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Solicitor-advocate who judge slammed for dressing ‘like something out of Harry Potter’ expresses shock at ‘unwarranted attack’

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Speaking exclusively to Legal Cheek, Alan Blacker — who also goes by the title Lord Harley — hits back at Crown Court judge who questioned his appearance, title and qualifications

lordharley

Yesterday evening news broke of a solicitor-advocate who had been reprimanded for dressing “like something out of Harry Potter” while appearing in Cardiff Crown Court.

According to Wales Online, judge David Wynn Morgan demanded to know why solicitor-advocate Alan Blacker (pictured) — who was appearing under what he describes as his hereditary aristocratic title of Lord Harley of Counsel — was wearing colourful ribbons and badges on his gown.

Lord Harley, who was representing a client charged with death by dangerous driving, responded by explaining that he had earned the ribbons for voluntarily medical service with the St John Ambulance. To which the judge thundered:

“Here in South Wales, we had a barrister, who later became a judge, who, during the Battle of Normandy, was awarded the highest order of gallantry, the Victoria Cross. Did you ever see him wearing that medal? No. He would have considered it the height of vulgarity.”

He continued:

“I did not raise any of these matters before this court during the trial because I am mindful of the fact that a young man has died and I did not want to interfere with the dignity of the proceedings, but if you ever appear looking like something out of Harry Potter, you can forget coming before this court ever again.”

Judge Wynn Morgan also questioned Lord Harley’s title and qualifications, according to Wales Online.

This morning Legal Cheek contacted Lord Harley, who told us that he was “shocked, appalled and very upset about this unwarranted attack which says nothing about my performance as a lawyer,” emphasising that he has not been criticised in any respect about his professional abilities.

The solicitor, who works from Christine Sharp & Co Solicitors in Lancashire, added:

“Last year when I won a trial in which Your Honour was the presiding judge he was confident and satisfied in my appearance and bona fides, which have been on public record for several years. This matter is being discussed with my lawyers currently.”

Of the unusual title he uses, Lord Harley explained:

“My title is hereditary. My family has been in the height of public life for over 700 years.”

Lord Harley’s epic public CV can be viewed on LinkedIn.

harley-CV

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239 Comments

kris

“My family have been in the height of public life..”

While *your* family were [Irish/Russian/etc] peasants?

Oh where is Niteowl to wade in on the state of the English legal & class system?

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The Real Niteowl

Aren’t there many Europeans who could claim a title at least as a pretender? Wilhelm II became Mr William Hohenzollern, but he was still the pretender King of Prussia and Emperor of Germany and to the rest of the royals in Europe his progeny are given recognition as “Princes of Prussia”. Surely then if there were an English/Scot/Irish/Welsh barony of Harley he could identify himself as Lord Harley.

PS Very sorry to bring up the awful fact that the Germans did something that you could have done a century ago. It must pain you to know their “empire” (Merc/BMW/VW/Rheinmetal/Rimowa/etc/etc) is larger than ever (especially in any place the elites of Asia want to go shopping) while yours exists only on the BBC.

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Nigel Henry

Niteowl may be conflicted on inappropriate court dress v hereditary title.

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The Real Niteowl

Not really, and as you may be able to discern from my comment above, I know more about it than most people.

In fact, I have some uncles who know a lot about it – after all, they’re the ones who had to cross oceans to pull your dukes and their cousins on the continent apart from each other and put a stop to that nonsense before they rent Europe asunder with their debauchery and failure to act in a diplomatic fashion – all over their heightened “sensibilities” of “honor” and thirst for power.

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botzarelli

Can you refer to yourself as Right Honourable if you aren’t a Privy Counsellor?

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Jac Hughes

If he has a British or Irish peerage in the rank of Earl or lower, he is styled right honourable. I would be interested to see if he has such a title however.

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CLeverdick

the Irish Peerage and all titles were abolished in the Irish Constitution of 1937. An Irish judge is not addressed as “Me Lord” s per UK, for example.

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Bongo

you don’t know so shut up.

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whs

We are not talking about what happens in Eire. Here in the UK the Irish peerage was never abolished and if someone is an Irish peer he is still entitled to be called Lord Such-and-Such in the UK.

So that is not my trouble with M’Lord Harley of Counsel KStJ DPhil MA (Hons) UB40 WD40 SMERSH ETC ETC.

