MasterofRhyme is dispatched to defend the UK barrister BeautifulBurnout – but not in rhyme

The Buddhist temple, Laitan ancient village, Chongqing, China, April 2013

The Buddhist temple, Laitan ancient village, Chongqing, China, April 2013

MasterofRhyme defends the UK barrister BeautifulBurnout – but not in rhyme – Part 1

MasterofRhyme who seems to have been dispatched here to defend the UK barrister BeautifulBurnout asked:

“What on earth have the Bar Council’s professional standards got to do with anything?”

Such a serious question deserves a serious answer.

On 14 October 2009 the Guardian published an article by Victoria Sharkey – This bizarre Home Office logic denies workers the right to remain.

The article concluded with the statement – “Victoria Sharkey is an immigration lawyer and a partner at MediVisas UK LLP”.

At 12.20pm came the first post from one time Commenter of the YearMoveAnyMountain accepting Victoria’s claim at face value:

“This is all about making work for lawyers.”

At 1.46pm, 1.57pm, 7.26am (the following day), 8.40am, 9.09am, 10.07am, 11.36am, 4.05pm, other posters, some solicitors, assumed Victoria was a practising lawyer.

At 08.50am Victoria posted about her client Martin:

“Martin’s lawyer is working on this for practically nothing, that is how he affords it.”

And at 10.14am she posted:

“the firm of lawyers in question has two partners, of which I am one”.

Only at 5.44pm did lizzybee post:

“Correction to by line: Victoria Sharkey is not a lawyer. She is an OISC registered immigration advisor.”

Up to this time Victoria had replied 14 times BTL but not once did she correct anyone who’d assumed she was either a solicitor or a barrister.

At this stage BeautifulBurnout joined the thread, although her comments have since been deleted by the Guardian. 
However sufficient of them remain in other posts on the thread to understand her position.

She provided readers with the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) definition of a “lawyer” as essentially meaning anyone who worked in legal matters. This was challenged by several posters including lizzybee:

@BeautifulBurnout, the OED definition is not the one used by the Law Society of England & Wales or the SRA (Solicitors Regulation Authority) as you should well know. Only a person with legal qualifications may call themselves a lawyer. Also, Medivisas is a 2 person firm of immigration consultants, not a law firm. To call it a law firm contravenes trade descriptions legislation.
(FYI, I am a NZ qualified barrister & solicitor, experienced in refugee law, entitled to call myself a lawyer in England & Wales).

and later she issued a warning about professional conduct:

BB, you are free to stick up for Victoria, it is no skin off my nose but from one legal professional to another, she is not someone you should align yourself with. If you don’t believe me, do a bit of Googling or contact OISC.

and later still:

Ms Sharkey has a history of attempting to ingratiate herself with users of immigration talk boards by exaggerating her qualifications & experience. She asserts herself in such a way to suggest she is the final word on immigration law matters and actively and publicly criticises the knowledge of other professionals, including Home Office staff. She has claimed to represent certain types of cases at appeal level, yet can never provide any citations and when you research the case law, it appears no such cases exist. She is no friend to the needy except when she wants to promote herself. These are my personal observations of her.

This post was deleted by the moderators but was included later by survival, who I assume is a lawyer and wrote,  in  a long detailed post:

So, although the way Ms Sharkey’s work has been discussed here (including my own contribution), leaves me with a bad taste in my mouth, I would say that she has obviously put herself in this position by her own actions.

I’ll continue this piece at a later date when I’ll include accusations from BeautifulBurnout that I:

libelled Victoria Sharkey;

was a liar and a liar everyday;

wrote “a load of abject bollocks”

was a “complete idiot”

and of course my responses to these accusations.


MasterofRhyme defends the UK barrister BeautifulBurnout – but not in rhyme – Part 2

An Immigration Adviser, Victoria Sharkey had been questioned about her legal qualifications, which BeautifulBurnout had referenced with a definition from the OED which today is:

“a person who practises or studies law, especially (in the UK) a solicitor or a barrister or (in the US) an attorney.”

