Harassment barrister named after secrecy order lifted

An eminent barrister and judge whose conviction for harassing his ex-wife and her new partner was kept secret by court gagging orders can be named today as Lincoln Crawford OBE.

The disclosure came as two High Court judges ruled that orders restricting press reports for more than two years to protect Crawford’s two children from harmful publicity should never have been made.

The 61-year-old barrister, a man of “impressive character and impeccable background”, had sought anonymity in the interests of the well-being of his children, to whom he was devoted, said Lord Justice Thomas.

But everyone was “equal under the law”.

It was self-evident that he should not be treated any differently from others convicted of criminal offences.

“There is no evidence of any particular harm to these children, other than the considerable embarrassment that may be felt in the playground and elsewhere over the fact that their father has been convicted of a criminal offence,” said the judge, sitting with Mrs Justice Dobbs.

The judges lifted a temporary order they had imposed earlier this week preventing publication of details of their judgment dismissing Crawford’s final appeal against his conviction.

Crawford was charged in September 2005 with harassing Bronwen Jenkins, a solicitor with top legal firm Irwin Mitchell, and her friend Dominic Buttimore, who frequently visited the former matrimonial home in London where Ms Jenkins continued to live with the children, now aged nine and six.

After a nine-day trial, magistrates convicted Crawford – a Crown Court Recorder and past member of the Parole Board and the Commission for Racial Equality – and granted him a conditional discharge.

His appeal to Inner London Crown Court was dismissed – a decision backed by the High Court this week.

But none of this was reported in the press because court orders under the Children and Young Persons Act prohibited publication of anything that might identify the children.

In their judgment dismissing his renewed appeal, released for publication today, the judges said the couple married in June 1999 and were divorced, after “highly acrimonious” proceedings, in April 2004.

Crawford was ordered to leave the matrimonial home – a £400,000 house in a street identified only as SM Road, overlooking a canal – and his wife was ordered to pay him 29% of its value. The children were to stay at the house, with regular contact granted to their father.

In the criminal proceedings, the alleged harassment consisted of following, observing and photographing Ms Jenkins and Mr Buttimore.

Crawford was said to have strongly resented Ms Jenkins bringing the children into contact with her boyfriends. He became obsessed by her relationship with Mr Buttimore and the fact that the children were seeing a great deal of him.

Dismissing the appeal, Lord Justice Thomas said Crawford’s conduct was “plainly oppressive and unreasonable”.

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