A little while ago I published a post on one of the activists I had encountered in Occupy London: Beware of Paul Randle-Jolliffe if you seek legal advice: he is a woo merchant. Consequently, Paul Randle-Jolliffe complained to the Bar Standards Board about that post and also threatened libel proceedings. On 26th March, the Bar Standards Board informed me of his complaint but did not ask me to reply; instead I was informed that the Board had sought advice on whether the complaint was capable of being investigated. On 26th April the Board wrote to me again, informing me that they had dismissed his complaint because it did “not disclose any evidence of professional misconduct and does not warrant further investigation“. I played no part in this process. At the bottom of this post is a full copy of the letter communicating the Board’s decision to Paul Randle-Jolliffe.
Paul Randle-Jolliffe is still active in Occupy London. Today, in one of its many Facebook pages, he made the legally absurd suggestion that the coalition government might be pursued in the chancery courts for breach of trust.
It beggars belief that any political movement takes someone promoting such nonsense seriously. One of Occupy’s founding principles is that everyone is welcome. The continued presence of Paul Randle-Jolliffe betrays the stupidity of that concept. What on earth is the point of continuing to indulge someone who claims to grasp law but demonstrably cannot? If you’ve read my original post on this fellow, you’ll have seen that the Court of Appeal rubbished his legal arguments. Nevertheless, Occupy London continues to tolerate him.
Here’s a man who has apparently devoted the law few years of his life to legal learning. That is somewhat at odds with him bringing a professional complaint against me which fails the test of being worth investigating. If he understood as much law as he claims to, he would have known that. Here’s the letter dismissing his complaint:
[Paul Randle's address in Oxfordshire]
26th April 2012
Dear Rev. Randle-Jolliffe,
Complaint about Duncan Roy
I write further to previous correspondence.
The Bar Standards Board (BSB) has now had an opportunity to consider your complaint about Mr Roy and I am writing to let you know the outcome.
Before giving our decision, however, I think it would be helpful if I set out briefly the BSB’s role and its powers.
The BSB is responsible for maintaining standards at the Bar by ensuring that barristers comply with their professional Code of Conduct which can be found on our website http://www.barstandardsboard.org.uk/standardsandguidance/codeofconduct/.
We take all complaints about barristers’ professional conduct very seriously. We have the power to take action against barristers where there is sufficient evidence that the barrister has failed to compluy with the Code.
The first stage in considering a complaint is for us to assess whether the complaint shows that there may have been a complaint of the Code, and if so, whether it should be investigated. I am authorised under the Complaints Rules to carry out this assessment.
I have carefully considered your complaint, together with the entry on Mr Roy’s blog, the subsequent emails that you have sent to us and the advice I have received from a barrister member of the Professional Conducts Committee. On the basis of this assessment, I have decided that your complaint should not be pursued and should therefore be dismissed. The reasons for this decision are set out below.
You complain that Mr Roy’s blog amounts to advertising or promotion which contravenes rule 710 of the Code of Conduct in that it is inaccurate, misleading and brings the legal profession into disrepute. Your complaint has therefore also been reviewed against the duty in rule 301 of the Code of Conduct to not engage in conduct which is: (i) dishonest or otherwise discreditable to a barrister; or (ii) likely to diminish public confidence in the legal profession… or otherwise bring the legal profession into disrepute.
We have noted the contents of the blog published by Mr Roy on about 29 February 2012 entitled “Beware of Paul Randle-Jolliffe if you seek legal advice: he is a woo merchant” (where ‘woo’ means nonsense). The blog says that you claim to be a direct descendant of a 13th century knight Saer de Quincy and thus claimed in a witness statement in the High Court action concerning the eviction of the Occupy the London Stock Exchange camp to have particular rights under the Magna Carta.
Your website advertising your role as a lay advocate and your interpretation of the Magna Carta is discussed and criticised by Mr Roy by reference to the suggestion that you undermined the High Court claim by conceding that the camp was not a protest. He criticises your legal arguments and expertise by reference to the Court of Appeal judgment which describes your arguments as “containing a concept unknown to the law” and being “simply wrong“. We note that the judgment reported at  EWCA 160 Civ says that you “challenged the judgment on the ground that it did not apply to [you], as a ‘Magna Cartan heir’. But that is a concept unknown to the law. The Court of Appeal also hold that you invoked “constitutional and superior law issues which, he alleges, prevail over statutory, common law, and human rights law. Again that is simply wrong – at least in a court of law.”
It is clear that the blog about you is satirical in tone and is highly critical, but publishing criticism cannot of itself amount to discreditable conduct. You say that it is both “defamation and libel“, but you will know that such a claim is complex and the proper forum is by way of Court proceedings because it cannot properly or practically dealt with as a professional conduct complaint; the BSB cannot consider legal issues. The Code of Conduct cannot unreasonably fetter a barrister’s right to free speech. Mr Roy reports accurately that the Court of Appeal was dismissive of your unorthodox legal arguments. Although describing you as a “woo merchant” may well be impolite, the blog as a whole does not raise any substantial case that it is inaccurate advertising – it is my view that the blog is not a form of advertisement in that it does not promote Mr Roy’s professional services. Neither does the blog as a whole raise any substantial case of bringing the legal profession into disrepute, diminishing public confidence in the legal profession and it is not close to the threshold of discreditable conduct.
In these circumstances, this complaint lacks substance and so must be dismissed at this stage.
I appreciate that you may well be disappointed with this decision to dismiss your complaint but I hope you can understand that the BSB cannot pursue complaints further unless we are satisfied that may have been a potential breach of the Code of Conduct that would justify carrying out a full investigation.
Under our Rules there is no formal mechanism for you to appeal this decision. However we may be prepared to reopen or reconsider your complaint where new evidence becomes available that is relevant to the decision to dismiss or where there is some other good reason, If you have any new evidence you should send it to me as soon as possible with the reason why it was not possible to send it to us before.