The Solicitors Regulation Authority's addiction to the General Medical Council is even more serious than previously thought.

Before he took up the role of Chief Executive of the SRA in 2006, Antony Townsend was the Chief Executive of the General Dental Council. But before that, although it is omitted from his LinkedIn profile, he was the Director of Education and Standards at the GMC. 

It means both the regulator's last two Chief Executives were drawn from the GMC. As previously reported, Townsend's successor, Paul Philip, is also an ex-GMC man. So are three of the four other people who comprise the SRA's current senior management team, and so is its 'Director of Corporate Affairs', who was Philip's PA at the GMC.

But it is not just bigwigs (and board members) shooting merrily down the GMC-SRA funnel. Other old GMC pals are also invited. 


Barry Baines, a lawyer, has been a senior consultant at the SRA for the last year. He was its Acting Director of Investigation & Supervision for a year before that. Between 2005 and 2013, however, he undertook regular work as a solicitor advocate and the Interim Investigations Manager at, no prizes if you guessed it, the GMC.

Described as "a friend of Paul Philip" by a source, Baines is understood to be on a rolling contract at the SRA. He is, said the source, being "paid to travel from the south coast" and "put up in a hotel in the plush Mailbox", a complex near the SRA's HQ in Birmingham. 

Baines did not respond to a query asking whether he thought his association with the SRA's Chief Executive had helped him get employed at the SRA. 

A spokesman for the SRA said RollOnFriday should use the same comments it provided on previous stories about cronyism: “All executive roles are openly advertised and go through a competitive recruitment process. All of these appointments are made on merit by a panel chaired by the Chair of the SRA Board.”

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Anonymous 12 July 2019 12 July 19 12:05

The response by the SRA that all posts are openly advertised and go through a competitive recruitment process, is not the issue. The issue is whether the applicants have failed to declare conflicts of interest, and have in turn misled any recruitment panel, and obtained employment by deception. Alternatively whether any SRA staff involved in the recruitment process have also failed to declare conflicts of interest or have failed to declare that they know the applicant and have worked with them in the past. 

Will the SRA, in their "new" open and transparent policy, now make public disclosure of who the recruitment panel members were, and whether they were aware of any conflicts of interest, given the fact that there are now 10 ex GMC staff working for the SRA.

2,s company, 3,s a crowd, 10 is a take over or a conspiracy to hijack the control of the SRA and which is not in the public interest.    

Anonymous 12 July 19 12:11

The GMC crowd are hardly ever seen in Birmingham, they are scattered all over the U.K. including Scotland, all of them will have similar arrangements in terms of expenses I would bet. 

RoF needs to keep going on this, the whole organisation is without oversight. For example, Legal Futures have picked up on their IT programme - SRA budget of around £50m annually, £60m plus budget for a basic IT solution that will somehow generate £37m in savings if/when it is finished! Good luck with that...

Anon 12 July 19 13:05

The SRA claim the executive posts are openly advertised, but reality is the GMC lot have already decided who they want. Neither Barry Baines nor Juliet Oliver’s roles were pre existing roles but created by GMC whose own people just happened to get the jobs. Just as when despite internal protests they imposed a one panel firm system on SRA legal team,  a GMC favourite happened to get the gig, and 2/3 of panel firms for legal policy happened to be GMC favourites. Pure coincidence I am sure ....

true blue 12 July 19 13:52

There is a two tier system at SRA. Barry Baines , Capsticks and other ex GMC stay at Malmaison, having been handed high up roles with plush expense accounts. Whilst staff on ground who do the work are literally restricted to holiday inn and being pushed about by ex GMC lot who don’t have a clue about regulating solicitors. 

Agog 12 July 19 14:07

Yes Barry Baines just happens to be good mates with Nimi Bruce of Capsticks who just so happens to be good mates with Juliet Oliver Legal counsel who just coincidentally happens to be good mates with Paul Philip. 

Of course it must be honest and transparent recruitment as SRA assert. The fact they are all old mates from GMC just pure chance I am  certain as they claim there was absolutely no bias in their selection process. Their word is enough for me, irrespective of the evidence. It all smacks completely of being open and above board ! The fact so much of it has been kept quiet until ROF uncovered it just unfortunate oversight !

Particularly when you see Barry Baines extensive qualifications and experience on his website (which mainly focuses on his proficiency in sports coaching and career coaching) Maybe Paul Philip will need a career chat with his old pal when he is properly held to account over his cronyism- am sure he would get a discount rate on career coaching !

