A tax specialist told the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal today that his conviction for communicating with a child under 16 would not be repeated because he was ‘a lot more careful’ online.
Daniel David Pipe, admitted in 2002, was convicted of attempting communication with a child under 16 and sentenced in 2021 to a two-year community order. He was also made subject to notification requirements for a period of five years.
Pipe admitted being in breach of principles 2 and 6 of the SRA principles 2011.
The tribunal heard that Pipe was on dating app Grindr under the profile name ‘Dad for Lad’. An undercover police officer was also on the app using a profile called Josh which mentioned half term and asked if anyone wanted to chat.
Victoria Sheppard-Jones, for the SRA, said: ‘It was the respondent who initiated contact with Josh by saying hi. Josh said he was chilling because it was half term, to which the respondent replied “nice, chilling too, jerking my dick off to porn”.
‘Josh said he was 13, [Pipe] said no probs and sent two sexual photographs and asked Josh has he ever played with a fat one like that. He told Josh he was a lawyer and went on to talk about his work.’
She added that the sentencing judge ‘did say no doubt [Pipe was] showing off when he spoke of working as a lawyer’.
The SDT heard Pipe was arrested in 2019. At his trial, he said he had thought Josh was an adult role-playing as a child.
Sheppard-Jones said: ‘Despite being convicted of the offence, he continued to justify his conviction by saying he had only been convicted by a majority. That is relevant when the panel comes to consider insight.’ She added: ‘[Pipe says] he now understands the potential hazards of dating apps.
‘The respondent is still seeking to justify [that] the potential hazards of dating apps is the reason why he was convicted of a child sexual offence. The SRA say that is wrong, he was convicted because he committed the offence.’
In evidence, Pipe said he had only told Josh he was a lawyer because he was asked what he did for a living. He added: ‘It is inconceivable [of this happening again]. The thing I have to take away from the conviction is I was not careful online, I am now incredibly careful. I was not careful enough to be sure…that I was not talking to a child.’
When asked what it would mean to continue practising as a solicitor, Pipe said: ‘It would mean everything to me, it is the only thing that gives my life purpose now. I have a very constrained life. It is hugely important for me to be able to continue doing [my work].
‘There would never, under any circumstances, be a repetition of this. There is a lot of good I can do out there [in my work].’
The three-person panel heard that Pipe was an ‘experienced solicitor’ and had an ‘otherwise unblemished and impressive career’. He was described as a tax specialist.
During cross-examination, Pipe said: ‘I have engaged thoroughly with everything asked of me in terms of the community order and rehabilitation programme. I have worked very hard not to be embittered by the whole experience I have been through.’
1400 update: The panel ordered Pipe to be struck off and to pay SRA costs of £7,350, which included £5,000 for the fixed fee of law firm Capsticks, which acted for the SRA.