Background Gavel
John Briant
Year of call:


John qualified as a barrister after two and a half decades working as a police station representative defending suspects accused of the most serious offences.

This experience means that he has knowledge criminal defence work beyond his call and led to him practicing in the crown court immediately upon qualification.

John appears in the crown court defending those accused of a wide range of offences including violence, dishonesty and drug offences.  He has experience representing defendants vulnerable by reason of age, learning disability, neurodivergence and mental health.

John has been involved in the representation of protestors for over a decade in all areas of the criminal justice system. Recently he has been involved in the defence of many Extinction Rebellion and JSO (Just Stop Oil) protestors.

He has a background in science from Imperial College and as such has a sound understanding of medical and scientific evidence used in legal proceedings.


College of Law BPTC 2017

College of Law GDL 2016

Law society, Police Station Accreditation – ILEX - 1995

Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine: BSc Biochemistry Hons - 1994.


Private Practice

The impact of a criminal conviction on a member of a profession can be catastrophic. John advises at all stages of proceedings on a private client basis.

John has successfully represented people in the following circumstances:


• Government advisors accused of historic sexual offences: not charged.

• Professionals with a media presence accused of marital rape during contentious custody battle: not charged.

• A former army command general accused of fraud: not charged.

• A senior partner in law practice accused of assault: not charged.

• Company directors accused of £500 million tax evasion scheme: not charged.

High net worth individuals:

• A multi-millionaire accused of conspiracy to murder: not charged.

• A member of the German aristocracy facing imprisonment: acquitted after trial.

Protest Law

John is passionate about preserving the democratic right to protest. He has been involved in the representation of protestors for over a decade, including helping those arrested as part of the G20 and university fees protests and, more recently, supporters of Extinction Rebellion and Black Lives Matter. For example, he has provided legal representation to hundreds of XR protestors since the first protests in 2018. He deals with all aspects of the process from police station advice to the Crown Court advocacy and, where appropriate, often contributes his time on a pro-bono basis.

Vulnerable Defendants and Juveniles

John regularly appears in cases involving vulnerable defendants requiring special care.

He advises and trains volunteers who attend the police station as appropriate adults to assist young and vulnerable people in Westminster and Wandsworth during police interrogations.

Since 2005, he has also worked with young people within south London communities, through community centres and by providing mentoring and facilitating successful gang programmes.

Police Station Defence

Unusually for a barrister, John has significant expertise in representing defendants at the police station stage of their case.

Since 1995 he has represented over 15,000 clients during interrogations by all investigative agencies (e.g. police, NCA, HMRC, Scotland Yard specialist directorates, DWP, Revenue and Customs, DVSA). Prior to becoming a barrister, he ran a boutique police station representation service for respected solicitors’ firms such as Russell Cooke and Reeds Solicitors. John’s clients have included those accused of:

• Murder (covering everything from honour killings, gang shootings, domestic murders, cases involving mental health issues and neighbour disputes).

• Terrorism (including for example, allegations of bomb threats, the manufacture of home-made bombs and firearms, attacks on embassies and targeted murders).

• High value fraud (for instance, carousel frauds, advance fee fraud, boiler room fraud and offshore tax evasion).

• Sex offences (particularly historic offences and accusations against professionals and those in public and advisory positions).

• Drugs (including large scale drug importations through multiple ports, trafficked and vulnerable defendants and county lines).


Member of the JUSTICE Working Party report on Mental Health and Fair Trial chaired by Sir David Latham, with the assistance of Linklaters LLP’ pro bono team and legal and medical professionals.   Working Party Report

The Guardian: John has written articles in respect of Legal Aid

Legal Action Group: John wrote a commentary on the evolution of identification procedures and called for their challenge.

Voluntary Work

John provides a service offering immediate access to legal advice for protestors through social media platforms. He has worked within South London communities advising young people through various community led projects.

John advises and trains volunteers who attend police stations to support young and vulnerable suspects being interrogated by police.

Notable Cases

HW v R - Successful appeal of sentence where the Judge had misapplied the money laundering guidelines when linked to a drugs offence.

R v JBR – One of three defendants accused of attempted S18 wounding - acquitted after 3 week trial.

R v S  - One of five football supporters accused of violent disorder – successfully argued self-defence.

R v C – Defendant accused of assaulting flat mates with weapons. Unanimously acquitted.

R v X  - Black Lives Matter protestor accused of assaulting police during protests. Having gone through hours of unused police footage, was able to demonstrate police officers accounts were not credible.

R v T - Successful defence of lodger accused of burgling other tenants.

R v S - Led Junior in a 10-defendant murder trial.