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Criminal barrister suspended for giving client £2,300 for ‘food and clothes’

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Furnival Chambers’ Roy Headlam also fined £1,250

London’s Furnival Chambers

A well-respected criminal barrister has been suspended for six months and fined after he reportedly gave a client thousands of pounds for food, clothes and more.

In 2014, Furnival Chambers’ Roy Headlam gave a woman he was representing in criminal proceedings a £2,000 cheque for clothes and a college course, according to the Mail Online. In the weeks leading up to this, Headlam had also handed the unnamed woman up to £300 outside his London chambers after she allegedly called him saying she could not afford food or electricity, again according to reports.

Despite what seems to have been good intentions, The Bar Tribunal & Adjudication Service (TBTAS) reportedly “found that there was no guarantee the money would not be spent on drugs”.

TBTAS found that Headlam had “failed to maintain his independence” and “behaved in a way which was likely to diminish the trust and confidence which the public places in the profession”. Headlam, who was once one of the highest paid legal aid lawyers in the country, also “falsely claimed he had no spare funds to pay a financial penalty… [and] had no bank account of any kind”.

The 2018 Chambers Most List

The Bar Standards Board’s (BSB) director of professional conduct, Sara Jagger, said:

“The tribunal stated that barristers giving money to clients whom they are representing is a serious matter, because it calls into question their ability to maintain their independence and the confidence the public have in barristers — two of the core duties of being a barrister. The tribunal’s decision to suspend Mr Headlam from practising for six months reflects this.”

Headlam, who was called to the bar in 1983 and is an expert in serious criminal offences, was also fined £1,250.

Though Jagger seems to be content with TBTAS’s decision, some lawyers don’t seem so sure. James Turner QC, of Quadrant Chambers, tweeted this this morning:

The tribunal’s decision is open to appeal. Legal Cheek has contacted Headlam for comment.

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