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Outrage over ‘travesty of justice’ as barrister Peter Herbert is found guilty

By Lester Holloway

SUPPORTERS OF barrister and part-time judge Peter Herbert reacted with fury today after a disciplinary hearing found him guilty of breaking the lawyers’ code of conduct.

Peter Herbert
A disappointed Peter Herbert outside the Bar Council’s offices

In a shock decision the Bar Council found Peter Herbert guilty of speaking in the ‘first person’ in a radio interview, using the words “I think” and “I believe” instead of “my client believes.”

Peter Herbert called the decision a “travesty of justice” by a “kangaroo court”, and plans to appeal. He has already lodged an employment tribunal claim against the Bar Council alleging race discrimination and victimisation, and is likely to sue the individual members of the disciplinary panel, Roger Bartlett, Timothy Lyons QC and Professor Roger Caplin.

Peter Herbert escaped having his license to practice law suspended but received a reprimand and was ordered to receive ‘media training.’ He has refused to undertake the training.

Peter Herbert claimed his style of advocacy had often involved speaking in the first person and that he subjected to a hostile radio interview while in a state of distress over a family tragedy.

Peter Herbert was cleared of similar charges in 2001 following a public outcry at the Bar Council’s previous attempt to discipline him. His supporters believe the real reason for the disciplinary actions is not the ‘tense’ he speaks in, but his willingness to challenge racism in the legal profession.

‘maliciously racist’

Blink has today launched a ‘Justice for Peter Herbert’ campaign and is urging readers to register their opposition to the Bar Council’s decision by clicking on the button in this story.

The Bar has demonstrated yet again today that in 2004 it has failed to implement the Lawrence inquiry recomindations and is not only institutionally racist but is deliberately and maliciously racist, because it knows what it's doing.
Peter Herbert, Barrister

Speaking outside the Bar Council’s London offices after the hearing Peter Herbert said: “I am deeply saddened and disappointed. It’s a very sad day for the Bar when a person of my background of integrity in public service has to be vilified in this way, and to have such a travesty of justice masquerading as a proper and fair hearing.

“It’s been biased and unfair from the start, and clearly there was a bit of a kangaroo court which went through the motions.

“The Bar has demonstrated yet again today that in 2004 it has failed to implement the Lawrence inquiry recommendations and is not only institutionally racist, but is deliberately and maliciously racist because it knows what it’s doing.”

Cindy Butts, who serves as a member of the Metropolitan Police Authority alongside Peter Herbert, said she was “shocked, dismayed and saddened” at the verdict.


She said: “It’s absolutely unbelievable. It really does smack of a witchhunt against someone who really has been at the forefront of the struggle for justice and fairness.

Speech BubbleYour Shout!

Have your say on Peter Herbert's case and read other contributions

“On the evidence that was presented today I can’t see how they have come to a decision that beyond reasonable doubt that Mr Herbert was guilty. I think it really puts a dent in the confidence that people have in the criminal justice system.

“I think people will say ‘if he can’t make it as an educated eminent professional, what chance do we have?’ That is going to ricochet through many communities. It’s a very sad day, and not one which I would have expected to see in 2004.”

Peter Herbert was found guilty of conduct ‘likely to diminish public confidence in the administration of justice’ after an interview on the BBC’s Radio 4 ‘Today’ programme in August 2002 when he was representing a witness called to appear at the Victoria Climbie public inquiry into the death of the eight year old, who was killed by her carers after authorities failed to spot signs of abuse.

Inquiry chairman Lord Herbert Laming prosecuted Carol Baptiste, a former senior social worker at Haringey Council in north London, after she failed to turn up to give evidence at the inquiry in December 2001.

Justice for Peter Herbert Justice for Peter Herbert Campaign

Carol Baptiste, who suffered from a history of mental illness and had been distressed by media reports that her own children had been removed from her care, suffered a panic attack on the eve of her evidence-giving session and went into hiding. She escaped jail but was fined £500.

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