Barrister disbarred for making false allegations about colleague

DWF: Events happened in its advocacy team

A barrister who made false allegations of homophobia, harassment and discrimination against a colleague while both worked at a leading law firm has been disbarred.

Barry John Harwood, called in 1998, is a former member of the Bar Council and was Stonewall’s North-West senior equality and diversity champion of the year in 2018.

The full reasoning of the Bar disciplinary tribunal has not been published but the events occurred in 2019, when he and the others involved in the case worked at what is now DWF Chambers.

At the time of the hearing, he did not have a practising certificate. His LinkedIn profile indicates that he now works in Dubai.

it found that Mr Harwood, who was reportedly deputy director of advocacy, “knowingly misled or attempted to mislead the Bar Standards Board” by making false allegations against his senior colleague.

The tribunal’s notice said that, “as part of his allegation of homophobia and sexual orientation discrimination and/or harassment”, Mr Harwood complained about the colleague’s use of the word ‘husband’ in emails when referring to Mr Harwood’s partner at the time.

Mr Harwood maintained that he and his partner were actually in a civil partnership, did not use such terms as ‘husband’ and ‘married’, and that the colleague knew this.

However, messages Mr Harwood had previously sent in a WhatsApp group both men were in had referred to his partner as ‘husband’ and the two of them as ‘married’.

Then, as part of his allegation of race discrimination and/or harassment, bullying, and general inappropriate behaviour, he falsely alleged that an advocate with the surname Wong had raised concerns with him about the colleague’s use of the nickname ‘Legally Wongers’ for her.

Further, Mr Harwood alleged that another barrister had raised concerns with him about comments made by the colleague on WhatsApp regarding the 9/11 terrorist attacks, as that colleague had lost a close friend in the attacks. But Mr Harwood knew the barrister had never said this.

The tribunal found that Mr Harwood failed to act with honesty and/or with integrity and behaved in a way which is likely to diminish public trust and confidence in the profession. He was also ordered to pay costs of £5,500.

A Bar Standards Board spokesman said: “Dishonestly and deliberately making false allegations to a regulator, especially in relation to serious matters such as discrimination and harassment, is wholly incompatible with membership of the Bar and the tribunal’s decision to disbar Mr Harwood reflects this.”

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