My favourite character in the media storm that has embraced embattled Tory peer Baroness Warsi is 'Barrister' Abid (full name Abid Hussein), the Baroness's Walthamstow-based business partner.
When he’s not working on projects with Warsi, Abid – who graduated in law from Sheffield Hallam University – is a 'third sector and external funding manager' at Tower Hamlets council.
The Bar Council has no record of Abid qualifying, yet he regularly prefixes his name with 'Barrister'.
I’ve spent the last couple of days trying to contact Sheffield-born Abid to find out if he is qualified as a barrister in a jurisdiction other than England and Wales, but Tower Hamlets council’s press office tells me is currently on leave and has been unable to put me in touch with him or anyone who might be able to comment on his behalf.
All they would say is that Abid "is not employed as a lawyer here so we are not prepared to comment." Accordingly, I’ve been unable to rule out the possibility that Abid simply nicknamed himself 'barrister'.
Certainly, it would be a preferable option to forking out £16K on the BPTC and then failing, like 80% of Bar graduates, to secure a pupillage. But are you allowed to do this?
I asked the Bar Standards Board. They said:
"There is a general rule prohibiting barristers who do not hold practising certificates from referring to themselves as barristers in connection with the supply of legal services.
The restriction only applies in connection with the supply of legal services, so it would be permitted for a barrister without a practising certificate to refer to themselves as such in social occasions.
If it is the case that the person hasn’t been called to the Bar (i.e. not successfully completed the Bar Professional Training Course) then Section 17 of the LSA 2007 makes it a criminal offence for a person to:
(a) wilfully pretend to be entitled to carry on any activity which is a reserved legal activity when that person is not so entitled, or
(b) with the intention of implying falsely that that person is so entitled, to take or use any name, title or description."
So be careful, kids.