Barrister suspended after text harassment conviction

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15 February 2016


BSB: not notified about conviction

BSB: not notified promptly about conviction

A barrister who was convicted of harassing his ex-partner with texts was last week suspended for three months by a bar tribunal for damaging the trust and confidence the public has in the profession.

Peter Sefton, based in Northern Ireland, was also sanctioned for failing to report both his conviction and subsequent six-month suspension by the Bar of Northern Ireland to the Bar Standards Board “promptly or at all”, according to a ruling published by the Bar Tribunals and Adjudication Service.

He was also fined £400. The ruling is open to appeal.

In March 2014 Mr Sefton was convicted under the Protection from Harassment (Northern Ireland) Order 1997. He received a sentence of three months’ imprisonment, suspended for two years, and was ordered to pay £3,000 compensation, with a restraining order put in place too.

He did report the conviction to the Bar of Northern Ireland – the case in any case was covered in the local media – and the Bar’s disciplinary committee, headed by a senior Lord Justice of Appeal, suspended Mr Sefton for six months, with his reinstatement made subject to compliance with “a programme of ongoing treatment and recovery to a satisfactory level, to be confirmed by medical experts”.

A spokeswoman for the Bar confirmed to Legal Futures that in any case Mr Sefton did not reapply for a practising certificate.

According to the Belfast Telegraph, Mr Sefton was one of Northern Ireland’s most high-profile criminal barristers. As well as defending double murderer Hazel Stewart, he also prosecuted so-called ‘Black Widow’ Jackie Crymble, who was jailed in 2007 for killing her husband. His parents, retired RUC reservist James Sefton and Ellen Sefton, were murdered in an IRA car bomb attack at their home in 1990, and Mr Sefton has been calling for their deaths to be reinvestigated.

He also made headlines in 2012 for trying, unsuccessfully, to challenge his non-appointment as a QC, arguing he had been the victim of a bias against middle-aged Protestant men.



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