Barrister 'humiliated clerk with years of racial abuse'

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The Independent Online

A leading barrister humiliated a solicitor's clerk with racist abuse during a string of high-profile Old Bailey trials, a disciplinary tribunal was told yesterday.

Gordon Pringle, 52, a criminal barrister of nearly 30 years' standing who shares his chambers with Baroness Scotland of Asthal, Labour's first black minister, is alleged to have repeatedly insulted Eric Adusei in front of clients and other lawyers.

When Mr Adusei, 35, complained, the advocate gave him a "mocking" written apology and then persisted with openly racist remarks, a Bar Council disciplinary tribunal heard.

Mr Adusei told how he came to "dread" encountering the barrister and claimed the abuse spanned three years.

He said it climaxed at the first Old Bailey trial of the timeshare fraudster John "Goldfinger" Palmer two years ago. During the case, Mr Pringle allegedly tried to "ingratiate" himself with Palmer, by belittling Mr Adusei with racist comments.

Mr Pringle was educated at Oxford and was called to the bar in 1973. He is a founder member of Bridewell Chambers.

He faces five charges of professional misconduct and could be disbarred if found guilty by the disciplinary panel headed by Judge Diana Faber.

He is accused of race discrimination, or in the alternative, bringing his profession into disrepute through offensive behaviour.

Mr Adusei, from Fulham, south-west London, told the tribunal that Mr Pringle first offended him when they were working together during an Old Bailey murder trial in November 1998.

He described two racist remarks, and added: "I wanted to say something but I felt bullied. I felt humiliated. In the end I simply looked down and said nothing. I felt Mr Pringle took advantage of being in a position of power that he felt existed relative to both his junior and myself."

Mr Adusei told the tribunal: "He would make comments when no one else was around. He was normally very secretive and calculating."

Mr Pringle denies all five charges of professional misconduct. The hearing, expected to last a further day, continues.