Professor John Cooper KC
  • A man who's not afraid to ask difficult questions in court.

    Chambers UK 2024, Crime

  • His preparation for his cases is epic and he's good at getting to the kernel of a case.

    Chambers UK 2023, Crime

  • John is a committed and tenacious advocate, who is genuinely bothered about his clients and wants the best for them.

    Legal 500 2023, Inquests and Inquiries

  • He always identifies and pursues important points. 

    Legal 500 2023, Inquests and Inquiries

  • A skilled advocate

    Legal 500 2023, Administrative Law and Human Rights

  • John brings very incisive advocacy and negotiation skills.

    Legal 500 2023, Crime

  • Incredibly good with clients and good at getting the judge on side.

    Chambers UK 2022

  • He is ferocious in court

    Legal 500 2022, Crime

  • A skilled advocate.

    Legal 500 2022, Civil Liberties and Human Rights 

  • Incredibly good with clients and excellent at getting on the right side of both the judge and the jury.

    Chambers UK 2021

  • Utterly fearless in his representation of clients.

    Legal 500

  • ‘Forensic skills that are of the highest possible order.

    Legal 500

  • Experienced in testing the boundaries of the law. An expert in crime-related matters.

    Legal 500

  • An excellent advocate, who provides well-researched and thought-out advice.

    Legal 500

  • Disarming to judges and prosecutors alike.

    Legal 500

  • Excellent on his feet and very good on tactics.

    Legal 500

  • A charismatic trial advocate.

    Legal 500

  • Instructed in serious violent crime cases.

    Legal 500 2020

  • A skilled advocate.

    Legal 500 2020

Called 1983

Silk 2010

Professor John Cooper KC


Leading in serious crime including murder, serious violence, drug trafficking, terrorism, fraud, appellate work, human rights, public protest and media. Regulatory work including professional and sports regulation. Public Inquiries and Inquest work including Judicial Review. Also Pre-Charge and Crisis Management.

Ferocious cross-examiner. Legal 500

Professor John Cooper KC is recognised as one of the most effective cross-examiners at the Bar and has been instructed in some of the most high-profile court cases in recent years, including cases requiring searching examinations, of members of the Security Service, Armed Forces and the police service. Professor Cooper is well-known for his ability to effectively and rigorously represent his clients and stand up to the most probing scrutiny at tribunals - his reputation for being fearless is well merited.

A former lawyer at the Magic Circle firm, Clifford Chance, John also is one of the most effective and popular KCs practising at the Old Bailey and has achieved many notable acquittals both there and up and down the country, successfully representing clients in cases ranging from the most serious of allegations to those which are potentially, individually and personally devastating to the accused and their families.

John represented the majority of bereaved families at the Manchester Arena inquiry, gaining an intimate and detailed understanding of terrorist-related issues.

As a former prosecutor (highest category) and senior Attorney General Prosecutor (top A list category), he has gained vital experience enabling him to take every advantage for the benefit of his clients, exploiting that insight to great effect in his exclusive defence practice. He uses this valuable experience to advise and undertake private prosecution work.

Internationally, John Cooper KC was the Chair of the International Steering Committee and Prosecutor at the Iran Tribunal in The Hague. The full judgment can be downloaded here. He also represented the captain of the seized Grace I in Gibraltar as a result of disputes between the British and Iranian Governments. He was called to the NSW Bar, in Australia, in 1989.

He has been named by The Times as a star of the Criminal Bar and one of the Top 10 influential lawyers in the UK. He is also a visiting Professor of Law at Newcastle University, and a Master of the Bench at Middle Temple. 

He is available to be instructed by Direct Access.

He has represented clients in many significant Public Inquires and Inquests. As well as the Manchester Arena Inquiry, John’s work includes, the Deepcut Barracks inquests and High Court hearings and the Hercules inquest in relation to the multiple loss of life following enemy action. He acted for bereaved families in the Puma Helicopter inquest and in the Nimrod mid-air explosion cases for nine deceased service people. He represented the Labour Group in submissions to the Grenfell Tower Inquiry. He represented the family of JS in her inquest, following the Australian D.J Royal Family hoax.

The preferred KC for cases which challenge the Establishment, John represented the occupiers outside St Paul’s Cathedral throughout their High Court hearings and argued successfully on behalf of the Euston Square Tunneler’s in their public protest actions against HS2. He represented the Sheffield Tree Campaigns, in the High Court, whose arguments have been recently vindicated. He also led the judicial review of the Government’s deal with the DUP and represented 43 Labour MPs in written argument during the prorogation of Parliament Supreme Court case.

John has been instructed by Gina Millar to advise on the Public Protest Bill.

He was instructed to judicially review the inquest into the death of Dr David Kelly, the government weapons inspector in Iraq, and advised the Mayor of London in the John Warboys Parole judicial review.

