Flaux Linden

"You'll not be back". Linden backs up Flaux.

An ex-Gibson Dunn partner who was struck off for deliberately misleading a High Court judge has lost his appeal to return to the legal profession.

Peter Gray was struck off in 2021, a mere six years after he was found to have knowingly misled a High Court judge about a grenade attack in Africa.

Gray worked in Gibson Dunn's Dubai office, and had been instructed by the Djibouti government in its long-running feud with opposition leader Abdourahman Boreh, a wealthy businessman who was living in exile in Belgravia. In 2010, the Djibouti courts sentenced Boreh to 15 years in prison for ordering a grenade strike on a Djibouti supermarket. 

The Djibouti government's terrorism case against Boreh hinged on phone calls which Boreh made on 5 March 2009, the day after the grenade attack, in which Boreh was recorded saying, "Last night the act was completed in the first district", and, "The people heard it and it had a deep resonance". 

Boreh insisted that he had been talking about handing out anti-government leaflets, but the incriminating date of the calls enabled Djibouti prosecutors to secure a conviction. Gray used the same evidence to obtain a $100 million freezing order against Boreh's assets from Mr Justice Flaux, now Lord Justice Flaux, in the Commercial Court in September 2013.

There was just one problem. A month before Gray presented Flaux with the date evidence, Deborah Ngo Yogo, then a Gibson Dunn associate in Paris, had run a check on the call logs of Boreh's intercepted conversations.  Ngo Yogo noticed that the transcripts were dated 4 March, not 5 March, and meant that Boreh's calls were made before the grenade attack, and couldn't possibly have captured Boreh discussing the aftermath of the strike, as it hadn't happened yet. 

Ngo Yogo emailed her discovery to Sana Merchant, another Gibson Dunn associate in Gray's Djibouti team. Merchant forwarded it to Gray, writing, "Unless I am missing something, this would be a very large discrepancy". Gray replied, "It was very well spotted of you to notice the dates. Many people would not have checked and disaster would most certainly have followed".

But instead of informing the court that the basis on which the freezing order was being pursued was fatally flawed, the 39-year-old partner told his team, "we can get away with the date error". Meeting notes recorded Gray explaining that he was "going to fudge the error of the date, it doesn't affect the underlying evidence". After the order was granted, Gray set about using Flaux's judgment in submissions to Interpol and other law enforcement agencies to get Boreh extradited, so that he might be delivered into the hands of Djibouti's security forces. 

However, a year later, in September 2014, Boreh's solicitors, Byrne & Partners, uncovered the date discrepancy. They wrote to Gray asking him to confirm that the court had been misled and that Djibouti's case was unsustainable. Gray told Khawar Qureshi QC, the barrister acting for Djibouti, that Byrne's points were "bollocks" and "a storm in a teacup", and directed him to send an evasive response.

When Mark Handley, then a senior associate in Gray's team based in London, suggested sifting through their Djibouti emails to establish how the wrong date had not been removed and when Gibson Dunn first knew about it, Gray emailed back within minutes: "This is a waste of time. Please do not do that. All you are likely to find is that on date X we realised the error, addressed it and moved on. Is that something you think it is appropriate to admit to the court? Would you like me to publicly apportion blame on other lawyers?"

In his devastating judgment in 2015 overturning the freezing order on the basis that he had been deliberately misled by Gray, Flaux said Gray's email to Handley was "disgraceful", comprising a "wholly wrong" attempt to suggest that other lawyers were also to blame.

Flaux said that Gray had been given the opportunity to accept an error had been made when Bryne & Partners wrote to him, "which is what it seems to me any honest solicitor conscious of his duties to the court would have done", but instead Gray embarked upon a "descent into what became even more evasive conduct".

Six years after Gibson Dunn was ordered to pay £800,000 towards Boreh's costs and booted the partner, Gray appeared before the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal where he again claimed ignorance.

Gray's counsel said that in the 2013 hearing, the partner missed the conversations between Flaux and Qureshi about the crucial date because he was emailing his Djibouti client, who wasn’t paying him $800 an hour "to sit and listen”. Gray had asked "two associates to independently check" the documents, and they had also missed the false date, he said.

