Friday, September 21, 2007

English Barrister jailed for perverting the course of justice

Amazingly, a lawyer who, commonly enough, some say, engineered evidence to discredit the former husband of a friend he was representing in a family court case, has been sent to jail.

Mr Hyam's conduct is rather more widespread in the legal profession than some care to face or admit ... but would a member of the Scottish legal profession be jailed for the same thing ? ... many think not due to poor regulatory practices and common bias showed by the Crown Office in failing to prosecute offences relating to members of the legal profession ...

You can see the CCTV images mentioned in the case here

The Guardian reports :

Barrister becomes first to be jailed for perverting justice

Steven Morris The Guardian

A barrister became the first member of his profession to be jailed for perverting the course of justice yesterday after sending bogus court documents to his client's opponent.

Bruce Hyman, a radio and theatre producer who retrained as a barrister, engineered a sting in an apparent effort to discredit the former husband of a friend he was representing in a family court case.

Bristol crown court was told that Hyman, 49, a father of four, committed the offence while he was suffering a depressive illness because he was struggling to make a success of his new career.

No fewer than 25 friends and colleagues from the media and the law, including Sir Mark Potter, the president of the high court's family division, and Denis Nowlan, network manager of BBC Radio 4, gave character references for Hyman. The actor Maureen Lipman consoled members of his family outside court.

Judge Tom Crowther said Hyman's behaviour was so appalling that he had no choice but to jail him. Hyman was sentenced to 12 months in jail.

The court heard that Hyman had agreed to represent a friend, Karen Young, in a court dispute over the custody of her child. He sent emails to Ms Young's former husband, banker Simon Eades, containing a court judgment that seemed to support his case. When Mr Eades tried to use the judgment during a hearing, Hyman claimed the document was a forgery.

The case was adjourned and, fearing he could be arrested, Mr Eades set out to discover who had sent the bogus document. He found the emails had been sent from a shop in central London. He was amazed when CCTV footage from the shop showed it was Hyman who had sent them.

Paul Dunkels, defending, said Hyman had sent the bogus documents to try to get the case adjourned because he could not cope with it. Outside court, Mr Eades said: "I was accused of a heinous crime ... There was a real possibility I could go to prison and never see my child again. It was horrifying."

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