Media Management

Mr Cooper uniquely utilises in-depth knowledge of the media, press and broadcasting to advise clients upon reputation and crisis management, as well as neutralising in advance any legal action and adverse publicity. He has done this to great effect for high-ranking politicians, corporate leaders, A-list celebrities and sports people.

He has represented and advised high-net-worth clients including the Tetra Pac owner and a leading Bitcoin developer.

Mr Cooper was Vice Chair of the Bar Council Public Affairs Committee, a former director of media communications for the Halsbury Law Exchange, Lexis Nexis for a number of years and writes regularly for a series of newspapers including The Times, Observer and the Daily Telegraph.

He is regularly instructed in the most sensitive of cases, often pre-charge proceedings and astutely advises clients as to the most effective strategies to neutralise harmful outcomes.

He has been described as “One of the most politically astute KC's in the country”.

He is a former lawyer at Clifford Chance in their Media and Communications department. John wrote a regular column for The Times for ten years and edited the Criminal Bar quarterly for over 17 years. He was Vice Chair of the Bar Conference organising board, completing his wide appreciation of the political, media, broadcasting, and sporting world.

Articles & Publications


  • Cruelty – An Analysis of Article 3 (Sweet & Maxwell) with a foreword by Lord Hope
  • Judicial Review (Sweet & Maxwell)
  • Police Interviews (Sweet & Maxwell)
  • Encyclopaedia of Data Protection and Privacy (contributor; Sweet and Maxwell)
  • The Link between Animal Abuse and Human Violence (Sussex Academic Press 2009)
  • Inquests (Hart Publishing, 2011) with a foreword from the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge
  • Cases that Changed our Lives (Butterworth’s) 2011
  • Sentencing (Oxford University Press) 2019

Papers and Articles

Over 500 papers and articles appearing in most legal publications, including;

  • Columnist for the Times and regular writer for the main paper since 1999.
  • Editor for Criminal Bar Quarterly 2000-2018
  • Consultant editor for Criminal Law and Justice weekly 2009-2019
  • Regular columnist for New Law Journal 2017 to date.


John Cooper KC has appeared in many television and radio broadcasts, both as a presenter and contributor. His credits include:

  • Teens on Trial, Channel 4 Presented six-part documentary.
  • Mindfield, BBC presented studio discussion programme.
  • Trial of the Allies, a Newsnight Special, BBC (2006) co-presenting.
  • Any Questions, Radio 4 Panellist.
  • The Moral Maze, Radio 4 guest
  • The Reunion, Radio 4 guest.
  • In My View , Al Jazeera
  • Regularly reviews newspapers for Sky News.
  • Regular appearances on BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Radio 4 and other major broadcasting.

Associated Work (Present & Former)

  • Former Board member of Prisoners of Conscience
  • Trustee of the Young Citizens (including National Bar Mock Trial Competition)
  • Former President of League Against Cruel Sports
  • Special advisor to the Bach Commission on Access to Justice
  • Special advisor to the Shadow Attorney General and Shadow Minister for Legal Aid.
  • Advisor to Foreign Office on Cambodian War Trials.
  • Assisted Medical Foundation for the Victims of Torture.
  • Trustee of Citizen Aid (as a result of Johns work at the Manchester Arena Inquiry)
  • Former lawyer at Clifford Chance.
  • Member of Law Commission Working Parties on (i) Reform of the Law of Homicide & (ii) Expert Evidence Procedure in Criminal Trials.

Other Interests

  • Writer for television and theatre including “The Law Lord” [BBC2]; “The Advocates” [ITV] “The Cure” [Royal Court Theatre], Burning Point [Tricycle Theatre]. Represented by Independent Talent.
  • Speaks regularly at professional conferences and seminars.


  • LLB (Hons), Butterworth Law Prizeman, University of Newcastle. In 2022, Professor Cooper was awarded the Allimuin Achievement Award for the graduate of the university who had achieve the most significant impact during his career.

Accreditation, Awards & Appointments

  • Visiting Professor of Law at Newcastle University
  • Law school advisory board at Newcastle University
  • Listed in Debrett’s People of the Today as one of the most influential people in his field.
  • Entry in Who’s Who
  • Listed in the Legal 500 as a Leading KC in Crime and Civil Liberties.
  • Listed in the Chambers & Partners directory as a Leading KC in Crime and Liberties.


