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Barrister suspended for six months over sexual comments to female mini-pupil

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Second disciplinary tribunal finding against Robert Kearney

A barrister has been suspended from practice for six months over “inappropriate behaviour of a sexual nature” with a female mini-pupil.

The bar disciplinary tribunal handed down the suspension to veteran criminal barrister Robert Kearney after hearing of comments including “that he kept his nails short because you can’t finger women with long nails”.

The panel also found that he had leaned into her while the two were alone in a lift and smelt her neck.

Kearney — who has fallen foul of the regulator before — has also been advised that he should not take on pupils, mini-pupils or work experience students in future.

According to the published finding in the case, the crime specialist committed professional misconduct in his interactions with Person A, who was on a mini-pupillage and with whom he was “in a position of trust”. The finding lists his comments to her over the course of three days as follows:

“i] that he kept his nails short because you can’t finger women with long nails;

ii] asked Person A if she had ever had sex in her parents’ house and the details about it;

iii] told Person A that eating pineapple makes semen taste better;

iv] said to Person A she should wear skirts and heels instead of trousers and asked her what her bra size was;

v] lent into Person A when the two were along inside a lift, smelt her neck and asked her what perfume she was wearing;

vi] B also spoke about sex with his wife and was physically too close to Person A.”

In 2018, Kearney was fined £1,000 and reprimanded over inappropriate remarks to a pupil barrister. The “clearly drunken” brief is said to have put his arm around the male pupil at a social event and asked whether he had “ever taken a woman from behind”.

At the time Kearney was listed as working for Lincoln House Chambers in Manchester, but according to a LinkedIn profile he left in March 2020.

An old chambers profile says that Kearney “has a substantial defence practice, frequently representing members of alleged organised crime groups in Manchester & Salford”.

The events involving Person A, which took place in January 2015, predate those leading to Kearney’s first sanction in October 2017.

Kearney confirmed to Legal Cheek that he is appealing the finding.

The 2021 Legal Cheek Chambers Most List

7 Comments

Where’s your empathy???

Mini pupils are mostly young students deeply in debt and with little experience of the working world.

They are vulnerable compared to barristers and should not be preyed upon whilst they are within chambers without remuneration.

This barrister’s behaviour is disgusting. Kudos to the mini-pupil for bravely speaking out.

(88)(88)

Right Here

He shouldn’t have done it, but there’s no evidence she was ‘vulnerable’. That’s pure conjecture.

(51)(42)

Right there

It’s not about her personal characteristics, but about her lack of power and need to start her career. Surely you must see that?

(53)(55)

Right where

Yes, but that doesn’t mean she was vulnerable. Or powerless.

(42)(42)

Anon

Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to that lack of empathy.

Semantics over actions – seriously?

(26)(41)

LOL

LOL at all the barristers downvoting this, praying they don’t get caught for their bad behaviour.

(31)(41)

A

I downvoted it because it inanely stated the obvious.

(10)(8)

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