Legal

Struck-off solicitor ordered to pay £10,000 for harassing SDT



A former solicitor has been ordered to pay £10,000 in damages for harassing the chief executive of the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal and a member of the panel that struck him off.

Farid El Diwany mounted a ‘campaign of harassment’ against SDT chief executive Geraldine Newbold and Colin Chesterton, a retired solicitor member of the tribunal, after he was struck off in 2019, the High Court heard.

The 63-year-old emailed Newbold two weeks after the SDT’s ruling, saying that if she did not arrange for its decision to be overturned he would ‘find you and force you to answer for SDT abuse of power’.

In an email to Chesterton last April, El Diwany said: ‘Unless you apologise and annul my striking off I will have to confront you next time you are in London over your dishonesty.’

El Diwany was struck off the roll after he was twice convicted of harassment in Norway, in 2001 and 2003, and failed to tell the Solicitors Regulation Authority. An appeal against that decision was rejected by the High Court, as was an application for permission to appeal.

He has since made repeated allegations of Islamophobia against the SRA and the SDT, accusing the tribunal of failing to read articles about him – which the High Court said ‘plainly included racist and anti-Muslim content’ – that were printed in the Norwegian media in 1995.

The SDT, Newbold and Chesterton applied for a permanent injunction against El Diwany under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997, seeking an order to prevent him from harassing the pair or any current or former members and employees of the SDT.

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David Reade QC, for the claimants, told the court that El Diwany engaged in ‘a persistent and deliberate course of unacceptable and oppressive conduct, targeted at [Newbold] and [Chesterton], which was calculated to and did cause them alarm, fear and distress’.

He added that El Diwany’s conduct was ‘oppressive and unacceptable, being of such gravity as would amount to criminal conduct’.

Mr Justice Bennathan today granted a permanent injunction against El Diwany and ordered him to pay £5,000 each in damages to Newbold and Chesterton.

The judge declined to continue a suspended eight-week sentence imposed on El Diwany last month for breaching the interim injunction by sending ‘abusive and vile’ messages to Newbold, Chesterton and Simon Tinkler, who dismissed his application to be restored to the roll last year.

However, Bennathan added that, if El Diwany were to breach the injunction again, a judge hearing any committal application would be ‘bound to treat that [the suspended sentence] as an aggravating factor’.



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