The trouble is there has never been an Irish barony of Harley, and certainly never has there been the title of “Lord Harley of Counsel” – the “of somewhere” is called a territorial designation and is meant to refer to a place – “Lord Jenkins of Hillhead”, “Lord Alexander of Tunis”, “Earl Mountbatten of Burma”, “Baroness Thatcher of Kesteven” and the like. Unless we know of anywhere called “Counsel” (a legal term I suspect Mr Blacker has appropriated for his made up peerage) I am going to call him a steaming great WALT – an Army term for a Walter Mitty.

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The Real Niteowl

He does. He likely has the right to be identified as a person below that of a baronet and knight but above an ordinary gentleman – ie an esquire.

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Jack of Kent

Yes, it is also courtesy title for some peers.

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Jack of Kent

Other than the Lord Harley sub-title of this bunch http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earl_of_Oxford_and_Earl_Mortimer there appears no “hereditary aristocratic title” of Lord Harley.

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Charles Bonas

wikipedia ? one would suggest you look at who’s who or Debretts etc

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Mr Taz

His posts (and the responses) on the Save UK Justice facebook page were comedy gold.

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JW

Interestingly he doesn’t appear on the firm’s list of solicitors on the Law Society “Find a Solicitor” search function but, according to the same works for the Joint Armed Forces Legal Advocacy Service based at the same address… The Law Society states that he is the only person working for the JAFLAS, and that he was admitted as a Solicitor in 2010. The JAFLAS website claims to have been “[t]urning law into justice…for over twenty years”!

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DittoDitto

Where does the “of counsel” designation arise from (not in relation to Mr Blacker, but generally)? Not something I’m familiar with outside of large law firms where it is sometimes a grade between Senior Associate and Partner, or a more loosely associated senior lawyer.

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Bah

Article says that he works at Christine Sharp & Co Solicitors.

Law Society website says he works in the Joint Armed Forces Legal Advocacy Service.

Which one? It may be both.

Great LinkedIn picture. One suggestion: a hair cut.

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Charles Bonas

Why ?

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anissue?

Is what this man is wearing of any consequence to the legal proceeding at hand? It seems ridiculous and a mere diversion to the case which is very serious indeed. A man lost his life and another man’s freedom in the balance, and what is attractive to the media is simply a badge and a ribbon? It’s no wonder we are in the state we are in!

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badmonkey

Anissue. You know you’re reading Legal Cheek, not the All England Law Reports? Don’t cite these articles in court (they’re not serious).

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Charles Bonas

Totally agree with you its the snobbery of it all truth be told.

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whs

It suggests unnecessary levity if the man turns up to court dressed in court dress but in addition a bunch of ribbons and medals, particularly if he is not entitled to them. And with levity, a case not carried on properly. The solicitor-advocate appears to draw more attention to himself than to his client’s case.

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The Real Niteowl

Oh come on man. Without these little quarrels about whose hill and dale and ribbons are better, you wouldn’t have been put into penury from all those 20th Century wars you gingered up.

More here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QUHIZQLMo-0

More on News at 6.

Fighting over whose sense of honor and tradition is better (and over cheeses, beers and and soccer teams): If that’s not English, what is?

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kate mallison

I don’t see how one can have a hereditary title that is “of Counsel” as counsel isn’t a place………
Sooner the Law Society look at this the better.

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Bongo

he is of counsel not from counsel you bellend

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Richard Reynolds

*”of Counsel” is traditionally used to refer to a barrister in the same way as you might say Mr Smith of Jones & Co. you would say Mr Smith of Counsel, it literally means Mr Smith, of the Bar. So in his case its clearly wrong. However, as Solicitor Advocates act as counsel in the case I can see how he, wrongly, things it is correct. He might be counsel in a case but he is not “of Counsel”.
To be honest he seems like a fairly tragic case. Even if all his accolades turn out to be true (which I suppose is technically possible), the magpie like collecting of such, and clear intention to ensure the whole world knows of them all, suggests an… unusual set of concerns. Some of such appear to be accolades granted by institutions of equally dubious authority.

(*I don’t have a reference for this, so please provide any source to contradict it if there is one!)

