Colourful solicitor-advocate’s titles questioned by the regulator
The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has finally made public the allegations that it is levelling against Alan Blacker, the controversial solicitor-advocate who goes by the bizarre title of Lord Harley of Counsel.
Blacker hit the headlines in August last year after an in-court dusting down by judge David Wynn Morgan for “looking like something out of Harry Potter”. His use of the “Lord” title and bizarre LinkedIn profile have attracted widespread criticism.
Currently the solicitor-advocate is up before the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal, with his first case management hearing taking place yesterday.
There has been much speculation about the specifics of the SRA’s case against him, which the regulator has moved to end by in the last hour publishing its allegations against Blacker, who practises as a solicitor at a charity he set up called the Joined Armed Forces Legal Advocacy Services (JAFLAS).
The SRA claims that Blacker, while in practice as a solicitor at JAFLAS:
1. Failed to maintain properly written up accounts to show dealings with client money.
2. Failed to maintain properly written up accounts to show dealings with office money relating to client matters.
3. Failed to obtain an accountant’s report, within six months or at all, for the accounting period including October 2013 during which he held client money.
4. Between 2011 and August 2014 made, or caused or allowed to be made, statements concerning his academic qualifications which were inaccurate and misleading.
5. Between 2011 and August 2014 made, or caused or allowed to be made, claims as to appointments or accreditations awarded by, or memberships of, organisations which were inaccurate and misleading.
6. Between 2011 and August 2014 made, or caused or allowed to be made, claims to be entitled to use titles which were inaccurate and misleading.
7. On 28 August 2014, while appearing before His Honour Judge Wynn Morgan at Cardiff Crown Court, recklessly misled the court.
8. Between March 2015 and June 2015, failed to co-operate with the SRA.
It is for the SRA to prove the allegations true, using the criminal standard of proof.
Following yesterday’s case management hearing — which seems to have been slightly farcical, with Blacker reportedly arguing that the case should be moved to his hometown of Rochdale on equality law grounds — a second case management will be arranged by the SDT in due course.
Update: Blacker has issued this statement via LinkedIn:
The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal held a directions hearing on the 4th November 2015. We had notified them with supporting medical evidence that our client could not attend a hearing in London and we had asked the tribunal to hold the hearing in Manchester where our client had intended to deal with several applications already sent to the tribunal. Despite this request they went ahead without our client being able to participate. We have notified the tribunal that these allegations will be robustly defended and that the application is being pursued in bad faith on the back of a yearlong campaign which has uncovered no wrongdoing at Lord Harley’s firm. The complaint against the judge is not closed and is still ongoing. Lord Harley continues to enjoy the full support of his board and is still acting for a number of clients. Lord Harley personally comments that ‘Having done no wrong, I will handle the tribunal matter in good order and with vigor’. Lord Harley already holds an injunction against the SRA for breaches of the Data Protection Act and violations of the handling of his personal data.