The 8 best moments from the Lord Harley hearing liveblog
What purports to be a blow-by-blow account of solicitor-advocate’s first day before the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal appears online
The case management hearing of controversial solicitor-advocate Alan Blacker — otherwise known as “Lord Harley of Counsel” — took place today at the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) in London.
Harley hit the headlines back 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. The SDT adjudicates for alleged breaches of the rules and regulations applicable to solicitors and their firms.
No journalists from the traditional media were in attendance, but an administrator of the Harley-dedicated Lawbytes messageboard attended to cover events as they unfolded via a liveblog.
Below, Legal Cheek has picked out some of the best bits from the report.
Note that as the report is anonymous — the blogger identifies themselves only as “Researcher” — we reached out to Lord Harley to ask for his response, but have not heard back from him. Accordingly, please understand our story as simply a summary of the highlights of the liveblog, which is not verified.
1. Not there in person
Researcher claimed that Harley was not in attendance nor represented at the hearing.
2. Brilliant answerphone message
Harley, who was apparently invited to take part in proceedings by telephone, reportedly did not initially answer two phone numbers he had provided the SDT with, although contact was made shortly afterwards. According to Researcher, on the second number given to the tribunal they got through to a humorous answerphone message which stated:
Lord Harley speaking from the North of England …. Leave a message after the sheep *Baaaa Noise*
3. Application for the proceedings to be conducted in private
Researcher reports that Harley made an application for the proceedings to be conducted in private. He apparently claimed that a public hearing would damage the reputation of his charity and legal advice centre the Joined Armed Forces Legal Advocacy Services (JAFLAS). Harley is also reported as arguing that some of the charges against him were so weak that he will be applying for them to be struck out.
4. Bid to move proceedings to Rochdale
Attempting to rely upon the Equality Act 2010, Harley, it is reported, wanted the hearing moved closer to his home in the North West, suggesting the SDT rent some space near Rochdale Magistrates Court. Researcher told LawBytes users that despite the tribunal pointing out that the Act doesn’t apply to judicial proceedings, they decided this was a matter for a later hearing.
5. Medical report
Harley has reportedly submitted a medical report, but did not want its contents disclosed to the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA). Researcher indicated that the tribunal did not accept this, stating that any medical report replied upon must be served on the SRA by late January.
6. Army of witnesses
According to Researcher, the SRA, which is being represented by a solicitor from Capsticks, has gathered 17 factual witnesses — none of whom have been identified.
7. Unnamed academics
Harley will rely upon unnamed academic witnesses, who due to their other commitments have not yet been able to provide witness statements. The tribunal ordered that all witnesses that require cross-examination must be identified by 21 January.
8. The next Harley hearing
No specific date was given, but Researcher says that it should be listed for after the end of February.
Read the liveblog in full here. Please note that the blogger takes direct issue with Harley’s right to use the “Lord” title without providing evidence to substantiate their allegations. While reporting the unease of some members of the legal profession about the use of the title, Legal Cheek has never questioned its validity.