Driving offences, Twitter rants land solicitors in hot water

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Two solicitors in the UK landed in hot water in two separate cases before the UK’s Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT).

Andrew John Peters was struck off by the SDT after it found him to be a danger to road users, during two separate occasions in May 2016. He was convicted of drink driving, but he was again caught driving an unsuitable car without insurance within a week after his conviction.

He failed to report his convictions to the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), which prompted the SDT to consider that a lesser sanction would not be appropriate.

The SRA also proved dishonesty in another case against Peters, after he was found to have sought payments from clients over three years but failed to pay the money into either the office or client account.

The “deliberate, calculated and repeated misconduct” warranted the former lawyer to be struck off. Peters himself said he was not fit to practice, the judgment said. He was ordered to pay costs of £19,000.

In another case, a Yorkshire solicitor was suspended for 18 months for offensive Twitter messages about various religions.

Deborah Elizabeth Daniels damaged the reputation of the profession by identifying herself as a solicitor and acting without integrity in a public way, according to the Law Society Gazette. The 71-year-old is a partner at a West Yorkshire firm.

Over a 14-month period, Daniels used her Twitter account, which clearly identified her as a solicitor, to post messages hostile to Islam, Judaism and Catholicism.

In one tweet, she used offensive or discriminatory words to respond to a photograph of a drag artist. In another, she said that Islam was a “sexist cult,” and that adherents to the religion must be put to work in a camp, and “educate or get rid.”

About a year after the tweets about Islam, Daniels sent three messages about sexual crimes committed by members of the Catholic church. She also sent offensive messages about Judaism and retweeted another message about a global conspiracy to rule the world.

Daniels said that she posted the messages about Islam and accepted they were offensive. She said she tweeted after reading about frightening events in the Middle East. She said she did not reflect on what she said.

Daniels also denied being anti-semitic and said her tweets related to Judaism were prompted by reports about the killing of palestinian children.

The suspended solicitor, who has quit social media, said that she has had “extensive and painful soul searching. She now understands why she sent the tweets in the heat of the moment, the Gazette said.

The SDT accepted that Daniels showed “genuine remorse” and insight and that she is unlikely to repeat her misconduct. The long suspension strikes a balance between appropriate punishment, recognition of the harm to the profession, and the need to provide public protection and the mitigating factors, the Gazette said.

Daniels was ordered to pay £11,000 in costs.

 

Related stories:
Struck-off solicitor turned to fraud to fund cocaine habit
Former City partner struck off for dubious arrangements

 

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