Legal clerk bugs court?

A rather unusual news item this morning coming from the UK via the Law Gazette …..

The SRA has banned a former legal clerk who secretly recorded a number of criminal cases in the Crown Court.

Andrew Pritchard, formerly with London firm LP Evans, admitted using his mobile phone to make covert audio recordings without the court’s permission on 10 dates between November 2015 and February 2018. In February 2020, Pritchard pleaded guilty at the High Court (Queen’s Bench Division) to charges of contempt of court for making these recordings. He was sentenced to four weeks’ imprisonment, suspended for 12 months, and ordered to pay £6,000 costs.

The SRA notice detailing the matter did not explain why Pritchard, who was a self-employed legal adviser in the LP Evans criminal defence department, had made the recordings. It has been reported that he had recorded the proceedings as he found it difficult to keep up with the necessary note-taking, and the recordings were used to dictate his notes. He cited in mitigation that he pleaded guilty at the first opportunity and co-operated with the SRA, but admitted that his conviction for contempt of court means it is undesirable for him to be involved in a legal practice.

With the SRA, he agreed that a section 43 order, barring him from working for any regulated firm without seeking permission from the regulator, was appropriate. Pritchard will also pay £300 SRA costs.