Barrister banned from profession for shining laser at police helicopter
A barrister has been banned from practising law after being caught shining a laser at a police helicopter.
Mohammed Arif Riaz will be expelled from the profession and no longer be able to call himself a barrister, after the Bar Standards Board successfully brought disciplinary charges against him at a tribunal.
The Bar Standards Board said he acted with 'astonishing recklessness'.
A five-person disciplinary panel found the 27-year-old had 'engaged in conduct discreditable to a barrister'.
It also found he had previously failed to declare prior criminal convictions, after being convicted on guilty pleas of theft and handling stolen goods offences in 2004. Riaz was not present nor represented at the hearing which took place last month.
He was banned from the profession this week. The hearing was told that Riaz had admitted pointing a laser pen at the cockpit of a West Midlands Police helicopter in August 2011. He was sentenced to eight months in prison last June at Birmingham Crown Court. The Bar Standards Board's head of professional conduct Sara Down said: "Mr Riaz acted dishonestly and with astonishing recklessness. It is the best outcome for the public that he is no longer a member of the profession."
Riaz was an unregistered barrister – which meant he was qualified to use the title but not to practise.
He had completed the academic stage of the bar's training but had not completed the required training known as a pupillage so was not entitled to offer or provide legal services.
Pc Angus Eagles, from the National Airport Service, said not only were such laser attacks irresponsible but they could be 'very dangerous'. He said: "On occasions, pilots can be temporarily blinded if they are hit in the eye by a laser. These devices are powerful and even one shone from long range can cause the crew real difficulties.
"Sometimes pilots are required to hover the aircraft close to overhead wiring or tower blocks, moves which require great skill and precision, so even being distracted for a split second can have terrible consequences. The beam can also bounce around inside the helicopter cabin, reflecting off the instrument panel, which can confuse the pilot and distract the entire crew.
"Such acts defy belief, especially when you consider the potential impact on a populated area like the West Midlands."