Ex-solicitor struck off for bribes fails in bid to return to profession


SDT: Almost insurmountable hurdle

A former solicitor struck off after being jailed for five years for perverting the course of justice has failed in his attempt to return to the profession.

The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) said that Majed Iqbal, who had bribed witnesses in a Crown Court trial in which his client faced fraud charges, had not overcome “the almost insurmountable hurdle” needed to be restored to the roll of solicitors.

The fraud had led to victims losing a combined £310,000 which they had been persuaded to invest into a non-existent new energy drink.

Mr Iqbal qualified in March 2010, having been admitted to the profession despite previous convictions for theft and other dishonesty offences and as well as actual bodily harm.

He was jailed in December 2012, after he was found to have flown abroad five times to meet witnesses, whom he had paid significant sums of money in return for not co-operating with the prosecution. He even claimed legal aid for two of the trips.

He had also attempted to prevent police officers from viewing videos on his computer which showed him paying the bribes by claiming legal professional privilege.

Mr Iqbal was struck off in 2014 and applied for restoration last October. In his evidence, he apologised for his conduct and highlighted rehabilitative work he had undertaken following his conviction, including providing support to prisoners while in jail. He was released in June 2015.

He worked for a company providing employment advice and then in 2018 started at an unregulated law firm owned by his wife undertaking a wide range of contentious and non-contentious tasks.

Mr Iqbal provided several references, including from legal professionals, as evidence of his rehabilitation and said he had a job offer as a company’s sole in-house lawyer, reporting directly to its director.

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) opposed the application, arguing that Mr Iqbal had failed to demonstrate “how his actions would no longer cause the public’s faith in the profession to be shaken”.

It described the prospect of him practising unsupervised as “a significant risk” and noted that none of his referees – including his wife – had read the 2014 tribunal decision.

The SDT agreed. While it “recognised and applauded Mr Iqbal for his personal character reformation”, this was “not sufficient for the purposes of restoration to the roll”.

It went on: “Mr Iqbal had failed to demonstrate detailed evidence of substantial and satisfactory employment in the legal profession; none of the references provided on his behalf detailed the work he had undertaken.”

He had been on a single six-hour course on the SRA code of conduct. This was not sufficient to show he had kept himself up-to-date with the duties and regulatory obligations of a solicitor.

“The tribunal noted the offer of employment as in-house counsel. However, it was of extreme concern that Mr Iqbal would not be supervised in that role and further, that he would be the sole lawyer in that organisation.

“The tribunal recognised that Mr Iqbal had been given an opportunity to join the profession, notwithstanding his previous convictions. That was a privilege that he should not have taken lightly.

“Instead, within two years of his admission to the roll, he had committed a criminal offence, which, he accepted, struck at the heart of his regulatory obligations, and was considered to be so serious that a substantial custodial sentence was imposed.”

In light of all this, the SDT decided that Mr Iqbal’s application was “premature”.

It concluded: “The evidence upon which he relied was not sufficient for him to overcome the almost insurmountable hurdle such that he could be restored to the roll.

“The tribunal found that in all of the circumstances, the protection of the reputation of the profession meant that Mr Iqbal’s application could not be granted.”

He was also ordered to pay costs of £1,500.




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