A solicitor has been struck off the roll of solicitors after being convicted of two offences involving the use of indecent images of children.
John Urquhart of Kirkcaldy, who had retired from practice but remained on the roll, was found guilty of professional misconduct by the Scottish Solicitors' Discipline Tribunal after being convicted on indictment of two offences under s 52 of the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982. These involved the downloading from the internet of 75 images over a three year period to 2013, and sharing several of them with other people on one occasion. He had been given a community payback order and made subject to the notification requirements for sex offenders for a three year period.
In its decision the tribunal said that if the public were to have trust in the profession, it had to observe a high standard of conduct, and this requirement of integrity applied equally to a solicitor’s private life as it did to his professional conduct. This type of offending behaviour was considered by society to be serious and abhorrent, and the tribunal had no hesitation in unanimously finding the respondent guilty of professional misconduct.
It was accepted that the number and nature of the images involved were at the lower end of the scale, and that the respondent was remorseful and regretful and previously had a clear record. Ultimately however the question that required to be answered was whether or not a conviction of this nature was compatible with an individual being on the roll of solicitors, and given the extremely damaging effect of such conduct on the reputation of and public confidence in the profession, the only possible sanction was to strike the respondent's name from the roll.