In-house lawyer struck off after child pornography conviction

SDT: Solicitor motivated by sexual gratification

A former in-house solicitor at NatWest Bank has been struck off for child pornography convictions after he was found by police with 15,000 indecent images and videos of children.

Mohamed Faliq Mohamed Ismail received a prison sentence of 16 months at Southwark Crown Court in October 2020, suspended for 18 months, after pleading guilty to the offences three years before.

Born in 1985 and admitted in 2013, police attended his home address in November 2017 in an operation to trace the use on the internet of indecent images of children.

Mr Ismail confessed and made “full and frank admissions”.

The solicitor was convicted at Southwark Crown Court of three offences of making indecent photographs and three of distributing them.

Along with the suspended sentence, he was made subject to a sexual harm prevention order for five years and put on the sex offenders register for 10 years.

In an agreed outcome with Mr Ismail approved by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT), the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) said he had possessed over 15,000 pornographic images and videos and, “for a three-week period”, had been distributing them.

“Making and sharing indecent images causes lifelong physical and psychological trauma to the children who are subjected to the abuse and who appear in the images and videos.”

In mitigation, Mr Ismail said he took “full responsibility” for his actions. As soon as he was  released under investigation, he continued, he “immediately sought help and treatment” from StopSO UK (Specialist Treatment Organisation for Perpetrators and Survivors of Sexual Offending).

He attended 60 psychosexual therapy sessions over four years, “which enabled me to understand the reasoning behind the actions I have taken and encouraging changes in my thought process with the aim of preventing it from happening again.

“I have not wavered from my therapy ever since commencing it, and my commitment and progress was also noted by the sentencing judge…

“I deeply regret what I did, and I have been taking steps for the past four years to rehabilitate myself and take steps to ensure that this behaviour is never repeated ever again.”

In sentencing Mr Ismail, the trial judge at Southwark Crown Court said he bore in mind “that you already have, and are likely to respond to, rehabilitatory measures”, as well as the three-year gap between admitting the offences and sentence, which “in a society like ours [was] far too long”.

The SDT said Mr Ismail’s misconduct was “motivated by sexual gratification at the expense of vulnerable children”.

His actions were “planned and repeated over a protracted period of time, some 17 months, in respect of which he had full control and bore full responsibility”.

The tribunal said the solicitor’s convictions were for “extremely serious” offences and his misconduct was “at the top end of the spectrum” in terms of harm caused.

Mr Ismail agreed to be struck off and pay costs of just over £2,000.

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