In his final court of appeal judgment as lord chief justice, Lord Judge has attacked the conduct of a defence advocate who likened the judge in a terrorist trial to a dishonest seller of worthless goods. 

Dismissing appeals in R v Munir Ahmed Farooqi, Matthew Newton, and Israr Hussain Malik, Lord Judge, sitting with Lord Justice Treacy and Mrs Justice Sharp, said that the judgment had arisen ‘in melancholy circumstances as a result of flagrant misconduct and alleged professional incompetence by one of the advocates at trial, Mr Lawrence McNulty’. 

McNulty, of Tooks chambers, was representing Munir Farooqi, who was jailed for life after being convicted of preparing terror acts, soliciting to murder and disseminating terrorist literature.

Leave to appeal had been given on the issue of McNulty’s conduct of the defence, which Farooqi’s advocate at the appeal submitted had meant that his defence was not presented to the jury coherently or at all.

During the trial, McNulty cross-examined two undercover police officers over a period of 14 days, accusing them of being ‘professional liars’. Later, McNulty announced that his client had declined to give evidence and in a closing speech suggested that the judge was biased and urged the jury to look upon him as a ‘salesman of worthless goods’. 

His comments were described by the appeal judgment as ‘quite astonishing, and far beyond the experience of any member of this court’. The comparison with a dishonest salesman was ‘intolerable’.

The judgment notes that it is ‘a matter of regret that there are ample grounds for criticising the conduct of Mr McNulty at the trial.

‘It appears to us that faced with this problem, and without any justified basis for doing so, Mr McNulty embarked on the forensic strategy of an all-out attack on every aspect of the prosecution case, sometimes at a very late stage in the process, in circumstances which can be described as “ambush” and of confrontation with and disobedience to the judge.’

lt found the conduct by judge to be ‘impeccable’ in the face of ‘considerable provocation’ and commended him for salvaging ‘an important lengthy trial from shipwreck’.