A senior government lawyer convicted of ‘upskirting’ will be allowed to continue working

A senior government lawyer convicted of ‘upskirting’ a woman will not be banned from his profession.

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Daren Timson-Hunt admitted to hiding his phone between his legs and filming up a female passenger’s dress on a Northern Line tube train on 1 June 2019. Mr Timson-Hunt, who is 55, became one of the first defendants in the UK to be prosecuted for the new offence, and was handed a 24 month long community order at Westminster Magistrates’ Court last year.

Following his conviction, Timson-Hunt was also placed on the sex offenders register for five years.

However, he wishes to return to his legal work once his 24 months of community order are up. Following a disciplinary hearing at The Bar Tribunals and Adjudication Service last month, the barrister was suspended from practice for six months, but escaped being struck off.

The hearing - which heard the barrister tell of being under a “great deal of pressure” due to personal circumstances and work on Brexit - concluded that he will be suspended for six months and must complete all the terms of the community order imposed on him by the court last year. He must also pay £1,200 in costs within 12 months.

‘You cannot plan or have any premeditation’

The barrister was confronted by a plain-clothed police inspector, who spotted him adjusting his phone to film the passenger as she left the train at Embankment station.

The Brexit lawyer claimed his actions were not premeditated, but admitted his phone continued filming from the train to the stairs.

He told the tribunal, “I admitted it in front of the police officer and the victim, and apologised to the victim unreservedly at the time.

“I didn’t intentionally follow her, obviously when you leave the train it’s packed, she was in front of me but that wasn’t by any choice.

“I sat next to her because that was the only seat that was free. You cannot plan or have any premeditation, I didn’t change my route or behaviour.”

The phone containing the video was later confiscated and destroyed.

In her impact statement read at the court hearing, the victim said that she felt "violated" and that the incident had impacted her day to day life, as she now never wears skirts and avoids the use of public transport.

‘Pressures linked to the EU exit’

The barrister described the family and work pressures affecting him at the time, telling the tribunal that his wife was recovering from a serious illness, he was caring for his young daughter, and working 80 hours a week, advising the government on trade deals leading up to Brexit.

Timson-Hunt was a senior lawyer at the Department for International Trade until August last year. Following his conviction, he was dismissed from the Financial Conduct Authority, where he was due to begin working last September.

The barrister said, “I think my personal circumstances between what was going on at home and what was challenging work because of the long, long hours and the pressures linked to the EU exit at that time which meant that I was under a great deal of pressure.

“Ironically I was also the wellbeing officer for 70 members of staff. The irony of that was I took care of their wellbeing over my own.

“I was close to the point of mental collapse at the end. In terms of family life as well it had a very negative effect.”

However, Leo Davidson, for the Bar Standards Board, told the hearing. "He violated an innocent person's privacy in a most intimate way for his own sexual gratification and he's done so in a way that was intended to avoid detection."