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Top QC who didn’t pay tax for 12 years is struck off

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Commercial silk Rohan Pershad QC was “extremely poor at paperwork”

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A former 39 Essex Chambers barrister who failed to pay £600,000 in VAT over a period of 12 years has been struck off by the Bar Standards Board (BSB).

Rohan Pershad QC hit the headlines two years ago after his extraordinary tax situation was exposed by HM Revenue & Customs and a prosecution against him began.

At the time the silk claimed that he was just “extremely poor at paperwork”, but a jury didn’t believe him and he was found guilty of VAT fraud — receiving a three and a half year sentence.

Now, having unsuccessfully appealed his conviction while in prison, Pershad has been hit with a bitter final blow: he is being struck off and can never practise law again.

Following the BSB tribunal yesterday, the professional body’s director of professional conduct, Sara Jagger, said:

Our role as a regulator is to act in the public interest and provide a safeguard against risk. The public have a right to expect members of the bar to be honest and act with integrity. Mr Pershad failed to do this and the order is one that reflects the seriousness of the actions and upholds confidence in the profession.

Pershad was called to the bar in 1999 and became a silk in 2011. His old set, 39 Essex Chambers, is one of the bar’s leading commercial outfits, with average revenue per barrister last year of £462,000. Its members include Justine Thornton, the wife of ex-Labour leader Ed Miliband.