The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal has called a struck-off solicitor's attempt to link his regulatory history to the death of George Floyd in the US and the Black Lives Matter campaign a 'disgrace'.
Michael Azuka Otobo, who was struck off in 2009, sought leave to apply for a re-hearing out of time. A memorandum of the tribunal’s decision refusing his application was published on the tribunal’s website this week.
According to the memorandum, allegations found proved against him in 2009 included that he practised or held himself out to practise as a solicitor without holding a practising certificate and misled or attempted to mislead the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal.
The tribunal refused an application for a re-hearing in 2016. The High Court dismissed an appeal. Otobo lodged a further application last December.
The memorandum states that, the day before last month’s tribunal hearing, Otobo sought an adjournment. He said he was unwell, his solicitors needed more time to prepare his case and get funding from his insurance company, and ‘this is an example of Black Lives Matter’. The SRA said the case had nothing to do with Black Lives Matter. The tribunal decided not to adjourn.
Otobo submitted that the 2009 tribunal judgment was obtained by fraud, deception and perversion of the course of justice ‘with the connivance of the regulator’.
The memorandum states: ‘At one point in his submissions, the applicant sought to compare his complaints about the SRA and others to the circumstances of the recent death of George Floyd in the United States of America. The chairman intervened at this point to require the applicant to show some reticence and demonstrate some respect for the fact that an individual had died.’
Counsel for the SRA said Otobo’s application was 10 years out of time and he was ‘simply re-running arguments that he had been doing for years in courts and tribunals without success’.
The tribunal said Otobo provided no evidence of any health condition that could explain a 10-year delay in lodging an application for a re-hearing. He provided no evidence for the allegations of fraud, deception and conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.
The memorandum states: ‘The applicant’s gratuitous reference to the death of George Floyd was grossly offensive and disrespectful and his attempt to link that incident and Black Lives Matter with issues of the applicant’s regulatory history was a disgrace.’
The tribunal refused Otobo’s application and ordered him to pay the SRA’s costs fixed in the sum of £13,196.
The memorandum states that the tribunal’s decision is subject to a High Court appeal and the tribunal’s decision remains in force pending the court’s decision.