Despite Gray's pleas that he was "brutally overworked" at the time, and that, despite repeated requests to Gibson Dunn, he was never given additional resources or partner support, the SDT found him guilty of dishonesty and struck him off in March 2021, ordering him to pay costs of £42,525.

Gray appealed against the SDT's decision on the basis that the SDT wrongly placed a "blanket reliance" on Flaux's findings when "the factual picture was much changed" at the time of the tribunal hearing. 

Simon Davenport QC argued on behalf of Gray that "the epicentre" of Flaux’s decision was that Gray "acted on a frolic of his own and kept everybody else out of the picture," when in fact, by the time of the tribunal hearing, "it could be absolutely demonstrated" that Gray "acted collaboratively and above all sought and took leading counsel’s informed approval and strategic direction at each and every stage".

Mr Justice Linden, the High Court judge presiding over the appeal, found that "it plainly was not the case that the mind of the SDT was 'poisoned' by the judgment of Flaux J or that it simply adopted his views without thinking". He said that "whatever leading counsel may or may not have known" did not absolve Gray "of his personal responsibility not to mislead the court or to allow it to be misled."

The High Court dismissed the appeal and refused Gray’s challenge to the SDT's costs order of £42,525 made against him.

Gray told RollOnFriday: “I did not set out to mislead the court or any other party and have never been deliberately dishonest in my professional life or well-established legal career. While the Djibouti case required me to make some difficult decisions, I believed I was doing the right thing by always consulting with Leading Counsel as to what I proposed to do or say. Despite adducing significant evidence of this after the 2015 judgment, unfortunately, the Court held this was insufficient to overturn the adverse findings."

"With this outcome, I must therefore accept the appeal judgement," he added. "I am fortunate to have been able to rebuild a successful practice outside the UK since 2015, despite having to defend these allegations over some seven years. I will now focus on continuing to advise my clients outside of legal practice in England and Wales. I am very grateful for the support I have received not only from my family and friends, but also from a significant number of the legal profession."

Tip Off ROF


Gannicus 25 March 22 08:33

Surely this is just an instance of " neutralize the opposition’s best facts, or even incorporate them as part of our client’s affirmative story" ?

Cripes 25 March 22 09:17

Several partners in my firm are under investigation for dishonesty that seems worse than this. It’s going to be huge.

Scep Tick 25 March 22 09:24

I am fortunate to have been able to rebuild a successful practice outside the UK since 2015, despite having to defend these allegations over some seven years.

There is a Peter Gray of ADG Legal whose website has a Russian section.

Fish Oil 25 March 22 10:00

"I believed I was doing the right thing by always consulting with Leading Counsel as to what I proposed to do or say"

I initially raised an eyebrow at this, but then I remembered he was a litigation partner - of course he was running everything past a QC.

Anonymous 25 March 22 10:21

"There is a Peter Gray of ADG Legal whose website has a Russian section"

Poor chap just can't catch a break...

Anonymous 25 March 22 10:24

A good lesson in the importance of remembering to do the right thing at all times, and not to just go with the Flaux.




*Drops mic from orbit*

Lord Lester 25 March 22 10:26

Yes, yes, but what did the BSB have to say about all of this?

My guess is that they'll take a far more lenient view of this supposed alleged so-called "wrongdoing".


Can't help but notice that leading counsel is still out there at a large and at liberty.

Mountain 25 March 22 11:08

I usually share people’s scepticism about the BSB. On this occasion however, I think it is unwarranted.

I had to research this line of cases for work (another firm potentially being dishonest with a freezing order), and so I’ve read the hundreds of pages of judgements from the first instance and appellate hearings, as well as the SDT.

Gray’s behaviour was unconscionable. It was in fact actually considerably worse than ROF describes above: he was attempting to keep an innocent man imprisoned, and seeking his extradition to a corrupt country (Gray’s client) on political charges. The freezing order point is the focus because it was the most obvious and egregious one (because of the well-known obligations of frankness to the court).

