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Barrister Barbara Hewson, 58, due to appear before five-person tribunal this am, charged by Bar Standards Board (BSB) with “professional misconduct”.

Hewson, who gives her status at Bar Council as “career break”, is expected to deny charges against her: tbtas.org.uk/wp-content/upl…
Barbara Hewson has entered the tribunal room, accompanied by her legal team, John Beggs and Daniel Berle.
The tribunal chairman has changed from Jeremy Carey to Alan Greenwood, a retired circuit judge.

The tribunal has begun.
Tribunal chairman Alan Greenwood confirms that proceedings of Barbara Hewson’s tribunal can be reported live on Twitter.

Here goes...
Barbara Hewson’s tribunal has risen briefly to give the panel an opportunity to ensure that it is working from the same bundles as the BSB.
A low winter sun is streaming directly into Barbara Hewson’s tribunal room...
Barbara Hewson admits one charge of “professional misconduct” by sending, between 05.12.17 and 22.03.18, “seriously offensive” tweets about another barrister, Sarah Phillimore.
Barbara Hewson also admits a second charge of “professional misconduct” by sending and posting, between 09.12.18 and 24.02.19, tweets and a blog about an unnamed barrister and her daughter.
BSB counsel James Stuart says that it will offer no evidence in relation to the remaining charge sheet against Barbara Hewson.
BSB counsel tells the tribunal that Barbara Hewson sent a tweet that called Sarah Phillimore “manipulative and toxic”, that she needed a “big health warning”, and adding: “I suppose that this is how women in the family court operate.”
Barbara Hewson also tweeted that Sarah Phillimore, a fellow barrister, was “a fantastic liar” and a “toxic, crazy person”, BSB counsel tells tribunal.
Tribunal hears that Barabara Hewson put Sarah Phillimore’s complaint to the BSB about her online, calling it “malicious drivel”.

BSB counsel says that by doing so Hewson was disparaging of both another barrister and of the BSB and its regulatory process.
BSB counsel reads out another of Barbara Hewson’s tweets: “Sarah Phillimore – nasty cunt. Here is proof.”
BSB counsel tells tribunal that Barbara Hewson’s tweets were “seriously offensive and abusive” as well as “disparaging”.
BSB counsel cites other tweets in which Barbara Hewson called Sarah Phillimore a “lunatic liar” who was “making stuff up”, a “lunatic tenant” of St John’s chambers, and accused her of making “threats on social media” and of being “groomed by Rory Wilmer”.
Barbara Hewson called Vanessa Davies, then BSB director-general, “c*nty” in one tweet, BSB counsel tells tribunal.
Barbara Hewson also accused BSB of being “obsequious” to “anti-semetic” complainers about her conduct.

Tribunal chairman asks whether Barbara Hewson was disparaging of the BSB because it had previously formally warned her about her conduct.
BSB counsel tells Barbara Hewson’s tribunal: “The Bar Standards Board does not know precisely why Ms Hewson writes in the way that she does.”
Barbara Hewson’s counsel John Beggs intervenes to say that the reference to “anti-semetic” complainers did not include Sarah Phillimore, but to others whose complaints were not taken up by the BSB.
BSB counsel says that if that is so then Barabara Hewson had no basis for attacking the BSB for being “obsequious” to the complaints with which it did not proceed.
BSB counsel refers the tribunal to further tweets in which Barbara Hewson called Sarah Phillimore, another barrister, the “fairy princess”, “a liar and a fraud”, “pathologically unhinged” and “a very nasty piece of work”.
In another tweet, Barbara Hewson accused Sarah Phillimore of “destroying evidence”, tribunal hears.

BSB counsel describes Hewson’s tweets as “wholly inappropriate”.
BSB counsel tells tribunal that BSB issued Barbara Hewson with an “administrative sanction”, namely a warning, on 19.07.17 following earlier complaints by Sarah Phillimore.

