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Court of Appeal refers ‘UK’s top barrister’ to regulator over his incredible website

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Michael Wolkind QC’s “inappropriate attempts at humour” during murder trial will also be scrutinised by Bar Standards Board

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The Court of Appeal has referred the “UK’s top barrister” to his regulator over concerns regarding his renowned personal website.

In a judgment released yesterday, the Lord Chief Justice asked the Bar Standards Board (BSB) to consider whether Michael Wolkind QC’s online presence had breached professional standards.

Wolkind QC — a tenant Gray’s Inn’s 2 Bedford Row — hit headlines back in 2012 when Legal Cheek revealed that he had created a somewhat self-indulgent website (screenshot below), boldly trumpeting that he was the “UK’s top barrister”.

Wolkind

Now the website, that contains a number of gushing and often bizarre endorsements from previous clients, may have landed the top silk in hot water. One apparently thrilled client is quoted as saying:

You are the most talented man I have ever met… you have given me my life back… you are awesome.

Having presumably taken the time to log on and peruse “www.topcriminalqc.co.uk“, Lord Thomas — the most senior judge in England and Wales — said:

Our attention was drawn to Mr Wolkind’s personal website. We were surprised at its content and tone. However whether it is within the proper bounds of professional conduct for a member of the bar, particularly one who has had since 1999 the status of being one of Her Majesty’s Counsel, is a matter which we direct be referred to the Bar Standards Board for their consideration.

Lord Thomas’ judgment comes after allegations suggested Wolkind QC was “wholly incompetent” in representing a multi-millionaire property developer client who was found guilty of murdering his pregnant wife.

Robert Ekaireb — who was slapped with a 22-year prison sentence — apparently chose Wolkind QC after recommendations and internet research.

Representing Ekaireb at his appeal hearing, 2 Hare Court’s Orlando Pownall QC lambasted his fellow silk, telling the Court of Appeal that he had “failed Mr Ekaireb”.

Wolkind — who was called to the bar in 1976 and took silk in 1999 — denied the allegations, telling the court in late November that he had put up a “real fight” while defending the property tycoon last year at the Old Bailey.

Lord Thomas, having heard both arguments, made specific reference to Wolkind QC’s handling of the closing speech, saying:

We accept as amply justified the criticism made by Mr Pownall that it was ill-judged, patronising and contained inappropriate attempts at humour.

However, continuing, Lord Thomas said:

It did not reach a level of incompetence that called into question the fairness of the trial or safety of the conviction.

Lord Thomas, having reached this view, felt it was inappropriate to make more general findings, instead referring Wolkind QC’s conduct and preparation of the case — along with his colourful website — to the BSB.

Ekaireb was given leave to appeal against conviction, but not sentence. Wolkind QC did not respond to Legal Cheek’s request for comment.

Read the judgment in full below:

23 Comments

Scouser of Counsel

I believe that I am still in the top 11,000 counsel nationally, and would like the world to know it.

(16)(5)

Not Amused

What keeps me honest and makes me careful is the constant threat of liability in professional negligence. Given the limits on insurance there can often persist a threat to my house and children.

Even were my insurance to pick up the tab I would fear my instructions drying up.

It is fear that regulates me and keeps me decent. That fear has been a constant, daily attendant for all of the year’s of my professional life. Like an old friend who wakes you up at night. It may be that we need to work on ensuring that all are afraid.

It is also true of humans that the desperate are less afraid. Starving the criminal bar of funding almost certainly hasn’t helped.

(16)(5)

Anonymous

Oh? I just like to do a good job!

(7)(0)

Lethargic Bystander

I understand that some members of the Bar are also intrinsically motivated to act with honesty and integrity.

(9)(1)

Anonymous

Is that an errant apostrophe I spot?

(6)(0)

Not Amused

You know what you can do with that apostrophe…….

(0)(0)

Anonymous

there is no way that someone agreed to have children with you.

(0)(1)

Not Amused's Number One Fan

Ask your mother.

(1)(0)

Sir Viv

I care less about my insurance given that the premium for bar mutual is not based upon competency, rather, being referred to the BSB and having their report on me slapped all over the Internet is an ever present concern.

(3)(0)

Barrister

Yikes. just read the full judgment. Those are damning comments from a LCJ…

(5)(1)

Boh Dear

I like how he claimed he’d been up until 2am and then got back up at 6am!

(0)(4)

Scouser of Counsel

You’ve obviously never done a pupillage with a P.I. element!

(3)(1)

120 applications, 13 interviews, no offers, given up!

“done a pupillage” – what is this thing pupillage of which you speak?

(0)(0)

Gus the Snedger

Similar to “slavery”, which was abolished in 1807.

I think the 1807 Act made a specific exemption for pupillages…

(0)(0)

Anonymous

I once put a whoopee cushion under the judge’s seat. Top bantz

(1)(3)

Goddard LCJ (Dec'd)

“For placing a whoopee cushion on my chair, is the sentence of this court that you be taken to a place of execution and there suffer death by hanging, and your body be buried within the grounds of the prison where you were last confined prior to your execution. And may the Lord have mercy on your soul.”

(0)(0)

Anonymous

I too am disappointed the Court had a tumour humour when it came to his Top Bantz. It was just a cheeky murder trial. Chillaz, broseph.

(8)(2)

Charlie P

It’s concerning that the victim in the case is referred to as “The wife” rather than by her name throughout the judgment.

(1)(7)

Anonymous

Don’t personalise ho’s my nikka.

(1)(4)

Anonymous

Can anyone enlighten me to as to why one High Court judge is described as Mr Justice Openshaw and another is described as Sir Richard Henriques, when both men have knighthoods?

(2)(0)

Anonymous

Sir Richard has retired and sits part time. So he isn’t referred to as Mr Justice Henriques.

(2)(0)

Anonymous

I was in front of him once. He was incredibly impressive.

(0)(0)

Curious

Legal cheek isn’t very funny and it verges on bullying in a sickeningly daily mail like way. Is Thomas Connelly just a bitter sado who couldn’t get a pupillage?

(10)(0)

Comments are closed.