Ex-DWF barrister made false allegations of homophobia and harassment against fellow barrister 

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By Thomas Connelly on


A former barrister at DWF has been disbarred after making false allegations in a report to the regulator against a fellow barrister, alleging homophobia, harassment and discrimination.

The Bar Standards Board (BSB) said Barry John Harwood “failed to act with honesty and/or with integrity and behaved in a way which is likely to diminish the trust and confidence which the public places in him or in the profession”.

A Bar Disciplinary Tribunal determined that Harwood had “fabricated” certain aspects of the allegations, which were deemed “serious” and were made against a colleague.

Harwood was reportedly the deputy director of DWF Advocacy, the firm’s in-house chambers, but left in 2019 shortly after making the reports to the BSB.

He was ordered to be disbarred earlier this month; however, the tribunal has only now published its full findings against him.

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The tribunal heard that Harwood accused the barrister of intentionally addressing his partner as “husband” in emails, despite being aware that they were in a civil partnership rather than married. Harwood claimed this amounted to homophobia.

But it emerged Harwood had described his partner as “husband” and referred to their relationship as “married” in past WhatsApp messages exchanged with the accused.

Harwood, who was called to bar in 1998 and is former member of the Bar Council, also alleged that the same colleague had bullied another staff member by using an offensive nickname. However, the tribunal heard that the colleague had never raised any concerns about it with Harwood.

In a further complaint, Harwood said that a colleague had raised concerns with him about comments made by the same barrister on WhatsApp regarding the 9/11 terrorist attacks, as that colleague had lost a close friend in the attacks.

But the tribunal found that Harwood “had distorted and exaggerated [the colleague’s] position and his views” and there was “no basis” for what he complained about.

In reaching its decision to disbar Harwood, the panel noted the conduct was “deliberate and sustained” and “harmful to all concerned”, but particularly to one barrister. “It was also upsetting and worrying to the others who were involved… all of whom are legal professionals who were caught up in what Mr Harwood said and did, and all of whom worried about the consequences of what was happening,” the tribunal said.

Commenting on the order, a BSB spokesperson said:

“Dishonestly and deliberately making false allegations to a regulator, especially in relation to serious matters such as discrimination and harassment, is wholly incompatible with membership of the Bar and the tribunal’s decision to disbar Mr Harwood reflects this.”

Harwood was disbarred and ordered to pay costs of £5,544.

He didn’t respond to our request for comment.

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