Hewson appealed the ruling, partly on the basis of “freedom of speech”, but she lost, tribunal hears.
BSB counsel confirms to tribunal chairman that Barbara Hewson’s failure to heed that formal warning is an “aggravating” factor in the current case.
Tribunal chairman to BSB counsel: “She completely ignored that warning and proceeded in, what you say is, the same conduct.”
Note: BSB counsel corrects himself to say that the BSB’s formal warning was issued to Barbara Hewson on 19.12.17, ie December and not September.
BSB counsel says that Barbara Hewson wrote a blog about Sarah Phillimore’s then 14-year-old daughter, and that this was “completely improper”.

In response to a question by the tribunal chairman, BSB counsel confirms that Hewson had no quarrel with the daughter – only her mother
BSB counsel clarifies for tribunal that this case against Barbara Hewson was not formally based on a complaint from Sarah Phillimore, but the BSB’s “own motion”, in effect, its own complaint.
Tribunal chairman says that he wants to hear something from BSB counsel about sanction.

BSB counsel says that the BSB, as usual, is neutral on the issue of sanction.

But the chairman says that this will probably not do.
Tribunal chairman says that he will need some guidance from the BSB about what sanction should be imposed.

Lunch adjournment.
BSB counsel outlines to Barbara Hewson’s tribunal the following four potential aggravating factors to consider when deciding on sanction:
Pos aggravating:

a) “premeditation”

b) “persistent conduct over a lengthy period of time”

c) “undermining of profession in eyes of public” (root of “Core Duty 5”)

d) “previous finding on similar breaches”.

There was a single warning, Barbara Hewson’s tribunal hears again.
BSB counsel tells tribunal that, aside from previous BSB warning, Barbara Hewson is of previous good character.
Barbara Hewson’s counsel, John Beggs, begins his speech to the tribunal in mitigation by saying that he will plead for his client to be allowed to remain a member of the bar.

He says that he will talk about “where it all went wrong for this barrister, as it plainly did.”
Barbara Hewson’s counsel posits that the tribunal may be thinking of suspending her for around 9 to 12 months, which would give her time “to reflect and to re-gather her life.”
Barbara Hewson’s counsel says that she came under attack by anti-semitic campaigners after writing an article in May 2013 that related to the case of Jimmy Savile.

She became “increasingly isolated personally and professionally”, for example no longer being part of a chambers.
In this context, says Barbara Hewson’s counsel at the disciplinary tribunal, his client’s “mental well-being and judgement deteriorated”.
Barbara Hewson’s counsel: “She has not, and never has been, an apologist for paedophiles.”
Barbara Hewson’s counsel asks the tribunal to take into account the fact that his client informed the BSB last Monday that she was “admitting to the majoriy of what is before you.”
Tribunal chairman tells Barbara Hewson’s counsel that he regards her attacks on BSB as especially serious.

“It strikes at the very heart of the regulatory process, of the legal process,” he says.
Barbara Hewson’s counsel accepts the observation.

He states the issue for the tribunal: “Is suspension sufficient, or is disbarment necessary?”
Tribunal chairman asks Barbara Hewson’s counsel why his client blogged about a barrister’s 14-year old daughter.

Hewson’s counsel said that the blog was the product of a “lucid and eloquent, but muddled mind”.

Hewson “was not functioning properly,” he adds.
Barbara Hewson’s counsel says that his client’s blog is only read by about 10 people, and that she has hardly any followers on Twitter.

The offending tweets were read by fewer than half a dozen people, and probably mainly by the “protaganists”, he says.
Barbara Hewson’s counsel to tribunal: “She was – in the past tense – an excellent barrister, not just good, but excellent… hugely expert in a very niche field.”
Barbara Hewson’s counsel to tribunal: “This is not a case about her honesty and integrity… indeed, her honesty and integrity in her beliefs have led her into error.”
Barbara Hewson “has good judgement, but lost it for a period in a particular context,” her counsel tells tribunal as he continues to make pleas in mitigation.
Barbara Hewson’s counsel stresses this to the tribunal, saying that if that were not the background he admits: “I would be standing over the abyss.”
Barbara Hewson’s counsel tells tribunal that his client is “not heartless”, as often portrayed online, pointing to notable cases where she has acted for the “underdog”.
Barbara Hewson’s counsel again tells tribunal that her article on Jimmy Savile [in 2013] was “the beginning of the downfall”.
Barbara Hewson’s counsel refer to his client as: “Barbara Hewson, the erstwhile barrister.”

