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Leveson barristers' affair threatens inquiry findings

A row has erupted after two barristers involved in the Leveson Inquiry into press ethics were revealed to have had an affair, leading the Daily Mail to ask if the findings of the inquiry could have been compromised.

The Daily Mail reports that one of the parties, Carine Patry Hoskins, represented the inquiry counsel team, whilst the other, David Sherborne, was representing those advocating for more stringent press regulation.

In the end, the Leveson Inquiry recommended that the press should be regulated by Parliament for the first time in the UK for over 400 years.

The Government had called on the Bar Standards Board to investigate the conduct of the two barristers at the heart of the scandal; however, yesterday the Board declared that there was no chance that a disciplinary tribunal would find against either one of the amorous couple.

The findings of the Bar Standards Board were declared a 'whitewash' by the Daily Mail, and led a key aide to Chancellor George Osborne to accuse the Board of a 'cynical' attempt to 'bury' its report just as MPs head off for their Christmas break.

Barristers are advised by the Bar Standards Board to avoid starting relationships with counsel on the opposing side of a case, because it could lead people to think that the confidentiality of both sides could be jeopardised.

The couple claim that they did go on holiday together during the inquiry; however, decided against a relationship. They later started seeing one another after the inquiry had concluded in December 2012.

The Bar Standards Board said in a statement: "The complaints about Mr David Sherborne and [Miss Patry Hoskins] were considered by the Bar Standards Board's professional conduct committee following an investigation."

'The committee concluded that there was no realistic prospect that a disciplinary tribunal would make a finding of professional misconduct in relation to any of the aspects of complaint and the complaints were dismissed," it concluded.