The story of the high-flying Dubai-based English solicitor, a Djibouti millionaire, a terror attack and some phone calls provides a salutary tale for law students
Law students — don’t do this when you qualify.
No matter how deep the pockets of an institutional state client might be; not matter how keen that client is to keep throwing money at your fee notes — when a smoking gun emerges having just shot down your side of a long running dispute, put your hands up. Do not lie to the court.
Indeed, the story of Dubai-based English solicitor Peter Gray should be a salutary warning to all lawyers.
Gray — who was a rising star partner at the UAE office of global law firm Gibson Dunn — is currently contemplating the possibility of an alternative career and hoping that he won’t face criminal charges following a well-publicised ruling in Boreh v the Republic of Djibouti.
Gray is not exactly flavour of the month at the Los Angeles-based firm, following the ruling of Commercial Court judge Mr Justice Flaux that the lawyer “did deliberately mislead the court”.
And Gray (pictured below) won’t have endeared himself to fellow Briton Charles — Lord — Falconer QC. When Tony Blair’s former flatmate and justice secretary and Lord Chancellor joined the partnership in 2008, he undoubtedly hadn’t bargained on having to make a groveling apology to the High Court.
But that is exactly the position he found himself in a fortnight ago — presenting the firm’s metaphorical backside to the headmaster for a good caning over Gray’s actions. The practice has also reported itself to the Solicitors Regulation Authority.
The Gray saga is a long and complicated tale. But it can be summed up fairly simply.
Abdourahman Boreh is the wealthy businessman opposition leader to the government of the east African country Djibouti. The powers that be there are not keen on Boreh, not least because they maintain that he masterminded a grenade terror attack on a local supermarket in 2009.
Proof of his alleged involvement in that attack was the transcript of recorded telephone conversations, which suggested Boreh was pulling the strings. Originally, the calls were thought to have been made after the attacks on 5 March. But in reality they were made the day before, supporting Boreh’s contention that they were nothing to do with the terror strike and he was the completely innocent victim of a smear campaign.
The inconsistency in the phone recording dates — a point that destroyed the Djibouti government’s case — was unearthed by a Gibson Dunn associate, who alerted Gray. However, Gray failed to bring that revised evidence to the court’s attention when acting for the Djibouti government in its bid to hit Boreh — who is currently exiled in London — with an assets freezing order.
On Monday, Mr Justice Flaux promptly threw out the freezing order claim. And Gibson Dunn is now in the process of Trotskyfying Gray — his profile has been erased from the firm’s website and the lawyer’s LinkedIn account has been sent to the social media skip.
Gibson Dunn also issued a statement pointing out that Mr Justice Flaux’s ruling did not implicate any other staff members or lawyers.
It is undoubtedly a sad story involving a lawyer who appears to have made a very poor judgement call. Gray’s Twitter account — which is still live and updated with a tweet about corruption in Kenya on 20 March — paints a picture of a man deeply concerned about political and social issues in Africa and the Persian Gulf states.
— Peter Gray (@petermjgray) March 20, 2015
He will doubtless be reflecting today on a core maxim — play straight with the court.