Solicitors sanctioned after drugs and dangerous driving convictions

Drugs: Solicitor found in possession

A solicitor who was convicted of drug-driving and possession of cocaine, MDMA and cannabis has been fined £10,000.

Meanwhile, a high-profile City solicitor has been rebuked after being convicted of dangerous driving.

Rachel Pickles qualified as a solicitor in 2014 but has not held a practising certificate since 2016.

The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) heard that, in October 2019, she was working in events management.

She had been working at a Halloween Masked Ball and had intended to drive back to London that day but was persuaded to go to the after-event staff party.

She did not drink at it, mindful that she had to drive to London the following day, “but stated that she foolishly accepted a tablet following reassurances that there was ‘nothing illegal in it’”.

The following morning, Ms Pickles said she felt fine but did not set off until 11am to ensure she was safe to drive; she had only passed her test a few months earlier. But she was involved in a four-car collision.

“She was taken to hospital, where, when asked, [she] alerted a nurse that she might have taken drugs, who in turn alerted the police who searched her belongings.”

She appeared before the Truro Magistrates Court and pleaded guilty to driving with MDMA and cocaine in her blood exceeding the prescribed limits, as well as being in possession of 0.61g of cocaine, 1.06g of MDMA, 1.6g of cannabis, and 19 Diazepam tablets.

She was disqualified from driving for 16 months and fined £458. The court ordered the drugs forfeited and destroyed.

Ms Pickles reported the conviction to the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) and they agreed a fine of £10,000, plus costs of £2,500, which were approved by the tribunal.

In mitigation, she said she had “expressed genuine remorse, regret and insight for her errors of judgement and the harm caused”. Other than the convictions, she was “a person of impeccable, exemplary and unblemished character”.

The physical and mental impact of the events had been “adverse, significant and profound” but the details of her health and personal circumstances were kept out of the public domain.

Meanwhile, the SRA issued a rebuke to Boris Bronfentrinker, head of the EU and competition litigation practice in the London office of US firm Wilkie Farr & Gallagher. He is best known for acting for Walter Merricks in his ground-breaking collective action against Mastercard.

Last year, while a partner at Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, he was convicted of dangerous driving after driving his car “at a member of the public intending to scare them”, the SRA recorded.

He was disqualified from driving until another test was passed and fined £2,500. He also had to pay victim compensation of £350, a victim surcharge of £170 and costs of £2,000.

According to a report of the conviction in The Mirror, Mr Bronfentrinker had dropped his daughter off at school in central London and was parked on a double yellow line with two wheels on the kerb, checking his emails.

The victim, Peter Bullen, had previously taken issue with the solicitor about parking like this and previously told him that, if he found him parking in this way again, he would take a photo and report him to the local council.

Mr Bullen told the court he was trying to do this but had to “jump out the way” as Mr Bronfentrinker “accelerated” towards him.

The solicitor told the jury he was trying to drive around Mr Bullen because it was “the only way to leave” and he was only travelling at around 2-3mph.

But the jury convicted him by majority and Judge Philip Bartle QC said Mr Bronfentrinker had lost his temper with Mr Bullen and, although he may not have intended to injure him, drove at him “to scare him”.

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