A barrister has been suspended from practice for six months after making lewd sexual comments towards a trainee who at the time was undertaking a mini-pupillage.
The Bar Tribunals & Adjudication Service (BATs) found Robert Kearney, a veteran criminal barrister, had “failed to act with integrity” when he was in a position of trust.
BATs alleged that between 26 and 28 January 2015, Kearney make multiple sexual comments towards the trainee.
The comments included whether she had ever had sex in her parents’ house and to describe the details of that.
He also said she should wear short skirts and heels instead of trousers, and he asked her what her bra size was. He also made other, more explicit and sexually lewd comments.
As well as his suspension, BATs told Kearney he should not take on future pupils, mini-pupils or anyone on work experience, and that he should pay £3,000 to the Bar Standards Board.
Kearney can appeal the ruling. City A.M. has contacted Kearney for comment.
This is not the first time the criminal barrister has been in trouble with the regulator. According to website Legal Futures, Kearney was fined £1,000 in 2018 for making a number of “uncomfortable, hostile and intimidating” statements toward a pupil barrister and getting uncomfortably close to him at an informal “Bar Mess”.
At a later disciplinary tribunal, Kearney said he was so drunk he could not remember his “entirely unacceptable” behaviour towards the pupil.
The pupil complained that after asking him his age, Kearney’s comments included asking him if he had “ever taken a woman dry from behind”.
Counsel for Mr Kearney told the tribunal he was trying to “mingle with junior members of the profession, which was intended to be a friendly act but because of his drunken state had had exactly the opposite effect”.