Lawyer reprimanded for rejecting gay client

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A Christian barrister behaved unprofessionally after refusing to represent a gay client, a disciplinary tribunal has ruled.

Mark Mullins was brought before the Bar Council after turning down a case of a refugee trying to use a homosexual relationship as grounds for remaining in the UK, because of his beliefs.

The tribunal concluded that Mr Mullins, regional chairman of the Lawyers’ Christian Fellowship, broke the “cab rank rule” which says lawyers must defend clients regardless of their own beliefs, after he rejected the case claiming it would contradict his faith.

The Bar Council said in its findings that Mr Mullins decided the client, known only as Mr J, was leading an “unacceptable” lifestyle and refused the case because it “involved Mr Mullins putting forward a case to assist Mr J to remain in the United Kingdom on the basis of his sexual relationship with his male partner.

“Mr Mullins failed to comply with the cab-rank rule without justification allowed for under the rules.

“As such Mr Mullins discriminated against Mr J on the grounds of his sexual orientation.”

He was ordered to pay £1000 towards costs of the case, but is considering an appeal.

Mr J is believed to have since won residency in the UK.

Lawyers can refuse cases if they are threatened with violence or if their client admits guilt privately but pleads not guilty. barrister Alistair Kelman, said: “The fundamental requirement of the profession is to put aside personal prejudices and always argue a case to the best of one’s professional ability.

“Being a Magic Christian does not allow a barrister to behave in any other manner. The Bar Council’s decision is an important warning to members of any quasi-religious cults who practice as barristers.”