High-profile lawyer Soophia Khan jailed in UK after flouting court orders

Ms Khan refused to hand over documents after she was suspended during a dishonesty probe

Soophia Khan was jailed for contempt by a High Court judge. Reuters
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A prominent lawyer who accused her professional body of discrimination has been jailed in the UK after refusing to hand over clients’ files while under investigation for dishonesty.

Soophia Khan, a civil rights lawyer who specialised in bringing cases involving the police and military, will serve up to three months in prison for contempt of court.

A judge found that she had ignored repeated requests for the documents after she was suspended by the profession’s regulator.

The inquiry into alleged dishonesty by Ms Khan is continuing despite her imprisonment, said the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).

The investigation followed complaints by former clients that date back to at least 2017, court documents show. The SRA, which regulates more than 150,000 solicitors in the UK, declined to reveal the nature of the allegations.

Ms Khan was jailed on Wednesday after a High Court judge said the refusal to hand over documents amounted to a “serious” contempt of court.

Authorities planned to pass her current cases to other legal firms after her licence to work as a solicitor was suspended.

“Her failure to comply with the orders involved not only an attack on the administration of justice … but also defiance of her regulator,” said Mr Justice Leech.

He said he had considered her fragile mental health owing to the legal action against her but said her refusal was deliberate and had continued for months.

“In my judgment Ms Khan’s conduct … merits an immediate custodial sentence of a significant length,” he said.

She was jailed for six weeks and told she would face six more weeks behind bars if she continued to refuse to hand over the client files to the SRA.

The SRA is an independent arm of the Law Society, the professional body for solicitors in England and Wales.

Ms Khan has had previous run-ins with the society and was sacked from a prominent position as head of one of its committees in 2019 for bullying and harassment.

She was accused of discrimination against a senior official for calling her a “white woman”, according to reports.

Ms Khan told The Times that she had complained about how one of its divisions was run that dealt with ethnic minority lawyers and became involved in a dispute with the official.

She claimed that one of the reasons for her sacking was an email referring to the row in which she wrote: “I must be the one who is lying, even though I am a solicitor, as opposed to … a white woman, in a position of responsibility who must be believed without any shadow of a doubt.”

Ms Khan was a regular media commentator on discrimination and police misconduct. Her cases included representing a blind man who was Tasered by police who mistook his white stick for a samurai sword.

Updated: January 13, 2022, 3:43 PM