"Sorry, you were saying?"
A rape charity has labelled a fine of £8,000 as just a "slap on the wrist" for a prominent KC who sent sexually explicit texts.
In October 2020, Brian McConnachie KC sent a text claiming that another advocate had confided in him that they wanted to have sex with the Chief Executive of Rape Crisis Scotland, Sandy Brindley. McConnachie added in his text, "I might shag her, just to have something over her, but I wouldn’t enjoy it", reported the Daily Record.
A woman to whom he sent his WhatsApp messages complained to the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission, and the matter was referred to a disciplinary committee convened by the Faculty of Advocates.
The committee concluded that because it was a "private" communication and only related to McConnachie’s "feelings and wishes" about "hypothetical sexual activity that he might engage in", McConnachie's comment was not "serious and reprehensible" enough to comprise professional misconduct.
However, he was found guilty of unsatisfactory professional conduct for passing on the "distasteful and base" comment reportedly made by the other barrister, who was only identified in proceedings as 'Mr A' and described as a "high profile criminal advocate". The Faculty reprimanded McConnachie, and said he demonstrated "disloyalty" to his fellow barrister by sharing the remark, which could have harmed the reputation of Mr A and the Faculty if it had been circulated, and which Mr A may not have actually made.
The Faculty's disciplinary committee was asked to review the decision and a tribunal concluded that the previous reprimand was not enough punishment. The panel has now issued a severe written censure and a £8,000 fine for McConnachie for professional misconduct, the BBC reported.
However, Rape Crisis Scotland has slammed the sanction, claiming it does not go far enough. "An £8,000 fine for a lawyer of Mr McConnachie's means is not an appropriate sanction for his behaviour," said a spokesperson.
"It's a slap on the wrist. It in no way reflects the seriousness of his behaviour. There is no place for misogyny at any level of the criminal justice system and where this behaviour does happen, it must be taken incredibly seriously and met with robust consequences," the spokesperson added. "A personal apology to our chief executive simply doesn't cut it."