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19/09/2007

Hyman and Doughty Street

Doughty Street Chambers have a press release on their front page about Bruce Hyman. It reads:

There have been several false press reports that Bruce Hyman, a barrister who has pleaded guilty to an attempt to pervert the course of justice, was a member of Doughty Street Chambers. Mr Hyman was in fact a pupil, attached to Doughty Street Chambers only for a few months of his training period, having successfully completed a 12-month pupillage at Blackstone Chambers. He resigned before he could be considered for membership of Chambers and nobody here had any inkling of his criminal behaviour.

Frankly they should have said so earlier, as the rest of us were left to make do with items such as this, this (third column from the left, bottom), this and this, some of which are from Doughty Street, all of which clearly identify Hyman with Doughty Street or ‘at’ Doughty Street.

Certainly rumours have been circulating about Hyman and Doughty Street since news of his guilty plea broke. That would have been the time to clarify matters.

Although this actually makes matters murkier. Some accounts say that Hyman only resigned from Chambers when told to by the Judge in the criminal proceedings. Does this mean he was still a pupil at that point? Was he therefore a pupil when he was acting in the case that was his downfall?

Nice smearing of Blackstone Chambers in the press release, though.

[Edit 20/09/07. In the comments to this post, a barrister with knowledge of the history has confirmed that Hyman was a pupil, probably third six, and given some background to the mitigation argument and Hyman’s resignation from Chambers.]

Giles Peaker is a solicitor and partner in the Housing and Public Law team at Anthony Gold Solicitors in South London. You can find him on Linkedin and on Twitter. Known as NL round these parts.

12 Comments

  1. A Barrister

    Here are a few facts about this very sad case:

    Hyman was indeed a pupil at the time of the case which was his downfall. He had been at Doughty Street for almost a year (and not a “few months” as the press release asserts).

    Hyman was suffering from depression at the time, and his judgment was seriously impaired. His conduct was a desperate attempt to seek an adjournment, because he could not cope with the case. That explains why his sentence was not longer.

    Hyman resigned from Doughty Street immediately after the hearing at which the forged document was put forward: in other words, entirely voluntarily, and before his conduct had been detected.

    All of which makes me wonder: why was nobody at Doughty Street aware of what was going on, or (apparently) supervising him in any way? Don’t Chambers owe a duty of care to their pupils?

    Reply
  2. lawminx

    Hm. Why didn’t Blackstones offer him a tenancy? If he was suffering from depression, why didnt he seek help, particularly if he knew he was out of his depth? I appreciate that life at the Bar can be stressful, and, occaisionally, destructive, but surely a man used to bieng in high pressure situations – which he must have been as a television and radio producer- would know at a very early stage that he had bitten off far more than he could chew, to recognise signs of stress, and to do something about it?
    Sorry, but I’m with Victorian Maiden on this one…..

    Reply
  3. househusband

    Re Hyman being able to recognise that he was descending into a state of mental collapse: I am married to a barrister (a very capable and mentally secure one) who once got completely overcome by the stress of a particular case and eventually collapsed. The case was adjourned for a couple of months while she recovered. The point here is that she could not recognise the state she was getting into. She couldn’t even believe me telling her that she was making herself ill. Hyman’s behaviour is entirely consistent with a breakdown, and he is to be pitied. Saying that someone should be able to deal with stress unfortunately shows no understanding of its effect. It is an illness, but one that our unforgiving work-centred society views as a sign of weakness.

    Reply
  4. lawminx

    Try telling that to nurses working in Intensive Care.

    Reply
  5. contact

    Hmm. I have seen at close quarters the effects of serious stress and recognise the effects it can have. But, even if one accepts Hyman’s actions up to and at the hearing in the family case as having the possible mitigation of severe stress, and also that he resigned from Doughty Street shortly after that hearing, mitigation only goes so far. He did not come forward and make an admission. He left the opponent facing charges and prosecution and only came clean when caught.

