Judge reprimands MP for refusing brief

A barrister who refused a brief to vote in the Commons has been reprimanded by the Court of Appeal.

However, the court quashed a three-month suspension imposed by the bar on Labour's Wirral West MP, Stephen Hesford, saying it was “wholly disproportionate”.

The penalty was handed down by the bar disciplinary committee after Hesford, of Young Street Chambers, Manchester, breached the bar's code of conduct which forbids returning a brief for which a court date is fixed to attend a “social or non-professional engagement”.

Mr Justice Jonathan Parker, sitting at the Inns of Court, agreed that when Hesford responded to a three-line whip to vote he broke the code.

Voting in Parliament, he said, was non-professional, regardless of whether such an activity was intended to be caught by those words.