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Rape victim who blew whistle on top Scots lawyer blasts ‘pathetic’ punishment

A whistleblower who reported a leading lawyer for sending sex texts about the head of Rape Crisis Scotland has branded him “exploitative”.

The woman also said she was “appalled” Brian McConnachie KC had escaped a ban from practising.

McConnachie claimed in a message to the woman he would have sex with Sandy Brindley “just to have something over her”.

Sandy Brindley, chief executive of Rape Crisis Scotland
Sandy Brindley, chief executive of Rape Crisis Scotland

But despite calling his behaviour “serious and reprehensible”, a disciplinary committee issued the advocate with only an £8000 fine and written censure on Tuesday.

The woman said: “It is appalling. A fine is nothing to a man as wealthy as McConnachie and a written censure amounts to a ticking off.

“The judgment from the committee denounced his behaviour but the penalty they issued was pathetic.”

She said she had first been in contact with McConnachie in July 2020 via Twitter regarding her quest for justice over multiple rapes.

He expressed sympathy for her, then in the months which followed he sent her thousands of messages, including a sexually explicit image of himself from the High Court in Livingston minutes after he had acted in a rape trial.

She said: “I had told him I had been raped. I was very vulnerable. I believe McConnachie knew full well his conduct was wrong.

“He pursued an improper relationship with a vulnerable person who had been raped. It was sexist and exploitative.

“To send an explicit picture to me from a high court after he had been engaged professionally in a rape trial was deplorable, especially for an officer of the court.

“This is a man who is regularly employed in the defence of rape defendants and he cross-examines victims. His warped thinking beggars belief.”

The woman, who is taking legal advice on whether she can appeal to increase McConnachie’s punishment, added: “Not only has he disgraced himself but his behaviour dishonours the legal profession. I felt it was important that he be held to account but this penalty has not done that.”

The woman said: “To say the things he did about a person dedicated to supporting and advocating for rape victims was disgusting and reflects his lack of respect for women.”

The woman said the faculty seemed to be blind to the sexism element of her complaints. She said: “The faculty appears to be concerned only with protecting their own. The message this penalty has sent out is that men like McConnachie can behave however they please.”

Alex Salmond’s trial lawyer Gordon Jackson KC got a five-month suspension in November last year after naming the former first minister’s accusers on a train.

The whistleblower said McConnachie avoiding a similar ban showed a lack of consistency.

She added: “There is an inconsistency here the Faculty must address if it wants us to believe its promises to tackle misogyny … are more than empty rhetoric.”

The Faculty said: “The discipline tribunal operates independently of Faculty and in this instance was chaired by Lord Drummond-Young, a retired Senator of the College of Justice. He sat along with two King’s Counsel, and three laypersons. The decision on the appeal, and on sanction, was unanimous.”

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