Sanctions for barrister who turned up in court “drunk” and another who dodged fares

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27 September 2016

BSB: dishonest conduct incompatible with membership of the Bar

BSB: dishonest conduct incompatible with membership of the Bar

A barrister is to be reprimanded by the head of his circuit after turning up to court under the influence of alcohol and then leaving before a hearing had finished.

According to a ruling by a Bar disciplinary tribunal, Christopher Rhodri Ellison – who was called in 2001 – “behaved in a way which was likely to diminish the trust and confidence which the public places in the profession”.

This was because on 16 September 2015, “he attended at the Bournemouth Magistrates’ Court to represent a lay client at a trial having consumed alcohol and having being under the influence of the same”.

Further, the tribunal found that on the same day, “while instructed to represent a lay client and to act in his best interests, [Mr Ellison] left court prior to the resumption of an adjourned sentencing hearing, thereby leaving the said lay client unrepresented at the same”.

The tribunal ordered a fine of £500 and a reprimand to be administered by the Leader of the Western Circuit, Bill Mousley QC.

A Bar Standards Board (BSB) spokeswoman said: “Where there is evidence of behaviour such as this, a disciplinary finding may be the result. Acting as counsel while under the influence of alcohol and leaving a client unrepresented in court is a breach of the BSB Handbook and the tribunal’s decision reflects this.”

The decision is currently open to appeal.

Meanwhile, a separate tribunal has disbarred non-practising barrister Dr Peter Barnett, in the wake of his conviction a year ago for evading rail fares in and out of Marylebone Station in London. He had falsely claimed that he had travelled just one stop into and out of London.

He was convicted of six offences of fraud by misrepresentation contrary to sections 1 and 2 of the Fraud Act 2006, sentenced to 16 weeks imprisonment, suspended for 12 months, and ordered to pay compensation of £5,892.

The tribunal found also that Dr Barnett had failed to “report promptly” to the BSB that he had been charged, as he was required to do.

The BSB spokeswoman said: “Dishonest conduct is incompatible with membership of the Bar.”

Dr Barnett has never held a practising certificate as a barrister in England and Wales but was called in 2007.

He is also qualified as a solicitor in England and Wales, and in New South Wales, Australia. The BSB said his other regulators have been notified of the tribunal decision.

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