Zafar Ali QC

Zafar Ali KC

Zafar Ali QC


Zafar Ali KC is a highly experienced defence advocate with a military background who has been described by the Legal 500 as a barrister who ‘stands out’, a ‘well-prepared and meticulous advocate’ and a ‘flawless courtroom performer’.

He specialises in grave criminal allegations including: terrorism, homicide, international drugs conspiracies, money laundering and complex fraud including commercial tax fraud against HMRC.

He is regularly instructed in High Court and appellate work, including appeals against conviction, civil asset recovery and appeals on points of law e.g. developing the law on confiscation (R v Allpress et al).

Zafar is on the list of Defence Counsel at the International Criminal Court. He has also been selected as Lead Defence Counsel at the UN Special Tribunal for Lebanon in The Hague.

Fraud and Financial Crime

Widely respected for his analytical skills, Zafar has an impressive string of successes to his name. An experienced white collar fraud practitioner, he has worked on a large number of SFO and HM Revenue & Customs frauds, and has considerable experience in confiscation and asset recovery proceedings.

Recent cases include:

R v Dr Prasad.
ACQUITTED – Defended an eminent consultant doctor accused of non-payment of taxes over a 12 year period.

R v Bradley & Others
ACQUITTED – Defending the wife and company secretary accused of siphoning £4m from a pension fund with links to organized crime.

R v Nawaz & Others
SHORT SENTENCE NEGOTIATED AFTER PLEA – was a notorious global black market website set up exclusively by and for criminals to trade worldwide in stolen credit card data. It was penetrated by undercover FBI agent “Master Splyntr” whose groundbreaking investigation brought down the forum. Instructed to defend a member of a family of 4 brothers and patriarch all charged with Conspiracy to Defraud which the Crown put at an estimated potential £8 million.

R v Martin and others [2009] EWCA Crim 8 – Court of Appeal
CONFISCATION QUASHED – This case gave rise to an important ruling on ‘Benefit’ under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002, building upon the House of Lords decisions in May, Jennings and Green: [2008] UKHL 28,29,30.
The defendant was a cash custodian for his brother who derived no reward. The Crown had successfully argued at first instance confiscation proceedings that his mere responsibility safeguarding the money equated to deriving benefit. The Crown Court Judge expressed grave reservations at the decision he felt constrained to make by the state of the law at that time. The Court of Appeal overturned the ruling and quashed the confiscation order as no benefit had accrued.

R v Srimurugadas and others
ACQUITTED – Multi-handed money laundering conspiracy in which members of a family were alleged to have conspired to evade millions of pounds of tax and VAT over the course of a decade. Zafar’s client was the only one of six defendants acquitted.

R v Uzice and others
HUNG JURY (NO CONVICTION) – A fraud/money laundering conspiracy in which sham charities with high-profile patrons (MPs and prominent clerical figures) were established to provide loans to ex-offenders to set up businesses.

R v Cheema and others
The defendant was a financial advisor alleged to have facilitated a major drug dealer’s property purchases. The case involved complex and large-scale audit trails through sophisticated account structures; expert forensic accountants and anthropologists. The trial was complicated by disclosure problems which led to the defence making four separate Abuse of Process applications.

R v Younas & Others
ACQUITTED – Successfully defended patriarch of a family in which both parents and 3 brothers were all charged. Client was charged with laundering the proceeds of his sons’ drug-trading empire by making cash transfers to Pakistan.

R v Johnson and another
Representing the former director of a nationwide debt recovery agency, who was alleged to have defrauded hundreds of clients of deposits for debts never returned. The case involved scrutiny of complex corporate networks and detailed forensic analysis of complex accounts.

R v Awoyemi and others
Conspiracy to defraud – an advance fee fraud with an audit trail between Lagos, Spain and London.

Assets Recovery Agency v Paul and Heather Sterling – High Court
Out-of-court settlement negotiated in recovery of an alleged drug-dealer’s assets.

Assets Recovery Agency v Allen – High Court
Defended an action concerning the state’s retrieval of assets from an elderly and disabled mother of an incarcerated drug dealer, including her long-term home.

R v Ullah and others
TRIAL COLLAPSED – DEFENDANT ACQUITTED – Extremely large Serious Fraud Office prosecution that collapsed after Court of Appeal Criminal Division ruling on inadvertent disclosure.

