The solicitor-advocate known as Lord Harley has threatened to take legal action against the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal over its first hearing into a series of allegations concerning his conduct.
A case management hearing in the case, in which Harley (pictured) was charged under the name Alan Blacker, was heard in Harley's absence in London in November. Harley had asked for the hearing to take place in Manchester, based on medical evidence showing he could not travel far.
On his LinkedIn page, Harley says he has served the SDT with pre-action documents due to the failure to hear the case in Manchester. He says he served formal requests for a local hearing under the ‘reasonable adjustments’ provisions of the Equality Act 2010 but the tribunal ‘refused to deal with the application and rejected it outright’.
Harley says he is now seeking a High Court order to overturn the decision, along with damages and costs.
He adds: ‘I have prepared a full defence to the baseless allegations against me but if I am denied the right of appearing because the tribunal is so caught up in its self-importance how can the public hear the truth?
‘All courts are bound by the law, even the SDT; if they wanted to show correct form they would have in my view behaved more openly with a disabled respondent. After all, the costs of holding the hearing in Manchester would be nominal.’
The Gazette understands that the tribunal has not received service of High Court proceedings or proceedings issued in any other court or tribunal in the name of Blacker or Harley.
The next case management hearing is due to be held in February in London.
The Solicitors Regulation Authority alleges that while in practice as a solicitor at Lancashire firm Joint Armed Forces Legal Advocacy Service, Blacker failed to maintain properly written-up accounts to show dealings with client money, and failed to maintain accounts to show dealing with office money.
The SRA also alleges that he failed to obtain an accountant’s report, within six months or at all, for the accounting period including October 2013 during which he held client money.
Three charges related to the years from 2011 to 2014, namely that Blacker 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 final charges are that he recklessly misled the court while appearing before His Honour Judge Wynn Morgan at Cardiff Crown Court on 28 August 2014, and that he failed to co-operate with the SRA from March to June this year.
All the allegations are subject to an SDT hearing. Blacker has vigorously denied any wrongdoing.
Blacker came to public attention last year when he was reprimanded by a judge for ‘dressing like something out of Harry Potter’. The judge has since been cleared of misconduct by the Judicial Conduct Investigations Office, although Blacker insists his complaint is not closed.