Barrister who tried to smuggle over a tonne of shisha tobacco into UK booted out of profession

Avatar photo

By Thomas Connelly on

Career in law now up in smoke


A barrister who attempted to smuggle over one tonne of shisha tobacco into the United Kingdom has been disbarred.

Mohammed Shafee Shaikh — who was called to the bar in 2013, but never actually practised as a barrister — was arrested in December 2013 after a large quantity of molasses tobacco (commonly used in shishas) was discovered hidden in a lorry at the Port of Felixstowe, Suffolk.

According to reports at the time, the tobacco haul was destined for an address in Essex, where Shaikh was arrested by Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs (HMRC) officers. The non-practising barrister was eventually charged under the Customs and Excise Management Act 1979.

Appearing before Ipswich Crown Court in April 2015, Shaikh — who was a director of a London-based jewellers at the time — pleaded guilty. He was handed a 15-month custodial sentence, suspended for two years, and ordered to complete 150 hours community service.

Yesterday, Shaikh was formally disbarred from the profession. Commenting on the independent tribunal’s decision, the Bar Standards Board’s (BSB) director of professional conduct, Sara Jagger, said:

Dishonesty is incompatible with membership of the bar. The tribunal’s decision to disbar Mr Shaikh reflects this.

The tribunal’s decision is subject to appeal.