Risk Update

Lawyer Conflicts Concerns — Solicitor’s Conflict + SRA Investigation, DoJ Navigating Political Conflict Concern

Retired solicitor agrees to quit roll over conflict of interest in defending bishop” —

  • “A solicitor and former registrar to the Diocese of Gloucester has agreed to remove his name from the roll after he represented the then-bishop of Gloucester against indecent assault allegations.”
  • “Christopher Peak can never apply to be readmitted to the roll after his role in helping the former Anglican bishop Peter Ball fight allegations of sexual abuse while also acting as register for the diocese.”
  • “Peak was the registrar to the Diocese of Gloucester between January 1985 and November 2012. As part of that role, he was required to be the legal adviser of both the Bishop of Gloucester and the diocese.”
  • “The SRA investigation found: ‘Under that retainer, [Peak] was obliged to advise Mr Ball in respect of potential criminal allegations and act in his best interests. This put Mr Peak in conflict with his duties towards the diocese, which were broadly to protect its interests and that of its congregation. If the allegations against Mr Ball were true then he presented a real risk to the congregation and it was in the diocese’s best interests for him to be removed from the church altogether, whereas it was in Mr Ball’s best interests to receive as lenient an outcome as possible and return to his ministry.'”
  • “Peak admitted that in being the registrar for the diocese and agreeing to represent Ball in a personal capacity, he acted where there was a ‘conflict or significant risk of a conflict between the interests of those two clients.'”
  • “Independent reviews commissioned to investigate why Ball was not convicted sooner discuss Peak’s involvement in ‘some detail’ including ‘pressing’ the CPS for a caution when the allegations were first investigated.”
  • “The SRA said: ‘This will have had a significant detrimental impact on the standing of the profession. Mr Peak had direct control and responsibility for his own behaviour. It was his choice to agree to act for Mr Ball in a personal capacity in his criminal case, where the conflict (or risk of conflict) should have been apparent to him.'”

Federal prosecutor reviewing classified documents found at former Biden office” —

  • “A number of government documents marked classified were found this fall by lawyers for President Joe Biden in a closet in a Washington, D.C., office used by Biden when he was a private citizen.”
  • “The Department of Justice and the National Archives and Records Administration are reviewing the circumstances surrounding the documents, according to Biden’s special counsel Richard Sauber.”
  • “A source familiar with the situation told NBC News that Attorney General Merrick Garland asked the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, John Lausch, to review how classified material ended up at the Penn Biden Center.”
  • “That task was intentionally assigned to Lausch, who was appointed to the prosecutor’s office by Trump, to avoid any conflict of interest, the source told NBC.”

Elon Musk says Twitter’s decision to hire a law firm that he’d previously criticized and boycotted was the result of an employee ‘error’” —

  • “Twitter hired a law firm that CEO Elon Musk publicly criticized last month and said ‘thrives on corruption.’ Musk told Reuters on Friday that hiring law firm Perkins Coie was ‘an error on the part of a member of the Twitter team.’ He added that the firm ‘will not be representing Twitter on future cases.'”
  • “Perkins Coie is listed as counsel for Twitter in at least six other lawsuits that predate Musk’s purchase of the social media site, according to Reuters. Musk didn’t immediately respond when asked if Perkins Coie would continue to represent Twitter in those cases, Reuters said.”