    In a way, it is worse if his resignation from Doughty Street was as a result of his awareness of what he had done, because that suggests that he was fully cognisant of the seriousness of his actions but was still not prepared to clear the father in the case.

    I think the question about 3rd six pupillage supervision and a duty of care is an interesting one, but I know nothing about ‘usual practice’ and expectations in that regard, so I’m not going to say anything.

    Reply
  6. Another barrister

    I also think that the Doughty Street statement, although no doubt baldly true, raises some unanswered questions. As a pupil, his work should have been supervised by a designated pupil supervisor – even as a third six pupil and a mature entrant to the Bar with a previous successful career. How could his pupil supervisor and other colleagues in chambers fail to have noticed a depression so severe that his judgment became flawed to the extent of not only contemplating, but committing, an imprisonable offence? Surely his pupil supervisor should also have been aware that he had taken on a bitterly-contested case in which he was (a) acting for a close friend and (b) acting outside his broad area of expertise and training, either or both of which factors might lead to professional embarrassment at the very least, and which should have prompted more rather than less guidance from a pupil supervisor.

    Reply
  7. lawminx

    I personally still have no sympathy for the man. It’s as much for him to approach his pupil supervisor with any difficulties he might have been having as it is for the pupil supervisor to ensure that he wasn’t out of his depth – isnt supervision a two way street?

    Reply
  8. A Barrister

    That’s the thing about depression and stress, Lawminx – it impedes your judgment. Sadly, people are weak and fallible, and they get sick. And when they are sick, they don’t behave rationally. When that happens, a bit of compassion is in order, don’t you think? It is possible to sympathise without in any way condoning the conduct.

    Reply
  9. lawminx

    Can genuine weakness and falibility be genuinely mistaken arrogance? Beleive me, I would be the first in line to offer absolute sympathy if this was really a genuine case of the former, but the reality of it is that this is not the first time Mr Hyman has purposefully sought to do someone down – as per recent comments left on a blog concerning the Works of Douglas Adams ( Hat tip to Ruthie at Ruthies Law the source, the website address of which follows the comment, the latter bieng made by someone calling himself the “Duke of Dunstable”):

    “Remember this turd? He was chief executive at Above The Title but went barrister. Against all evidence this fellow claimed that he alone was responsible for casting William Franklyn for the follow up phases, when as we all know it was Dirk Maggs who got mr Franklyn onboard, as evidenced by both Dirk and Simon Jones.”

    http://douglasadams.se/forum/viewtopic.php?t=12728

    Reply
  10. trip

    It hasn’t been reported that Helena Kennedy–she of none other than Doughty Street Chambers–accepted instructions to act for Hyman. Cab ranks notwithstanding, one would hardly have thought that such a stout defender of rights would have the time. It takes ‘hypocrisy’ to a whole new level.

    Reply
  11. contact

    Trip – granted it seems a little incestuous, but Hyman could afford Kennedy at private rates. I’m not sure where the hypocrisy comes in. ‘Rights’ aren’t reserved for deserving causes.

    NL

    Reply
  12. Derek Arbuthnot

    This is cobblers. Lawminx is right. We can pity this wanker all we want but the fact is, he was happy for another man to do time because he was stressed. I know how tragic depression and workplace related stress can be as I have seen the consequences in my own family. But trying to destroy someone else takes things to a whole different level. And barristers have an extra special duty to the whole of society not to succomb to this sort of thing. The usual rules of touchy-feely/”it was my upbringing”/”I was stressed”/”It’s an addiction” type horseshit *cannot* apply to us.

    Reply

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Barrister goes to prison… « Consilio Editorial - [...] recent silence. VM has a take on Freedom of Information which is well worth reading. See also Nearly Legal…
  2. Barrister goes to prison « Consilio blog - [...] recent silence. VM has a take on Freedom of Information which is well worth reading. See also Nearly Legal…

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