Compulsory training at the Bar
A barrister has been disbarred for sexual harassment of pupil barristers.
A disciplinary tribunal ordered that barrister Robert Kearney be disbarred after charges of professional misconduct were brought against him by the Bar Standards Board (BSB).
A BSB statement said that the regulator had charged Kearney in relation to two cases: the first proceedings involved alleged sexual harassment by Kearney towards two pupil barristers at a chambers social event and subsequently at a bar; and the second matter concerned the barrister's conduct toward a mini-pupil on separate occasions.
Kearney, who was called to the Bar in 1996, had a previous disciplinary history for similar conduct. In 2018 he was fined for inappropriate drunken behaviour towards a pupil. In 2021, he was suspended after making sexual comments to a female mini pupil.
As ROF reported at the time, the Bar Tribunals and Adjudication Service (BTAS) alleged that over the course of three days at Lincoln House Chambers in Manchester in 2015, Rob Kearney told 'Person A' that “eating pineapple makes semen taste better” and that he kept his nails short “because you can’t finger women with long nails”.
According to the BTAS, Kearney also:
- asked her if she had ever had sex in her parents’ house, and for the details;
- told her about sex with his wife;
- said she should wear skirts and heels instead of trousers and asked her bra size; and
- when the two were alone in a lift, leaned in to smell her neck and asked what perfume she was wearing.
Kearney was at Lincoln House Chambers in Manchester when the incidents occurred. Its Head, Andrew Thomas KC, told RollOnFriday: "Rob Kearney is a former member of Lincoln House Chambers who resigned more than three years ago when facing internal disciplinary proceedings. We reported the complaint to the BSB at the time and this has resulted in the determination by BTAS today."
"We welcome the decision of the Bar Tribunal Adjudication Service disbarment relating to Rob Kearney," said Thomas KC. "The legal profession must take a stand against sexual misconduct and harassment."
He added: "Lincoln House Chambers is committed to the promotion of diversity and inclusion in the profession, and the protection of our junior members. Bullying and harassment cannot be excused or tolerated and our policies make it clear that misconduct of this kind is wholly unacceptable in the workplace."
BSB Director of Legal and Enforcement Sara Jagger said: “The tribunal’s decision to disbar Mr Kearney demonstrates that sexual harassment is manifestly incompatible with the high standards expected of the Bar - this type of conduct has no place in a modern, inclusive Bar”.
Alongside the disbarment, the tribunal also ordered that Kearney be immediately suspended pending any appeal.