  • "A man who's not afraid to ask difficult questions in court."- Chambers UK 2023, Crime
  • "His preparation for his cases is epic and he's good at getting to the kernel of a case." - Chambers UK 2023, Crime
  • "John is a committed and tenacious advocate, who is genuinely bothered about his clients and wants the best for them; and he always identifies and pursues important points." - Legal 500 2023, Inquests and Inquiries
  • "A skilled advocate." - Legal 500 2023, Administrative Law and Human Rights
  • "John brings very incisive advocacy and negotiation skills." Legal 500 2023, Crime
  • “A fire brand silk”Regarding work for the Manchester Arena Inquiry (Manchester Evening News)
  •  “Has fast developed a reputation as being head and shoulders above the majority of other QC’s” Legal 500
  • “Forensic skills that are of the highest order” Legal 500
  • “Star of the Criminal Bar” The Times
  • “Utterly fearless in his representation of his clients” Legal 500
  • “Talented and above all utterly reliable” Chambers & Partners
  • John Cooper has an acute instinct when it comes to media relations. He understands perfectly how to win both the legal care and the PR battle. He is the “go to” barrister for this mix of skills” John Underwood, Former Director of Campaigning & Communications for the Labour Party.
  • “One of the country’s leading human rights QC’S” Lynn Carter, Former director of Prisoners of Conscience.
  • “Outstanding dedication and commitment over a considerate period of time, not only did he offer his support in a legal capacity, it’s clear that the clients considered him no less than a friend, thus promoting all that’s good about the Bar of England & Wales” Bar Council Pro Bono Judges.
  • Without Mr Cooper’s skill & support during this difficult time, the burden of the case would have been almost unbearable.” Bereaved in the case of Gordon Gentle, roadside bomb inquest.
  • “The detail and analysis contained in Mr Coopers work has been inspirational. At a time when myself, my family and others in the situation of loss or harm as a result of military service, have felt isolated and vulnerable, John Cooper’s commitment to our carer has been unflinching and sustained.” Bereaved in deep cut barracks hearings.
  • “Provided lucid and powerful advice...a fearless and eloquent advocate for his clients” Former Chair of Home affairs select committee.
  • “Leaves the jury on the edge of their seats.” Geoffrey Rivlin QC. Former resident judge at Southwark Crown Court.
  • “John Cooper has an impressive capacity to absorb and understand complex financial material and then utilise it to devastating effect in the interests of his client. He always brings the best out of his expert” Andrew Donaldson, forensic accounting partner, Dains Forensic LLP.
  • “Clearly he is not only a most excellent lawyer, but has the kind of sensitive people skills that are not always associated with barristers” Bar Council Pro Bono Judges.
  • “Highly specialised expertise with great sensitivity, doing ground breaking work in support of people facing powerful interests and with nowhere else to turn” Bar Council Pro Bono Judges.
  • “His attitude to all the bereaved families has been that nothing is too much trouble for him and the fact that we know that he will always be there for us has sustained us through very difficult times” Bereaved in Hercules Air Explosion Inquest.
  • “It is not only this family who have benefitted from John Cooper’s commitment and sustained tenacity but familiar and ultimately those still serving, who now consider themselves better protected by our legal system” Instructing solicitor, Hercules.
  • “John Cooper has provided me with lucid and analytical advice of the highest standard and continues to supply me with wise and practical counsel as my special advisor” Lord Bach, Bach Commission on the Right to Justice.
  • “Outstanding ability to communicate complex ideas in an engaging and straightforward but thoughtful way with exceptional quality in terms of presentation” Professor Jeremy Horder UCL. Former Law Commissioner for England and Wales.
  • Mr Cooper is a formidable QC, informed, intelligent and impressively mindful of media sensitivities in big cases” Alastair Stewart, former ITN News Anchor.
  • A true passion for fighting injustice” Dr Brian May, Queen Guitarist.
  • “John Cooper is at the top of his game representing an impressive portfolio of sports personalities. He is trusted and respected throughout the press and media and knows how to pitch a story which guarantees attention”. Matt Lawson, The Times.
  • “John Cooper has represented a number of high profile and sports people and sensitively but effectively protects their interests. I would not hesitate to refer anyone needing legal and reputational help to him” Geoff Shreeves, Sky Sports and Fox Sports.
  • John Cooper always provides clear, prompt and accessible comment on stories and issues that I can rely on with complete confidence” Frances Gibb, Former legal editor, The Times.

Associated Work

  • Finalist Pro Bono Lawyer of the Year, Lexis Nexis 2008.
  • Finalist & commended, Bar Council Pro Bono Lawyer of the Year, 2008.
  • Lawyer of the Year, Asian Voice 2015.
  • Alumni Achievement Award, Newcastle University 2022
  • Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (FRSA)
  • Freeman of the City of London; Worshipful Company of Coopers.
  • Middle Temple Senior Advocacy Trainer and accredited Vulnerable Witness Trainer.

Professional Memberships

  • Master of the Bench at Middle Temple.
  • Vice Chairman of Bar Council’s Public Affairs Committee.
  • Vice Chairman of Bar Conference Organising Board.
  • Director of Education for the SE Circuit.
  • Criminal Bar Association.
  • Editor of Criminal Bar Quarterly (National Magazine for Criminal Practitioners).
  • Called to Australian Bar 1989.

Data Protection Officer for John Cooper KC: Peter Allsopp