The Bar Standards Board (BSB) has issued an unprecedented apology to Serle Court silk Khawar Qureshi QC over its handling of allegations relating to the high-profile Djibouti case in 2015.
The board admitted to “significant errors and avoidable delay” in handing the dismissal of allegations against Qureshi, who was lead counsel in the long-running case.
A BSB statement issued today said: “There are no outstanding proceedings against Mr Qureshi QC of any type and the BSB has no concerns about Mr. Qureshi QC’s conduct; he retains an entirely unblemished professional record.
“The BSB has apologised to Khawar Qureshi QC for any distress or prejudice resulting from errors and delay on the part of the BSB prior to its dismissal of the allegations.”
Qureshi had reported himself to the BSB following a finding that Gibson Dunn & Crutcher partner Peter Gray, who instructed Qureshi to bring a $100m freezing order against the defendant, Abdaourahman Boreh, had “deliberately misled the High Court”.
It emerged falsified evidence had been presented to the court, including incorrect dates on phone transcripts that appeared to implicate Boreh in a 2009 terror attack on the Nougaprix supermarket in the African nation.
The judge on the case, Mr Justice Flaux, said he based his decision to freeze £65m of Boreh’s assets in part on the transcript of the two taped phone calls and Gray lost his job at Gibson Dunn as a result.
Gray later accused the firm of “chucking him under the bus” for allegedly advising him not to seek independent counsel during the internal investigation into his role in the case.
The transcripts have been used in the Djiboutian courts to convict Boreh to 15 years’ imprisonment for his role in the terror attacks in absentia, but Boreh’s legal team in the UK has maintained the transcripts were incorrectly dated, and the calls took place one day prior to the attack and made no reference to them.
Gray called Qureshi’s role in the case into question by alleging the silk was also aware of misdated phone transcripts that led to Gray losing his job, despite no charges of wrongdoing being brought against him.
In July last year, the BSB dismissed its complaints against Qureshi, saying there was “no realistic prospect of obtaining a disciplinary finding”.
A spokesperson Qureshi QC said: “Khawar is pleased that the BSB finally acknowledged very serious errors and delay in its conduct. He hopes that no more barristers are subjected to such treatment, and that, in future, the BSB will be more robust in protecting the reputation of barristers. This is vital in the context of ever more aggressive litigation and the use of media for smear tactics.”