Barristers and solicitor sanctioned for drink-driving

Drink driving: Barristers and solicitor convicted

A leading silk who drove his car into a ditch while under the influence of alcohol has been fined £600 by the Bar Standards Board (BSB), one of three recent disciplinary cases involving drink-driving lawyers.

Alan Maclean QC was fined £17,800 and disqualified from driving for 23 months at Oxford Magistrates’ Court in April this year after police found he was two and a half time the legal limit at the time of the accident.

Mr Maclean, based at Blackstone Chambers, most recently represented the Lord Advocate, Scotland’s most senior law officer, as an intervener in Gina Miller’s Brexit challenge when it was in the High Court.

The BSB’s professional conduct committee fined Mr Maclean using the determination by consent procedure, which meant he was not referred to a disciplinary tribunal.

The committee heard that the police attended the scene of an accident involving a black Ford Fiesta shortly before midnight on 3 April 2019.

A breath test revealed that Mr Maclean was more than two and a half time times over the limit. He admitted at the scene of the crash “being the driver of a vehicle driven into a ditch” and the following day said he had “swerved to avoid another vehicle”.

He was found by the BSB to have acted in a way likely to diminish the trust and confidence which the public placed in the profession. The QC was reprimanded and fined £600.

In another drink driving case involving a barrister, Peter Kent, based at 3PB in Oxford, was fined £500 for drink-driving, again using the determination by consent procedure.

The case was unusual in that Mr Kent had drunk “a couple of glasses of wine” while preparing dinner before the police arrived to give him a breath test.

The barrister told the BSB that after meeting friends for a drink in central Oxford, he went home by bus. Later, after visiting his mother, he took the car to collect some food for dinner.

“On the way back, he had a minor traffic incident (his passenger side mirror clipped another driver’s side mirror) and identities were exchanged.

“It seems that the driver saw fit to report the matter to the police who came to his home some time later.”

When breathalysed he was more than twice over the limit, but later, following negotiations at court which took into account the wine he drank at home, Mr Kent agreed to accept a lower reading.

He was disqualified from driving for 14 months, and ordered to pay a fine and costs totalling just under £1,800.

The barrister told the BSB in mitigation that there was only “slight contact” between the cars, which did not lead to an insurance claim, and he had driven only two miles to get supper.

Meanwhile the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) has criticised the “stupidity and carelessness” of a solicitor, Michael Alan Reeves, who was twice convicted of drink driving within only two months.

“The respondent should have known better, particularly with regard to the commission of the second offence.

“The tribunal categorised the first offence as spontaneous in that he responded to a request from a friend to drive her home in circumstances where he did not believe that he had exceeded the prescribed limit in respect of which he was ‘marginally over’.

“The same could not be said for the second offence in respect of which the respondent admitted to having driven his car into Leeds city centre where he intended to consume alcohol and take a taxi home.

“He diverted from this primary intention and exercised bad judgement in driving home himself.”

The SDT heard that Mr Reeves, who worked as an assistant solicitor for Haymans in Leeds, was fined £250 and banned from driving for three years by Sheffield Magistrates Court for the two offences in March and May 2018.

He was found to be only slightly over the limit the first time, but almost twice over the second time.

He was required to have treatment for alcohol dependency for three months and attend rehabilitation appointments for up to 20 days as part of a community order.

Mr Reeves was fined £2,000 by the SDT and ordered to pay costs of £1,750.

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