The Bar Standards Board and Bart Simpson

The BSB does not believe in the presumption of innocence nor in the right to silence.

In the saga which is known as “Peter Sefton Q.C. and Carmen Mazo” they have denied both rights to me.

I’m sure it’s not because I’m a Paddy. I think.

Firstly, they produce an inaccurate article from the Daily Telegraph and ask me to explain myself.

Secondly, they tell me that if I don’t explain myself , it will be a further instance of professional misconduct.

So, while our clients charged with , say, fraud, can say “prove your case” and when allegations are put by police in interview can say nothing , no such benefit is offered to members of the English Bar.

If the BSB had made the most cursory enquiry it would have found the answer to their question. Even the Irish News, minus Allison Morris, could solve the puzzle. How difficult could it be?

For my part, threatened with a further charge of professional misconduct, I resorted to that hero of our times, Bart Simpson.

“It wasn’t me, I didn’t do it.”

Let’s see what Chief Wiggum of the BSB has to say.

When the Met comes calling

Now that I have made a clean breast of my activities in the Strand, I expect the Metropolitan Police will seek my arrest.

Pretending to be a barrister is a criminal offence. It is regulated by the Legal Services Act 2007 and is punishable by a prison term of up to two years. It is also a contempt of court.

There have been several cases in England in recent years.

Monika Juneja was sentenced to 14 months suspended for two years , though she didn’t  ever appear in court.

Amir Salem spent 20 years pretending to be a barrister and a brain surgeon. He won a case at Manchester but suspicions were raised because of his “nonsensical legal propositions”. In NI he would have got Silk. He got 4 years and 4 months.

David Evans represented a friend he had met in jail. He was rumbled , according to press reports because of discrepancies in his clothing  and a series of hopelessly wrong legal submissions. Poor pleading is one thing but wearing brown shoes to court is beyond the pale.

Paul Bint pretended to be Keir Starmer and Orlando Pownall [though not at the same time] in order to woo women. The BBC said that he wore a pinstriped suit and carried papers tied up in pink ribbon. He had previously impersonated an aristocrat, a ballet dancer, a banker, a doctor , a playboy and a policeman. I think his mistake was to imagine that he could impersonate a ballet dancer AND Orlando Pownall.

The Bar Standards Board, says  that in some cases it will refer matters to police “about people pretending to be a barrister” [sic]. I’d like to see that, does it happen at carnival?

So I fear that at dead of night the Met will hammer in my door, assisted by the TSG.

I will , of course , give a “no comment ” interview.

But, Dear Reader, on a serious note, how to know if your barrister is real? Here are some tips.

  1. Does the person seem to be healthy and without vices, such as excess alcohol consumption?
  2. Does he/she seem calm and show no sign of being a psychopath?
  3. Does the person speak to you politely, listen to what you have to say and explain matters to you?

If you have answered ‘yes’ to all the above the person before you is undoubtedly a fake and you should call 101.

 

A cautionary tale

In February of this year, being a little bored, I hatched a cunning plan.

I would take my forensic costume, board the Easy Jet and go to London. There, I would pretend to be Peter Sefton Q.C. and appear in the High Court. What could go wrong?

I found a victim, Carmen Mazo. This lady was unhappy with the damages she had obtained at first instance.

I persuaded her and her solicitor that I had extensive experience at personal injury work in London. They were completely fooled. I could have found a whiplash or a broken leg case but no, I was reckless, I wanted to go for the big money. I advised that there should be an appeal and that we should seek millions in damages.

It was easy from there on.

We went to the Strand, I appeared before Lord Justice Laws [what a great name for a judge, surpassed only by Lord Chief Justice Judge].

If he wondered about my accent he probably thought that I had spent too much time in Belfast with Orlando Pownall.

He addressed me with the gravity befitting my senior status.

He acceded to my application and the case will be re-heard soon.

Result! I headed back to the Province, heady with my achievement. I began to calculate my brief fee.

But I had forgotten about the Fourth Estate. A reporter was present. The story took off! The Daily Mail was outraged and I was quoted. Other papers also published it.

I held my breath. Had I got away with it? Was the NI Bar Council awake?

Weeks passed and I relaxed.

Then BAM! The English Bar Standards Board were tipped off. By whom I know not.

A complaint has been raised against me. I am charged with holding myself out as a barrister and performing reserved legal activities when not authorised. I suspect that if they could have charged me with being an “Uppity Paddy” they would have done so.

So what now, I hear you say. I’m pondering my next step. Should I confess? Have I got a legal leg to stand on? Mistaken identity? Do I have a OTR letter? Shall I plead insanity? I mean I must have been good enough to persuade Laws LJ to give Ms Mazo an appeal.

Perhaps I should put it down to experience. Write a book. Get film rights. What would the movie be called. The Man who fooled Laws. The Q.C. who never was. Silky Smooth Sefton Suckers Solicitors. I’ll ring Jimmy Nesbitt….

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Will I also be charged by the NI Bar Council. Crossing the state line for the purposes of advocacy? Is there a European dimension?

So , Dear Reader, if you are tempted to such a thing, make better preparations. Steal the identity of a dead barrister, or one that doesn’t practise, or who has gone to Hong Kong. Choose a less unusual name, call yourself Laws or Judge or Chancery.

Meantime, I’m off to do a little brain surgery at the Royal.