News

Pupillage-less Bar grad who used ‘barrister’ title to commit massive fraud is struck off

By on
1

A Bar graduate who failed to secure pupillage has been stripped of the right to call himself a “barrister” after using the title to commit a string of fraud offences.

South Wales-based Bryan McNaught, who completed the Bar Vocational Course (now the Bar Professional Training Course) in 2001, was jailed last year for swindling almost £1 million out of credit card companies, banks and mortgage lenders. Yesterday, in his absence, McNaught was disbarred by a Bar disciplinary panel for dishonest conduct.

McNaught’s fraud, which was committed together with his wife, began in 2003 when he applied for a  £25,000 loan and claimed to be a tax lawyer who had previously worked as a self-employed barrister.

It continued in 2005 when the couple applied to re-mortgage their home, claiming that McNaught was a £35,000-a-year tax lawyer.

In another instance, McNaught told an online loan company that he earned between £60,000 and £70,000 as a barrister.

After being sentenced to 36 months in prison for these offences in 2011, McNaught was then given a further 15 months last year for his part in an inheritance fraud which saw a £60,000 legacy diverted away from his children to him and his wife.

Bar Standards Board’s (BSB) head of professional conduct Sara Down said: “Honesty and integrity are fundamental to ensuring public confidence in the profession. As a regulator, it is our duty to protect the public and promote high standards of behaviour for those called to the Bar. On any view, Mr McNaught’s conduct was utterly unacceptable.”

The BSB also released a statement clarifying McNaught’s professional status as “an unregistered barrister”. McNaught, the BSB explained, “completed the academic stage of the Bar’s training and was called to the Bar in 2001 but has not completed pupillage so was not entitled to offer or provide legal services as a barrister but could still use the title in limited circumstances”.

The statement added: “The Tribunal’s order of disbarment, once put into effect, means that Mr McNaught will no longer be a barrister and cannot use the title in any circumstances.”

1 Comment

Richard

There was an attempt a few years back to limit the title to those who had completed pupillage. It was a sensible attempt. For what it is worth. It did however jeopardise the income of institutions doing the BPTC where overseas students make up a significant part of the income stream. A related concern that the Bar’s reputation abroad would diminish if fewer students came to take the BPTC was also run.

It is difficult to see the public interest in such an approach. Qualifications and titles are supposed to be there to help the public choose better lawyers not to help students claim some benefit in the absence of a pupillage (however much sympathy one would ordinarily have) or to keep our law schools afloat. An interesting question for LETR anaoraks is whether multiple exit and entry points on a more flexible training system will make this kind of titular confusion more likely.

(0)(0)

Comments are closed.