Barrister in tears over abusive emails

A barrister who lost a £33 million race discrimination claim broke down in tears today as a court was told her abusive emails to a former boyfriend should never have led to criminal charges.







Dr Aisha Bijlani, 43, was comforted by her father as her defence barrister Jeannie Mackie argued the emails should be seen in the context of a stormy relationship with a former boyfriend and, while offensive, did not amount to harassment.



Bijlani bombarded her ex-boyfriend with abusive emails and was hell-bent on destroying his life after he left her for a German model, Blackfriars Crown Court in London was told.



But Judge Peter Clarke QC dismissed the application there was no case to answer without even hearing arguments from prosecutors.



Bijlani described marketing executive Atul Sehgal as a "pathetic lap dog", "arsehole", "loser" and an "impotent gay man" who was a "failure in every way" in a series of emails.



She also sent five abusive emails in four days to model Nicola Koenig, 28, telling her she was a "cheap hooker", a "working class trollop" and a "flat-chested asexual freak" with sweaty feet who should lick toilet bowls for a living.



But, referring to Mr Sehgal, Ms Mackie said: "Look at the arrangements between them, look at the relationship between them, look at the conduct of them both.



"It's not a matter for the criminal courts."



Ms Mackie said there may have been a "certain amount of grandstanding" on the part of Mr Sehgal who appeared to describe "with relish" his reaction to the abusive emails.



"I do not seek to state these emails were not offensive," she said.



"But they do not constitute within the law a course of conduct that amounts to criminal conduct."







Bijlani, of Ponsonby Terrace, Belgravia, London, is appealing against a 2007 conviction for two counts of sending malicious and insulting emails and making abusive phone calls between June and August 2007.



She was given a conditional discharge after being convicted by City of Westminster magistrates and told the tribunal last October the incidents happened "in a period of acute distress".



Bijlani said she plunged into depression as a result of her treatment at the legal chamber Four New Square.



But Mr Sehgal, 41, who had a four-month relationship with Bijlani in 2004, told the court earlier this week: "In fact, it was evil behaviour from her."



He said Bijlani asked what his dead mother would think of him for abandoning her and going out with someone who "takes her clothes off for a living".



Bijlani was "consumed with jealousy" over his relationship with Ms Koenig, who she erroneously thought was a German prostitute, Mr Sehgal said.



Speaking rapidly, he told the court Bijlani was sending the emails "just to provoke me, just to humiliate me, just to upset me, just to make me feel really small".



He described "falling in love" with the advertising model, who has returned to Germany since the trouble with Bijlani, but Ms Koenig told the court she "never had a sexual relationship" with Mr Sehgal.



Mr Sehgal denied playing the two women off against each other, but conceded he may have sent Bijlani an internet link to Ms Koenig's modelling website.



Bijlani's race discrimination claims against three consecutive heads of chambers at her firm - John Powell QC, Justin Fenwick QC and Roger Stewart QC, plus senior clerk Lizzy Wiseman - were dismissed by the tribunal judge earlier this year.



The barrister, who regularly broke down in tears during the Central London Employment Tribunal hearing, claimed the firm's clerks subjected her to a racist regime, failed to get her work and did not collect her fees, costing her millions in lost income.



Ms Wiseman also used her romantic relationships with Mr Fenwick and Mr Stewart to avoid being held accountable at work, Bijlani claimed.



Bijlani - who qualified as a doctor and had a short career in medicine at Guy's Hospital in London before switching to a career in law - claimed she was never given the opportunity to reach her full potential at the chambers she joined in 1994 because of racist attitudes.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Why the league system no longer measures up

League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
Diego Costa: Devil in blue who upsets defences is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

The Reds are desperately missing Luis Suarez, says Ian Herbert
Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Former one-day coach says he will ‘observe’ their World Cup games – but ‘won’t be jumping up and down’
Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness