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10 month suspension for barrister who posted ‘offensive’ comments on Facebook

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Less than a week after regulator issued fresh guidance on social media etiquette

A barrister who posted a number of “offensive” comments about a member of the public on social media has been suspended from practice for ten months.

A disciplinary tribunal found that Richard Miles had breached regulatory rules when in March 2018 he posted on a Facebook forum, ‘London floaters do as you likey’, comments about a member of the public which were “offensive and disparaging, including matters of a sexual and/or violent nature”.

In doing so, Miles, who was called to the bar by Gray’s Inn in 1997, acted in a way which was likely to diminish the trust and confidence the public places in him or in the profession.

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Commenting on the order to suspend, Sara Jagger, Bar Standards Board (BSB) director of legal and enforcement, said:

“Barristers are obliged not to act in a way that diminishes the trust and confidence the public places in them or the profession. The Tribunal found Mr Miles had breached this obligation and its decision to suspend him shows the serious consequences for barristers that can arise from inappropriate behaviour on social media.”

Miles has been approached for comment. The decision is open to appeal.

The finding comes less than a week after the regulator issued fresh guidance which warned barristers they could be hauled before a disciplinary tribunal if they engage in “heated debates or arguments” on social media.

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