A law firm partner convicted of stalking a woman who had an affair with her barrister husband has been told she may continue to practise.
Katherine Simpson, of Mayfair firm Pemberton Greenish, was served with a restraining order at Southwark Crown Court last summer for writing three letters in the early months of 2015. The 49-year-old admitted misconduct at the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal today.
Lawyers for Simpson, described as a leading authority in leasehold and enfranchisement law, told the tribunal she was ‘genuinely remorseful’ for her actions and now ‘needs the support of the [legal] profession rather than further censure’.
The tribunal agreed, imposing a fine of £1,000 and noting Simpson's was a 'wholly exceptional case in extreme circumstances, none of which were of [her] making'.
Simpson’s husband Jonathan, a criminal law barrister, was suspended for a year by an independent disciplinary tribunal at a hearing in December.
The SDT hearing did not hear full details of the letters sent by Katherine Simpson, but Andrew Bullock, prosecuting for the SRA, said the solicitor told one recipient she ‘must have known that as a lawyer I would take this matter into my own hands’.
Bullock added: ‘The gravity lies in the fact that what Mrs Simpson was convicted for was disreputable conduct in the most literal sense of the word and conduct moreover which was apt to make her look ridiculous in the eyes of the world at large.’
The tribunal heard that Simpson had never threatened or even come into contact with the subject of the harassment.
Representing Simpson, Mark Milliken-Smith QC of 2 Bedford Row, said she had found the publicity the case attracted ‘utterly humiliating, degrading and embarrassing’ for her and her family. He suggested that, while she admitted harming the reputation of the profession, she had not been responsible for the events leading up to her misconduct.
Milliken-Smith said Simpson had already been suspended by her firm for three months and lost her status as an equity partner, returning last October as a consultant.
He pointed the tribunal to the remarks of the sentencing judge, who described her behaviour as ‘exemplary’. She had, he said, reached her ‘lowest ebb’ and was seeking to support her husband amid fears he would be the subject of a complaint about a restraining order.
Milliken-Smith added: ‘Never once have her professional qualities been brought into question: her commitment to this profession, its reputation and her firm all stand out. Her selfless attitude shines through in respect of her professional work, her family, husband and friends – all this against a background of the most difficult and at times harrowing of personal situations which continues to this day.’
Simpson was ordered to pay around £5,000 to cover prosecution costs.