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Behl faces another complaint, this time by a pastor

Behl claims never having seen the pastor and believes it's a deliberate attempt to defame her.

india Updated: Dec 27, 2003 23:22 IST
UK Bureau

The case of Kamlesh Behl, former vice-president of the Law Society and chairperson of the Equal Opportunities Commission, has taken another surprising twist. While she is presently facing an appeal against her by the Law Society in the Employment Appeals tribunal, a complaint has been lodged against her in the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal by a pastor called Thomas Fernando from an address in Cheltenham.

Behlsays that she has never seen the pastor who has filed a complaint but "he is claiming that I am not fit to be a solicitor because of the findings of the Griffiths Report that I was a bully and the finding by the Tribunal that I lied under oath.

"I believe this to be part of the general pressure to punish me for bringing a case against the establishment and also because if I am struck off, then I can no longer be a council member of the Law Society.

"We have found that the address given by Mr Fernando is not a real address and the documents he had lodged can only have been obtained by him from someone within or close to the Law Society."

She further alleged that, "it is most unusual for a lay person to bring such a complaint against a solicitor that they do not know and usually it is investigated by the Office for the Supervision of Solicitors (the prosecuting arm of the Law Society). Even more unusual is for a lay person to pay for solicitors out of his own pocket to represent him at the SDT which is what Mr Fernando is doing. The SDT is supposed to be an independent body but is totally funded by the Law Society which is going to raise some interesting human rights issues."

Behl was removed from the Society on the alleged charges of bullying her staff when she was on the brink of becoming its first Asian and woman president. An enquiry had been held by Lord Griffiths who upheld complaints of bullying and Behl was removed.

But following an appeal by her, an Employment Tribunal ruled against the report and said she had been racially discriminated against. The Society then went in appeal against the verdict and it is being heard currently. Behl said on the opening day that she had to mortgage her house to fight the case against her and the treatment by the Society was outrageous.

There is a preliminary hearing of this case on July 22, at 11.00 am.

First Published: Dec 24, 2003 21:35 IST