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A barrister at Bridewell Chambers is being sued for slander by a solicitor's clerk over remarks about her alleged conduct in a fraud case
According to the High Court claim form, barrister Roger Davey made untrue allegations that the complainant, Susan Clarke, had pestered Snaresbrook Crown Court with repeated telephone calls and was guilty of professional misconduct. It is alleged that Davey also falsely claimed that Clarke had behaved so badly in court that the judge had summoned him to complain about her, that she had pressured clients to put forward false defences, and had deceived her clients by holding herself out as a solicitor. Clarke alleges that when she complained about his words, Davey, a former solicitor who was called to the bar in 1978, treated her complaint in a high handed and dismissive manner, and sought to hide behind a defence of absolute privilege, and refused not to repeat the allegations. She alleges that her personal and professional reputation has been gravely injured, and that she has suffered very great distress and embarrassment from the accusations, which she claims are groundless. Clarke describes herself as a self-employed solicitor's paralegal and clerk. While working for solicitor David Lewis of David D Lewis & Co, she had day-to-day conduct of a case against former solicitor Avril Munson. Davey, an old friend of Lewis, had been instructed by him to act for Munson in relation to charges of conspiracy to defraud. It is alleged that Lewis' firm subsequently lost its criminal legal aid franchise after failing its legal aid audit three times. Clarke allegedly expressed her frustrations to Munson, who later wrote a letter to Lewis and the court that she wanted to change her solicitors to Nicholas Adams and Co and wanted Clarke to join this firm. Clarke claims Davey made the alleged defamatory remarks when he called on Munson at her home in Devon in April 2001. In February, another Bridewells barrister, Gordon Pringle, was found guilty of race discrimination after calling another solicitor's clerk a "blackamoor". Pringle was suspended for a year and fined £1,000 plus £500 costs by the bar's disciplinary tribunal. Davey will be defending the action vigorously.