Solicitor General in misconduct row
4:59pm Sunday 20th July 2014 in © Press Association 2014
David Cameron faces questions over his decision to appoint a new Solicitor General who has been found guilty of professional misconduct, Labour said today.
Conservative Robert Buckland, MP for South Swindon, replaced Oliver Heald as Solicitor General in the Prime Minister's Cabinet reshuffle.
But Mr Buckland's appointment was under scrutiny today after reports emerged that he was found guilty of the charge at a disciplinary hearing by the barristers' ruling body, the Council of the Inns of Court, in 2011.
The Mail on Sunday said it had obtained documents showing Mr Buckland, who was called to the Bar in 1991, had been censured by a tribunal for asking for access, which he received, to case papers to which he was not entitled to in 2008.
The papers were linked t o a race-hate attack on a white pupil at a school where he was governor, it was reported.
Shadow Attorney General Emily Thornberry said: "Both the Attorney General and the Solicitor General are supposed to be senior lawyers of high standing who are required to give the Prime Minister legal advice that he may sometimes not want to hear.
"It makes a mockery of that position to have it occupied by someone who has been found guilty of professional misconduct and who also failed to disclose that to the Prime Minister.
"The Prime Minister himself urgently needs to set out what checks, if any, were made into the background of his law officers.
"Did he ask them about their disciplinary track records at the Bar? Did he approach the Bar Council as part of the pre-appointment due diligence? Was there any due diligence carried out at all?
"Most importantly, does the Prime Minister still consider this appointment to be appropriate?
"This is a question of judgment and neither David Cameron nor his new Solicitor General come out of this well."
Mr Buckland told the Mail on Sunday: "It's a matter of public record. It's been recorded by the Bar Standards Board. It happened three years ago.
"It was a genuine attempt by me to establish facts at the school. This is the only time I have had any issue with the Bar Standards Board.
"I genuinely thought I was taking the right action for the school. I regret it ended up in the position it did."
A spokesman for the Solicitor General's office also told the newspaper: "This finding was removed from the Bar records after two years and therefore Mr Buckland was not required to declare it upon appointment as Solicitor General."