A barrister and former part-time judge was today disbarred for ‘persistent dishonesty’ in what may be the final judicial act in the Huhne/Pryce speeding points scandal.
The bar disciplinary tribunal found that Constance Briscoe (pictured) had engaged in conduct which was dishonest and discreditable to a barrister, prejudicial to the administration of justice and likely to diminish public confidence in the legal profession or administration of justice.
Briscoe did not attend the hearing and was not represented.
Briscoe became the first judge to be jailed in recent history following her conviction in May 2014 for perverting the course of justice as part of the investigation into the conduct of former Cabinet minister Chris Huhne. Briscoe, who was one of the first black female judges in England, was removed from judicial office in August 2014.
Two juries in 2013 heard that Briscoe had helped her friend and neighbour Vicky Pryce, then Huhne’s estranged wife, leak to the press details of how Huhne had put pressure on Pryce to take the penalty points for speeding offences. Briscoe was jailed for 16 months the following year for making inaccurate statements to the police, altering her witness statement and deliberately obtaining an expert opinion on the wrong version of her statement.
Tribunal chair Veronica Hammerton today described Briscoe's conduct as a ‘serious and persistent departure from professional standards’ and of the ‘utmost gravity’.
She said: ‘This was serious misconduct. It involved a number of actions, which were intended to pervert the course of justice. On three occasions witness statements were produced that were misleading, false or manufactured… The offences are offences of dishonesty. This was persistent dishonesty and it was premeditated.’
She said this was aggravated by the fact Briscoe had attempted to blame the police for an inaccuracy in her witness statement.
Hammerton added: ‘Ms Briscoe’s status as a barrister is a status which is accorded the highest level of trust. Accordingly any dishonest conduct for a barrister will damage the confidence placed in the profession.’
She ruled that no sanction could be imposed other than that of the disbarment.