Martin Rackstraw is a partner in the fraud and criminal litigation team. He has been defending in serious and high profile cases for well over twenty years. He is ranked in both Chambers UK and The Legal 500 for both general crime and extradition and financial crime. 

Martin represents individuals facing serious allegations, particularly homicide, sexual allegations and drug matters. He is experienced in advising 'professionals' who face criminal allegations, such as teachers, journalists, lawyers, accountants and company officers. He has also worked on cases involving historic sexual allegations and has been instructed in sensitive cases involving allegations of assisting or encouraging suicide. He defends in police investigations and prosecutions, but also has an interest, and expertise, in investigating and challenging convictions in miscarriage of justice cases.

Martin is highly experienced in cases that involve human rights and civil liberties issues and has for many years advised and represented journalists and media organisations facing criminal investigation or prosecutions arising from their activities. He has for many years represented political activists and protesters, such as environmental and anti-war campaigners, who face criminal prosecution.

In the field of financial crime, Martin defends in cases brought by the Serious Fraud Office, HM Revenue and Customs and other specialist investigators. He has acted in a series of multi-million pound prosecutions and investigations in recent years, and has particular interest in cases involving allegations of international bribery and corruption. He has experience of the particular challenges that arise in defending privately prosecuted cases, which are becoming a prominent feature of the legal landscape.

Martin defends in extradition cases, specialising in cases involving serious allegations or where complex human rights issues are at stake. He also advises clients in relation Mutual Legal Assistance Requests and international criminal investigations more generally. 

Having trained at Russell-Cooke, qualifying in 1995, Martin went on to become a partner and joint head of criminal law and fraud at a leading London firm, before returning to Russell-Cooke as a partner in June 2019.


  • R-v-M - Represented woman charged with murder following the alleged "mercy killing" of her disabled son
  • R-v-A - Represented defendant charged with fatal stabbing in "mistaken identity" attack
  • R-v-B - Represented defendant charged with fatal stabbing of victim in East London
  • R-v-Y - Represented defendant prosecuted in relation to fatal shooting in a "drive-by" gang-related incident


  • R-v-R - Represented sixth-former prosecuted for possession of articles for terrorist purposes


  • R-v-CA - Represented an individual facing extradition to Belgium for human trafficking offences, which was the first case under the 2003 Extradition Act to be heard in the then House of Lords
  • R-v-M - Represented an individual facing extradition to Rwanda for alleged offences arising from the 1994 genocide

Sexual Offences

  • R-v-H - Represented and individual charged with outraging public decency, now the authority case on this offence when the charge relates to "upskirting"

Fraud and Financial Crime

  • R-v-M - Represented individual prosecuted for multi-million pound VAT "missing trader" fraud - at the time the largest VAT fraud prosecuted
  • R-v-L - Representing company Financial Controller privately prosecuted for misappropriation of company funds
  • SFO investigations - Representing company officers in relation to investigations into alleged multi-million pound international bribery

Other notable cases

  • R-v-M - Represented a Labour Member of Parliament prosecuted for misuse of expenses
  • BBC & Ors -v-Essex Police - Represented a journalist and media organisations on applications for productions orders relating to journalistic material generated during the police operation to clear the Dale Farm traveller site
  • G - Represented Home Office civil servant investigated for leaking documents to Damian Green MP
  • Martin Rackstraw is ranked in:
    • Crime Band 3, Chambers UK (2021) 
    • Financial Crime: Individuals Band 4, Chambers UK (2021) 
    • Crime: general, The Legal 500 (2022) as a key practitioner
    • Fraud: white-collar crime, The Legal 500 (2022) as a key practitioner
  • Martin is a member of the Fraud Lawyers Association
  • Defence Extradition Lawyers' Forum (DELF)

  • Balliol College Oxford BA (Hons)
  • University of York MA