Sexual harassment panda

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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.

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Question Man 28 July 23 09:42

"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."

Yes yes, but are we sure that this most recent set of allegations holds any water?

Do we trust the BSB's process in assessing the two sets of allegations most recently made? Can we rule out a case of mistaken identity here?

Anonymous 28 July 23 10:30

@9.02 - is it a case of opposites attract because you were completely cleared of all wrongdoing by the BSB and he wasn't?

No Answer Woman 28 July 23 10:44

Any male who mentions sex to females should be immediately struck off, even if its consensual banter. Its ok if females do it though.

Cringe 28 July 23 10:48

Another chambers that thinks invoking the mantra of the DEI cult is literally the most important thing they can say or do.

Lord Lester 28 July 23 10:51

Anonymous 28 July 23 10:30: no, it is because we have the same predilections - I wasn't cleared by the BSB.

Anonymous 28 July 23 11:15

We'd really need to see the full conversation before we can make judgement- was that published, or just his comments?

Anonymous 28 July 23 11:44

"Any male who mentions sex to females should be immediately struck off"

Quite right. Everyone knows that you have to refer to it as a gender nowadays.

Anonymous 28 July 23 13:33

Sometimes I think these people just watch too much porn and they start confusing it with real life - like when Chandler and Joey get the free porn channel in Friends.

Seriously, how crass do you have to be to start talking about the taste of your semen to someone at work....?

Anon 28 July 23 13:38

Anonymous 28 July 23 11:15: we don’t need to make a judgment. Our views are irrelevant. We have the judgment of the BTAS tribunal, which is the final word on the matter (subject to any appeal).

Anonymous 28 July 23 18:30

@13.38 - without knowing the full conversation the findings are relevant and we can't make a judgement. The BTAS tribunal don't have the final word as the matter is subject to appeal and the comments here, which came after the tribunal findings, are words.

Anon 29 August 23 06:02

@Anon 28 July 23 13:38 - exactly. We do not need to be persuaded of anything. The people deciding this case were the BTAS tribunal. They needed to be persuaded of the accused’s guilt or otherwise. They found as a fact that he had behaved as charged. 

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