A veteran solicitor convicted of sexual assault after trying to kiss a teenager in a pub has agreed to be struck off.
William Herbert Black, 66, was convicted in November 2018 at Sussex (Eastern) Magistrates’ Court after the incident the previous December.
The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal heard the victim was a 15-year-old girl and the assault occurred in a pub when Black attempted to kiss her. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to a community order comprising a rehabilitation activity requirement of up to 25 days, 100 hours of unpaid work and £100 compensation payment.
Black, who was admitted as a solicitor in 1981 but last held a practising certificate in 2015/16, accepted he failed to act with integrity or in way that maintained public trust in the profession.
The tribunal heard the offence was aggravated by the victim’s age and vulnerability, and that the conviction was more than capable of damaging public confidence in solicitors.
In mitigation, not agreed by the Solicitors Regulation Authority, Black said he felt remorse for the victim and sorrow that he had failed to uphold the integrity of the profession. He has since received counselling over his mental health and ceased to drink alcohol for a period after the offence. He said he had touched the victim’s chin and tried to kiss her, but no kiss occurred and he did not know her age.
Black had a previously unblemished regulatory history, the tribunal was told.
The regulatory settlement agreement between the SRA and Black concluded he was directly responsible for the ‘thoroughly unpleasant’ incident. The sentence included a statutory five-year notification requirement as the victim was aged under 18.
The tribunal agreed that Black should be struck off and pay £1,275 costs.