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Barbara Hewson, 58, due back for Day 2 of five-person disciplinary tribunal this am.

She admits two charges of “professional misconduct”. Counsel John Beggs to continue mitigation.

Tribunal then expected to decide between suspending or disbarring her.

Correction of typo in a tweet from yesterday. Barbara Hewson’s solicitor is not Daniel Berle. It is Daniel BERKE.

Everyone is present in the tribunal room awaiting the tribunal panel.

There is no sun streaming into the room today. Rain clouds have covered the winter sky...
Barbara Hewson’s disciplinary tribunal resumes, with her counsel, John Beggs, continuing to make pleas in mitigation.

He repeats that, following Hewson’s article that sparked a “tsunami of abuse”, she was forced to leave her chambers.
Barbara Hewson’s counsel deviates to return to the question from the panel yesterday as to whether any barrister has called any other barrister a “cunt” on Twitter.

He says that overnight they have found two examples…
Barbara Hewson’s counsel refers to an example of a senior barrister who tweeted that he had called another member of the Bar “a cunt”.
Barbara Hewson’s counsel cites an example of David Lammy, the “well-known MP”, a barrister and, indeed, former pupil of his.

Lammy called another barrister a “slimy lime wanker” on Twitter. He admits, however, that Lammy did not call him a “cunt”.
Tribunal chairman intercedes to tell Barbara Hewson’s counsel: “If one analyses this complaint carefully, it is not that the F-word was used or, sometimes, the C-word was used… It is the context in which it was used.”
Barbara Hewson’s counsel urges the tribunal that it should focus more on the complaint as it relates to the Bar’s reputation rather than to Sarah Phillimore, a “protagonist… who was revelling in the demise of my client, and doing so with an allusion to death.”
Barbara Hewson’s counsel claims that Hewson “was provoked” by Sarah Phillimore. “One was good as the other,” he alleges.

Therefore, he says, disbarring Hewson would be “disproportionate”.
Chairman of Barbara Hewson’s tribunal: “It is not the particular word that is used, it is the sentiment… The reference to the daughter… It is the fact that the daughter is referred to.”

He cites the disparaging of the BSB’s then director general. [Hewson called her “c*unty”.]
Barbara Hewson’s counsel tells the tribunal that her offensive tweets in the case were “wholly out of character” and were the result of “a breakdown… a mental breakdown”.

“She was slowly, but surely – to use the vernacular – losing the plot.”
As Barbara Hewson’s counsel repeats his client’s credentials in relation to her conduct of cases, tribunal chairman Alan Greenwood reminds him that the case does not concern “conduct in the courtroom, but the way she tweets.”
Barbara Hewson’s counsel repeats that he accepts that the disciplinary tribunal must either suspend or disbar his clients over her tweeting. He is pleading that it does not disbar her.
*client, of course, not clients.
A member of the tribunal panel puts it to Barbara Hewson’s counsel that from December 2017, when his client lost her appeal against BSB warning, she really ought to have known to change her conduct on Twitter. In response, counsel accepts that his client made “dire judgements”.
Barbara Hewson’s counsel repeats the point about the impact of his client’s being forced to leave her chambers.

“She was on the skids.” She stopped practising as a barrister, he says.
Barbara Hewson’s counsel tells tribunal: “She became obsessed, and my client will not mind my using this word, with a perfectly respectable narrative, whether there are witch-hunts, whether there is an over-reaction.”
Tribunal chairman asks whether a disciplinary panel has ever decided to allow a barrister to continue to practice, but so long as they no longer use Twitter.

BSB counsel says that he cannot think of a case, but that a tribunal has powers to impose practising conditions.
So the tribunal chairman is exploring the novel approach as to whether Barbara Hewson could be banned from Twitter, but allowed to continue to practice as a barrister.
Barbara Hewson’s counsel says that a “coterie” of people campaigned to have her disbarred.

He takes the tribunal to online abuse to which his client was subjected after the Spike Online article, such as being called a “warped old hag”. “It gets more obscene, more disgusting.”
Barbara Hewson’s counsel, referring to her attackers: “This was not an intellectual debate, which she had been engaged in... What she is subject to is rank abuse.”
Barbara Hewson’s counsel alleges that these attackers are “connected to the complainant”, referring to Sarah Phillimore.

[BSB counsel James Stuart said yesterday that Phillimore was not the complainant in the case, the BSB originated the complaint itself].
Barbara Hewson’s counsel: “This goes way beyond what some of the female MPs have been complaining of.”

