A public law expert has been ticked off by regulators for making an allegedly offensive quip during a meeting with a local authority client. The Solicitors Regulation Authority gave Mark Greenburgh a written rebuke after it was found he made a comment ‘in relation to disability being linked to inbreeding’.
The meeting happened in October 2015 when Greenburgh was a partner of international firm Gowling WLG (UK) LLP. He is currently principal at London employment, ethics and equalities firm Greenburgh & Co Limited.
The SRA said his conduct in making the comment breached principle six, which is to behave in a way that maintains the trust the public places in you and in the provision of legal services. He was ordered to pay the SRA’s £850 costs.
The conduct of the meeting was explained in more detail in a judgment, Hussain v Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council, published in June 2017.
The case concerned an attempt to prevent a local authority from continuing with an investigation into alleged wrongdoing by elected council members.
Greenburgh was instructed to help with the investigation, but during a meeting between Greenburgh and senior council officials, including chief executive Jan Britton, the solicitor was said to have made the comment about the disabilities of a councillor’s daughter and her children.
The judgment stated this caused Britton serious disquiet and he questioned whether this amounted to bias, whether this should lead to the investigation being halted, and whether in any event to overcome any risk of bias a full review by leading counsel should be commissioned.
Britton described the comment in a subsequent letter as being ‘inappropriate, offensive and entirely unnecessary in the context of our discussion’.
Greenburgh told the Gazette he has already apologised to Mr Hussain for any unintended offence caused.