Reprimand and fine for barrister who admitted talking to jurors after trial

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25 November 2015


BSB

BSB: tribunal “explicitly referred to mitigating factors”

A barrister who admitted that he had talked to jurors at Basildon Railway Station after a trial has been reprimanded and fined £300 by a Bar disciplinary tribunal.

However, the tribunal heard that Mohammed Omar Faruk’s conversation with jurors after his appearance at the local Crown Court was unintentional.

Mr Faruk was found by the tribunal to have been in breach of core duty 1 of the Bar Standards Board (BSB) Handbook, namely his duty to the court in the administration of justice.

A newly published finding of a Bar disciplinary tribunal said that on 15 May 2014, Mr Faruk “failed to observe his duty to the court in the administration of justice in that, at Basildon Railway Station, he engaged in conversation with members of a jury before whom he had appeared at the Basildon Crown Court and (1) asked them about the basis of their verdict, and (2) disclosed to them that evidence had been withheld from them.”

The BSB register records Mr Faruk, who was called in 1996, as having dual self-employed and employed status, and practising from Westminster Chambers Ltd – a BSB-regulated entity – in East London.

The penalty looked low on the face of it. However, a BSB spokeswoman told Legal Futures: “The panel explicitly referred to mitigating factors in the case in reaching their decision on sentence. In particular, that the misconduct was self-reported and the other being that it was unintentional.

“We are still in the appeal period, so it would be inappropriate to comment at this stage. Given that the sentence in each case is based upon the individual facts, alongside sentencing guidance, it would not be appropriate to state whether the outcome is ‘normal’ or not.”

The spokeswoman said the BSB stressed that the finding “serves as a reminder to the Bar that their duty to the court in the administration of justice extends outside of the courtroom”.

Meanwhile, a separate Bar tribunal has reprimanded Andrew Michael Rutter, and fined him £500, for a drink driving conviction.

Mr Rutter, called in 1990 and a member of Trinity Chambers in Newcastle, where he specialises in criminal law, was found to have “engaged in conduct which was discreditable to a barrister and likely to diminish the trust and confidence in which the public places in him as a barrister”.

On 12 September 2014, he was convicted at North Tyneside Magistrates’ Court of driving a Mercedes C200 in Newcastle while over the limit. He was disqualified for six months, received a fine of £800 and was ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £80 and costs of £650 to the Crown Prosecution Service.

Both findings are still open to appeal. Neither man responded to efforts to contact them.

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