A solicitor who used a disabled badge that did not belong to him nine times to park near his law firm has been struck off by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT).
Wahid Nazari denied dishonesty, despite being convicted by Lewes Crown Court of three counts of using a Blue Badge with intent to deceive. The tribunal said it saw “no distinction between the concepts of deception and dishonesty”.
Mr Nazari, who worked in the Haywards Heath office of leading personal injury firm Carpenters, is the second solicitor in a couple of months to be sanctioned by the SDT for disabled badge dishonesty.
We reported in August that Nina Koushi, who admitted dishonesty, was suspended for six months for a single Blue Badge offence. The tribunal found that she was suffering from mental health problems at the time.
However, the SDT said there were no exceptional circumstances that would make it unjust to strike off Mr Nazari, “unfortunate” though they were.
Nr Nazari, who used a disabled badge belonging to a family member, showed “little insight into the seriousness of what he had done during the course of his evidence before the tribunal”, the SDT observed.
“On the one hand he had told the tribunal that he accepted the jury’s verdict but he also continued to maintain he had made an honest mistake, something the jury had clearly rejected.”
The SDT heard that Mr Nazari, admitted in 2015, was the primary carer for Person A, who had a valid Blue Badge.
Two Blue Badge inspectors noticed Mr Nazari leaving a car parked on a single yellow line near Carpenters’ office in August 2018. They cautioned the solicitor, who told them he had just dropped off Person A and confiscated his badge.
A previous incident had occurred in June that year when Mr Nazari had been sitting on his own in the driver’s seat with the disabled badge on display. Two inspectors approached the car and the badge was removed, only to reappear when they returned and the car was empty.
The inspectors checked the serial number of the badge and found it had been displayed on the solicitor’s car when it was parked in the same place a further seven times.
The SDT said Mr Nazari elected for a jury trial at Lewes Crown Court in February 2019, where he was fined £1,500 and ordered to pay costs of £6,000.
In his sentencing remarks, the judge said: “For the sake of not moving your car, or not parking it up at the free space and walking down, you have got yourself into this mess…
“It’s a stupid, stupid thing to have done repeatedly but it is an error of being lazy and being idle.”
The judge concluded: “I’m very sorry to see you in this court on charges which are serious, but they are what they are. And I suspect that you will leave here ashamed of your conduct and rightly so, but please put it behind you as best you can and look after [Person A] as best you can, and you deserve a future credit for doing so
The SDT said Mr Nazari originally admitted dishonesty in his answer to the allegations made by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), but “moved away from that position”.
In mitigation, the solicitor, who self-reported the conviction to the SRA, urged the tribunal to view his personal circumstances, together with the judge’s comments, as exceptional circumstances.
The SDT said it accepted that there had been no loss to any individual and took “full account of the judge’s sentencing remarks and the sentence itself”, which was at the lower end of the sentences available.
“However, the tribunal was considering a conviction for nine separate instances of using a Blue Badge with intent to deceive.”
Mr Nazari was struck off. The costs claimed by the SRA of £3,980 were reduced to £1,000.