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Sarah Forshaw QC

“Brilliant. An amazing advocate…” Chambers UK - 2018

Call 1987    Silk 2008

Practice Profile

Sarah Forshaw QC, described by an independent FT journalist as the ‘criminal barrister of choice if you can get her’, has maintained an impressive and diverse practice since taking Silk. She is frequently instructed to represent high profile individuals charged under the Sexual Offences Act and her track record marks her out as a leader in this field. 

Her skill and experience in cases involving historic sexual allegations are legendary. They include the successful defence of publicist Max Clifford against a second round of allegations from the 1970's, of a doctor accused of sexual assault on patients and of a high-profile businessman alleged to have engaged in sex with a minor. In 2019 she was instructed to defend a music producer charged with the historic rape and sexual assault of two young complainants. He was unanimously acquitted of all counts.

She has built a formidable reputation at the Central Criminal Court, having defended in over 40 Old Bailey murder trials. Notable successes include the defence of one of 19 boys on trial at the Old Bailey for the murder of a 15 year old schoolboy at Victoria station and of a 17 year old boy charged with a double murder in Leytonstone in a drug related gang attack. She is often sought out for young defendants in joint enterprise killings, and was involved in the recent post "Jogee" appeals of Johnson and others. More recently, she represented the first defendant in the Jodie Chesney murder. Her client was unanimously acquitted of both murder and manslaughter.

In cases of Fraud and Financial crime, she is frequently instructed to defend professional clients in the most complex and demanding cases. A firm believer that the best advocates undertake both prosecution and defence work, Miss Forshaw secured convictions for the Serious Fraud Office against all defendants in a long-running £80 million PONZI fraud. Sarah also recently successfully argued for the dismissal of all charges against her client in Operation Lunar, a multi-million Tax fraud using capital loss relief, that had been listed for several months in 2018.

General Crime experience has included the successful prosecution of the "Fake Sheikh", Mazher Mahmood, for conspiracy to pervert the course of justice, and successfully defending the only individual acquitted in a multi-handed international conspiracy to import £5m of cocaine from South America. She has been described as ‘silky smooth’ in court and ‘a class advocate…brief, eloquent, with a dash of theatre’.

Alongside her criminal practice, Sarah is often instructed to appear before regulatory bodies, primarily for members of the medical profession. Recent cases before the General Medical Council include the successful reinstatement of a doctor accused and subsequently cleared of raping a nurse, and the trial at GMC (following acquittals in the Crown Court) of another doctor against whom a young patient had made allegations of numerous sexual assaults, all of which were found not proven by the GMCSarah Forshaw QC was appointed Queen's Counsel in 2008 and quickly established a formidable practice in Silk. She was appointed co-Head of Chambers in 2009 and from 2012-2014 was Leader of the South Eastern Circuit (the largest of the six geographical Circuits of the Bar of England and Wales). She was nominated for Crime silk of the Year 2014 by Chambers & Partners and is a band 1 silk in the current edition. 

Fees for regulatory and all private criminal work are agreed by the Senior Clerk.

Sarah's Privacy Policy can be downloaded here.


Lee Chapman Murder

15 December 2020

Sarah Wahid, 46, of High Road, Grays, in Essex, represented by Sarah... Read More

Recent Cases

  • R v MGK [Southwark] 2021

    Historic Rape

    Instructed privately to defend a businessman who had been extradited from the Netherlands to face multiple historic rape charges. Following Sarah Forshaw QC’s cross-examination of the complainant and a second prosecution witness, the prosecution offered no evidence, and the defendant was formally acquitted on all counts.

  • R v GO [CCC] 2021


    Sarah Forshaw QC was instructed to defend the young son of a lawyer in an 8 week murder trial at the Central Criminal Court. It was agreed that Miss Forshaw’s client had delivered the fatal blow. The incident was captured on CCTV. Her client was acquitted of both murder and manslaughter.

  • R v W & Ors [Basildon Crown Court] 2020

    County Lines Drug Related Murder

    Representing the first of four defendants in a County lines drugs-related murder trial. Miss Forshaw’s lay client was said to be the ringleader but was the only defendant to be acquitted on all counts; the other three defendants were unanimously convicted of murder. Instructed by Imran Khan & Partners.

  • R v K [CCC] 2020


    Sarah Forshaw QC leading for the defence in a two-defendant murder trial at the Central Criminal Court. The deceased was shot dead close to the Houses of Parliament. The jury acquitted of murder and convicted only of manslaughter by a majority. Instructed by Lloyds PR solicitors.

  • Inquest LW 2020

    Inquest touching upon the death of LW

    Instructed to represent a Doctor by Max Anwar, McCormacks. Dr absolved of any wrongdoing and no criminal proceedings institiuted.

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Notable Cases