Human rights firm Leigh Day has failed in a bid to see the medical records of banned solicitor Phil Shiner.
The firm and two of its partners, Martyn Day and Sapna Malik, face a total of 19 allegations at the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal in relation to claims brought by Iraqi civilians against the British government.
In a separate case, former Public Interest Lawyers director Phil Shiner was struck off last month after being found to be dishonest and lacking in integrity. Shiner had tried to have tribunals proceedings adjourned on the basis of a medical condition that was not disclosed to the public.
At a case management hearing today it was confirmed that the Solicitors Regulation Authority holds Shiner’s medical records but has refused to release them to Leigh Day.
The firm argued that the records should be disclosed as Shiner had not contested matters that may have a bearing on its case.
The SRA and tribunal said that some allegations do overlap with the Shiner case but that the SDT should treat Leigh Day’s case entirely on its own merits, leaving the medical condition of the Birmingham lawyer irrelevant.
The tribunal agreed, stating that the decision to find allegations against Shiner proven was made irrespective of his medical condition, as was the decision to proceed with the hearing in the first place.
Even where allegations overlapped between the two prosecutions, the SDT said Shiner’s medical records were ‘not relevant’ to the Leigh Day case and could not be disclosed, even if they were to be kept out of the public domain.
The SRA said there will be elements of its case that refer to events featuring in the Shiner prosecution, notably a press conference in February 2008 in which Day and Shiner appeared to raise allegations the British Army had unlawfully killed, tortured and mistreated Iraqi civilians. The prosecution will also examine alleged payments between Leigh Day and PIL.
Leigh Day denies all wrongdoing.
The substantive hearing is due to begin on 24 April and is set to last for seven weeks – one of the longest sittings of the tribunal since it was formed.
Although Leigh Day has not secured disclosure of Shiner’s medical records, it has forced the SRA to disclose all relevant correspondence with the Ministry of Defence, MoJ, Iraq Historical Allegations Team and House of Commons defence sub committee.