The SRA has defended its decision to prosecute Claire Matthews, emphasising that she lied to her colleagues on several occasions.
The junior solicitor from Capsticks was struck off by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal after losing a briefcase containing sensitive documents on a train, before confessing to her supervisor a week later.
Matthews is currently appealing against the SDT's decision with the help of lawyers working pro bono, and has raised over £10,000 in crowd funded donations.
In its letter to the SRA, the Junior Lawyers Division of the Law Society said it was "alarmed" to read Matthews' account of her mental health in the judgment.
Hard to know who's innocent and who's guilty these days.
The junior lawyer had told the tribunal that after losing the briefcase she barely ate or slept and attempted to take her own life by drinking bleach.
The JLD was also "remarkably concerned" that the SRA prosecuted "a potentially suicidal person", on the assumption that the regulator knew about Matthews' mental fragility in advance of the hearing.
In his response, Paul Philip, the Chief Executive of the SRA, said that he was “satisfied that our handling of this case was appropriate”.
“We recognise the impact regulatory proceedings can have on the health of the individual concerned, and this is obviously an issue of great concern to us”, wrote Philip.
But while the SRA was able to adapt its procedures and “apply reasonable adjustments” where appropriate, “neither a person’s junior position, nor health, will be an answer where the person has been found guilty of culpable dishonesty”.
Critics had overlooked the salient point, suggested Philip. “In this case, it is easy to lose sight of the fact that this is not about a solicitor leaving a briefcase on a train, but that the evidence of her colleagues was that she lied to them on a number of occasions about the matter”, he said.