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Mr Ian Unsworth QC

1992:  Called to the Bar

2006:  Appointed to Serious Fraud Office A Panel

2006:  Appointed to the Attorney General’s A list of Prosecuting Advocates

2008:  Licensed to practise in the Isle of Man

2010:  Appointed Queen’s Counsel

2018:  Recorder of the Crown Court (Crime)

Practice Areas


In 2017 he led a complex and detailed independent investigation into activities surrounding Watford Football Club which resulted in the EFL imposing a £4.3m fine.


Serious and Complex Crime

Before taking Silk, Ian Unsworth QC was a Category 4 Prosecutor, an A list Prosecutor for the Attorney – General and on the Serious Fraud A List.

Since taking Silk he has appeared in numerous cases both prosecuting and defending involving Murder, Manslaughter, Corruption, MTIC Fraud, International Drugs Conspiracies, Gangland Warfare, Serious Fraud, and all categories of Heavy Crime.

He is highly experienced in criminal cases with an international dimension and cross – border issues. He has advised offshore investigating agencies and appeared offshore.

He has a particular interest in scientific evidence and the use of technology in court.

He is identified as a Leading Silk in Crime by both Chambers and Partners and the Legal 500.


Sports Law

Ian Unsworth QC is one of only six Silks outside London to be ranked as a Leading Silk in the field of Sports Law in both Chambers and Partners and also the Legal 500.

He advises and represents International Athletes, Sporting Organisations, Sports Management Companies, Professional Sports Men and Woman and other elite sporting individuals. His knowledge of medical matters has meant that he has developed a keen interest in cases involving allegations of anti-doping as well as concussion. He has a wide experiene of cases involving issues relating to safeguarding.

Previous directory comments include he “has considerable expertise of anti-doping and concussion regulations. He continues to act for parties in a wide range of sporting disciplines and is particularly highly regarded for his work in rugby union his recent cases include acting for Australian Cricketer James Faulkner and Team Sky Cyclist Jonathan Tiernan -Locke”

He has appeared before the Court of Arbitration of Sport in Lausanne and National Anti-Doping Panel.

He has years of experience in Disciplinary Cases and has acted in cases involving professionals both from commerce and cross-over areas of sport.

He has appeared before Disciplinary and Regulatory Tribunals as well as the Court of Aribitration for Sport in Lausanne, Switzerland.

He has represented various professional sportsmen and other individuals connected with sport in proceedings before the Crown Court.

He sits as a chair on various sporting tribunals.


“Recent work has included serious violence, drug conspiracies, and gang-related cases, primarily for the prosecution’ (Legal 500 2020) Ranked Tier 3 (Crime, Leading Silks)


Chambers and Partners 2020

Crime- Northern Bar (Band 2)

Demonstrates considerable expertise across a range of serious crime matters, in which he acts as both prosecutions and defence counsel. He regularly acts in high profile murder cases as well as complex drug offences. His practice also encompasses serious fraud and regulatory crime matters.

Strengths: ” A class act. He has a very good manner with juries and a nice style in court”

Recent work: Represented Ben Husthwaite, a world clay pigeon champion alleged to have committed a serious assault on a rugby field.


Sport – The Regions (Band 1)

Works extensively in sports and serious crime, serving as a leading advocate in anti-doping matters. He is also instructed by the RFU for rugby disciplinary hearings. He regularly acts on behalf of individuals and agent companies. He has been appointed as an investigator by the English Football League.

Strengths: ” An excellent advocate”


Previous Directory Comments

Chambers UK (2018) describes him as ” A big name criminal barrister in Liverpool who has handled some of the biggest and most important cases on circuit and beyond”

Chambers and Partners (2018) states that he ” is a leading figure in the (sports) field… He is well prepared, thorough and meticulous in his attention to detail.”

The directories have said that he is, ” very thorough, well prepared and puts up a bloody good fight in court,”

Areas of Practice

Ian Unsworth QC is recognised by the leading Legal Directories as a Leading Silk in cases involving Serious and Complex Crime as well as Sports Law.

His practice is predominantly in serious and complex crime, sports law, and related areas requiring the experise of a specialist advocate.

He acts for prosecuting agencies, police forces and defendants across the UK and also offshore.

He advises and represents individuals, companies, directors, athletes and sporting organisations.

He has preented reports and carried out internal investigations into internal workings of major organisations and sporting bodies.

Regulatory cases include those relating to Environment, Health & Safety, Business, Innovation and Skills, Revenue & Customs as well as Transport.

His clients have included Government organisations, private individuals, small, medium and large organisations, and FTSE 100 blue chip corporate bodies.

He has previously advised Lloyds underwriters, a former senior officer of a ” Big 4″ accountancy/audit firm and the Chairman of a major UK Exporting Company.



  • Recorder of the Crown Court (Crime)
  • Specialist Panel Member of the FA Judicial Panel
  • Panel Member for the FA Premier League
  • Sports Resolutions (UK) Panel of Arbitrators
  • Legal Member of the National Safeguarding Panel
  • Single Judicial Officer and Appeal Chairman for the Rugby Football Union
  • Judicial Officer for the RBS Six Nations Tournament.
  • Judicial Officer for World Rugby
  • Chairman, Disciplinary Panel, PGA European Tour


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