A camera-shy Timson-Hunt.
The bar disciplinary tribunal has suspended a barrister for six months, following his conviction of upskirting in 2019.
In June last year, Daren Timson-Hunt had been on a Northern Line train when a plain-clothed police officer spotted him resting his mobile phone on his thigh and slowly adjusting it to take a picture of a woman on the carriage.
The barrister, who was 54 at the time, followed the woman off the train at Embankment and took a photo up her skirt after she climbed the stairs in front of him. The police officer confronted Timson-Hunt, who confessed on the spot, saying, "I do not know why I did it. I have never done something like this before. I am an idiot."
Timson-Hunt was one of the first defendants in the country to be prosecuted for the new criminal offence of upskirting under the Voyeurism (Offences) Act 2019. In September last year, Westminster Magistrates court sentenced the barrister to a 24-month community order and placed him on the sex offenders registry for five years. The victim had told the court that the incident had deeply impacted her day-to-day behaviour, as she preferred not to wear a dress or skirt, and avoided public transport.
Timson-Hunt has now faced the bar disciplinary tribunal. He told the panel that he had admitted the act to the officer and victim at the time "and apologised to the victim unreservedly." But he denied his actions were premeditated, saying: "I didn’t intentionally follow her, obviously when you leave the train it’s packed, she was in front of me but that wasn’t by any choice."
The disciplinary panel chair Alan Greenwood said the offence "involves filming" which is not just a "momentary, fleeting glimpse" but invades a person's privacy "in a serious way".
In mitigation, the barrister told the tribunal that he was under pressure at work and at home. His wife had been recovering from a serious illness, and he was caring for his young daughter, while working 80 hours a week. Timson-Hunt had been head of a legal team advising the government on Brexit-related trade deals.
Following his conviction, he was dismissed from the Financial Conduct Authority, where he was due to begin working. Since then he had sought Jobseeker's Allowance before taking on a manual role earning little above minimum wage. He told the tribunal that he wanted to resume legal work when the court's community order finished.
The tribunal noted that Timson-Hunt was someone of "previously unblemished character" who had been under a lot of pressure at work and domestically. But found that the barrister had behaved in a manner which was "likely to diminish the trust and confidence which the public places in him or in the profession".
Timson-Hunt avoided a lengthy ban, but was prohibited by the tribunal from obtaining a practising certificate for the time left on his community order (a further six months), and ordered to pay £1,200 in costs. The decision is open to appeal.
"The tribunal’s decision to prevent Mr Timson-Hunt from obtaining a practising certificate until he has complied with his community order reflects the consequences of such a serious departure from the standards expected of those called to the bar of England and Wales,’ said BSB director of legal and enforcement Sara Jagger.
Timson-Hunt is not the first person in the legal profession to have been caught creating dodgy footage.
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