So clearly Victoria is by that definition a lawyer, and I and a number of other posters assumed she must be a solicitor or a barrister, especially in light of her responses BTL.  I joined the thread a day after the article was posted with among other comments, the following question:

“Did either John or Martin (Victoria’s clients) inform his spouse / partner of their illegal status before they entered a permanent relationship and started a family? When we have this information we will be in a position better to judge the validity of their claims.”

And followed that up with:

“Another lawyer who’s engaged in the same line of work has in the past told us how badly qualified the Home Office staff are who need to face up to experienced lawyers like you at Immigration Tribunals.”

Those who have followed the free legal advice provided on the Guardian’s website will recognise that the “other lawyer” referred to none other than its top BTL and ATL barrister BeautifulBurnout.

But not it would seem Victoria Sharkey who in all innocence replied:

“Your friend is right about the Home Office staff to an extent.”

Victoria and I and other posters continued to exchange quite genuine questions and answers, albeit ones that increasingly exposed Victoria’s innocence and ignorance of the clients she was representing and the legal / social implications of that innocence and ignorance.

Looking back it was very much like BeautifulBurnout’s first excursion ATL when egged on by admirers she produced a woefully inadequate article and then tried unsuccessfully to defend her position with the “well I didn’t know about that evidence” defence.

So what happened earlier that prompted BeautifulBurnout to accuse me of libelling Victoria?

BeautifulBurnout posted:

And as for the snarky little person who seem to take delight in challenging people’s capacity to advise as to the law (although I assume, given their posts, that they have no legal qualifications themselves to speak of) For once I am afraid that I am going to use the Report Abuse button on your ass (although many’s the time I have resisted temptation in the past) because you are libelling this woman.

To which I replied:

Well I’d like to know the basis of the libel. I referred to Victoria Sharkey as an “experienced lawyer” but in her reply she didn’t seek to correct my misunderstanding. I’m not sure what you’d call that but the word misrepresentation comes to mind.

Also I asked her about why she was only now considering advising her client’s wife to contact her MP. Although I have no legal qualifications, I do have some experience in these matters, and for me, that would have been the first port of call for someone with a legitimate complaint about the Home Office or UK Border Agency. An MP could actually speak directly to the relevant minister or Home Secretary and get things in these organisations moving.

BeautifulBurnout followed up with:

“Do you deny that your last sentence in that post questioned the kind of immigration advice she was giving to people?”

To which I replied:

Here’s what I wrote:

“One final point about presentation. If you say, as you do in your article that “the government is keeping them in poverty”, (ie her client’s family) this is a serious accusation to make in an international newspaper. I understand what you mean, but were I a member of the government, I think I’d take some considerable objection to the accusation.”

Now what part of that advice, if that’s what it is, do you think is offensive or libellous?

Victoria didn’t seem to think so as her response was:

As for the ‘poverty’ issue – if any member of the government (Mr Woolas or Mr Johnson) would like to speak to my clients, they would see that what I say is accurate.

I even asked Victoria in my post at 8.27am on 16 October:

“Finally, BeautifulBurnout accused me of libelling you and I’d like your view on whether you feel this is the case?”

There was no response from Victoria despite her finding time to post at least one more time BTL.

BeautifulBurnout returned to the thread with her usual politeness and charm:

What a load of abject bollocks. I was referring to the post deleted up the page here, not the one that was rightfully deleted yesterday. Only a complete idiot or someone with a trolling agenda would read that otherwise.

I replied:

But the post deleted at 10:04am today contained all the post that was deleted yesterday at 6:57pm.
I can’t offer any defence about the “complete idiot” accusation, although my psychiatrist says I’m quite sane, but trolling’s definitely not my game. You say of legal aid:

And yes, funding may be provided. That doesn’t mean it will.

So we agree on that, as my post said:

Funding may be provided for Legal Help and Legal Representation.

So either we’re both complete idiots or both completely sane.

You ask:
Besides which, what, precisely, do you think you could possibly complain to the Bar Council about?

