Barrister fined for giving Salisbury magistrate Nazi salute

A barrister who was found to have raised his hand in a Nazi salute in court has been fined by his professional regulator and handed a reprimand.

Thomas Davidson, who has been a barrister for more than 50 years, was found by the Bar Standards Board (BSB) to have “behaved in a way which was likely to diminish the trust and confidence which the public places in him or in the profession”.

A three-person panel concluded that he committed professional misconduct in breach of the code of conduct of the Bar of England and Wales.

Davidson was fined £250 for his behaviour, which occurred during a hearing at Salisbury magistrates court on 7 February last year, and ordered to pay costs of £1,750.

The BSB has not yet published its full decision, first reported by Legal Futures, but a summary on the board’s website says: “Following the conclusion of a trial during which he had represented a defendant before a bench consisting of three lay magistrates, and after the chairperson raised with him the issue of his having used a German accent during the proceedings and telling him that this conduct had been inappropriate, Mr Davidson looked at the bench and said ‘Jawohl’ at the same time as raising a hand in a Nazi salute, which conduct was seriously offensive and discreditable.”

Jawohl means “yes, indeed” or “yes, sir” and is often associated with the German military. Davidson has 21 days to appeal and the BSB website says his sentence has yet to take effect.

He is listed as a barrister with CHL chambers in north London and at 160 Fleet Street chambers, where he is a “door tenant” – someone who is affiliated with the set but does not conduct business from the chambers’ premises.

The 160 Fleet Street chambers website says Davidson has a specialist criminal practice that also touches on immigration, family and commercial law. It says he is a former crown prosecutor, sat as a fee-paid immigration judge between 1992 and 2016 and has lectured in commercial law for more than 20 years.

Fleet Street Chambers said it was the first it had heard of the matter and declined to comment further. The Guardian also attempted to contact Davidson through CHL chambers.


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