IP barrister struck off after admitting to deceiving court

An IP barrister has been struck off after a disciplinary tribunal found him guilty on six charges of professional misconduct.

David Harris, of Brighton-based Technology Chambers, appeared before Justice Nicholas Riddell who disbarred him after Harris admitted to have knowingly deceived the High Court in the matter of Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation and Others v Newzbin Limited.

Harris had accepted instruction to appear as counsel for Newzbin Limited, a website that provided links to pirated movies, which he owned. He told the court that he held 100 per cent of the shares in the company on behalf of another person.

Harris was forced to step down from the high-profile case (28 July 2011) eight days into the hearing after opposing counsel, 8 New Square’s Adrian Speck and Wiggin partner Simon Baggs, uncovered that Newzbin’s shares were in Harris’s name.

Harris had also sent Twitter updates from court calling opposing lawyers “slimebags” as well as informing readers of his blog that “whoring and drinking” would begin at the end of the trial, the tribunal heard.

One of his tweets, sent from the twitter account @geeklawyer, allegedly read: “Left robes in hotel once. Judge permitted me to appear unwigged, he invited other barrister to appear likewise: p— refused.”

He also accused opposing counsel of spying on him in a tweet that read: “Ha! New (sic) I being spied on! You Wiggin slimebags are sooo ****ing obvious.’’

Speaking to The Lawyer, Baggs said: “He didn’t tell the court that he was the owner of Newzbin at the start of the trial and then went on to bend the truth when confronted half way through.

“He sent inappropriate tweets both during and after the trial, which brought the legal profession into disrepute. He fully deserves to be struck off.”

Harris was ordered to pay costs of £1,186.  He has 21 days in which to appeal against the findings and sentence.