Solicitor struck off following profanity-stricken tirade
Luke Stephen Venton has been struck off the Roll by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (‘SDT’) following convictions for drink driving and possession of a class B drug, failure to notify the Solicitors Regulation Authority (‘SRA’) about these convictions and offensive and threatening language in communications with the SRA, other solicitors and third parties.
Mr Venton was contacted by the SRA in 2014 to inform him that he was subject to a rebuke, a financial penalty of £500 and a charge of £600 for failing to inform the SRA about his convictions. Failure to notify the SRA was in breach of Principle 7 and additionally a failure to achieve Outcome 10.3 of the Code of Conduct 2011. Furthermore, having been convicted for these crimes was in breach of Principles 1, 2 and 6 of the Code, in that he failed to uphold the rule of law, the proper administration of justice and act with integrity.
In response to this, Mr Venton reportedly wrote ‘you can stick your adjudication invoice up you’re [sic] a**e you f*****g w****r – Regards Luke’.
Having been warned by the SRA that any more communication of this ilk could result in their further consideration of his professional conduct, Mr Venton responded to the Regulator stating ‘here’s another one for you, you f*****g bent c**t(s). The SRA will never regulate me and that is it. If you send me the adjudication invoice it will be binned like the rest of the paperwork and not even read. F*****g w****r – f**k off!’.
Following further correspondence, the SRA decided to take no further action. However, between December 2015 and February 2016 Mr Venton continued to send offensive and abusive messages to the SRA, other solicitors and third parties (with the SRA copied in). The SRA once again contacted Mr Venton informing him that his ‘offensive, inappropriate, insulting and threatening language’ had been a further breach of the Principles. In response Mr Venton wrote ‘I read your letter, and f**k off you c**t! Regards Luke’.
The Tribunal heard that the SRA considered his conduct fell ‘so far outside of the standards of reasonable behaviour as to amount to a failure to abide by a steady, ethical code’, that Mr Venton had not acted with integrity, that his behaviour would undermine the trust and confidence the public had in the profession and that he had failed to act in an open and co-operative manner with the Regulator.
In mitigation Mr Venton submitted that he had not worked in the law for two years, that he had suffered from depression (albeit had been on medication and clear from the condition since 2015) and that his work had got him in with the 'wrong crowd'.
The SDT ordered that Mr Venton be struck off the Roll and to pay a contribution towards the SRA's costs in the sum of £7,000.
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