Harwood fires back from Dubai.

A barrister who was a Stonewall Champion and Bar Council member has criticised the regulator for disbarring him after he was found to have falsely accused a colleague at DWF of homophobia.

Speaking to RollOnFriday, Barry Harwood said the Bar Standards Board was “not fit for purpose” and was guilty of bullying him.

Harwood joined DWF Advocacy in 2018 as its deputy director and the head of its employment practice where he spearheaded the firm’s LGBT drive as UK Co-Chair of its OutFront LGBTA+ group.

Harwood had previously taken a leadership course with Stonewall and was its Northeast Senior Equality & Diversity Champion of the Year.

He also helped to guide DWF’s involvement in a pilot launched by the Solicitors Regulation Authority and Stonewall to “develop LGBT inclusivity in small and medium-sized law firms”, and in 2019 he was appointed to the Bar Council.

However, the Disciplinary Tribunal described how “concerns” about Harwood, “in particular, about his performance and his communications” came to the attention of ‘SF’, his line manager at DWF, around the same time.

SF, who is also a barrister, has since left DWF and declined to comment.

He and Harwood discussed the lawyer's performance issues on a phone call in March 2019, but a planned follow-up meeting never took place.

Instead Harwood went on the offensive and referred SF to DWF’s HR team and, when his grievances were not upheld, reported SF to the BSB.

Upon reading Harwood’s “fundamentally dishonest” accusations, SF also complained to the BSB, triggering an investigation into the barrister.

Harwood had told the regulator that SF described Harwood’s then partner as his ‘husband’ in an email when they were actually in a civil partnership rather than a marriage, and that this was offensive to Harwood as he did not subscribe to such terms.

However, the tribunal was shown WhatsApp messages in a group containing both barristers in which Harwood repeatedly described his then partner as his husband, and to the two of them as married.

The tribunal said the evidence “completely undermined” Harwood’s complaint, which included a claim that SF’s reference to his ‘husband’ had been homophobic. “Indeed, the reference by SF to Mr Harwood's partner was made in a supportive context”, said the panel.

Harwood also claimed that a female colleague, ‘AN’, had raised concerns with him about SF’s use of a nickname for her.

But AN told the tribunal that the nickname had never bothered her and she had never raised it with Harwood or anyone else. She said that Harwood had made an “extremely false” and “ridiculous and silly fabrication” which he had “twisted” to “cause harm”, upsetting her in the process.

In a third complaint, Harwood claimed that another colleague, ‘DT’, had raised concerns with him about comments made by SF on WhatsApp regarding the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Harwood alleged that DT said he was particularly hurt as he had lost a close friend in the tragedy.

The reality, DT told the tribunal, was that he had never told Harwood that he knew anyone who was killed or went missing in 9/11, because he didn’t know any such person. The panel said that Harwood had “distorted and exaggerated DT’s position and his views”, and that it could see “no basis for what Mr Harwood complained about”.

It concluded that the testimony from SF, AN, DT and a fourth witness was “honest, truthful and convincing throughout”, and showed up the “inaccuracy” of Harwood’s “unconvincing and unreliable” allegations.

SF was “the main target of the false complaints”, but “it was also upsetting and worrying to the others”, all of whom “are legal professionals who were caught up in what Mr Harwood said and did, and all of whom worried about the consequences of what was happening”, said the tribunal.

Harwood, who refers to himself as a retired barrister on his LinkedIn profile, has since moved to the United Arab Emirates where he works as the Chief Legal Officer of Sterling Boulevard, a company involved in the Dubai luxury real estate market.

Disbarring Harwood and ordering him to pay the BSB’s costs of £5,544, the panel said there was “some evidence” of positive contributions he had made to the profession, but “no evidence of remorse or of insight” which suggested “the risk of repetition”.

Harwood did not appear at the hearing or give evidence in mitigation, but he did seek to explain his position to ROF, befitting its status as the preferred forum for achieving justice.

Harwood said, “I retired as a Barrister 3 years ago in 2021 after 22 years of unblemished practice, having served on the BSB conduct committee and the Bar Council equality, diversity and social mobility and the education and training committee”.

He said his main reasons for leaving the profession were that “the BSB let me down badly in 2019, and failed to take action against the bullies who discriminated against me”.

He said that rather than take those individuals to an employment tribunal, he settled the matter in 2019 despite advice from a "senior employment law specialist Partner at a leading law firm” who “reviewed the evidence and concluded I had clear grounds of discrimination directed towards me on various protected characteristics”.

Harwood accused the BSB of pursuing a vendetta against him. “Some 2 years later after all matters had been settled the regulator got involved again having failed me previously in taking no action against the original bullies, all of whom continue to practice and for legal reasons I can’t name them, but they know who they are”, he said.

“No reasonable regulator would have acted in this way, so instead of protecting me the regulator allowed themselves to be manipulated and facts twisted by the original bullies and discriminators by allowing periphery issues taken out of context to be used against me”, he told ROF.

“The regulator is simply not ‘fit for purpose’ and has rejected my requests for independent scrutiny", he said, "instead choosing to inflict further bullying towards me and my family and mother in a process that has lasted 3 years causing me severe psychiatric damage". 