R v Ahmed and others
CASE DISMISSED – Conspiracy to defraud. Allegation that some of the defendants masqueraded as Customs Officers to enact an ‘arrest’ of one of the other defendants. A successful application to dismiss the case was made. National news coverage as the case involved a wealthy and prominent businessman.

R v Boparan and others
£136 million diversion fraud involving the evasion of Duty and VAT on alcohol. Ten co-defendants were the subject of a vast Customs and Excise operation lasting two years (‘Operation Stockade’) and linked with 23 other nationwide operations.

R v Carmichael
Advance fee fraud involving the false promise of the acquisition of interests in the Spanish property market by the ‘Carmichael Corporation’ on behalf of investors.

R v James and others
Corporate fraud conspiracy. Ex-solicitor client in complex £10 million ‘Ponzi’ style fraud.

Murder and Attempted Murder

Zafar is regularly instructed to appear in murder and attempted murder cases. He has particular experience in cases with a racial or cultural element, including honour killings.

Recent cases include:-

R v May

Trial in which four men were accused of conspiracy to murder in a gangland ‘revenge’ shooting in Birmingham, where a sub-machine gun was used. After a six week trial, two defendants were convicted of murder. The jury were unable to reach a verdict against Mr. May, who pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of assisting an offender.

R v Joseph

Trial in which a trio were charged with the murder of a man in Enfield, London, in a drugs-related dispute. Mr Joseph was charged with murder but convicted of the lesser charge of manslaughter after a four week trial.

R v Al-Khatib
A case involving the murder of a Muslim woman by her husband. Zafar secured the only acquittal for the husband’s brother, who was also charged with murder. This case was featured in Episode 4 of the BBC documentary ‘The Detectives: Murder on the Streets’ which aired on 11th October 2017

R v Archer

Trial in which a man was accused of murdering his sister by throwing petrol over her and setting her on fire. This case was featured in Episode 1 of the BBC documentary ‘The Detectives: Murder on the Streets’ which aired on 20 September 2017

R v Chickerema

Trial in which a man was accused of murdering his wife in a supermarket car park.

R v Williams

Trial in which a man was accused of murder by stabbing a woman in a drug-related killing in Salford.

R v Rashad
A two handed ‘contract killing’ case in which a Muslim cleric was accused of hiring a hit man to murder a fellow cleric.

R v Ahmadzai
A case involving seven men charged with murder following large-scale violence in Birmingham.

R v Kauser
A case in which a mother was charged with causing or allowing the death of a child when her toddler son was left in the custody of her boyfriend and later died from his injuries.

R v Nazar
An ‘honour-killing’ in which a Muslim husband stabbed his ‘westernised’ wife.

R v Shafi and others
A nationally publicised conspiracy to murder in which five youths were accused of murdering an elderly shopkeeper. The case featured cut-throat defences and racially aggravating features.

R v Nelson and another
A prison murder in which two cousins were accused of a drug-gang related murder in a prison cell.

R v Hanif and others
A six-handed conspiracy in which members of a conservative Muslim family plotted to murder the fiancée of the daughter in an attempted ‘honour killing’. Involved undercover police officer posing as a hit-man being approached by the defendants to carry out the killing.

Majid v R
Appeal against conviction for attempted murder in a drive-by shooting, possession of a firearm with intent to endager life, and perverting the course of justice.The appeallant had been absent from and unrepresented at trial. Instructed as appeal counsel.

R v Barratt
Manslaughter arising from fight outside a nightclub. The defendant was a juvenile.

R v Cartledge
Manslaughter involving child witnesses and the issue of causation as to whether the trauma suffered by the deceased during an altercation triggered the heart attack he subsequently died of.

Drug Offences

Zafar has extensive experience defending major drug conspiracy, importation and supply cases.

Recent cases include:

R v Khan
A multi-handed conspiracy involving the importation of heroin disguised as baby powder.

R v Hussain and others
Multi-handed allegation of conspiracy to supply Class A drugs.

R v Fox and others
6-handed conspiracy to import Cocaine. The case involved a sophisticated international drug-smuggling operation utilising car fuel tanks. Multi-jurisdictional disclosure issues arose and the case reportedly involved the first-ever extradition of a co-defendant from Brazil.