And, he says, they benefit from having a political party and lawyers around them, whereas Hewson was no longer in chambers and was isolated.
Barbara Hewson’s counsel alleges that Sarah Phillimore “validates” these attackers.

He implores the tribunal to take that into account when considering what sanction to impose on Hewson.
Barbara Hewson’s counsel says that his client suffered “vituperative, pernicious attacks upon her. These would be frightening if she was a black belt… but she was not.

"People do stupid things through mental illness,” especially under this kind of pressure, he says.
Tribunal chairman puts it to Barbara Hewson’s counsel that her tweets about a 14-year-old girl would inevitably have triggered fear in the girl.

Counsel accepts that the tweets were “ill-judged”.
Barbara Hewson’s counsel identifies his client’s attackers on Twitter as including SpasticBrienne, ciabaudo and Sunnyclaribel.
Barbara Hewson’s counsel tells tribunal that Sarah Phillimore reported his client to Wiltshire Police, who took no action. He says that Phillimore reported his client to several police forces “to no avail”.
Barbara Hewson’s counsel cites various tweets by Sarah Phillimore, claiming that he does not seek to criticise her but to put his client’s tweets in context. For example, Phillimore tweeted: “Not all women are as aggressive and, frankly, unpleasant as I am.”
Sarah Phillimore on Twitter described herself in relation to this case as “relentlessly abhorrent”, says Barbara Hewson’s counsel.

He tells the tribunal: “At times, you might have a soupcon of sympathy for Ms Hewson.”
Panel member at Barbara Hewson’s tribunal: “Why didn’t Ms Hewson get off the escalator?”

Barbara Hewson’s counsel: She should have done, for her mental welfare. “She got addicted to social media,” he adds.
Barbara Hewson’s counsel: Sarah Phillimore accused his client on Twitter of criminal harassment.

It was a false accusation, he says, as shown by the fact that neither Wiltshire Police nor the Met took any action against his client despite Phillimore’s allegations to them.
Barbara Hewson’s counsel says that he will supply a statement from John Hemming, the former MP, in his client’s support.
Barbara Hewson’s counsel denied a tweeted accusation by Sarah Phillimore that his client was a “thug”, saying: “Her behaviour was ill-judged. She was not a thug.”
Barbara Hewson’s counsel accuses Sarah Phillimore of associating with a “conspiracy-fantasist retinue” that attacked his client online, at least one of whom complained to the BSB but whose complaint failed to proceed.
Barbara Hewson’s counsel singles out one of this “retinue”, Ciabaudo as a “vehement anti-semite”, and yet, he says, Sarah Phillimore associated with him.
Barbara Hewson’s disciplinary tribunal adjourns for lunch.
As Barbara Hewson’s tribunal resumes after lunch, her counsel begins my telling the panel that he has some “good news”. He will not be too much longer, he says.
Barbara Hewson’s counsel says of the “tsunami of abuse” that his client faced: “Ms Hewson was, at the very least, provoked. There were effects on her well-being.”

“She is not a snowflake, she is not someone who complains of illness.”
Barbara Hewson’s counsel says that his client had faced a series of complaints to the BSB. “Co-ordinated,” he says, and “from malevolent individuals.”
Barbara Hewson’s counsel says that the BSB complaints led his client to tweet that she was suffering from depression, and was having to take medication for it.
Barbara Hewson’s counsel says that it was reasonable for his client to tweet, as she did, that Sarah Phillimore was “manipulative” after she had made what he says was a false allegation to police that his client had been harassing her.
Barbara Hewson’s counsel : “She was entitled to call her [Sarah Phillimore] manipulative because she was using the police to propagate her political battle with Ms Hewson.”
Tribunal chairman presses Barbara Hewson’s counsel over why his client went on, beyond the “manipulative” comment, to tweet in relation to Sarah Phillimore: “This is how women in the family court now operates.”

“This is the real problem, it is that sentence.”
Barbara Hewson’s counsel accepts that his client “responds unprofessionally”.

It was “injudicious, ill-judged”. But he compares it with Sarah Phillimore’s “equally and sometimes more ill-judged attacks upon her, ‘poisonous beast’”.
Barbara Hewson’s counsel: “She did not get off the escalator; that is not the charge.”

“She may have shown lack of wisdom; that is not the charge.”
Barbara Hewson’s counsel claims that Graham Wilmer was removed from #CSAinquiry panel because of his online attacks on his client.