Johnson 12 July 19 18:13

The elephant in the room however is the GMC. Not fit for purpose & recent published study that BME doctors are hauled infront of the panel more than their non-BME colleagues. David Sellu & Bawa-Garba are the most cited example. Your lucky the SRA are not as vindictive & dishonest as the GMC.

Anonymous 12 July 19 23:50

The GMC influence probably explains a recent incident. A friend of mine complained to the SRA that a solicitor had obtained a relative's medical records by misrepresentation and without the relative's authority. The SRA agreed but said it was OK because the solicitor believed he was acting in the best interests of the relative!

Anon 13 July 19 13:31

There is more than a little irony in this. We used to be regulated by lawyers selected on a ‘Buggins’ turn’ basis. And now we’re regulated by non-lawyers selected on a ‘Buggins’ turn’ basis. 

Meanwhile the LSB is talking about assessing continuing competence, while there are no requirements for regulators to have any qualification whatsoever, no CPD, no training in better regulation/transparency etc etc. 

Anonymous 15 July 2019 15 July 19 11:46

Is this the reason why Matthew Lohn of Field Fisher did not get investigated for his conflicts of interest in the Jim Best v British Horseracing Authority case in 2016, because he acted for the General Medical Council in a number of cases and also acts for the SRA as well and also worked with Juliet Oliver. Is this just another case of conflicts of interest and bias. The SRA will not investigate this matter because they too are conflicted. So should the matter be reported to the Legal Services Board. How can the SRA enforce conflicts of interests on their members, when they do not have a clue when they themselves are conflicted. Double standards or no standards at all  

GrandMaster 16 July 19 09:07

If others want the same opportunities they should take the trouble to join the Freemasons.

If people cant be bothered to join then they should not be entitled to the benefits that we enjoy. It is only fair and reasonable that Masons should be given preferential treatment and the fact that we now have influence with the SRA, Law Society and many other Judicial functions is a benefit for our brothers. Anyone moaning that they are not getting preferential treatment only have themselves to blame for not joining us.

Anonymous 16 July 2019 16 July 19 10:31

I would be seriously annoyed if I was an applicant for any of the SRA roles and found out that the job had gone to a "friend or buddy" of the executive or an associate of the Board. If any of the applicants involved a minority race could then sue the SRA for breaches of the Equality Act. Conflicts of interest and bias should not be tolerated in any form. The SRA should be setting examples to those who they serve, and not create a laughing stock which members of the public have no confidence in whatsoever. Please all resign.


Vladamir 16 July 19 17:36

Grand Master your lodges have been shutting down quicker than video shops, and your grey army members are bulk purchasing colostomy bags as they squelch themselves through their funny handshake meetings. 

Comrade Ivana is the way to go, tweeting to the world and controlling all of the social media and the money laundering under your noses and you have no idea at all. You can keep your legal monopoly and we will keep the money. 

Anonymous 17 July 19 12:52

The LSB won’t comment as they are part of the problem. The SRA’s frankly insane policy agenda was driven by Crispin Passmore, who brought it with him from the LSB, along with other key members of the policy team, not that it did him much good in the end.

The LSB just accept the lies and statistical manipulation the SRA provide to them in their self-assessed performance review without question. I hope the new LSB CEO gets involved in this when he joins, but I see he is moving from the General Dental Council...

Sir Enid 21 July 19 17:34

So Capsticks apparently were appointed following a competitive tendering process in 2013.  That is one view. Although it depends if you can call a GMC favourite being appointed by an ex GMC controlled executive an impartial and fair process. But doesn’t answer where was the competitive process in 2017 when they were automatically reappointed without going to the market? 

Paul Philip claims one Panel was good for ensuring consistency of decision making and approach in legal matters to justify the strong  internal concern in choosing Capsticks as the sole provider ( see

but this makes no sense as a justification when he has let his mate Juliet Oliver responsible for legal policy and case direction, where you think it would be all the more important to ensure consistency of approach, have three firms on her Panel including her old firm who she is still very very chummy with ( bench Matthew Lohn decision).

Numbers 01 September 19 04:01

There are 2,800 likes on this article and the investigations have ground to a halt. Have the SRA issued any threats to ROF to prevent these issues from being further exposed. There seems to be something fishy going on here. 

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