James Hartson

James Hartson

Called to bar: 
Inner Temple
01792 464623
Conducts cases in both English and Welsh

James joined Chambers in 2011, following a 19-year first career as a police officer in London and Cardiff, including many years as a Special Branch officer and detective at New Scotland Yard.

James has a first class honours degree in law and was awarded an outstanding grade in his Bar course. He is an Inner Temple and Bristol Law school prize-winner.

Practice areas

Criminal law

James acts for the prosecution and defence in all proceedings in the Crown Court, including jury trials, sentencing hearings and confiscation proceedings. He has also appeared at the criminal division of the Court of Appeal in appeals against conviction and sentence.

James has represented the defence in a wide spectrum of criminal allegations, including kidnap, robbery, firearms and drug trafficking offences. He also acts in serious offences of fraud and dishonesty including conspiracy to defraud, blackmail, money laundering and perverting the course of justice. James also represents defendants in cases of sexual offences, including those which involve historic allegations.

In 2016/17 James was instructed as junior counsel for the defence in three separate cases of murder.

James is regularly instructed by Swansea city council to prosecute fraud and consumer protection offences investigated by Trading Standards officers.

James has successfully represented the police and members of the public in appeals against revocations of firearms certificates. He has also appeared before the Parole Board to represent prisoners recalled by the Secretary of State in appeals against the revocation of their licences.

Significant cases:

Instructed as junior counsel for each of the following defendants, charged with murder:

  • R v Thomas (2016) – led by Mr M Vere-Hodge QC
  • R v Richards (2017) – led by Mr C Clee QC
  • R v Harries (2017) – led by Mr C Clee QC
  • R v Morgan (2018):    Operation ‘Violet Oak’ – represented one of five defendants charged with historic allegations of sexual abuse in a 35-count indictment. Following an application by each defence counsel to stay the indictment due to an abuse of process, the prosecution offered no evidence against each defendant.
  • R v Hughes (2018):    Operation ‘Almond’ – represented a defendant charged with historic sexual offences following a large-scale investigation into allegations of abuse at Welsh schools and care homes.
  • R v Richards (2017):     Operation ‘Dogstar2’ – represented one of five defendants charged with conspiracy to launder the proceeds of crime in a 6-week trial. The defendant was acquitted by the jury.
  • R v Watkins (2013):    Operation ‘Bugs’ – represented one of seventeen defendants charged with conspiracy to defraud, following one of Wales’ largest prosecutions brought by a local authority into the fraudulent mis-selling of insurance.
  • R v Akinsete (2012): represented the defendant in a heroin/cocaine supply trial, subsequently appealed in the Criminal Division of the Court of Appeal and reported as R v Akinsete [2012] EWCA Crim 2377, a leading authority on the definition of the meaning of “being concerned” in the supply of controlled drugs
  • R v Lowndes (2013): represented the defendant at the Criminal Division of the Court of Appeal in an appeal against sentence where the trial judge had impermissibly treated lies told by the defendant as an aggravating feature. The appeal was allowed and sentence reduced. Reported as R v Lowndes [2013] EWCA Crim 1747
  • R v Westwood (2013): represented the defendant in a matter originally charged and sent to the crown court as attempted murder but tried for wounding with intent. The defendant was acquitted by the jury
  • R v Stanlake (2013): represented an employee of a football club, charged with multiple counts of false accounting involving the alleged theft of a substantial amount of cash. The defendant was acquitted by the jury
  • R v Gilheaney (2016): represented the first named defendant in a 16-defendant drugs conspiracy. Following a successful submission at the close of the prosecution case that there was no case to answer, the defendant was acquitted on the direction of the trial judge
  • Criminal Bar Association
  • Wales and Chester Circuit
  • LLB (First Class Hons)
  • BVC (Graded Outstanding)