Barrister who fabricated Harvard degrees is struck off

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By Alex Aldridge on

A practising barrister who falsely claimed to have two undergraduate degrees from Harvard (and a rather-less-impressive LLM from Staffordshire University) has been disbarred.

Upon being called to the Bar in 2004, Sheffield-based Giles Norton gave false information about not only his degrees (in Chinese and IT from Harvard, and International Trade and Export from Staffordshire), but also failed to disclose previous criminal convictions for possessing CS gas and wilfully obstructing the police.

He went on to practise for nine years, with suspicions only aroused about his past early last year when Bar authorities received a tip off that information Norton had provided to Inner Temple may have been incorrect.

The BSB and the Bar Council have declined to provide information about where Norton completed his pupillage, but have confirmed that most recently he has been operating as a sole practitioner at Enigma Chambers.

At the Bar Tribunals & Adjudication Service hearing on Friday, Norton’s practising certificate was suspended with immediate effect.

BSB head of professional conduct Sara Down said: “Our duty as a regulator is, first and foremost, to protect the public. Mr Norton not only failed to disclose serious criminal convictions, but also fabricated his qualifications. In our view, there is no place at the Bar for such dishonesty and we believe the tribunal decision is the right one.”

Norton’s case has echoes of that of Dennis O’Riordan, who was recently struck off after falsely claiming that he had degrees from Harvard and Oxford. O’Riordan was originally called to the Bar in 1993, and went on to become a partner at the London office of big US law firms Cadwalader Wickersham & Taft and Paul Hastings.

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