Barrister disbarred for lying to law firm employer about conviction

Arrests: Barrister caught drink driving twice

A barrister who lied to a law firm about not having any unspent convictions when applying for a job and then working there has been disbarred.

The decision of a Bar disciplinary tribunal came less than three months after another panel had ruled that Carly Sarah Walters could not return to practice for six months because of two convictions for drink driving and only then with evidence that she was medically fit to do so.

The second conviction, from September 2020, saw her banned from driving for 40 months.

According to the latest tribunal, at the job interview in February 2022, Ms Walters answered ‘no’ when asked if she had any unspent convictions.

The panel said: “The misconduct was not simply a fleeting or momentary lapse of judgment, it was a deliberate lie which was maintained throughout the course of [her] employment; moreover, it was a lie which was told for the purpose of a gain, namely to obtain a position in a law firm.”

Her actions caused “significant” harm to public confidence in the profession, especially as she was an experienced barrister, having been called in 2005.

There were a number of mitigating factors, the tribunal said. Ms Walters “admitted the misconduct at an early opportunity and had demonstrated remorse” and had sent a “genuine and compelling” letter explaining the background.

“There were significant difficult personal circumstances, not least the respondent’s chronic alcohol misuse problem which she was addressing. The panel read a report about the respondent’s father’s ill health which would have had some impact on the emotional well-being of the respondent.”

The panel in July had heard how Ms Walters was “working hard on her recovery and mental wellbeing”.

However, despite “the sad background to this case”, cases of dishonesty meant disbarment unless there were exceptional circumstances and none existed here, the latest panel unanimously decided.

A Bar Standards Board spokesman said: “The core duties set out in the BSB Handbook oblige barristers to act with honesty and integrity and not to behave in a way which is likely to diminish the trust and confidence which the public places in them or in the profession.

“The tribunal found that Ms Walters’ dishonesty was a serious breach of those duties and the indicative sanction for dishonesty is disbarment, unless there are exceptional circumstances.”

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