Property law specialist Philip Saunders handed an 18-month suspended sentence
A law firm partner’s career now hangs in the balance after he was found guilty of headbutting a litigant-in-person at the High Court’s Rolls Building.
Philip Saunders, who is a property law specialist at London-based outfit Bearman Saunders, was handed an 18-month sentence, suspended for two years, after he launched an extraordinary attack on businessman Mohammad Reza Ghadami.
Astonishing CCTV footage (embedded below) from inside London’s Commercial Court shows Ghadami — whose son Davood plays Kush in BBC soap EastEnders — swing his briefcase between Saunders’ legs. Seemingly in retaliation, the experienced lawyer can be seen taking a step back before headbutting Ghadami in the face. Ghadami required surgery to fix a broken nose after the attack. His eye was also injured.
Inner London Crown Court heard how Saunders, not acting in his capacity as a solicitor, had been involved in a £100 million legal dispute with Ghadami. David Nathan QC, representing Saunders, said that his client had been provoked, with the businessman calling him a “piece of shit” and using “words to the effect” of “don’t be so Jewish”.
Saunders was actually found guilty of occasioning actual bodily harm back in January, but reporting restrictions imposed by recorder Steven Gasztowicz QC had, until now, prevented details of the case being made public.
Ghadami had been due to stand trial for a racially aggravated public order offence but the case was dropped due to lack of evidence.
Sentencing Saunders to 18 months in prison, suspended for two years, Gasztowicz QC said:
You completely lost your self-control, lent backwards and quite deliberately headbutted him. It was clear that you could have left his presence without doing anything like that deliberate and serious assault, albeit on the spur of the moment.
Ordering Saunders to complete 200 hours of unpaid work and pay £5,000 prosecution costs, he continued:
The offence was committed in a High Court building, where any litigant is entitled to feel safe, however annoying he may be and whatever is going on between you. It was committed by someone who was a solicitor, who is trusted to act properly in such buildings.
Saunders was also handed a five-year restraining order and a four-month curfew between 8pm and 6am. A spokesperson for the Solicitors Regulation Authority said it was “aware of the situation and will review the available information before deciding on next steps.”
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