Incident occurred in taxi
A criminal barrister has been suspended for six months after groping a Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) student he was supposed to be mentoring.
A Bar Tribunals and Adjudication Service panel found that Sam Clement Brown, 37, had “intentionally touched” his mentee in a “sexual” way without her consent.
That behaviour amounted to professional misconduct, as it was “likely to diminish the trust and confidence which the public places in a barrister or in the profession”.
The 28-year-old complainant, known as T, was assigned Brown as a mentor by Inner Temple while she was studying for the bar. She was vulnerable, having been seriously sexually assaulted while working abroad and still “suffering the psychological effects of this during her bar training”.
T told a friend that Brown had put his hand “on the inside of her thigh” while the two were in a taxi together. She told another friend that he had “stuck his hands up her skirt”. Brown denied the charges.
The incident took place in November 2016, and T lodged a formal complaint in July 2017. The tribunal admitting that the delay in getting the case completed from there “has taken its toll on both the complainant and the respondent”.
The panel said that Brown and T had been discussing “personal matters”, including the state of their relationships on the evening in question. It added that there was “incontrovertible evidence” that T had got very drunk during “two long drinking sessions” with Brown.
While Brown had given T some careers guidance, the boozy meet-ups were “of no assistance of her in that regard”. The panel found that some of his evidence was “unconvincing”, by contrast to T who was broadly a “credible witness”. It also heard from various others who T had spoken to about Brown’s behaviour.
The tribunal ultimately upheld two charges of professional misconduct, dismissing two others related to a separate allegation. It handed out the six-month suspension after hearing from character witnesses for Brown and submissions on mitigation.
The decision is open to appeal.