“This is a tragedy. This is a genuine tragedy.”
Tribunal chairman asks Barbara Hewson’s counsel why a barrister would even enter into a debate online about whether someone is guilty or not of crime without having the opportunity to see the evidence.

As a loss for an answer, the reply to the tribunal is: “Well, I wouldn’t.”
Barbara Hewson’s counsel accepts a comment by tribunal chairman that this case concerns not so much a single tweet, but a “course of conduct”.
Barbara Hewson’s counsel begins to take tribunal through tweets by senior barristers in which they swore on Twitter. He is still making pleas in mitigation for his client.
Barbara Hewson’s counsel says that these include tweets from barristers with tens of thousands of followers, while, he says, his client has merely a couple of hundred followers on Twitter.
Tribunal chairman says that he is “not sure” that just because appalling language may have been used on Twitter by barrister does not mean that it is not “extremely offensive” and may not have come before a tribunal.

“The mere fact it is used does not mean that is acceptable.”
Tribunal chairman tells Barbara Hewson’s counsel that it is “certainly to her credit that she has made the admissions she has.”

This, for example, meant that Sarah Phillimore did not have to give evidence to this tribunal, he points out.
One tribunal member asks Barbara Hewson’s counsel whether any other barrister has called another barrister the “c-word”.

The reply is that he does not know, but, pressed from the side by Barbara Hewson, he says that he believes that there may be an example of that.
Barbara Hewson’s counsel goes on to talk about an example of a senior barrister, a head of chambers, who told a journalist in a Twitter spat, “Oh do fuck off.”
Barbara Hewson’s counsel tells the tribunal that they will look up any relevant examples in response to the question overnight.

So, Hewson’s legal team will be urgently searching for the C-bomb tonight.
As he continues to make pleas in mitigation, Barbara Hewson’s counsel tells the tribunal that Sarah Phillimore is “exceptionally robust herself” in her use of language.
Barbara Hewson’s counsel says that his client should be given credit for making admissions rather than arguing before the tribunal that she was responding, effectively, in kind.

“She has belatedly got the point about how a member of the Bar should disport themselves,” he says.
Barbara Hewson’s counsel accuses Sarah Phillimore of attacking on Twitter two men who faced criminal action, but where the cases fell away.

He tells tribunal: “My client has been intemperate and inappropriate,” but, he claims, her actions were less serious than those attacks.
Next section heading for Barbara Hewson’s counsel as he makes pleas in mitigation is, he says: “Where did it all go wrong?”
Again, Barbara Hewson’s counsel refers tribunal to his client’s online article on 08.05.13, which “led to the position where we are now, albeit by a circuitous route.”
Barbara Hewson’s counsel says that the article on Spiked “provoked a firestorm”, adding: “It effectively led to her leaving her chambers”, and the tribunal may “robustly disagree” with them. It provoked online assaults upon her, he says.
Barbara Hewson’s counsel meant that the tribunal may “robustly disagree” with the article.

But he is pleading mitigation for the “tsunami of abuse” that he says was unleashed by the Spiked article.
“I am not here to defend her views, or to criticise them,” Barbara Hewson’s counsel tells tribunal.

But he wants the panel to consider the impact that it had on her as a woman living alone, including death and rape threats.
“It was the beginning of this deeply unhappy saga,” says Barbara Hewson’s counsel tells tribunal.

“She was driven out of chambers. I make no criticism of the chambers even if others might – even if Ms Hewson might.”
“She has become a figure of hate, and it is visceral hate. And not everyone stands up to such visceral hate in the same way,” Barbara Hewson’s counsel tells tribunal.

He compares attacks on Barbara Hewson to those on female MPs.
Tribunal chairman points out to Barbara Hewson’s counsel the “double-edged sword” of this point in mitigation given the impact her tweets and blog had on another female barrister.
Barbara Hewson’s counsel said that she suffered from the “isolating effect” of no longer being in chambers. “She did not have a head of chambers to take her in for a firm word… A strong head of chambers would have pulled her in.”
Barbara Hewson’s tribunal adjourns for the day. It is due to resume tomorrow.
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