It is unclear however how much information Gray relayed to the QC. According to the judgments, the key discussion took place by phone. Since any investigation of the QC can therefore only rely on Gray’s evidence, and Gray has been proven to be dishonest, there is no case for the QC to answer.

Lord Lester 25 March 22 12:45

"there is no case for the QC to answer"


He's a QC. A fine upstanding member. of society.


Naturally he has been cleared of all wrongdoing.

Anonymous 25 March 22 13:01

The BSB don't investigate solicitors, 10.26. The general view is not that the BSB is lenient, but that the SRA are harsh.

Yikes 25 March 22 15:36

@Fish Oil 25 March 22 10:00

Yes, I sometimes wonder how my firm's US litigation partners (who do everything, including the advocacy) view our London litigation 'stars' who seem to be largely providing administrative support for barristers and keeping a pool of associates busy with make-work tasks.

Anon 25 March 22 19:15

Yikes 25 March 22 15:36: so true. “Litigators” in London firms are just paper shufflers who delegate to counsel and sit at the back of court, taking notes. 

Lest ye be judged 26 March 22 13:57

Before you cast a stone, think for a tic what you might do in the same scenario. And I mean really think...


AbsurdinessBrown 27 March 22 02:53

I would think, LYBJ, most wouldn't have buried it.  Particularly given the stakes for the Defendant.

I wonder if he did this on other matters? How could anyone trust a solicitor who did this? 

Anonymous 27 March 22 19:17

25th @ 11.08 - agreed, the BSB are generally fairer than the SRA. And no case to answer for the QC, who has no case against him. He wasn't completely cleared of all wrongdoing like 25th @ 12.45 was, for the simple reason that he wasn't accused of any wrongdoing.

Je Suis Monty Don l'Autobus 29 March 22 09:15

I feel sorry for this guy, have done since his case first broke. Must have been under awful pressure. And yes, I think that is an excuse. 

Mountain 30 March 22 09:50

@Yikes, 25 March, 15:36:

Yes, I sometimes wonder how my firm's US litigation partners (who do everything, including the advocacy) view our London litigation 'stars' who seem to be largely providing administrative support for barristers and keeping a pool of associates busy with make-work tasks.

Likewise. I'm at a US firm too, and I have become increasingly envious of our US colleagues who are 'proper lawyers', and actually do substantive legal work, rather than providing "project management and secretarial support to counsel" - which is what junior litigation associates in London predominantly do.

The few, fortunate associates who get to do arbitration are a rare exception, but they are a minority. On reflection, this is an inevitable consequence of the bifurcated profession: junior associate charge-out rates are extortionate in relation to our experience (e.g. 2 PQE: £500ph), whereas baby barristers are superb value (£100-150ph). This is of course driven by our firm's high profit margin to maintain PEP.

Consequently: (a) there's virtually no business case to give associates substantive legal work, rather than outsource it to counsel; and (b) in a virtuous circle, counsel gain ever greater experience and expertise, whereas in a vicious circle junior associates' competence and confidence in doing substantive legal work degrades from the moment of completing law school onwards. But we are paid an obscene amount of money though, which appears to anaesthetise the frustration for most people.

There was a discussion about this 6 months ago, here: https://www.rollonfriday.com/discussion/why-are-people-still-doing-litigation. Personally, I decided to escape the UK and have accepted a job somewhere with a fused profession where I can emulate my US colleagues who get to do the entire panoply of work, including advice notes, drafting submissions, and oral advocacy - i..e the substantive legal work that many of us originally became lawyers to do. 

None of this however excuses Peter Gray in the story above. He didn't, as I infer some commenters appear to believe, make a temporary mistake or have a moment of madness, he actively sought to conceal materially relevant information and went on to both attempt to mislead the court, and lie. He was so far over the line into contemptible dishonesty that he lacks any redeeming features whatsoever. If anyone doubts this, it's worth reading the judgments which the ROF team have kindly hyperlinked to in the main story.  

Lord Lester 30 March 22 13:54

Anonymous 28 March 22 22:16: I was not cleared by the BSB, whether completely or at all.

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