Well how about:

No matter how competent the lawyer may be, unless they have integrity their usefulness to the client evaporates. Secondly, there is the standing of the profession and the justice system more generally. If lawyers lack integrity, their reputation and that of the courts where they practice are destroyed. Lawyers must therefore avoid any impairment of their independence and be careful not to compromise professional standards in order to please a client, the court or third parties.
Lawyers must not engage in conduct whether in pursuit of their profession or otherwise which is:

(iii) likely to diminish public confidence in the legal profession or the administration of justice or otherwise bring the legal profession into disrepute.

So that’s the libel and the abject bollocks and in the final episode I’ll deal with the ” liar and a liar everyday” accusation.


MasterofRhyme defends the UK barrister BeautifulBurnout – but not in rhyme – Part 3

BeautifulBurnout had made a significant contribution to the thread with her classic:

“What a load of abject bollocks.”

I’m reminded of an observation from the late Leni Farrer:

‘Bollocks’ while admirably expressing total rejection of an idea does not present as a substantive argument . (Smiles)

BeautifulBurnout returned with:

“However I’m afraid our friend BiteTheHand is almost stalkerish in his tendency to take hours and hours trawling through the profiles of people who disagree with him, post something entirely out of context and, in some cases, entirely false in a sad attempt to besmirch the character of the poster.”

To which my response was:

Your complaint here seems to be that my advice is that “Martin’s” wife would have been better to have contacted her Member of Parliament earlier rather than later. Unlike others posting here, that’s about the strongest criticism I’ve made of Victoria Sharkey.

As for “spending hours trawling” – you know the wonderful thing about the web is that research now takes a fraction of the time it took prior to its existence.

As for a barrister, using as a defence that she feels she’s being stalked on a site set up and dedicated to allowing people to air their views and differences on matters of interest, what is this saying about her professional ability?  If and when she comes up against a competent member of her profession, rather than the junior civil servants from the Home Office and UK Border Agency that she seems to deal with in Immigration Tribunals, is she going to bluster on about being stalked, your honour? Being laughed out of court comes to mind.

And this statement of hers:

“He puts reality through some amazing contortions at times to try and show that, even if it is evident he is completely wrong on the subject, the person accusing him of being wrong is somehow of “bad character” and not “suitable” to criticise him.”

And my reply:

You offer no evidence of this and neither can you and I’m always delighted to explain to those who ask, and even those who don’t, what the relevance my comments might be to the subject in hand. I’ve mentioned lateral thinking before on these threads and I would advise you to take off those blinkers that currently hinder you from seeing more than the narrow legal viewpoint.

Of course members of the legal profession have an interest in not allowing lay people like me from undertaking work that they consider to be their exclusive domain and I can understand their point of view. But to claim that I should remain silent on an area about which I know a considerable amount, is bordering on the obsessive.

Yesterday with no justification or evidence, your called me a liar and a liar everyday. On a previous occasion when I questioned the wisdom of sending a 26 year old teacher to jail for fifteen months because of a love affair with her fifteen year old student, you accused me of being an apologist for the “lesbian sexual abuse of minors.”

Now I’m not sure how your professional body interprets the requirement that “Lawyers must therefore avoid any impairment of their independence and be careful not to compromise professional standards in order to please a client, the court or third parties.. “, but calling someone a repeated liar and an apologist for the “lesbian sexual abuse of minors” in order to please third parties on a national newspaper website and a publicly accessible blog, hardly seems to me to represent the epitome of integity.

So go ahead, call me on anything directly and I’ll be pleased to engage, but I suggest your all to frequent lapse into the language of the public bar, rather than the legal kind, would indicate the frailty of the ground on which you stand.

Maybe a quote from you hero George Carman QC would be appropriate here:

“He behaved like an ostrich and put his head in the sand, thereby exposing his thinking parts.”

Finally let me return briefly to the question of libel. Here’s CiF veteren DrJohnZoidberg addressing BeautifulBurnout:

“For once I am afraid that I am going to use the Report Abuse button on your ass (although many’s the time I have resisted temptation in the past) because you are libelling this woman”.

ffs….that would probably halve the amount of posts on any given subject.libel is the bread and butter (and often comedy) of cif.

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