Barrister will lose £5,000 for wasting court time

A barrister has been ordered to forfeit £5,000 for wasting taxpayers' money in the murder trial of a female leader of a Colombian drugs gang.

Judge Boal ruled yesterday that the jury hearing the case against Luisa Bolivar was prevented from sitting on two days because of the "impropriety or unreasonable conduct" of Colin Campbell, whose chambers are at 2 Paper Buildings in London. The judge said £5,254 should be deducted from fees claimed by Mr Campbell, and referred the matter to the Bar Council.

The barrister defended Luisa Bolivar, 37, later jailed for murder for ordering two hitmen to execute a teenager for stealing from her boyfriend. In the trial it was claimed Bolivar was a leader of a Colombian drugs gang in south London.

Mr Campbell was blamed for a postponement on 13 December last year after he said he was not ready to deal with a complex part of the case involving mobile phone evidence. The judge said the jury turned up but to his "utter amazement" Mr Campbell said he was "totally unable" to deal withthe evidence that day. Judge Boal made a wasted costsorder of £2,577 in respect of that day.

On 25 January another day was lost because Mr Campbell had been representing a suspect in another murder trial at Stafford Crown Court. He left the Bolivar case in the hands of a junior barrister.

"He did not tell me he would be absent in order to conduct another case," Judge Boal said. "Had he had the courtesy to inform me ... I would have felt it was wholly inappropriate of him to absent himself from this case." He made a wasted costs order of £2,677 in respect of the second lost day.

A spokesman for the Bar said it was looking at the case.