A solicitor derailed a trial, landed his firm with a six figure costs order, caused a judge to recuse himself, “perverted the course of justice” and has been reported to the Solicitors Regulation Authority. All by sending a court clerk a link to a RollOnFriday story.
The dangers of reading RollOnFriday are manifold and well-known, such as inciting the envy of colleagues without an internet connection. But a lawyer from Rexton Law has shown that it can also be used to attempt to tip the scales of justice.
In a surprise announcement at the Royal Courts of Justice last week, His Honour Judge Gerald announced that he was recusing himself from a long-running property fraud case. “Most of what I will be referring to revolves around the somewhat irregular communications of the solicitor, Warren Grant”, he said.
Grant, a Rexton Law solicitor, acted for a claimant in the case. Henry Hendron, the barrister suspended until recently for supplying drugs that resulted to the death of his 18-year-old boyfriend at a chemsex orgy in Temple, acted for a defendant.
The judge explained that last week, Grant suggested in a phone call to the judge’s clerk that she should conduct an internet search on Hendron because, said the judge, "he had apparently been involved in (I quote her quoting him) ‘a cocaine-fuelled sex party’”.
“That is something which is somewhat surprising for a solicitor to inform a judge’s clerk of, and it is difficult to understand what the relevance of it could possibly be”, he said.
Grant followed up by sending an email to the clerk:
“Have a great weekend and take a look on your own computer or phone at www.rollonfriday.com/node/98444”
HHJ Gerald decided to google Hendron. “For reasons which I cannot now recall, my attention was drawn to two things on the internet”, one of which “stated that Mr Hendron had been suspended from practice owing to some criminal matters which were, from recollection, to do with some sort of cocaine at some sort of party”.
“What I have not done and did not do is follow the RollOnFriday link: I have no idea what that is”, he claimed, in what is now RollOnFriday’s best testimonial and mandatory staff tattoo.
He's done it now. RECUSE.
HHJ Gerald informed Hendron about Grant’s invitation to check out the (wonderfully written) article. He asked Hendron’s client to decide whether he should recuse himself because of it. She decided he should, “not on the basis of actual bias, but on the basis of apparent bias”, said the judge.
Grant's “improper and extraordinary” emails were "calculated to undermine the standing, reliability and integrity of [Hendron] in the eyes of the court“, he said, and "a clear attempt to influence the judge”. He concluded that, in his view, they represented “an attempt to pervert the course of justice”.
Rexton Law did not respond to requests for comment.
The financial consequences of the trial’s delay caused by Grant’s conduct were “extremely serious”, said the judge. Rexton Law has now been ordered to pay wasted costs amounting to over £150,000. Meanwhile, Grant is understood to have been reported to the SRA.
Most importantly, though, His Honour now knows about RollOnFriday. You were doing God's work, Warren.