Barrister suspended for offensive Facebook postings

Facebook: Barrister made comments about member of the public

A barrister who posted a number of offensive and disparaging comments about a member of the public on Facebook has been suspended from practice.

Richard Miles, called in 1997, was suspended for 10 months by a Bar disciplinary tribunal after making the comments on a private group called ‘London floaters do as you likey’.

The public front page of the group, which has 261 members as of this morning, says: “Here you can cuss who you want when you want. You can name and shame too.”

The tribunal found that the comments made by Mr Miles were “offensive and disparaging, including matters of a sexual and/or violent nature”.

It said he acted in a way which was likely to diminish the trust and confidence the public places in him or in the profession.

A fuller explanation of what he did is likely to come with publication of the tribunal’s detailed reasons in the coming weeks.

The decision comes in the wake of our story earlier this week about new Bar Standards Board (BSB) guidance that said barristers who used social media inappropriately would face disciplinary action even if they believe they are doing so in their private capacity.

It also follows another barrister being reprimanded and fined £1,000 for a “seriously offensive” tweet that was “racially charged and derogatory to women”.

Sara Jagger, BSB director of legal and enforcement, said the decision to suspend Mr Miles “shows the serious consequences for barristers that can arise from inappropriate behaviour on social media”.

Separately, a tribunal has suspended Satvir Aujla-Sahota for a year after finding that she attempted to mislead her then head of chambers, who was investigating a complaint made by law firm against the barrister regarding records of her court attendance.

The tribunal found Ms Aujla-Sahota had knowingly attempted to mislead and engaged in conduct which was dishonest because she changed a crucial date in an attendance note before she gave it to her head of chambers; part of the complaint was that the barrister had failed to inform the solicitors that a further hearing was to take place on a particular date.

Both decisions are currently open to appeal.

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