Rohan Pershad, the barrister disbarred and jailed for pocketing hundreds of thousands of pounds of VAT, is being advertised falsely by his new firm as a QC.
His status as a silk is stamped loud and proud on the website for Global Legal and Business Consultants, despite the designation having been stripped from Pershad.
Pershad's profile on the site is extremely economical with the actualité. "Rohan was a commercial barrister for over 20 years", it states, and "was appointed as Queen's Counsel in 2011". That is true, although it neglects to mention that he was disbarred in 2015 for trousering £624,579 of VAT paid by his clients, a crime for which he was also jailed for three and a half years.
Much like gavels, Pershad QC doesn't feature in courts anymore.
QC designations do not automatically fall away when a silk is disbarred. They are conferred by Letters Patent signed by the monarch, signifying that the barrister is 'Her Majesty's Counsel, learned in the law', and can only be removed in the same way. Last year the Bar Council described stripping the honorific as a “serious and drastic step” which “ought not to be undertaken lightly”.
However, Pershad's crimes were sufficiently heinous to warrant troubling Liz. In 2016 the body charged with administering the letters, Queen's Counsel Appointments, revoked Pershad's designation by Letters Patent.
The painful and invasive procedure involves turning the 'QC' into a pair of spectacles.
Cemil Gursel, the solicitor who appears to lead Global Legal and Business Consultants, told RollOnFriday that he "intended to tell the website to remove [Pershad's] name". He claimed to have become "aware" of the issue recently, perhaps as a result of RollOnFriday's email to him earlier this week. Describing Pershad as a consultant, Gursel claimed that he did not have any contact details for his colleague "anymore".
An SRA spokesman said, “Solicitors have an obligation under the Code of Conduct to make sure that publicity for their firm is accurate and not misleading. Specifically, the Code makes clear that they might be failing in this obligation if they produce ‘misleading information concerning the professional status of any employee’. Anyone who has concerns about potentially misleading information from a solicitor can report them to us via [email protected]".