Alistair Reid

Year of Call: 2014
Practice areas:
  • Crime


Alistair joined Cobden House Chambers in July 2014, having qualified as a barrister after 7 years practicing as a solicitor.

Throughout his professional life Alistair has specialised in criminal advocacy, initially in the Magistrates’ and Youth Courts before being granted Higher Rights of Audience in 2010. Prior to being Called to the Bar, Alistair worked for well-known and respected firms in the Manchester area.


Criminal Practice

Since being Called, Alistair has received instructions to defend clients for a range of offences including conspiracy to supply Class A drugs, possession of firearms with intent, armed robbery, wounding, rape and kidnap. Alistair has established a reputation for providing clear advice to instructing solicitors, as well as establishing good rapport with defendants.

Alistair is currently a Category 3 Prosecutor, frequently instructed to conduct trials in the Crown Court for the Crown Prosecution Service. These cases have included attempted murder, blackmail, arson with intent to endanger life, and conspiracy to steal. He has provided detailed advice on the National Referral Mechanism for the victims of trafficking, and its effect on the public interest to prosecute relevant cases. 

Animal Cruelty and Dangerous Dogs cases

Alistair has extensive experience being instructed in Dangerous Dogs cases. He has successfully defended allegations of owning dogs dangerously out of control causing injury and is frequently instructed in a range of cases brought under the Dangerous Dogs Act.

Notably, Alistair was instructed to defend a private prosecution brought by Animal Protection Services (APS), a registered charity that was involved in a string of similar cases. Having considered the allegations, and the background of both the charity and solicitors involved with the private prosecution, a successful submission was made to stay the proceedings as an abuse of process. 

Specialist Motoring Practice

With a background at one of the region’s leading specialist road traffic practices, Alistair has extensive experience acting in motoring cases. He has represented actors and professional footballers, and successfully defended allegations including driving with excess alcohol (drink driving), careless driving, dangerous driving, and driving without insurance.

In addition to trial cases, Alistair has represented many defendants in Special Reasons and Exceptional Hardship cases, enabling them to retain their driving licenses.

Alistair is authorised to undertake direct access work, which means that clients can instruct him directly without having to instruct a solicitor as well. 

Notable Cases
  • Khan [2018] EWCA Crim 1472: Representing the appellant who successfully challenged the imposition of a Criminal Behaviour Order, following his conviction for driving and drug offences.

  • Operation Jakkals, Manchester Crown Court: Instructed to represent S, the alleged ringleader of a conspiracy to facilitate illegal immigration into the UK. Despite being instructed less than 2 weeks before the trial was listed and having to process substantial volumes of evidence, Alistair identified a fundamental flaw in the prosecution case. Following his cross-examination of the lead Home Office witness, the prosecution had to offer no further evidence and the defendants were found not guilty

  • R v X, Manchester City Youth Court- Defending X, a youth who was alleged to have raped another patient in a hospital psychiatric ward. Both X and the complainant had underlying psychiatric conditions, requiring particular care and sensitivity in dealing with the case. X was found not guilty at trial.

  • R v A, Minshull Street Crown Court- Defending A, charged with serious sexual offences. At the conclusion of the trial, the jury returned a unanimous Not Guilty verdict within an hour of retiring.

  • I v Chief Constable of Greater Manchester, Manchester Crown Court- Prosecuting the appeal of I, a cleaner working employed at a hospital who was accused of a series of sexual assaults on a patient. Having heard the evidence, the Circuit Judge and magistrates dismissed the appeal, finding the appellant guilty of all allegations.

  • R v P and N, Carlisle Crown Court- Instructed by the Crown Prosecution Service in the case of 2 Vietnamese nationals who were arrested in a cannabis farm. This case involved careful analysis of the law relating to the victims of people trafficking, and was ultimately heard by the Court of Appeal who ruled that the Judge had wrongly stayed the indictment as an abuse of process.

  • R v S, Manchester Crown Court- Instructed by the Crown Prosecution Service for a man charged with conspiracy to steal over £100,000 worth of electrical goods from a large warehouse facility. This case required consideration of electronic records showing the defendant’s movements throughout the warehouse, and establishing the role he played as part of a wider gang. The defendant was convicted of the conspiracy.

  • R v V, Preston Crown Court: Prosecuting a man accused of stealing over £40,000 by accessing his mother’s paypal account and transferring money to his own bank account over a 34 month period. This case required analysis of hundreds of financial transactions and related computer records, and for that evidence to be presented to the jury in an accessible way. The defendant was found guilty by the jury.

  • R v G, Minshull Street Crown Court- Defending G, accused of being part of an armed gang who robbed a man in his home. G was forensically linked to the offence after his fingerprints were recovered from the tape used to restrain the victim. The jury was persuaded that these fingerprints did not establish G’s involvement in the robbery and returned a Not Guilty verdict.

  • R v D, Newcastle Crown Court: Representing one of thirty defendants charged with violent disorder in organised football-related violence between West Ham United and Sunderland supporters.

  • R v A, Nottingham Crown Court: Representing A, one of four defendants accused of conspiring to pervert the course of justice. The case centred on a false allegation of marital rape made to facilitate divorce and an application for leave to remain in the UK. The “false complainant” admitted her part in the conspiracy and gave evidence for the prosecution. A was found not guilty of this allegation at trial.

  • Operation Friction, Manchester Crown Court: Defending P who was alleged to be part of a 25 handed conspiracy to supply class A drugs.

  • Operation Gander, Manchester Crown Court: Defending C, alleged to be part of a conspiracy to produce and supply class A drugs.

  • Operation Spartans, Liverpool Crown Court: Defending K, accused of playing a significant role in a large-scale conspiracy to supply class A drugs throughout Cheshire and Merseyside.



  • Member of the Criminal Bar Association

  • Elected to the Northern Circuit

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