Rape case solicitor is suspended for a year

`It has done grave damage to the reputation of the profession'
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The Independent Online
Angus Diggle, the solicitor who was jailed for attempting to rape a fellow lawyer when she invited him to stay in her flat after a drunken evening at a dance, was suspended for a year yesterday.

After the hearing Barrie Marsh, chairman of the Solicitors' Disciplinary Tribunal, said that Diggle, who admitted conduct unbefitting a solicitor, had already been punished under the criminal law and had paid his debt to society.

It had been thought that Diggle, 38, from Bolton, near Manchester, might be struck off, but Mr Marsh said that he had not practised for two years and therefore a suspension was felt to be the right way of dealing with the matter.

In August 1993 Diggle was convicted at the Old Bailey of trying to rape the woman, aged 25, after a St Andrew's Day ball at the Grosvenor House Hotel in central London.

They returned to a friend's flat in London where he agreed to sleep on the floor. She later awoke to find him on top of her wearing only his spectacles, the frilly cuffs of his full Highland dress and a green condom.

The woman fought him off and fled into a bedroom where a friend was sleeping. After police were called to the flat Diggle told officers: "I have spent £200 on her. Why can't I do what I did to her?"

He was sentenced to three years in jail, but this was reduced on appeal to two years, and he was released from Leyhill open prison in Gloucestershire at the end of September. In January 1993 Diggle was fined £50 for breaching a British Railways Board bye-law by making offensive remarks to a woman.

Geoffrey Williams, solicitor for the Law Society, told the tribunal that the allegation stemmed from Diggle's behaviour outside legal practice. He continued: "My submission is those matters, particularly conviction in the Crown Court, are very serious examples indeed of conduct unbefitting a solicitor.

"I say that particularly as a result of the huge amount of publicity, which has been generated and has rebounded on the profession. It has done, in my submission, grave damage to the reputation of the solicitors' profession. That must inevitably be the case when an officer of the court is sent to prison for committing a criminal offence."

After the hearing Diggle refused to comment but Michael Borrelli, his counsel, said: "Mr Diggle hopes to have the opportunity from everybody to put this matter behind him."

Mrs Mable Diggle, his mother, said: "I am very very pleased that his name has not been struck off the list, and I am pleased that he can return to work after a year. He has paid well for what he has done."

But Martin Mears, a family law practitioner, said: "I am surprised at this result, because I would have thought either he would have been struck off or not brought before the tribunal at all."