Lord of LinkedIn slapped with £86,000 costs bill
Eccentric solicitor Lord Harley has today been booted out of the legal profession.
Lord Harley — whose real name is Alan Blacker — was given his marching orders by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) this afternoon, at the conclusion of a two day hearing in London.
The SDT found that the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) had proven seven out of eight charges against Blacker, including dishonesty. One charge in relation to misleading Judge Wynn Morgan — who Blacker had an in court dust-up with back in 2014 — was not proven.
The remaining seven charges related to Blacker’s failure to comply with the regulations relating to insurance and accounts, and making “inaccurate and misleading” statements regarding his academic qualifications and professional memberships.
At day two of the hearing the tribunal heard evidence from Blacker in the form of written defence statement.
The colourful solicitor-advocate claimed that he was exempt from the rules relating to accounts and insurance due to his status as an in-house lawyer for his charitable organisation the Armed Forces Legal Advocacy Services (JAFLAS).
Bizarrely, Blacker would not provide documents to support his argument, claiming that all bills were currently with a costs draftsman — and were subject to privilege regardless — and copies of client care letters could not be produced as this was an “extravagant use of paper”.
Edward Levey, from Fountain Court Chambers and representing the SRA, urged the tribunal to take caution and suggested Blacker “makes things up”.
It was the SRA’s case that Blacker was in fact undertaking private paid for work and handling client money, and therefore was required to have insurance and maintain appropriate accounts.
The SDT heard evidence that Blacker was attempting to bill his time out at £454 an hour for criminal work in the Crown Court and Court of Appeal. Continuing, Levey said that Blacker was “charging large amounts of money to appear on their behalf”.
Blacker also attempted to defend his vast number of academic achievements and professional memberships that appear on his now famous LinkedIn page.
Often referring to himself as Doctor Alan Blacker, he told the SDT that it would be “wholly inappropriate” to go into detail about how he had obtained the title. He maintained that all of his academics had been “independently verified” and all examinations that he undertook were moderated by an invigilator and were “double blind marked”.
Blacker was unwilling to provide copies of examination certificates and would only provide a private note to the tribunal directly regarding the identities of lecturers. With the SDT confirming they had not received any note, Levey branded Blacker’s defence “make-believe”.
Branding the entire process a “witch hunt”, Blacker has today been struck off the roll of solicitors and ordered to pay costs of £86,000. Blacker has 21 days to appeal.
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