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Disbarment for Supreme Court embargo-breaking barrister

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Timothy Crosland previously said leak of Heathrow runway ruling was necessary to ‘protest the deep immorality’ of the court’s decision

Timothy Crosland

A barrister who leaked a Supreme Court judgment in protest at the result has been disbarred by a disciplinary tribunal.

In December 2020, Timothy Crosland, an unregistered barrister and director of environmental group Plan B, disclosed an embargoed copy of the court’s decision on Heathrow’s third runway a day before it was due to be made public.

Speaking at the time, the Oxford-educated eco-barrister said the leak was necessary “to protest the deep immorality of the Court’s ruling”.

A bar disciplinary tribunal has now disbarred Crosland, finding that his actions were likely to diminish the trust and confidence which the public places in him. He was also ordered to pay £3,120 in costs.

In a statement covering the decision, the Bar Standards Board (BSB) said the tribunal “took into consideration the aggravating factors of deliberate action by Mr Crosland, his refusal to remedy the matter when requested to do so by the Supreme Court and the fact he did so in full knowledge that such disclosure was prohibited and was a criminal contempt of court”.

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A spokesperson for the BSB said:

“The tribunal found that Mr Crosland’s actions interfered with the proper administration of justice, thereby diminishing public confidence in Mr Crosland and the profession. Disclosing a judgment upon which the Supreme Court has placed an embargo and being found to have committed a criminal contempt of court are serious matters and the tribunal’s decision to disbar Mr Crosland reflects this.”

The decision is open to appeal.

In May 2021, Crosland was fined £5,000 after being found guilty of contempt of court. He was also ordered to pay £15,000 in costs. Prior to the hearing, and facing the prospect of a spell behind bars, the climate campaigner told reporters the prospect of going to prison “is a small price to pay for the truth coming out”.

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7 Comments

Alan

Terrible behaviour. He should’ve been imprisoned for this.

Good

Good to hear this is being treated properly. Not jailing him for the contempt was a terrible decision and undermined the importance of the contempt jurisdiction.

Al

Whatever the worthiness or otherwise of the cause, this was such a strange hill to die on.

We get sent the embargoed judgements for our convenience. As well as checking for typos, it gives us a heads up if we need to do any additional work prior to the formal handing down. Say, addressing costs or other consequential orders.

Releasing a judgment prematurely just seems so petulant and pointless. It’s like protesting by taking up two spaces in the court car park.

7 years PQE

A very strange thing to do and his reasons for doing so don’t make much sense with even a little thought applied – if the judgment was due to be released the very next day what possible good could leaking it a day early achieve? The bar have tended to be quite soft in recent years and while I am not an advocate of harsh punishments, this seems like a step short of what would have been a proper response to such an act.

It's about them Twitter numbers?

Apart from self-publicity?

7 years PQE

Sure, but I was referring to the reasons he gave, as though leaking it a day early was some altruistic good deed and not for internet points.

Archibald O'Pomposity

“this seems like a step short of what would have been a proper response to such an act.”

You pompous little man. Keep fiddling while the world burns.

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