners office under the Data Protection Act https://ico.org.uk/

If you are not satisfied with the service that Mr John Clifford provides you can make a complaint to Chambers. Information on Chambers Complaints Procedure is available on Chambers website www.9kbw.com/about-us/complaints-procedure

If you are not satisfied with the response you receive from Chambers you may complain to the Legal Ombudsman (This must be done within the time limits set out) The contact details can be found on the Legal Ombudsman’s website  http://www.legalombudsman.org.uk/

A copy of Mr John Clifford's Privacy Notice with details of his Privacy Policy can be found by Clicking Here



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Operation Rockport : R –v- Draga & Ors, Wood Green Crown Court
John Clifford secures convictions of three Defendants operating within an Albanian Organised Criminal Network involved in people smuggling, fraudulent documentation

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Charles Drinnan succeeds for the Isle of Wight Council, the Respondent in an Appeal against an enforcement notice under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005
The Appellant appealed against an enforcement notice served by the Council over numerous dangerous fire safety issues in four properties on the Island – an important issue in the aftermath of the Grenfell fire

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