The High Court has overturned a suspension imposed on a barrister who gave his vulnerable client cash for food and clothes. In a ruling yesterday the High Court accepted Roy Headlam’s appeal against a six month suspension imposed on him by the Bar Tribunal’s and Adjudication Service (BTAS) – an independent disciplinary tribunal. Instead of the suspension, the court fined him £5,000.
In December, the Gazette reported that Headlam, a member of Furnival Chambers, had been suspended for six months for giving his client cash to pay bills and buy clothes while he was representing her in criminal proceedings.
The incident occurred in 2014 when Headlam gave the woman a £2,000 cheque for clothes and a college course. A few months before he had handed the woman up to £300 in cash outside his chambers after she allegedly called him saying she could not afford food or electricity.
The BTAS found Headlam’s actions had failed to maintain his independence and were likely to diminish the trust and confidence the public place in the profession.
But yesterday’s ruling found there had been no previous cases like it at the bar and that the suspension should be overturned.
A spokesperson for the Bar Standards Board, which brought the intial disciplinary claim, said: ’We note the decision of Mrs Justice Cheema-Grubb to quash the suspension orders imposed by the disciplinary tribunal and to replace them with a £5,000 fine and have no further comment to make.’
Headlam was called to the Bar by Gray’s Inn in November 1983.