Brian O'Neill QC

Brian O’Neill QC

"An exceptional counsel. He knows what works best with the bench, and has excellent case management and preparation."

Legal 500 UK 2022
Year of call: 1987 QC: 2010
For enquiries please call: 020 7353 5324 or email vcard cv linkedin save

Business Crime & Financial Services

Brian is particularly sought after in ‘paper heavy’ and substantial multi handed cases where his analytical skills, attention to detail and strong advocacy are highly valued. He is regularly instructed by both leading defence solicitors and prosecution agencies in this sector including the CPS HQ’s Specialist Fraud Division and is on the Serious Fraud Office QC Panel.

He advises corporate clients in this jurisdiction and abroad and gives advice to foreign Governments. He has advised UK and overseas companies in respect of their and their Directors’ liabilities in on-going and potential proceedings in this and other jurisdictions. He has advised the Government of the Cayman Islands in relation to allegations of bribery and corruption in the course of a major inter-governmental investigation.


Mills, Scourfield & Others

Appearance: Prosecution

In January 2017 following a 4 to 5 months’ trial at Southwark Crown Court David Mills, his wife Alison, Michael Bancroft, Mark Dobson and Tony Cartwright were convicted of a variety of offences including conspiracy to corrupt, fraudulent trading and conspiracy to launder criminal property which resulted in a loss to HBoS of £245 million and the substantial enrichment of Mills and his associates. Lynden Scourfield, the HBoS banker, had pleaded ‘guilty’ to the same counts in August 2016 shortly before the trial commenced.

The corrupt relationship which developed between David Mills and Scourfield lay at the heart of the prosecution’s case. Mills corrupted Scourfield and his fellow HBoS banker Dobson who as a consequence gave him and his wife and their associates the opportunity to earn substantial fees as consultants to various companies which were under their control and to take some of them over. But the consultancy fees which Mills and the others received were only a fraction of the benefit and remuneration which he in particular gained as a result of his involvement with numerous companies.

The investigation, one of the largest ever undertaken by Thames Valley Police, generated a vast amount of material giving rise to questions about how such cases and in particular the disclosure issues which they generate can best be managed by the prosecution.

Confiscation proceedings were concluded in 2019 and appeals against conviction and sentence were dismissed in 2020. A number of enquiries into the HBoS scandal are ongoing.

The case was widely covered in the national press, click the links to read more: BBC | The Guardian | The Telegraph | The Sun

Pagliara, Price & Wright

Appearance: Prosecution

The defendants, two football agents and the former assistant manager of Barnsley FC were convicted of offences under the Bribery Act in December 2019 following a two months’ long trial at Southwark Crown Court.

The case stemmed from an extensive undercover investigation into alleged corruption in football by The Daily Telegraph in 2016, the most high-profile casualty of which was Sam Allardyce, the then England manager, who resigned his position.

The prosecution’s case was that the agents (Pagliara and Wright) arranged payment of cash, and encouraged further payments to be made, in order to induce Wright to do one or more of the following improper acts:

Undercover journalists posed as representatives from a sports management company which was interested in investing in football players. A journalist arranged to meet Pagliara, who introduced her to Price, and later introduced her to Wright. From the first meeting, Pagliara and Price divulged wide-ranging corrupt practices within football and discussed their plans to break FA regulations prohibiting third party ownership. They referred to prominent individuals, at Premiership and Championship level, who took bungs and bribes.

The journalists recorded many hours of meetings and telephone calls, which were played at trial. In addition, the prosecution called evidence from the FA, from those involved at executive and management level and from professional football players who were at Barnsley at the time

Brian advised the Director of Public Prosecutions on whether charges should be brought (offences under the Bribery Act require the Director’s personal consent) and led Julia Faure Walker and Merry Van Woodenberg for the prosecution.  They were instructed by the CPS Specialist Fraud Division.

The case was widely covered in the national press, click the links to read more here and here.

Frisby & Shakespeare

Appearance: Prosecution

The defendants were convicted of a number of counts of fraudulent trading following a 3 to 4 months’ trial. The allegations related to their operation of a number of companies which attracted £millions from private investors and equally substantial investments from various banks in a ‘land banking’ ‘Ponzi’ fraud. This was one of the first cases in the country in which the jury bundle was presented on an iPad.


Appearance: Defence

Representation of a senior barrister accused of tax fraud and perjury. The case gave rise to a number of complex issues in the crossover area between criminal and chancery law.

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