A male criminal barrister has been suspended for six months for engaging in unwanted conduct of a sexual nature with his female mentee.
Sam Clement Brown, called to the bar in 2004, was mentoring the 26-year-old bar student at the time of the incident, and met with her twice to discuss her future career. An independent disciplinary tribunal heard that, after their second meeting, Brown ‘stuck his hands up her skirt’ in the back of a taxi.
The tribunal also heard that Brown, who was 35 at the time, had ‘prolonged two long drinking sessions’ and that the complainant had displayed ‘incontrovertible evidence of having been very drunk’.
The tribunal found that Brown engaged in unwanted conduct of a sexual nature in that he 'intentionally touched C, the touching was sexual, C did not consent to the touching, and he did not reasonably believe that C consented to the touching’. As a result, he ‘failed to act with integrity and behaved in a way that was likely to diminish the trust and confidence which the public places in him or in the profession’.
According to the report of finding and sanction, the complainant had worked overseas before starting bar school and, while abroad, had been subjected to a serious sexual assault. It added: ‘The complainant was still suffering the psychological effects of this during her bar training, [and] was being supported by her GP and a counsellor’.
The tribunal ordered that Brown, currently unregistered, be suspended from practice for six months, preventing him from obtaining a practising certificate during that time.
A Bar Standards Board spokesperson said: ‘The BSB recognises the difficulty of coming forward with an allegation of this nature and is committed to taking action where it is appropriate. Our decision to bring charges of professional misconduct against Mr Brown reflects this and the seriousness with which the BSB takes reports like this.’
The tribunal’s decision is open to appeal.