The Solicitors Regulation Authority plans to call around 16 witnesses to scrutinise the credentials of solicitor-advocate Alan Blacker at a tribunal later this year.
A case management hearing, held this morning at the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal, revealed that the regulator will call representatives of institutions and educational centres to establish the truth of Blacker’s accreditation, membership and academic qualifications.
Blacker, who also uses the name Lord Harley, is alleged to have made or allowed to be made statements about his academic qualifications which were inaccurate or misleading; made or allowed to be made statements about appointments or accreditations which were inaccurate or misleading; and claimed to be entitled to use titles which were inaccurate or misleading.
The practitioner, who faces five other charges, denies all allegations and says the SRA can find no wrongdoing against him despite more than a year of investigations.
Blacker has previously explained that his family has a hereditary title going back more than 1,100 years. When he appears in the magistrates’ and county courts, he said he used the name Dr Alan Blacker, as he has a DPhil in law with economics.
Speaking to the Gazette today, Blacker said the tribunal 'cannot argue or change my qualifications or accreditations, they are not up for alteration'. He said the only dispute is over two trade associations and one of his titles.
Today’s hearing started with the clerk of the tribunal attempting to telephone Blacker, who says he cannot attend proceedings in person due to a disability.
However the tribunal heard only a voicemail message: ‘Lord Harley, speaking from the north of England, please leave a message after the sheep.’ The hearing continued in Blacker's absence.
Daniel Purcell, on behalf of the SRA, said the regulator had been informed by Blacker that he did not wish to take part in the hearing.
Blacker explained that his filing of documents has been delayed by litigation he is bringing against both the SRA and SDT. He claims to have ‘amassed several statements of fact’ to disprove the allegations against him, but opted not to disclose these while other proceedings are ongoing.
The tribunal said the final hearing will take up to five days, depending on whether Blacker brings his own witnesses to back up his listed credentials.
The hearing is likely to be in June or July this year.
Blacker first came to national public attention when His Honour Judge David Wynn Morgan told him following a case in August 2014 that he was dressed ‘like something out of Harry Potter’. The judge was subsequently cleared of wrongdoing.