Struck off Bakewell barrister given second chance

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A barrister who was struck off after he was accused of failing to disclose he had a criminal past will get a chance to save his career after a High Court ruling today.

Giles Norton, of Bakewell, Derbyshire, found himself in trouble last year after accusations that he had lied about having no previous convictions.

It was alleged that he had been convicted in the 1990s of obstructing a police officer and two offences of possessing a CS gas canister.

In February, the Bar Standards Board found the allegations proved and decided to disbar Mr Norton.

But today, after an appeal to the High Court, two senior judges overturned the decision and ordered that his case be considered again.

Lord Justice Fulford, sitting with Mr Justice Stewart, said the Board had “misdirected” itself on the law when deciding to hold the hearing in Mr Norton’s absence.

The court heard that papers for the hearing had been sent to an address in Marsh Lane, Sheffield, which was the address provided to the Bar Council by Mr Norton.

However, he claimed not to have received the papers, saying it was a business address, that he did not live there and that he in fact lived in Monayash Road, Bakewell.

In February, he asked the Board to grant a short adjournment so that he could get evidence for the hearing and so that he could obtain legal representation.

But the Board refused his application and went ahead in his absence, finding the allegations proved and disbarring him.

At the High Court, Richard Horwell QC, representing Mr Norton, argued that the Board was wrong.

The members had not properly considered all of the factors that they should have considered when deciding the adjournment application.

The Board should have paid particular attention to the question of whether it would be fair to Mr Norton to continue in his absence.

Lord Justice Fulford said: “There is... a real risk that the tribunal did not properly apply the factors which are of ‘prime importance’ in order to secure fairness to the defence, whilst taking into account the need to be fair to the prosecution.

“It follows that I consider the tribunal misdirected itself when it decided not to grant an adjournment. I would quash the decision and remit the case for a rehearing before a fresh disciplinary tribunal.”