Harwood explained that his lack of involvement in the tribunal was a consequence of ill health caused by the BSB. "I was medically unable to instruct anyone to represent me or defend myself because the regulator caused me severe psychiatric damage and chronic PTSD", he said. 

"I suffered institutional bullying by the regulator and I am not able to appeal the regulator’s manipulated outcome because I am medically unable to do so, and in any event I would never want to be reinstated to be managed by a regulator who is not fit for purpose”, he told ROF over LinkedIn.

“It seems if you speak truth to power then the system and processes do not support you, rather you become the victim”, added Harwood.

DWF declined to comment.

STOP PRESS: Harwood has registered an appeal with the BSB, telling ROF the judgment was a “perverse decision taken against me in my absence whilst I was medically unfit to instruct or defend myself or take part in the process”.

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Anonymous 24 May 24 07:26

There was a real bell-end partner at Jones Day who got the trainees' panto cancelled when he accused them of being homophobic. Everybody - from managing partner down - got lampooned and it was a badge of honour. He was just very thin-skinned and took offence when they played him as camp (which he very much was).

Mr Wise 24 May 24 08:19

Given Harwood's comments to ROF, the BSB was clearly correct in saying there was “no evidence of remorse or of insight”. 

Anonymous 24 May 24 09:06

His busy CV reminds me of another LGBT-activist lawyer, a singular individual if my experience and the experiences of a few other people at some of his other stops are anything to go by. Draping himself in the rainbow flag has bought him huge amounts of leeway.

Dearie 24 May 24 09:44

This is a reminder that false reports to regulators can result in the reporter being investigated, and rightly so. 

Ensign in the Rainbow Proto Fascist Marxist Militia 24 May 24 09:56

I am shocked, this simply can't be true as brave and stunning member of the diverse LGBTQA2IA+§∆ community would never ever fabricate a victimhood narrative. Especially not one who has been so involved in shaping our perfect and not at all redundant and performative diversity initiatives... Clearly we just need more mandatory drag show for firms and chambers.

Regular Jo 24 May 24 10:22

So his response to anything which doesn't go his way, is to make (false) allegations about whoever is raising issue with his conduct? Didn't work against his boss, so he went the firm, didn't work there, so he went to the regulator and somehow they are now discriminating against him? 

He's been burnt playing his own game!  

Tunnocks Teacake 24 May 24 10:23

As I can attest to personally, and as these comments are already beginning to demonstrate (sigh), it is still - somehow - difficult enough to be openly gay and taken seriously in this profession in 2024. LGBTQ+ people are discriminated against and derided as a matter of course. That's why it's all the more infuriating when this sort of spurious claptrap appears in the press.


"Harwood had told the regulator that SF described Harwood’s then partner as his ‘husband’ in an email when they were actually in a civil partnership rather than a marriage, and that this was offensive to Harwood as he did not subscribe to such terms."


Oh, just fuck off. That's as disingenuous as it comes. If he was making that sort of paper-thin argument as a barrister then the profession's better off without him.


Just you all watch. The only purpose this story will serve will be as "evidence" trotted out now and again by bigoted fucknuggets that we've had "too much diversity" and that the profession was better off when it was run exclusively (instead of the current 90%) by white people who'd been rich since the accident of birth. So, aye... thanks for that, Bazza. Enjoy living in a glorified shopping centre where your relationship is illegal, whatever you allegedly want people to call it.

Anon 24 May 24 10:26

Hahah, a proven liar now involved in real estate? Go figure...

Who would buy property from or work with somebody like that? 

Stonewall - silencing the nation 24 May 24 10:43

Please do read the highly engaging legal cases involving stonewall.

They have deliberately misled in relation to the law and demanded ‘no debate’ for many years.

All professional organisations should no longer be affiliated with stonewall given the evidence its employees have given in trials. To say they lack credibility is generous. 

Tunnocks Teacake 24 May 24 10:46

@SF What? 10.47


Yes, this also amused me. Didn't even change the initials. Literally anyone with a LinkedIn account must know who it is.

Anonymous 24 May 24 12:06

For the record, there are plenty of evidently gay people in Dubai who go about their business without trouble.

Lydia 24 May 24 12:37

I assumed he had been wronged  (despite my not being a Stonewall fan) when I started reading but once the facts came out - he used "husband" so could hardly say it was wrong for someone else to etc  - it was clear he seems to be a liar. Do people who do this deliberately do this or think they can invent any fantasy they like because they have a total shield over them of protection from raising a discrimination card like some kind of Thames barrier against allegations they lied?

Anonymous 24 May 24 13:17

"Just you all watch. The only purpose this story will serve will be as "evidence" trotted out now and again by bigoted fucknuggets that we've had "too much diversity""

It's not totally unreasonable for this story to be used as an example of an occasion on which it was perfectly reasonable to say that not all diversity themed moaning needed to be taken seriously, is it?

