In the last few hours the Bar Standards Board (BSB) has belatedly suspended David Friesner, a barrister awaiting sentencing for theft, who Legal Cheek exclusively revealed on Friday has been representing clients while on bail.
The decision has been partly brought about by the actions of Lib Dem MP Greg Mulholland, who today demanded answers from the Secretary of State for Justice, Ken Clarke, in the House of Commons about why a barrister who had pleaded guilty to an £81,000 theft was allowed to continue practising.
Until Friesner’s suspension, there was, according to Mulholland, “the very real possibility that [Friesner] could have [been] instructed in a case before Mr Justice Singh, who convicted Mr Friesner and will sentence him on February 10th.”
Mulholland added: “The actions of the Bar Standards Board defy commonsense and this needs looking into. This brings the legal system into disrepute, and the Secretary of State must now look at introducing mandatory automatic suspensions for those legal representatives involved in serious criminal cases. This is a ridiculous loophole, and it must be closed.”
The MP for Leeds North West also said that the case of Friesner’s client last week had been delayed in order for Friesner’s own case to be heard.
Describing his shock when he heard about the story, Mulholland went on: “I was astonished when I found that a barrister had been allowed to carry on defending people, having been convicted of a serious criminal offence. How can he stand before a jury and talk about the character of the defendant, when he has himself admitted to significant offences, and awaits sentencing? It is quite simply a criminal representing a criminal.”