A QC who accused a prosecutor of acting in bad faith without reasonable grounds breached his core duties but did not commit professional misconduct, a disciplinary tribunal has found.
Stephen Kamlish QC made the accusations against various members of successive prosecution teams in a series of criminal trials in which he was defence counsel. Much of the dispute hinged on CCTV footage, which Kamlish alleged was never of sufficient quality to be forensically capable of proving a case or to enable a positive identification.
The Bar Standards Board contended that QC’s conduct crossed the line between proper, fearless advocacy and making serious allegations of impropriety without having the grounds to do so, amounting to professional misconduct.
In relation to one of the four leading counsel, the tribunal found that there were no reasonable grounds to allege bad faith.
‘Considering the stages of the proceedings when [the counsel member] was involved, the BSB have made us sure that there were no reasonable grounds for the allegation that the respondent made against him. This particular allegation went beyond permissible limits. There was simply no material upon which to base such an allegation,’ it said, adding that Kamlish had breached three core duties.
However, the three-person panel found that Kamlish had not committed professional misconduct, concluding:
‘We think it amounted to a misjudgement by the respondent as to the reasonableness of the grounds upon which he made his allegation. It was rather more than a momentary error. He was persistent in making the allegation. However, on the facts of this case we do not think that his misjudgement amounted to gross negligence and we do not think, in the context of all that had gone before that it was sufficiently serious to amount to professional misconduct.’