12 November 2013

Barrister disbarred for endangering police helicopter

A public disciplinary tribunal has ordered the disbarment of a barrister for acting in a manner likely to endanger a police helicopter and its passengers.

As of today, Mohammed Arif Riaz will be expelled from the profession and no longer able to call himself a barrister, after the Bar Standards Board (BSB) successfully brought disciplinary charges against him at a tribunal chaired by His Honour Ronald Moss.

The panel found that Mr Riaz, who was not present and not represented at the tribunal, had engaged in conduct discreditable to a barrister.

The panel heard that, in 2011, Mr Riaz "recklessly acted in a manner likely to endanger a West Midland Police helicopter" by shining a laser pen at the cockpit. He was convicted on a guilty plea at Birmingham Crown Court and sentenced on 1 June 2012 to 8 months in prison.

The panel also found he had previously failed to declare prior criminal convictions, despite being convicted, on guilty pleas, of theft offences in 2004.

The Bar Standards Board's Head of Professional Conduct, Sara Down said: "Mr Riaz acted dishonestly and with astonishing recklessness. It is the best outcome for the public that he is no longer a member of the profession."

The Disciplinary Tribunal initially sat on 7 October 2013. The sentence of disbarment was pronounced on 6 November 2013, to come into effect on 12 November 2013. 

The Council of the Inns of Court (COIC) is an independent body - separate to the BSB - which is responsible for appointing the Disciplinary Tribunal panels which adjudicate on disciplinary charges brought by the BSB for professional misconduct. Since February 2013, this function has been performed under COIC's auspices by the Bar Tribunal and Adjudication Service (BTAS).

More details are available via the BTAS website


Notes to editors 

Mr Riaz was called to the Bar by the Middle Temple, October 2009.

He was an unregistered barrister as he had completed the academic stage of the Bar's training and was called to the Bar. However, he had not completed pupillage so was not entitled to offer or provide legal services as a barrister but could still use the title in limited circumstances.

Contact: the Bar Standards Board Press Office on 02076111452