And, he says, Wilmer went on to complain to BSB about her, but that complaint was not progressed.
Tribunal chairman intervenes to say that panel is NOT considering disbarment of Barbara Hewson.

The panel is considering a sanction that is “serious, but short of disbarment”, he adds.
Adjournment in Barbara Hewson’s tribunal after a panel member asked for a short break.
This means that Barbara Hewson faces suspension from the Bar, potentially with the imposition of conditions if she should resume practising, such as being banned from Twitter or told that she can only practice if she joins a chambers.
Barbara Hewson’s counsel turns to the issue of his client’s blog about a 14-year-old girl, saying that the information in the blog had already been posted online by the girl.

The tribunal chairman says that, notwithstanding this, such a blog “induces fear”.
Barbara Hewson’s counsel says that he recorgnises: “A suspension is now inevitable.” He says that he will leave the length of submission entirely to the panel’s judgment.
Barbara Hewson’s counsel says that there is also the potential issue of conditions attached to practising in the future, which he suggested might take the form of undertakings.
Tribunal chairman says to Barbara Hewson’s counsel that he has said nothing about remorse. Counsel replies that he views such submissions as rather pointless, but of course she is remorseful.
Barbara Hewson’s counsel says that his client always knew that she faced suspension in this case.

She has cut off all contact with media.

She has locked her Twitter account.
Tribunal chairman asks Barbara Hewson’s counsel whether she was prepared to undertake not to use Twitter if she were to practice in future.

Counsel replies that there may be a practical difficulty with not being able to use Twitter at all.
Tribunal chairman, to some laughter in the tribunal room: “It is possible to lead a life without Twitter.”

But Barbara Hewson’s counsel replies by saying that it can be increasingly difficult, for example as a way to keep posted about flight changes or road closures.
Asked by a panel member for evidence of insight on Barbara Hewson’s part into what she has done, her counsel: “She wants you to understand that she gets it… The most profound insight is shown by admission.”
Another panel member questions whether Barbara Hewson has shown any regret for calling the BSB director-general “c*nty”.

Barbara Hewson’s counsel says that his client has made clear that she regrets her abuse of the head of her own regulator.
Chairman of Barbara Hewson’s tribunal: “She deserves some credit for making admissions, however late, but exactly how much we are going to have to consider.”

Barbara Hewson’s counsel accepts that, and recognises that she cannot claim the full possible credit, namely a third off.
Barbara Hewson’s counsel: on calling the BSB chief “c*nty”, Barbara Hewson said in a statement: “I sincerely apologise, I should not have done this... I sincerely apologise.”
Barbara Hewson’s counsel has floated, and repeats, a suspension of 9 to 12 months, but the tribunal chairman indicates that he thinks the charge in relation to Sarah Phillimore is rather more serious than that.
Barbara Hewson’s counsel cautions that a long suspension would amount in effect to the same as disbarment because she has already not pratised for some two years. He equates a three-year suspension to disbarment.
Tribunal chairman says that he does not think that is the right approach. The fact that Barbara Hewson has not practised for two years should have no impact on the length of suspension, he explains.
Tribunal chairman: “It is not like term served. It is simply something she has done by choice.”

The panel is concerned solely with sanction, he adds.
Tribunal chairman: “The wrong-doing, misconduct consists of three contituent parts.” And each of the parts, together with the aggravating factor of the previous warning, he says, requires a suspension of at least 12 months.
Barbara Hewson’s counsel pleads that the tribunal imposes, in effect, concurrent sentences, rather than consecutive for each of the three parts of misconduct, keeping down the totality of the suspension.
Barbara Hewson’s counsel: “On coming back, she has the task – itself formidable – of finding a chambers to take her on.”
Barbara Hewson’s counsel: “This is a plea to compassion, if you feel any is merited. And I would hope that you do.”

“Her means are exceptionally modest… It is someone who is going to struggle… She needs to come back in practice.”
BSB counsel James Stuart says that he will make some short submissons.

He refers to Barbara Hewson’s tweet about Sarah Phillimore, “This is how women in the family court now operates,” as “an attack related to the Bar”.
BSB counsel says that Barbara Hewson admitted in a written statement that her blog about the 14-year-old girl was sarcastic or mocking.
Tribunal chairman invites BSB and Barbara Hewson, together with her legal team, in advance of resuming tomorrow to discuss possible conditions on her future practising as a barrister after a period of suspension.

Tribunal adjourns for the day.
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