Or are you suggesting that this is the only time in human history that this kind of situation will arise, and so we should all promptly forget about it and not refer back, on the basis that there will never again be a need for us to question whether someone's latest diversity/identity complaint needs to be treated as a gospel truth immune from scrutiny?

Tunnocks Teacake 24 May 24 14:24

@anonymous 13:17


This example is fact-specific. It is dangerous, and troubling, that you or anyone else would seek to use it to inform generalisations about other groups of people.


It is clearly disingenuous to suggest that a bad actor shockingly trying to weaponise his minority status - not only to shield himself from criticism but also to attack the professional reputations of others - in any way evidences either that diversity initiatives are a bad thing, or that the profession does not benefit from improvements to access and diversity at large.


Every possible set of people in human history that could be grouped together, however tenuously, will include individuals who act contemptibly. That is a sad, but unavoidable, facet of human nature. It is not tenable to imply that the actions of those people should in some way give cause to roll back the interests of whatever group you happen to have chosen to include them in at any given time.


I have never - not once, over many years - seen any minority person suggest that all "diversity/identity" complaints, as you put it, should be "treated as a gospel truth immune from scrutiny". To make such a suggestion would be, plainly, dangerous nonsense. I do, however, see near-innumerable non-minority people harping on about that being the case the second there's any indication that they might have to thole even the smallest degree of societal progression that could put them on more even footing with those who might benefit from it. The point that people seem to convince themselves that this false state of affairs is happening is usually right around the point at which whatever minority person they're condescendingly lecturing to holds their ground and thereby demonstrates that they are not beholden to them. My typical experience is that this provokes very strong negative reactions. The fact that it does certainly doesn't mean that the ground shouldn't be held. Change is hard.


Your casual use of the phrase "diversity themed moaning" strongly supports my initial observation that being openly gay (or of any minority) in this profession continues to be unnecessarily difficult.


I wonder, given the anonymity of these pages, whether or not you've endured any particular adversity in your life. The question interests me because, if you haven't, then I have sympathy for your apparent lack of empathy for people who have different lived experiences to you. if you have, that's probably even worse, because in that case you know first-hand what it's like and may just not care about anyone other than yourself.


Either way, who knows why I bothered to type any of this out. You're hardly going to change your mind, are you?

Larry Sofmetal 24 May 24 15:29

Even if he's ever done any positive work around EDI, this is legacy. It makes me so angry!! People who do this distract attention from ACTUAL cases of discrimination whilst discrediting others.It's the lowest form of calling Wolf.   

Amused bouche 24 May 24 15:35

"but he did seek to explain his position to ROF, befitting its status as the preferred forum for achieving justice."

Genius line that. Ha ha ha.

Nearly spat my oat milk latte all over my husband. A simple google shows he's declined to comment to any number of publications, even the Telegraph but fancied putting across his "side" here.  

Those are not pretty google results for anyone though, yikes. 

Anonymous 24 May 24 15:57

"It is clearly disingenuous to suggest that a bad actor shockingly trying to weaponise his minority status - not only to shield himself from criticism but also to attack the professional reputations of others - in any way evidences either that diversity initiatives are a bad thing"

Yes, but did anybody actually say that they thought all diversity initiatives were a bad thing? 

I can't help but notice that there aren't any posts in this thread that say that. Or maybe you can quote something for me that I'm not seeing ?

Forgive me for prying, but are you sure that your sudden leap into a very defensive, seemingly quite angry posture, from which you rail for several paragraphs at a stranger about how they are trying to make others "beholden to them" (again, where did that come from?) might say more about you and your own hang-ups about your identity than it does about anything anyone around you has actually said, done or thought?

You just seem so very upset about something which nobody here has actually said to you. Which tends to be a strong indicator that the thing you're really angry about is to be found inside your own head.

So is it really that there are "near-inumerable" [sic] white men trying to hold back "even the smallest degree of societal progression" or is it just that you don't feel comfortable in your own skin and so find yourself lashing out at anyone who doesn't indulge your sense of paranoia by telling you that Yes they are all out to get you?

Just a thought for your weekend.

Anonymous 24 May 24 16:28

@Tunnocks Teacake - "The point that people seem to convince themselves that this false state of affairs is happening is usually right around the point at which whatever minority person they're condescendingly lecturing"


What does that phrase mean please?

Does it mean someone who is from a 'Global Majority' population group? 

Or is it someone who is from an ethnic minority in the small square of land they are standing in (except when that square is in London where White British is an ethnic minority, so make the square smaller until it's just the room they're standing in, or bigger so that it's the whole country).

With all the new nomenclature around it's just so hard to remember which occasions we're supposed to call White/Black/Other people a minority or a majority. 

Anon 24 May 24 17:51

It's annoying to read this victimhood.  I qualified in 1987 and have worked at four City firms.  One was ultra-conservative, and there was a recession, so I kept my head down.  Being outwardly gay would have been unwise.

I felt safe from about 2010, when opinion had really shifted and people then under 40 did not care. It probably took a bit longer to make partner, and equity, and I would have been squeezed out of a few opportunities.  I just had to be better and persist. It's not an easy career for anyone.  Being thin-skinned or aggressive with colleagues rarely pays off.       

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