A solicitor who embarked on a foul-mouthed email tirade against the Solicitors Regulation Authority, former colleagues and third parties has been banned from the legal profession.
Luke Stephen Venton, 39, also ran up three separate convictions from 2014 to 2017 for drink-driving, possession of cannabis and possession of a knife in a public place. He was alleged to have failed to notify the SRA about the first two of these convictions. He has not worked as a solicitor since November 2015.
The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal heard Venton responded to one SRA notification of a fine and rebuke that the regulator could ‘stick your adjudication invoice up you’re [sic] a**e you f*****g w****r’.
Asked to explain his response and language, he emailed the SRA supervisor and stated: ‘Here’s another one for you, you f*****g bent c**t(s). The SRA will never regulate me and that is it.’ Venton then threatened to bin any future adjudication invoice before signing off: ‘F*****g w****r – f**k off! Regards, Luke.’
The SRA opted on this occasion to take no further action, but emails continued with the regulator either the main recipient or copied into correspondence with other solicitors and third parties.
He emailed two of his former firms with abusive messages, including one which accused them of being criminals and an ‘absolute disgrace to the human race’, adding: ‘Don’t ever cross my path.’
The tribunal heard Venton had been admitted to the profession after his original application was refused on the basis he failed the character and suitability test for not declaring previous convictions. He was admitted in 2012 after making a second application.
Venton told the tribunal he believed the SRA and Law Society ‘had plenty of knowledge’ about policing and legal practice in Exmouth, although he did not propose to go into any detail. Having spent 10 years in the town he knew of ‘unauthorised practice areas that continued down there’, but this would not change based on anything he could say.
He told the tribunal he wanted to move from his Devon home and alleged his work had got him in with the ‘wrong crowd’ from within the legal profession.
He said he had suffered from depression but been clear of this condition since 2015 and was on a programme of medication.
The tribunal found the content of the emails was ‘offensive, insulting and threatening’, causing harm to the recipients. It was determined that the seriousness of the misconduct was at the highest level, such that a lessen sanction than strike-off was inappropriate.
Venton was also ordered to pay £7,000 costs. He had already emailed in September to say he would not pay the SRA a penny, in any circumstance.