A barrister who suggested that a judge had only secured her job because she was female and Asian has been fined £750 by a disciplinary tribunal.
Timothy Becker, a self-employed barrister who was called to the bar in 1992, was found to have behaved in a way which was likely to diminish public trust and confidence in the profession, according to a finding by the Bar Tribunals & Adjudication Service.
In August 2018, when acting for a defendant in civil proceedings under the public access scheme, Becker sent an email to the claimant in the proceedings in which he suggested that the Deputy District Judge, who happened to be female and Asian, had only secured her position as a result of ‘positive discrimination’ in the judicial recruitment process.
Becker was reprimanded by the tribunal and fined £750, after being found to have broken core duty five of the Bar Standards Board Handbook. The decision is open to appeal.
In a statement, Becker said: ‘I was found on 22.9.20 by a BTAS disciplinary tribunal to have breached the bar’s code of conduct by being discourteous in 2018 about a member of the judiciary. I suggested in a private email to a counter-party that she had gained her position as a DDJ only due to positive discrimination. I meant positive discrimination in favour of solicitor applicants (as I wrongly thought she was), but I accept that my remark could have been misinterpreted as a reference to the learned DDJ’s gender or race.
‘I admitted the breach of the BSB’s code on this basis and I was rightly reprimanded and fined £750. I was not accused by the BSB of unlawful race or sex discrimination. I have always supported and encouraged BAME and female barrister applicants and continue to do so. I will continue with my long-standing commitment to equality and diversity at the Bar. I was happy that the other charge brought against me was dismissed and very grateful to my counsel, Marc Beaumont.’