Five-day hearing to put to bed 18 months of confusion
The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) plans to call 16 witnesses to determine the legitimacy of Lord Harley of Counsel’s CV at a five-day disciplinary hearing scheduled for the summer.
Solicitor-advocate Harley — whose real name is Alan Blacker — is currently subject to an investigation by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) for alleged breaches of the rules and regulations applicable to solicitors and their firms.
At a case management hearing held earlier today at the SDT’s offices in London, attended by the Law Society Gazette, the SRA confirmed that it would call on an army of witnesses in a bid to prove the allegations against Blacker.
In a show of strength from the solicitors’ regulator, it revealed that it would rely on evidence from representatives of both academic institutions and other membership-led organisations directly connected to Harley’s numerous claims.
Harley — who practises as a solicitor at a charity he set up called the Joined Armed Forces Legal Advocacy Services (JAFLAS) — faces eight separate allegations. But the focus is bound to be on on his extensive academic accreditations and appointments that form the bulk of his now famous LinkedIn profile.
Harley — who denies all allegations against him — is alleged to have made or allowed to be made statements about his academic qualifications which were inaccurate or misleading. Furthermore, the colourful solicitor-advocate is alleged to have 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.
In a statement issued via LinkedIn just before Christmas, Blacker — who failed to appear at the first case management hearing in November 2014 — revealed that he was taking legal action against the SDT for failing to accommodate his disability. Having requested that the tribunal be relocated closer to his home address in Rochdale, Harley was not present at today’s hearing.
The SDT confirmed that a final hearing lasting up to five days would be scheduled in June or July of this year.
It’s still not clear whether Blacker will call witnesses or even participate in proceedings himself. Indeed his only recent communication has been a LinkedIn post last month in which he suggested that 2016 might be his year to “retire”.
Blacker first hit headlines back in the summer of 2014 when His Honour Judge David Wynn Morgan described him as “like something out of Harry Potter” after he arrived at Cardiff Crown Court wearing badges and colourful ribbons on his gown.