A former partner at an international firm who was struck off after he was found to have deliberately misled a High Court judge about transcripts used to convict a businessman of terrorism in Djibouti is mounting a bid to return to the profession.
Peter Gray, who worked from Gibson Dunn & Crutcher’s Dubai office, obtained a freezing order on behalf of the Republic of Djibouti in a claim against Abdourahman Boreh, who had been sentenced in his absence to 15 years over a grenade attack on a supermarket.
He was found to have deliberately misled the High Court at a 2013 hearing on the basis he knew a transcript of a phone call involving Boreh was wrongly dated, so that the conversation occurred before the attack in Djibouti rather than afterwards.
After the discrepancy was discovered, Gray said in a meeting attended by Djibouti’s attorney general that they could ‘fudge the error of the date’ – which he maintains is ‘not inevitably an indication of a dishonest strategy’.
However, Mr Justice Flaux (as he then was) said when setting aside the freezing order in 2015: ‘Fudging the error of the date was not the conduct of a solicitor of integrity.’
Gray, 46, was found to have acted dishonestly and was last year struck off by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal, which largely concurred with Flaux’s decision.
But his barrister Simon Davenport QC told the High Court yesterday that the SDT was wrong to have relied on Flaux’s findings, many of which were ‘no longer supportable before the tribunal’.
‘The epicentre of Mr Justice Flaux’s decision, and that is the critical decision, was that Mr Gray acted on a frolic of his own and kept everybody else out of the picture and certainly anybody of any significance in the dark,’ Davenport said. ‘That is what made his actions, and his actions alone, dishonest.
‘However, by the time of the tribunal hearing, it could be absolutely demonstrated … that Mr Gray acted collaboratively and above all sought and took leading counsel’s informed approval and strategic direction at each and every stage.’
Davenport said evidence obtained by the time of the SDT hearing showed that Khawar Qureshi QC ‘had indeed been regularly consulted and had reached the same, honest, decisions that Mr Gray had made’, which meant Flaux’s judgment was ‘irrelevant because the decision was made on the basis of incomplete evidence and led to factual conclusions that could no longer be supported’.
The SDT had a ‘blanket reliance’ on Flaux’s findings despite the fact that ‘the factual picture was much changed’ by the time of the hearing before the tribunal, he argued.
Rory Dunlop QC, for the SRA, is expected to begin his submissions this morning. The hearing before Mr Justice Linden continues.