A leading solicitor who was cleared over making false claims of murder and torture by British troops by Iraqis was not a “credible, honest or convincing witness”, a tribunal solicitor has found.
Martyn Day was cleared of all charges by a majority of the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) in June but the dissenting tribunal member said that “on numerous occasions he failed to give clear and succinct answers to straightforward questions”.
The comments come in the full tribunal judgment published yesterday after the three-man tribunal published its findings in June.
Day and two other members of his firm, Leigh Day, were cleared of all charges but Richard Hegarty, the senior solicitor member on the panel and a former member of the Law Society’s council, dissented.
In the 213-page judgment released Hegarty said that Day’s answers to questions “contradicted statements he had made at the relevant time or did not accord with contemporaneous documents. He endeavoured to argue that some documents did not mean what they clearly said.”
The judgment adds that Hegarty “would have expected [Martyn Day], as the senior partner, to accept some responsibility for his actions and those of his co-respondents but he took the stance that he did nothing wrong throughout the period in question”.
Mr Day’s partner, Sapna Malik, was “far more credible in giving her evidence and was more prepared to accept that she did not always get it right”.
Day declined to comment yesterday.
The tribunal hearing involving the firm and its lawyers ran for 22 days and legal costs are estimated to have been more than £10 million in total. The defendants are understood to have spent more than £7.5 million.
A Solicitors Regulation Authority spokesperson said: “We will be reviewing the judgment in detail and considering next steps. Any appeal against this decision would need to be lodged within 21 days of publication.” A costs hearing will be arranged within 35 days after publication of the findings.
Hegarty is senior partner and founder of Hegarty Solicitors in Peterborough, which specialises in commercial property and solicitors’ regulation. He studied law at Leicester University and set up the firm in 1974.
He served on the council of the Law Society for 16 years from 1989 to 2005 and in 2009 was appointed to the SDT.
The tribunal chairman in the Leigh Day hearing was Simon Tinkler, a mergers and acquisitions partner at Clifford Chance, one of the City of London’s “magic circle” firms. The lay member was Lucinda Barnett, a magistrate since 1986.