Hendron - licence to robe, again
A tribunal has reprimanded colourful barrister Henry Hendron for continuing to practise while he was suspended, and sending threatening emails to a client. But the colourful brief avoided being disbarred, and told RollOnFriday he will start "building back and building strong" his legal practice.
Hendron, who was suspended from practice for three years in 2016 after he admitted supplying drugs which killed his boyfriend at a chemsex party in Temple, was facing charges brought by the Bar Standards Board.
The bar disciplinary tribunal found nine of the 18 charges proven, which included Hendron holding himself out as a barrister on two websites (despite requests from the BSB to remove the references), and conducting litigation.
Hendron had also signed off emails as a "Barrister, non-practising" - although he told the tribunal that his paralegal may have done this without his knowledge, as he had dictated the messages from "drug hangouts."
He said of that period: "I was coming to grips with the loss of my boyfriend. I was a daily drug addict injecting multiple times a day. I was trying to appear functional. I was a mess, a complete and utter mess." He said he would go from one drug hangout to another in London, while he corresponded with his paralegal on his mobile.
The barrister had also sent "inappropriate and threatening" emails to a client, telling them: "don't screw your lawyers" and "you have been warned". He told the tribunal that he'd sent the emails as he was concerned that the client wouldn't pay him. But he also admitted: "I was off my face."
Harini Iyengar, the barrister for the BSB, told the tribunal: “One might have thought that someone who had been suspended would have taken all their professional obligations seriously at this stage.”
The panel chair, James Meston, said that previous findings against the barrister "were relevant in that they show a history of serious and recurrent problems", and that there were "real concerns" about Hendron's lifestyle "and on occasions about his attitude and self-damaging behaviours".
Hendron had shown a "deliberate disregard" to his obligation to the BSB, said the tribunal, as the charges had arisen during a time when he was suspended. The panel found that the barrister had shown "some insight" into his conduct, but had "some way to go before he addresses all his problems in particular in respect of substance misuse."
The tribunal said that cumulatively the charges justified a further suspension. However, it recognised that there had not been any further allegations of misconduct since 2019 and his return to practice.
The tribunal decided that a further suspension was not appropriate. Instead, it prohibited the barrister from taking direct access work for two years, and ordered him to complete a public access training course.
The tribunal did not make a costs order, and said that a financial sanction would be ineffective due to Hendron's bankruptcy.
"I am grateful for the diligent way in which the tribunal approached my case," Hendron told RollOnFriday. He said the BSB spent "a disproportionate amount of time and money in their relentless pursuant of 9 of the charges hopeless charges which the tribunal flatly rejected and threw out. These were charges which should never have been brought in the first place, but were only brought because of an overzealous regulator which has lost its way".
Hendron said that the BSB sought his disbarment at the tribunal and £30k in legal costs, but got neither. "The Tribunal decision on sanction was a million miles away from what the BSB had asked for," said Hendron. The BSB had "suffered further humiliation and embarrassment", he said, when the tribunal refused its application for costs.
"I am now in the process of taking stock and evaluating all personal and professional aspects of my life, so that I can truly bring about the changes in all the aspects of my life which the tribunal identified as concerns," Hendron told RollOnFriday.
"I intend to go somewhere sunny for a few weeks to gather my thoughts and recharge my batteries," he added, "and then on my return to commence building back and building strong my legal practice in London (of which I have not been able to do while I have had BSB proceedings hang over me)."
The BSB declined to comment.