The High Court has said that a solicitor who attempted to murder his wife should have his name taken off the roll, overturning a more lenient tribunal decision.
In an appeal brought by the Solicitors Regulation Authority, judges ruled today that the indefinite suspension imposed by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal on former senior Crown prosecutor Iain Farrimond should be set aside. The court heard earlier this month that Farrimond had been in the grip of a severe mental condition when he attacked his wife with a knife and ornament before trying to kill himself.
Farrimond, a solicitor for 31 years, enjoyed an unblemished career until the time of the offence in May 2016. His wife has continued to support him throughout this period.
He pleaded guilty to attempted murder and was sentenced to six years’ imprisonment, but the tribunal found his actions were not deliberate or calculated and ruled that his mental health condition made the case wholly exceptional.
The SRA appealed the decision not to strike him off, arguing that given the gravity of the offence and the length of imprisonment that the strongest sanction was the only one available.
In Solicitors Regulation Authority v Farrimond, Mr Justice Garnham said the powerful mitigation advanced before the tribunal did not alter the character of the offence itself, explaining that confidence in the legal profession would be undermined by any order keeping Farrimond on the roll.
He expressed sympathy for Farrimond and his family, and said the option would be open, if medical progress was made, for Farrimond to apply in future for his name to be restored. He added: ‘In my judgment, however, the sanction imposed in this case by the tribunal cannot stand because of the seriousness of the offending and the consequent damage to public confidence in the profession it will have engendered.’
Agreeing with the ruling, Sir Brian Leveson, president of the Queen's Bench Division, said it was ‘beyond argument’ that a solicitor serving such a long sentence should remain on the roll. He said: ‘The work of a solicitor, in whatever field he or she practises, inevitably involves a degree of stress and the public must be able to expect that those whom they consult are not so susceptible to mental ill health that they are at risk of behaving as Mr Farrimond did, however difficult the work might become.’