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Bar regulator suspends bomb hoax and child porn barrister

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The Bar Standards Board issues statement saying it had already taken action against Michael Shrimpton following his conviction earlier this year for possession of indecent images of children

Lead

Bar regulators have suspended Michael Shrimpton following his conviction yesterday for a bomb hoax involving the Queen and the London Olympics.

The Bar Standards Board (BSB) this evening announced that it has begun professional misconduct proceedings against Shrimpton, who was also recently convicted of storing indecent images of children on his computer.

In a statement, the BSB said that it:

“was aware of yesterday’s court proceedings involving Mr Shrimpton in relation to a bomb hoax and had already begun professional misconduct proceedings against him as a result.

“Following Mr Shrimpton’s conviction yesterday and considering also his previous conviction … an immediate suspension order has been issued today. This will prohibit Mr Shrimpton from practising as a barrister.”

The BSB added that when it was made aware of the child pornography charges in April last year, it “immediately acted to restrict Mr Shrimpton’s professional capacity”.

According the statement:

“We required Mr Shrimpton to declare all of the charges against him to his clients, before representing them. Following his conviction under the Protection of Children Act in February 2014 we also prevented him from being involved in any cases concerning the welfare of a child, allegations of sexual abuse or impropriety concerning a child or where a child was liable to be a witness.”

The board went on to say that it “takes its duty to act in the public interest very seriously. We hope that today’s action to immediately suspend Mr Shrimpton in light of the judge’s comments yesterday is a clear signal of this”.

Shrimpton describes himself as a specialist in national security and constitutional law, as well as strategic intelligence and counterterrorism measures. He was called to the bar at Gray’s Inn in 1983 and practises from the Chambers of Michael Shrimpton in Buckinghamshire.

The BSB’s statement in full can be found here.

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18 Comments

Fiat Justitia (with bald tyres)

That clears that up, but I cannot see why no suspension on initial conviction. The child porn is way more serious than the bomb hoax.

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PedantsRUs

Couldn’t agree more! I find it extraordinary that he was allowed to carry on practicing at all. Particularly as he is his own Head of Chambers, so nothing and no-one to monitor him. BSB does puzzle me at times. It is amazingly lenient on this man and yet will chase down others remorselessly for being light on CPD points.

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Apex Predator

Er…

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MAC SOG

Troubling… leaving it to an individual who was, at the outset, very obviously delusional (or plainly dishonest, according to yesterday’s conviction) to inform unsuspecting members of the public of the charges he was facing? He continued to falsely deny all the offences, would have known the likelihood of his being convicted and therefore presumably would have had nothing to lose by lying to prospective clients and/or concealing what he was doing. The risk of him doing this in his desperate predicament should have been obvious.

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Annie Onimouse

“Following his conviction under the Protection of Children Act in February 2014 we also prevented him from being involved in any cases concerning the welfare of a child,”

So is the BSB saying that (a) it was aware of his conviction for CHILD PORN and (b) did not suspend him from practice at that point? & only stopped him from working with children?

If that is correct, it is utterly extraordinary. Barristers are officers of the court and have a duty of integrity. What on earth is going on with the BSB? Who took that decision? Was it a panel following a hearing and representations? Or some kind of jobsworth case officer? In my opinion, their statement doesn’t adequately address these questions or properly explain their reasoning for he way this was handled.

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Not Amused

Not to get in the way of your righteous indignation, but barristers are not officers of the court.

I understand the public are increasingly blood thirsty and focus, ‘mob-like’ if you will, on extra judicial punishment of anyone vaguely in the public eye, but it is not clear why a conviction for possession of indecent images should automatically lead to disbarment.

I anticipate some further hysteria. Please disappoint me.

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edwin cartledge

They are officers of the court. This is a term of art referring to those, such as judges and lawyers, who are professionally involved in the administration of justice. They hold duties to the court and their extracurricular crimes may be felt to reflect upon the court.
A term not to be confused with court officers, which includes ushers etc.

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Not Amused

No. Solicitors are officers of the court. This is why they are on the roll, kept by the master of the rolls. Barristers are at best officers of justice. But we do not have the same relationship with the court that a solicitor, as an officer of the court has. This is why solicitors go on the record as representing a client, barristers do not. We are independent and that is quite an important distinction which is often forgotten.

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Apex Predator

Whatever duties practitioners may owe to the courts, surely there is a duty here to members of the public, who should be informed whether or not regulated and approved professionals are in fact fit to practice. To rely even in part on an individual in this particular situation, with his particular characteristics, to play any part in notifying people of his own misconduct is alarming. It simply does not make sense as to why he was only suspended yesterday and not after his earlier serious conviction.

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Not Amused

The BSB clearly feels that a conviction for possession of indecent images does not automatically make someone unfit to practice. The government (through its sentencing guidelines) clearly also does not feel that a conviction for that offence leads to as severe a punishment as individuals here do. The judiciary in handing out sentences (which are often non custodial) appear to agree.

So your view, and the view of others, is that you want extra punishment, over and above what the government, regulators and judges think is appropriate. I think the correct forum for you is to campaign for political change. Stating extremist views on an anonymous blog won’t get you very far.

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Fiat Justitia (with bald tyres)

The BSB declines to elaborate further on its reasons for trusting this man to practise despite being convicted after running a false plea. Given that he remained in denial about the charge, I agree that it was naive to expect that he would fess up to clients.

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Apex Predator

Suspension is not a punitive measure (particularly where there is a public risk), it is designed to hold the balance until the full facts are established and any risks fully assessed. Here, the assessment of risk of dishonesty crystallized once a court determined that his denials were false and it is unclear why the Bar Standards Board did not suspend him at that point. I am not sure where the suggestion of extremist views or wishing for additional punishment comes from. It is about risk to clients and the wider public.

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Fiat Justitia (with bald tyres)

As pointed out above, as well as being a demonstrated fibber, this guy practised without colleagues or supervision. The BSB’s response to a loose cannon appears to have been to tell it to be careful not to run over anyone’s toes whilst plunging about the deck.

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Gladiatrix

I am sorry but Fiat Justitia is not correct, barristers are officers of the Supreme Court and this is made clear from day one of the BPTC. I believe there is also reference to this status in the White Book. I was called in 1992 having completed the BVC, as it then was, and we were all of us left in no doubt that we were officers of the court.

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Nigel Henry

I’m going to disagree with you a little.
Solicitors used to be on the Roll of Officers of the Supreme Court of Judicature, but that’s now changed to “Solicitor of the Senior Courts”.
Barristers are just barristers, but there is a obligation to observe a duty to the court and the administration of justice in the Code.
That’s been since 2009, so if anyone is told that on day one of the BPTC I’d ask for a refund.

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Nigel Henry

Out of curiosity I looked up ‘Officer’ in the dictionary: “a person appointed or elected to a position of responsibility or authority in a government”.
Happy to be corrected but I’d say that applies to a judge, applies to a solicitor on the Roll, but not to a Barrister.

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Fiat Justitia (with bald tyres)

I never said anything about barristers being officers of the court, Gladiatrix. You are confusing me with someone else. I happen to think that you are wrong, by the way, but who cares? Top tip: not everything they teach you at Bar School is true.

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Fiat Justitia (with bald tyres)

PS: You might want to look up what the Supreme Court is. Google is your friend.

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