Barrister is warned over advice to fathers

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A senior barrister who has been threatened with disciplinary action for giving free advice to a charity which promotes fathers' rights claims he is the victim of "political correctness".

Peter Marsh, who has been using his spare time to help members of the group, Families Need Fathers, has been told that he is in breach of the Bar's ancient code which prevents the public from directly instructing barristers.

The Bar Council of England and Wales, in a letter to Mr Marsh, warns that a barrister in independent practice can work directly only for organisations specifically approved by the Bar.

It is understood that Families Need Fathers, a charity established 20 years ago with 30 offices in the UK, has been declined designation. Mr Marsh said: "I believe this is a gender issue being dressed up as something else."

Mr Marsh, who has 25 years experience as a family law barrister, has worked for the Bar's own Free Representation Unit and an advice centre in Hammersmith, west London, without encountering any disciplinary problems.

A spokesman for the Bar Council said the suggestion that the Bar was motivated by political correctness or any prejudice was "without foundation".