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Solicitor who bombarded colleague with offensive messages avoids strike-off because medication change was to blame

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Fined £5,000

A solicitor who sent a string of offensive messages to a colleague has been handed a lifeline by a tribunal after it found that a reduction in the medication he was on led to the misconduct.

Robert Ashurst was working as a paralegal at the General Medical Council (GMC) when he bombarded another paralegal with messages containing offensive comments about Jews, the Irish, Asians, Muslims and gay people. Many messages were also sexist. The messages were sent between January and May 2016, according to a recently published judgment.

The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) heard how his messages included comments about “sweaty Jew[s]”, the actions of gay people being “disgusting”, and that Irish people are “Potato famine cunts”. Another message said: “there is no such thing as rape from a husband.”

Unhappy with Ashurst’s relentless messaging, his colleague (referred to only as “Mr X” in the judgment) told the tribunal how he “bascially stopped talking to him”. Unfortunately, the avoidance tactic didn’t work. Mr X said:

[H]e kept contacting me… I tried to ignore these comments but he would continue. If I ignored him, the comments would get worse until I responded.”

It was only when the 34-year-old’s behaviour came to the attention of others at the GMC that the messages eventually stopped. A disciplinary investigation was launched and Ashurst resigned soon after.

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In mitigation, the SDT was presented with medical evidence showing Ashurst had been diagnosed with a medical condition in 2013 and was “undergoing a trial of considerably reducing his medication”. The details of his medical condition were disclosed in private to the tribunal. The judgment cites medical evidence which states it’s “likely” the messages were attributable to his medical condition.

The SDT further noted that Ashurst “did not recall” sending the messages, had apologised to Mr X and had since “taken steps to resume suitable medication”.

Concluding, the SDT found that Ashurst’s “conduct was due to his ill health and as a result he had no direct control over it”. Accordingly, Ashurst was fined £5,000 and ordered to pay costs of £4,000. He must also provide regulator medical updates to the Solicitors Regulation Authority for the next three years. Ashurst — who is now in “a much better place” — is currently working in a small solicitors’ firm.

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28 Comments

Anonymous

I call people cockwombles, cretins and dickweeds. No one does anything to me.

(10)(2)

Anonymous

I’m Irish and at the commercial bar and can certify that anti-Irish sentiment and prejudice is still alive and well.

(3)(8)

Trumpenkrieg

Top lad.

I want to have a pint with him.

(11)(15)

PEPE

THICCMAN

(2)(6)

Anonymous

If they accepted that “the messages were attributable to his medical condition” and that he had no recollection of sending them, why was he fined?

(34)(1)

Anonymous

because he is a white male

(19)(35)

Anonymous

Ignoring the other idiotic reply… he was probably still fined as a form of deterrent. The behaviour is unacceptable and work colleagues should not be subjected to it, no matter the circumstance.

There is also the reality that the excuse is pretty lame. Coprolalia results in people with tourettes randomly yelling out obscenities, but it’s doubtful it would be communicated via drafted email/text/etc. He may have been delirious, but it also possible he was an asshole to begin with.

(16)(6)

Anonymous

reminds me of the diabetes-blackout manslaughter cases we all studied a uni… so in this case, should such diabetics be given a fine?

(0)(4)

Anonymous

Situation 1) An asshole with a potential personality disorder, as the above poster has implied, is subjecting a fellow employee to abusive messages. Work place harassment stuff.

Situation 2) An individual with diabetes, a physical condition, suffers a blackout during a hypoglycemic state due to improper use of insulin injections and kills a person with their vehicle.

Yes, comparable scenarios with a mutually appropriate sanction. You raging paint-sniffing cockwomble.

(22)(4)

Diabetic barrister

Are you actually thick? hypos happen despite the best intentions & I’m yet to meet a diabetic with a brain cell who misuses their insulin as no one enjoys the feeling of a hypo. Maybe you’d like to try to mimic your pancreas several times a day while dealing with normal life (like sitting in court when the judge won’t break for lunch and you need to eat) *rolls eyes*

Diabetic solicitor

5am and treating a hypo. 100% agree.

Anonymous

Wow, full triggered huh? Someone get this guy a biscuit and the definition for “context”.

Norman

It would seem that 17.4 million people in the UK all had their medicine changed recently… 😂

(26)(14)

Trumpenkrieg

Because 17.4 million people could not conceivably take a political position contrary to yours without being on mind altering drugs, could they?

You mug.

(12)(30)

Corbin. Sympathiser

Bugger off, fascist.

(2)(6)

Trumpenkrieg

I’m a “Corbyn Sympathiser” too.

Piers Corbyn, that is.

Piers Corbyn calls out Rothschild and Zog, so he is the boy in my book.

(2)(7)

Doc Schwartz

You need medication, stat.

Anonymous

Good Old fashioned Marxist name is Piers

Anonymous

Can you really call being informed by a mixture of blatant misinformation, pure personal ignorance, and delusional nostalgia a political position?

Just sounds like a recipe for stupidity.

(3)(5)

Trumpenkrieg

Are you stupid enough to think that 17.4 million people made their mind up because of a bus with a number on it and a few TV debates, rather than 40 years of evidence of the EU’s contempt for democracy and naked ambition to assume ever more powers to itself to the detriment of national sovereignty?

This post has been moderated because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.

(6)(12)

Anonymous

No, none of us think 17.4 million people were duped by a bus.

I think several million regional people felt ostracised by endless growth of London and wealth flowing into the City from abroad whilst the quality of life in the majority of England and Wales is laughably low. Several million more probably had preconceived notions of the EU eroding sovereignty due to years of a religious loyalty to certain media sources known to mislead on such subjects. A few more million are part of the hilarious cohort of Brits who blindly hold onto the old Empire. Finally, looking at the demographics from the vote it is very safe to say that a large group of said 17.4 million don’t have the appropriate critical training due to the completely inept English secondary education system to come to a reasoned conclusion on the topic, and so yes, were swayed by a big fucking bus.

Meanwhile, these scenarios are allowed to flourish by DECADES of government (on both sides of the isle) that allow this status quo to continue because it’s socially acceptable for nepotism and cronyism to dictate the political power in this country, rather than any form of meritocracy. Meanwhile, the rest of the civilised world continues to march into cultural and economic advancement whilst this island continues to float off into irrelevancy.

Read a book.

Anonymous

Awesome!

Libeturd Leftie

I suspect he or she meant that 17.4 people seemingly voted against their own interest and may now have buyer’s remorse… but that is only my assumption… as it were…

(2)(1)

Anonymous

So is there another LC swing and a miss on the details here? Law Gazette said this guy was an in-house solicitor at GMC during the relevant period, and has since moved into a paralegal role at the new employer. Law Society has him admitted as a non practicing solicitor.

Assuming the Law Gazette is more reliable than LC, I wonder if he struck up a deal to ditch the practicing certificate in order for him to say he “resigned” rather than getting the sack.

(2)(2)

Anonymous

relevant period? – sounds like a Part 36 offer to me

(1)(0)

Anonymous

Go do your LPC workshop prep.

(1)(1)

Patsy

This post has been removed because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

This post has been removed because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.

(0)(1)

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