R v Bailey and others
Multi-handed Class A drugs conspiracy involving the widespread distribution of narcotics and a sophisticated network brought down by covert surveillance and undercover officers.

R v Potthoff and others
A nine-handed conspiracy to supply Class A drugs namely Ecstasy tablets on a nationwide scale. Much of the evidence came from covert and intrusive surveillance. The defendant was a Dutch national suspected of importing Ecstasy tablets from Holland and/or exporting cash back to Holland. The case involved police informants and Public Interest Immunity issues.

R v Revill and others
Conspiracy to supply Class A drugs – a large multi-handed case with the defendants alleged to be supplying and introducing large amounts of heroin to the Norfolk/Suffolk area. The case involved intrusive surveillance and Public Interest Immunity issues.

R v Walker and others
Conspiracy to supply Class A drugs, namely cocaine. This case involved a participating informant, intrusive and directed surveillance, and issues of Public Interest Immunity.

R v Hussain and others
Conspiracy to supply heroin. This was an application to vacate plea. The defendant was a young man with a low IQ and a poor grasp of English. There was an allegation that he had been pressurized by his previous Counsel to enter a Guilty plea. A very sensitive case that necessitated lengthy cross-examination of previous Counsel.

Other Offences

Zafar is often instructed privately via direct access to appear for those charged with minor offences.

For those who have never faced the criminal justice system, the potential impact upon their lives and careers of receiving a criminal record is such that they want to have the very best representation.

From minor issues in magistrates courts (driving matters, criminal damage, assaults, affray etc) to regulatory and civil work such as tax matters, local council complaints, no case is too small.

Recent cases include:

R v Mr. McG, Bournemouth

Mr McG faced a lengthy prison sentence for an offence of fraud to which he had pleaded guilty. Zafar was instructed to represent Mr McG for his sentencing hearing and the case was disposed of by way of a fine and community penalty. Mr McG was delighted with the outcome and avoided a prison sentence.

R v Dr. K, Oxford

Dr A was charged with Dangerous Driving. If convicted, Dr A’s career would have been seriously affected. Zafar secured a ‘not guilty’ outcome at trial and costs paid by the prosecution.

Mr. B, Canterbury

A successful businessman, Mr B, was charged with Affray. Again, had he been convicted this would have had serious implications for his professional life. Zafar successfully negotiated with the prosecution prior to trial, presenting them with evidence to show they had little or no chance of a successful conviction. All charges were dropped against Mr. B.

International Arbitration

Zafar is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (FCIArb) having completed the International Commercial Arbitration Diploma Course run by the Institute of Chartered Arbitrators at the University of Oxford.

He has also been appointed Lead Counsel in numerous international arbitrations across a multi-disciplinary range of commercial disputes.

He has advised a number of Pakistan’s leading industrialists, including On Line News and The Hashoo Group.

Asset Recovery

Zafar is able to give confidential to Commonwealth Countries on International Asset Recovery, advising on strategy for the most efficient and swift recovery of assets. Zafar will manage the process of recovery from start to finish, utilising a network of experts.

Terrorism and Firearms

Zafar is regularly instructed in terrorism & firearms cases.

Recent cases include:

R v Kamali & Ahad – Old Bailey

Trial of two young men accused of publishing terrorist material on the internet.

R v Rehman – Old Bailey

Husband and wife charged with attempted plot to blow up the London Underground and Westway Shopping Centre

R v Rashad
A two handed ‘contract killing’ case in which a Muslim cleric was accused of hiring a hit man to murder a fellow cleric in a dispute over the ownership of the Mosque, and was additionally charged with terrorism offences.

R v El-Faisal – Southwark Crown Court
The first Muslim cleric to be prosecuted on the basis of his ‘hate sermons’. This ground-breaking trial was the first prosecution of a Muslim cleric in Britain. It was also the first time potential jurors were banned from sitting on the jury because of their religion. The judge agreed to a defence plea not to allow Jewish and Hindu jurors.

Majid v R – Court of Appeal
Appeal against conviction for attempted murder in a drive-by shooting, possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life, and perverting the course of justice. The appellant had been absent from and unrepresented at trial. Instructed as appeal counsel.

Appointments and Memberships

Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (FCIArb)


“flawless courtroom performer” Legal 500

“well-prepared and meticulous advocate” Legal 500






Zafar Ali KC

Call 1994 | Silk 2012
Zafar Ali QC
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