A BARRISTER misled a Bradford court by stating that a young girl assaulted by a paedophile only suffered a bruised leg despite being told she received a sexual injury, a disciplinary panel heard today.
Abdul Iqbal’s mistake might have resulted in the attacker receiving a lower sentence, a hearing of the Bar Standards Board in central London was told.
The experienced counsel had acted as a part-time judge in another case earlier that day and his mind was “off the ball”, the panel heard.
The victim’s father complained after the lawyer wrongly told Bradford Crown Court there was no medical evidence that his 12-year-old daughter suffered a vaginal injury in the attack.
Mr Iqbal, a barrister at No. 6 Chambers in Leeds, denies three counts of professional misconduct.
Rosemary Burns, opening the case for the Bar Standards Board, said reports by two doctors recorded that the girl suffered a tear to her vagina when she was attacked while waiting for a bus.
But these were not included in the paperwork that Mr Iqbal received the day before he appeared as prosecutor for the paedophile’s sentencing hearing at Bradford Crown Court on June 29 2010.
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has taken responsibility for this mistake, the Bar Standards Board panel heard.
During the sentencing hearing, Judge Jonathan Durham Hall QC asked about references in the documents to the girl’s vaginal injury, to which Mr Iqbal replied: “There is no evidence that I have seen that supports that proposition or contention.”
At this point the detective in the case, who was sitting in the public gallery with the families of the victims, came forward and passed Mr Iqbal a note which said there was in fact medical evidence of an injury to the vagina.
But the barrister looked at his paperwork and again said there was no evidence of any injury, and the attacker was sentenced on this basis, the disciplinary panel was told.
Ms Burns said: “We don’t propose on behalf of the sentencing judge that necessarily he would have elevated the sentence that he did indeed pass, but it’s certainly available to him.
“And an aggravating factor in, as you might assume, this type of case is physical injury to the victim.”
Dominic Brannan, of Bierley, Bradford, received a 12-year extended sentence, of which he will spend four years in jail, for sexually assaulting the victim and another girl aged 13, the Bradford Telegraph and Argus reported at the time.
Ms Burns said Mr Iqbal failed to meet the families of the two girls or the police officer in the case before the sentencing hearing, and did not check the CPS file himself.
In a meeting with the police officer and the victims’ families after the hearing, the barrister gave the impression that the medical findings would not have made any difference to the sentence, the Bar Standards Board heard.
Mr Iqbal sat as a Recorder, a part-time judge, at Leeds Crown Court that morning before driving to Bradford Crown Court for Brannan’s 12pm sentencing hearing.
He was also involved in two other cases that day, the disciplinary panel was told.
Ms Burns said: “It may be that he undertook too many professional responsibilities on the day in question.”
She added: “His mind wasn’t on it. It was off the ball that day.”
The Bar Standards Board accuses Mr Iqbal of failing to check about the medical evidence in the case with prosecutors or police before the sentencing hearing and failing to apply for an adjournment after being told by the detective about the girl’s vaginal injury.
A third count alleges that he “recklessly” misled the court when he opened the case to the judge because he said there the victim had no physical injury other than bruising to the leg despite being told about the injury to the victim’s vagina.
Mr Iqbal, who is also a qualified pharmacist, attended Moor End High School in Huddersfield before studying at Bradford and Northumbria Universities.
He was called to the Bar in October 1994 and has appeared for the defence and prosecution in many major criminal cases, including charges of murder, complex fraud, serious organised crime and large-scale drug trafficking.