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Justice is blind

Silk handed £1,000 fine after Stevie Wonder website claim

3 February 2017

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A QC who published online a client testimonial saying he could get ‘Stevie Wonder a driving licence’ has been reprimanded and fined £1,000.

Michael Wolkind QC of 2 Bedford Row also used his website, topcriminalqc.co.uk, to claim he was the UK’s ‘top barrister’ in multiple areas of the law.

The Bar Tribunal and Adjudication Service decided Wolkind could not substantiate his assertions and had ‘behaved in a way likely to diminish the [public’s] trust and confidence’ in the Bar.

The silk’s actions first came to the Bar Standards Board’s attention following the unsuccessful appeal of a murder conviction by one of Wolkind’s former clients, Robert Ekaireb, who had fired Wolkind during his original trial.

On appeal, Ekaireb argued that Wolkind’s conduct in his final defence speech was incompetent to a degree that rendered the conviction unsafe.

Ekaireb’s new counsel, Orlando Pownall QC of 2 Hare Court, accused Wolkind of failing to present the defence in an appropriate and focused manner and of conducting personal attacks on the prosecution.

Presiding over the case, Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd concluded the closing speech did not affect the safety of the conviction or fairness of the trial but was ‘ill-judged, patronising, and contained inappropriate attempts at humour’.

However, the Lord Chief Justice said he was ‘surprised at its content and tone’ of Wolkind’s website and directed the BSB to consider whether it is ‘within the proper bounds of professional conduct for a member of the Bar’.

The Bar Tribunal has since signed, sealed, and delivered its judgment on Wolkind. The silk has taken down his ‘Stevie Wonder’ testimonial and now only proclaims to be ‘one of the UK’s top criminal defence barristers’.

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Ethics, professionalism and judgement The Bar

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Bar Standards Board lord chief justice