Shamed Shilbottle barrister disbarred

A former Northumberland barrister convicted of assault and fraud has been disbarred from the profession following a hearing.

An independent public disciplinary tribunal has ordered the disbarment of Ms Frances Brough, of Shilbottle, who had previous criminal convictions for fraud; a string of assault-related offences, including assaulting two police officers; and using threatening words and behaviour.

The five-person panel heard how Ms Brough had been convicted of a number of serious criminal offences between August and October 2013.

Ms Brough was, on November 22, 2013, sentenced by Newcastle Crown Court to a Community Order for three years and required to be supervised by the probation service for 18 months.

Later that year, on December 3, Ms Brough was convicted of fraud and was sentenced in April 2, 2014, to 15 months imprisonment, suspended for two years.

The former practising solicitor was called to bar in 2005, but never practised as she had not completed pupillage – the final stage of a barrister’s training.

However, commenting on the sentence, the barristers’ regulator, the Bar Standards Board (BSB), which prosecuted Ms Brough at the disciplinary tribunal, said she could no longer remain a member of the profession.

Director of professional conduct for the BSB, Sara Jagger, said: “While Ms Brough did not practise as a barrister, it is clearly not appropriate that she remain a member of the Bar. The panel’s decision to disbar her is absolutely the right one.”

The BSB’s rules dictate that all individuals who are called to the Bar must act in accordance with the BSB Handbook and barristers’ Code of Conduct.

The tribunal heard that, contrary to the Code of Conduct, Ms Brough had also failed to promptly report these convictions to the BSB.

She was also found to have engaged in conduct discreditable to a barrister by failing to pay a fine of £350, imposed on her by a previous tribunal on April 30, 2013.

Ms Brough was also struck off by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) in January.

The solicitor defrauded the Law Society out of more than £22,000 in a string of fraudulent claims for rail travel, accommodation and care allowance costs.