A barrister who practised while suspended following his high-profile conviction for possession of drugs that led to the death of his boyfriend has been sanctioned again.
Henry Hendron has been reprimanded and prohibited from undertaking public access work for two years. He must also complete training before resuming public access work.
On Twitter, Mr Hendron – who describes himself as a “recovering drug addict” – wrote that despite the Bar Standards Board (BSB) asking for his disbarment and £30,000 in costs, “[today] I remain a practising barrister not having to pay a penny of costs.
“Presently I embark upon substantial life style changes so that tomorrow I can build back strong using this [experience] as a catalyst for change.”
A Bar disciplinary tribunal found him guilty on nine of the 18 charges he faced that related to conduct during the three-year suspension he received in 2017, which was backdated to when his practising certificate had been suspended in May 2016.
Mr Hendron had been convicted of two charges of possessing controlled drugs – ‘chemsex’ substances mephedrone and gamma-butyrolactone – with intent to supply.
His boyfriend, Miguel Jimenez, was found dead with the drugs in his system at a party. Mr Hendron was sentenced to 140 hours of community service.
The tribunal found that, during his suspension, Mr Hendron held himself out as a barrister on the websites of lawsurgery.com and henryhendron.com, and did not take them down despite four requests from the BSB between October 2016 and April 2017.
He also held himself out as a barrister in emails to a solicitor at Hampshire firm PainSmith Solicitors and to his lay client ‘JW’, by referring to himself as a ‘Barrister, non-practising’.
Further, Mr Hendron conducted litigation by serving a notice of acting on the solicitor, and used inappropriate and/or threatening language within email correspondence sent by him to JW.
In each case, he was found to have undermined public trust and, except in relation to holding himself out on the websites, to have undermined his integrity too.
Harini Iyengar, for the BSB, told the tribunal: “There are significant factors in terms of aggravating features found in the [sanctions] guidance.
“On the BSB’s submission Mr Hendron has shown a lack of insight into his own conduct and a lack of remorse for the misconduct the panel found proved.
“An important question for this panel to ask is: what is the extent to which Hendron is capable of learning from his mistakes as a professional, given the history and sequence of events in his practice?
“There is also the importance of the protection of the public and the reputation of the profession.
“One might have thought that someone who had been suspended would have taken all their professional obligations seriously at this stage.”
Explaining the messages in an earlier hearing, Mr Hendron said he threatened JW after a High Court case was settled because he feared he would not be paid. He was also “off my face” on drugs.
Email subjects included “don’t screw your lawyers” and “you have been warned”.
He sent an email threatening to apply for freezing orders on the bank accounts of JW, his mother and father over an unpaid £50,000 fee as well.
Though he said he was not sorry for sending the emails, the barrister conceded that “perhaps there’s a pattern here where I act, do or say things without considering the impact of whatever it is I may be doing from time to time”.
In previous hearings, Mr Hendron said the emails signed as ‘barrister – non practising’ may have been sent by his paralegal without his knowledge while he was dictating the messages from “drug hangouts”.
He said: “I was met with a lot of pushback when doing things as a legal consultant, people were accusing me of being suspended…
“At that time in my life I had just fallen out with my brother for the nth time, I was coming to grips with the loss of my boyfriend. I was a daily drug addict injecting multiple times a day.
“I was trying to appear functional. I was a mess, a complete and utter mess. I would be going from one drug hangout to another in different parts of London corresponding with [his paralegal] by one of mobiles.
“He would be updating me with what happened with the various clients who were remaining. During these calls I would dictate things for him, that’s perhaps why I can’t remember.”
Panel chair James Meston QC, a former circuit judge, said the panel had “real concerns about his lifestyle and on occasions about his attitude and self-damaging behaviours”.
But it bore in mind that the misconduct occurred in 2016 and 2017 and that since then Mr Hendron has returned to practice at the end of this suspension in May 2019, since when there have been no further complaints against him “so far as the tribunal is aware”.
He continued: “He has shown some insight today but it is clear that he has some way to go before he addresses all his problems in particular in respect of substance misuse. We cannot be wholly confident that there will not be some relapse.
“It is clear, on the analysis of the tribunal, that what is required now is not further suspension but more control over what he can and cannot do.”
Due to Mr Hendron’s bankruptcy, any financial sanction would be ‘ineffective’, he added.