A senior barrister who fell in love with his client during an immigration appeal has been suspended for 18 months after he tried to scupper her UK residency application when she broke off their engagement.
Muhammed Ullah, a leading member of the Asian legal community in London, admitted four charges of bringing the profession into disrepute after writing letters to the Home Office and the woman's employers.
The Bar Council's professional conduct committee said Mr Ullah had acted out of spite when he told the Home Office that Mehurun Nessa Shaik had lied on her immigration application. Jonathan Watt-Pringle, for the Bar Council, said the letters written to the Home Office and the airline Lufthansa, where Mrs Shaik worked in the catering department, contained serious allegations about her honesty and conduct.
He said Mr Ullah had acted on the basis of "personal interest". In a written judgment the tribunal chairman, Judge Peter Cowell, said Mr Ullah had "offended against the most fundamental principle of the Bar – that the interest of the client come first".
However Barbara Cameron, representing Mr Ullah, argued he had only written the letters after hebecame emotionally involved with Mrs Shaik, whom he had since married.
The tribunal heard Mr Ullah had wanted to help Mrs Shaik in her immigration application because she could no longer afford solicitors. But when she called off their engagement last year he had written seven letters to various businesses and organisations in which he made false allegations about her conduct.
Ms Cameron said that Mr Ullah's actions were out of character and partly due to him feeling unwell, just before he was diagnosed with diabetes. She also asked the tribunal not to speculate on the future of Mrs Shaik.
But Mr Watt-Pringle said Mr Ullah had been disbarred, on an unrelated matter, while working in Pakistan and that because Mrs Shaik had not given evidence at the tribunal it was not possible to say what effect his letters had upon his wife's immigration application.
In a judgment handed down on Wednesday and to be published this week, the tribunal of the Council of the Inns of Court suspended Mr Ullah for 18 months.