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Solicitor-advocate given a dressing down for "dressing like something out of Harry Potter"

A solicitor-advocate has been criticised by a Crown Court judge for his choice of attire in the court room. During a trial at Cardiff Crown Court, Alan Blacker had worn a robe with sewn in colourful St John's ribbons and badges.  His Honour Judge Wynn Morgan stated that in over 30 years of practice he had never seen a lawyer with medals and badges sewn into his gown.  He told Mr Blacker “if you want to look like something out of Harry Potter you can forget coming to this court ever again.. if you ever appear before this court again dressed as you are I shall exercise my right to decline to hear you”. 

Commenting on the incident, Mr Blacker said that the ribbons were ‘in a discreet place’ and that he considered the remarks made by the judge as ‘baseless’ and ‘unjustified’.  He went on to say “I believe I was attacked because I am Irish…and due to the snobbish, hateful attitude that some barristers and judges have towards my branch of the profession”. 

According to Mr Blacker, who uses the family inherited Irish title of Lord Hanley during advocacy in the crown courts, HHJ Morgan had also questioned whether Mr Blacker was in fact entitled to wear a barrister gown and wig (solicitor-advocates have been entitled to wear these garments for a number of years).  Mr Blacker said that the critique by the judge had ‘hurt deeply’ after his ‘qualifications, status and offices were brought into disrepute’.  

It is not yet known what steps Mr Blacker intends to take next but he has confirmed that he will be taking advice from his solicitors.

After discovering that Mr Blacker had claimed to have received the ribbons after volunteering for medical service with St John Ambulance, St John in Wales issued a press statement.  Their chief executive Keith Dunn is quoted in The Mirrror as saying that Blacker was not member of the Order and was ‘not entitled’ to say that he was.  St John say that they have  made a formal complaint to the Police following Mr Blacker’s comments.


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