Booth cleared of professional misconduct

PRIVATE pupillage arr-angements are to be investigated by the Bar Council following allegations of misconduct against Cherie Booth QC by a right-wing pressure group.

The professional conduct committee has cleared Booth, of 4-5 Gray's Inn Square, of professional misconduct following the Freedom Association's claims she risked "bringing the Bar into disrepute" in bypassing her chambers' pupil selection procedures in order to take on a family friend.

But the committee has referred the whole question of private pupillages to the professional standards committee asking it to consider whether such arrangements "should be outlawed".

Freedom Association chair Norris McWhirter's complaint to the Bar Council in January followed revelations that Booth, wife of Labour leader Tony Blair, had taken on a family friend for six months as an unpaid pupil.

In a letter to the association, the professional conduct committee said there was no evidence of professional misconduct.

The committee said it took into account that the private pupillage was additional to the places advertised by the set in the Bar Council Handbook, was not funded and had no tenancy prospects.

It had also taken note of the fact that the 'Equality Code for Chambers' was not mandatory.