William Herbert Black struck off over ‘thoroughly unpleasant incident’
A Sussex solicitor who tried to kiss a 15-year-old girl in the pub has been banned from the profession.
William Herbert Black, 66, was convicted of sexual assault in November 2018 and has now been struck off the roll of solicitors by a disciplinary panel.
The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) said that the girl’s age was “a substantial aggravating factor of his misconduct”.
The incident took place on 28 December 2017. According to a statement of facts agreed between Black and the regulator, the victim “was a 15-year old girl and the assault occurred… in a public house where Mr Black attempted to kiss her”.
The solicitor admitted that “his drinking of alcohol had been an aggravating circumstance”.
Black was hauled before the mags and pleaded guilty to sexual assault. He received a community sentence and placed on the sex offenders register for five years.
The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) noted that Black was not working as a solicitor at the time — his last practising certificate was for 2015/16. But although “the conduct which led to the conviction did not relate to professional activities, the conviction itself… was more than capable of damaging public confidence in the legal profession”.
In mitigation, Black said that he had reported himself to the SRA, apologised for his behaviour and been receiving counselling.
The solicitor, who worked for a local firm in West Sussex, also insisted that while he had touched the victim on the chin and tried to kiss her, “no kiss occurred and he did not know her age”.
But the SRA called the incident “thoroughly unpleasant”, saying that although Black had been drinking “he was still directly responsible for the circumstances which led to his offending behaviour”.
The tribunal agreed, ordering that Black be struck off and stump up costs of £1,275.