21 August 2019

Barrister who falsified degrees from Harvard and Oxford University to be disbarred

22 January 2014

A barrister who falsified educational qualifications and attainments is to be disbarred, following a successful appeal this week by the Bar Standards Board (BSB) against the sentence of an independent Disciplinary Tribunal.

On 30 September 2013, a Disciplinary Tribunal ordered that Dennis O'Riordan be suspended from practise for three years after it was proved that he had falsified a range of qualifications and achievements, including degrees from Harvard and Oxford University.

The tribunal found that Mr O'Riordan had engaged in conduct which was dishonest or otherwise discreditable to a barrister.

The barristers' regulator successfully appealed against the sentence, after being provided with new evidence. The appeal was heard on Monday 20 January 2014 by the Visitors to the Inns of Court and the sentence was increased to one of disbarment.

The Bar Standards Board's Head of Professional Conduct, Sara Down, said: "We welcome this decision to increase Mr O'Riordan's sentence from suspension to disbarment. The BSB felt strongly that the sentence of suspension did not go far enough and that allowing Mr O'Riordan to return to practise would, given the extent of his dishonesty, have diminished public confidence in the profession and discredited the Bar. As a regulator with a duty to protect the public and safeguard clients we believe that the final sentence is proportionate to the conduct and right in all the circumstances."

At Mr O'Riordan's Disciplinary Tribunal in September 2013, evidence was presented that, during an application to a chambers in November 2012, he had included a number of false educational qualifications and attainments on his curriculum vitae, including:

  • Attendance at Radley College;
  • LLB (Hons) (First Class) University of East Anglia;
  • Bachelor of Arts (First Class) Oxford University; 
  • Bachelor of Civil Laws (First Class) Oxford University;
  • Doctor of Philosophy, Oxford University; 
  • Eldon Scholar; 
  • Master's degree, Faculty of Law, Harvard University; and 
  • Member of the New York Bar.

Mr O'Riordan did not dispute that the qualifications were false and therefore the appeal was solely in relation to the sentence imposed.


Notes to editors

Mr O'Riordan was called to the Bar by Inner Temple, October 1993.

The Council of the Inns of Court (COIC) is an independent body - separate to the BSB - which is responsible for appointing the Disciplinary Tribunal panels which adjudicate on disciplinary charges brought by the BSB for professional misconduct.

Since February 2013, this function has been performed under COIC's auspices by the Bar Tribunal and Adjudication Service (BTAS).

More information about the original Disciplinary Tribunal on 30 September 2013 can be found at: http://www.tbtas.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/hearings/1773/Outcome-Posting-ORiordan.pdf

The "Visitors" refers to the panel nominated to hear appeals against findings of independent Disciplinary Tribunals. There is no appeal against a decision of the Visitors.

About the Bar Standards Board
The Bar Standards Board regulates barristers called to the Bar in England and Wales. Our mission is to regulate the Bar so as to promote high standards of practice and safeguard clients and the public interest.

Contact: the Bar Standards Board Press Office on 0207 6111 452