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Gav

I completely agree with you. There is nothing wrong, per se, with having a collection of titles, degrees etc. but the need to promote them so vehemently seems a bit strange. On a similar note, the sheer volume of qualifications (if they are all merited) and his very short history as a lawyer suggest that this man lives very much in the world of theory and seems to have lost his grip on the realities of both the legal profession and the world at large.

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Bongo

no it isnt, counsel refers to either branch since 1990!

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Lottie

If you insist on having long hair – tie it back. It is most unbecoming to have ‘Meatloaf’ style locks straggling down the sides of one’s head.

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Charles Bonas

again why ?

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Solicitor

There is some strange snobbery afoot here, Charles.

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Bongo

hes outside court you idiot, the article clearly says he ties it back but he isnt required to do so.

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uh

what a nutter. Excellent point from the judge on wearing the VC. I have on occasion been tempted to wear my 100m swimming badge into court but I have now decided against it. And calling himself ‘of counsel’?! Impersonating a barrister is a criminal offence – ‘Holding out’ on the BSB’s website includes “describing oneself as a barrister or (when supplying services to the public) as “counsel”.

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Bongo

hes not impersonating a barrister, he is entitled to attend court dressed the way he did, read from the law gazette site, they agree with him.

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The Real Niteowl

Nonsense surely? Solicitor counsel clients. Barristers present cases. Solicitors have been able to describe what they do as counseling, and themselves as legal counsel for centuries.

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Richard Reynolds

*in danger of feeding the troll*
Solicitors can also stand at the bar of the court now, it does not make them barristers. Look at the obvious intentions he has, and that fact he is using a barrister’s instead of a solicitor’s robes, he is trying to make people think he is a barrister – that’ll be the mens rea your honour.

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Doubting Tom

Well, Burke’s Peerage have no record of him, despite being cited on his linkedin page. Which makes me doubt most of the other qualifications he clearly wants the whole world to know about.

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CLeverdick

Lot of Dicks in the legal profession

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AmericanLawyer

“of Counsel” is a common term in the U.S. legal scene. It generally means a lawyer who works from the offices of a particular law firm but is not employed by them. Sort of a solo practice attorney with the clout of a brand name.
Seems like he’s using it in that way here but it clearly makes him sound like he has a role he doesn’t.

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Bongo

no it doesnt, it means a lawyer with higher rights of audience which he has, read the gazette.

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whs

Not, Mr Blacker…. er, Mr Bongo, if you…. er, he goes around claiming the title “Lord Harley of Counsel”. This implies it is part of your… er, his, title. In the US this term might be in use, but not in the UK, neither for lawyers nor for peers as you… erm, he, claims to be.

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Daz

sorry but this is appalling bad taste and vulgarity in my opinion, naff title, naff robes. Respect to the Judge. Also respect to prosecuting counsel for not rolling around laughing. odd odd odd……

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The Real Niteowl

And yet every single one of your lawyers there have to swear an oath to a Thuringian duchess simply to be able to practice law in your courts…see the hypocrisy much?

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Richard Reynolds

I don’t know what the elements of impersonating a barrister as an offence rather than a disciplinary infraction (since the BSB cant touch him – assuming he is not an unregistered barrister as well – I mean who knows, he could be?!), but I think he is pretty close to the mark morally, as opposed to ethically(!), in any event.
I always felt that the US use of “of counsel” was analogous to our use of consultant in a solicitors firm, bearing in mind they are all “counsel” there.

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Bongo

hes a lawyer entitled to practice if you could read you would have gathered that from the gazette

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Richard Reynolds

Mr Blacker – being entitled to practice is not what I was addressing. I am not sure that impersonating a barrister is an offence distinct from just carrying out reserved legal activities without being appropriately regulated. However, as I first said it is definitely an ethical and a moral problem. I guess it could amount to fraud on your clients… Please bear in mind I am not accusing you of committing fraud I am speaking hypothetically – since I think you seem to actually believe what you say, at least in part. I repeat my original comment – a sad case.

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Sue R Pipe

Is it the same Alan Blacker as this:

http://www.faketitles.com/html/blacker_v_beaver.html

Cracking read 🙂

Lord Harley of Counsel. As Glenda Slag might say in Private Eye: “Crazy name, crazy guy”.

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Tom

‘thwarted for evermore’ – amazing

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John smith

Met the aforementioned Dr Blacker earlier this year.

Good on the judge-

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