Another author on Kremlin’s Sputnik International will be A. Mercouris, disbarred for deceiving a client. Now A. Mercouris is a columnist of RT, Voice of Russia and russia-insider.com.
Alexander Mercouris concocted a web of “tortuous deceit” to convince a client he was pursuing the bogus claim, including forging a Supreme Court judge’s signature, a tribunal heard.
He even alleged that Lord Phillips of Worth Matravers, President of the Supreme Court, had him abducted and offered him a £50,000 bribe to abandon the case.
His lies began after he offered to represent Lorna Jamous, 49, a mother seeking damages from a council over standards of care involving her son, the Bar Standards Board (BSB) heard.
Mrs Jamous had been offered a £5,000 settlement by Westminster City Council, but Mercouris told her in October 2009 that he could take further action to get her hundreds of thousands of pounds.
Mercouris, 51, later told his client he had managed to win her a £983,000 payout, prompting her to rack up debts in expectation of the windfall.
However, when she began questioning why the money had not materialised, Mercouris “embarked on ever more bizarre assertions to hide the truth” that the payout had never been awarded, Stephen Mooney, the BSB’s counsel said.
To convince Mrs Jamous, he showed her a forged letter purporting to be from Baroness Hale, Justice of the Supreme Court, expressing concern that the payment had not arrived.
At one point, he talked the mother-of-two out of attending a hearing at which she would have discovered the truth, claiming her presence would “derail sensitive negotiations”.
Next he told her he had applied for an interim £50,000 payment, then claimed his brother had stolen the whole £983,000.
Mr Mooney said he then made “the most peculiar allegation” – that bogus police officers kidnapped him and took him to a meeting with Lord Phillips.
Mercouris claimed the former Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales pleaded with him to drop the case in exchange for a £50,000 bribe, plus his debts and mortgage paid off.
He also alleged that Lord Phillips threatened to have his 102-year-old grandmother put into a care home.
Mr Mooney described the lies as an “extremely convoluted story” of “tortuous deceit” and that his relationship with his client had gone from “supportive and helpful” to “bizarre, unhelpful and profoundly dishonest”.
“In my opinion, Mr Mercouris is not fully in control of his faculties,” he told the tribunal.
Mercouris, a former Citizens Advice Bureau worker who was called to the bar in 2006, wept as he admitted five counts of bringing his profession into disrepute through misconduct.
“Mr Mooney has referred to some of my actions as bizarre, I cannot dispute that. I’m very sorry. I worked very hard to become a barrister and disbarment is a bitter thought,” he said.
The tribunal heard that Mercouris, who represented himself during the hearing, had worked in the Royal Courts of Justice for 12 years before being called to the bar.
He added that he was diagnosed with depression after a nervous breakdown in 2007 due to caring for his sick grandmother and had been out of work for several months.
Striking him off, panel chairman Crawford Lindsay QC said Mercouris’s “fantasy scheme” was a “sad case”.
“These are extremely serious allegations where you deceived the client, involving two distinguished members of the judiciary. You went completely off the rails,” he said.
Speaking after the hearing, Mrs Jamous, of Belgravia, west London, said: “It was very cruel the way he treated us because we put out trust in him as a barrister and he abused that trust.
“He told us that we had been awarded this money, even showing us a letter from Baroness Hale confirming it, so we had no reason to doubt him.
“I borrowed money, went on holiday and was looking at houses because we thought we had £1 million to spend.”
By Murray Wardrop, www.telegraph.co.uk.