Barrister crosses that not-so-fine line between ‘fearless advocacy’ and ‘courtroom anarchy’

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By Alex Aldridge on

The juicy content of the final Court of Appeal judgment of outgoing Lord Chief Justice Lord Judge grabbed the attention of the Twittersphere yesterday. The theme? A barrister’s “flagrant misconduct” while defending in a 2011 terrorist trial.

The approach of Tooks’ Chambers’ Lawrence McNulty was slammed by Judge as “not fearless advocacy, with the advocate necessarily standing firm in the interests of his client in the best traditions of the Bar”, but instead a form of “courtroom anarchy” that — if left unchecked — “would rapidly destroy a system for the administration of justice”.

The highlights of the judgment are below…

McNulty’s biggest error was probably to compare the judge hearing the 2011 case to a dodgy salesman.


Hot on this error’s heels was McNulty’s suggestion that his opponents, and indeed some of his colleagues acting for other defendants, were guilty of “sucking-up” to the judge. As you can see, this seriously failed to impress the Lord Chief Justice.


But that wasn’t all that Judge pulled up McNulty on…

He was also reprimanded for misrepresenting evidence and making “hopeless” submissions which showed “no understanding of the law, the rules of procedure or his own professional obligation”.

In addition, McNulty was lambasted for his “forensic strategy of an all-out attack on every aspect of the prosecution case, sometimes at a very late stage in the process, in circumstances which can be described as “ambush” and of confrontation with and disobedience to the judge.”

Judge went on to conclude pretty damningly:


The appeal came about after McNulty’s client, Munir Farooqi, was jailed for life after being convicted of preparing terror acts, soliciting to murder and disseminating terrorist literature. Farooqi was granted leave to appeal on the basis of McNulty’s conduct of his defence. In spite of McNulty’s less-than-ideal handling of the original case, the appeal was dismissed.