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British barrister beats woke Bar Standards Board

In 2021, British barrister Jon Holbrook was investigated by the Bar Standards Board (BSB) over a series of social-media posts. 17 were thrown out. It decided that one of the 18 tweets in question constituted a breach of professional conduct.

The tweet he got into trouble for was as follows:

“Free speech is dying and Islamists and other Muslims are playing a central role. Who will lead the struggle to reinstate free speech as the foundation of all other freedoms?”

The Bar Tribunals and Adjudication Service initially found that Holbrook had breached duty five of its handbook:

“you must not behave in a way which is likely to diminish the trust and confidence which the public places in you or in the profession”.

Having already been thrown out of his chambers, he was sanctioned by the BSB and fined £500.

Holbrook appealed the decision on the following grounds:

1. under the Equality Act 2010 which protects ‘philosophical belief’
2. under the common law and human rights law that protects speech
3. because the charge of causing offence and possible hostility towards Muslims:
a) sets the bar far too low for bringing either me or the profession into disrepute
b) is not set out in the BSB Handbook, is ultra vires and is not prescribed by law
c) breached natural justice as I was given no chance to respond to this new charge
4. because the procedure breached my right to a fair trial under article 6 of the ECHR and common law.

The appeal panel decided that Holbrook’s tweet had not breached this duty, and ruled that the tweet was not “seriously offensive or seriously discreditable within the terms of the handbook guidance”.

Full story: https://sterlinglawqld.com/british-barrister-beats-woke-bar-standards-board/

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