Christian is a member of the professional misconduct and criminal law team, based in Thompsons Solicitors’ Newcastle office, which covers the North East and Cumbria.

Having qualified in 2006, Christian covers three main areas of work. The first is criminal law which includes providing advice and representation to clients in the police station, the Magistrates Court and the Crown Court as well as advice in the event of an appeal to the Court of Appeal. Most of the criminal cases he deals with involve allegations of sexual offences, fraud, theft, misconduct in public office and allegations of physical assault by a professional. 

The second area of work is inquest law which involves providing advice to prison officers at Coroners’ inquests following a death in custody. 

Finally, he deals with cases involving actions against the Police. Such cases typically involve challenges in relation to unlawful arrest or decisions on disclosure of information to employers following an investigation.   

Christian’s main aim is to dedicate himself to presenting the best case for his client – either by preparing a detailed defence for trial or presenting mitigating circumstances and obtaining the best possible outcome for a client who accepts any criminal charge. He says that the most rewarding aspect of his job is obtaining a successful outcome.

He particularly enjoys working for Thompsons because of the niche work that they do and the responsibility of seeking to protect a client’s liberty and livelihood. Christian considers that Thompson’s lawyers have more time to devote to their cases than many typical high street firms, which can allow them to provide more detailed representation and to take a different legal approach where appropriate.   

When not in work, Christian enjoys spending time with his family and watching sport. He is a keen Middlesbrough fan. 

Christian's case experience

These include Operation Reno led by Humberside police investigating allegations of abuse in an approved school in the area.  During the 10 week trial, the jury heard that Christian’s client had previously been the subject of two substantial police operations, each of which had resulted in his being convicted of serious sexual offences against numerous complainants. In spite of this ‘Bad Character’ evidence, the jury acquitted Christian’s client in relation to 9 of the 16 complainants and convicted him on only three of the most serious charges he faced. Those counts he was convicted of were by a majority verdict.

The preparation of the defence was a painstaking one involving the assimilation and analysis of over 15,000 pages of relevant material generated by the two previous operations. Together with instructed Counsel, Christian was able to advance and reach agreement on over 300 Admissions which led to an easier presentation of the defence case and highlighted key issues in relation to each complainant.    

See BBC report.

Christian is currently involved in Operation Seabrook, the largest police investigation in British history into historic abuse allegations, with approximately 1400 complainants to date. Police began interviewing suspects in 2014 and trials have taken place from September 2018 to April 2019 with additional prosecutions anticipated in late 2019.

See ITV report.

Christian is also involved in Operation Magnolia which is led by Cleveland police. This investigation opened in 2014 and currently has approximately 400 complainants. Christian is again representing prison officers accused of sexual and physical abuse.

See BBC report.

Case examples

R v GG (2012)

A client was suspended from work following an allegation of rape. He was then charged and required to appear in the Crown Court. As his defense lawyer, Christian used the calls made from his client’s mobile to put together a completely different timeline of events to that of his accuser. The jury took 30 minutes to acquit him.

R v LB (2012)

A nursery worker, who was accused of biting a child, was suspended and then dismissed. At trial, Christian was able to cast doubt on the sequence of events and when the child had received the bite mark, as there was no evidence of the child being upset while in nursery. An acquittal of the client was obtained and she was able to return to childcare work and to a normal life.

R v WM – (2015)

Christian represented the Defendant schoolteacher, alleged to have assaulted a pupil with special needs. At trial, the Court was presented with examples of significant Prosecution failures and to comply with their disclosure obligations, and successfully opposed the Prosecution application to adjourn. The case against the client was then discontinued.

R v SR (2015)

Christian represented the Defendant teaching assistant who was accused of grabbing the hand of a pupil and wiping the pupil’s hand in spit. Disclosure was obtained from the pupil’s previous record of incidents which highlighted the need for staff to take hold of her hands on occasions due to hitting. The documentation and supporting witness statements were then used to secure an acquittal.   

R v GS (2016)

Christian represented a local bus driver, accused of assaulting the complainant and witnessed by an independent witness. CCTV was obtained which was used to prove a number of lies made by the Complainant and to force the witness to agree that what he had thought he had seen was heavily limited and out of context. Defendant acquitted.

R v JL (2018) 

Christian represented a teaching assistant accused of slapping a child. The case hinged on the cross-examination of the individual who alleged that she had witnessed the assault. Christian was able to undermine her account and to demonstrate to the Court that her account could not be substantiated and the client was acquitted. 

Testimonials

Mr Edward Stead, a member of the Prison Officers’ Association:

“I was delighted with the outcome and I would certainly recommend Thompsons to friends and colleagues. Christian Harbinson was incredibly easy to deal with. Very easy to contact and kept me informed at all times.

“I was very well represented and advised and cannot think of how the service I received could have been better. I am deeply grateful.

“I would like to thank you for everything you have done for me in this case and in particular, believing in me when others didn’t."