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In court: Gibson Dunn partner found to have ‘deliberately’ misled court

Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher partner Peter Gray has been found by Mr Justice Flaux to have ‘deliberately misled’ the High Court regarding evidence presented in a case between the Republic of Djibouti and Abdourahman Boreh, one of the African country’s wealthiest citizens.

In a ruling handed down today (23 March) Flaux said: ‘I find that Mr Gray engaged in a strategy of equivocation and evasion which was not one which any reputable and honest solicitor could ever have adopted and the concept of “acceptable evasion” is clearly anathema to the standards of professional conduct to be expected of an officer of the court.’

Gibson Dunn referred itself to the Solicitors Regulation Authority earlier this month [6 March] after the allegations emerged concerning disputes partner Gray. The ruling makes clear that the allegations of misconduct were levelled at Gray specifically and not Gibson Dunn as a firm.

The Gibson Dunn partner admitted before Flaux that incorrect information was presented to the UK court that appeared to implicate businessman Boreh in a 2009 grenade attack.

As a result of the finding, the Gibson Dunn partner could face potential disbarment and possible criminal charges.

Dubai partner Gray, who joined Gibson Dunn in 2012, was instructed by the Djibouti government back in 2009 in its case against Djibouti national and businessman Boreh, over alleged tax avoidance and his claimed role in a terrorist attack in the African nation. But recent evidence showed that transcripts and phone calls, which previously alleged that Boreh was involved in a grenade attack on a supermarket in Djibouti City, were incorrectly dated and therefore could not implicate Boreh in the incident.

Today Justice Flaux said: ‘I am unable to accept Mr Gray’s explanation that he was not aware at the hearing that both the court and counsel were labouring under a complete misapprehension about the date of the telephone transcripts. In my judgment, Mr Gray was well aware at the hearing of the implications of the discussions taking place between the court and both leading counsel and that those discussions were proceeding on the false basis that calls took place on 5 March 2009, after the grenade attack on the Nougaprix supermarket the previous evening. In the circumstances, I have concluded that Mr Gray did deliberately mislead the court at the 10-11 September 2013 hearing and that there is cogent evidence to that effect.’

The firm officially apologised to the High Court for misleading it, with Gibson Dunn partner Lord Falconer – who, alongside partner Philip Rocher, replaced Gray as lead counsel on the case – also apologising to Boreh and the court on behalf of the firm’s client, the Republic of Djibouti, for the error.

A spokesperson for Gibson Dunn said: ‘We have received the High Court judgment rendered by Mr Justice Flaux.  As a law firm, we place the highest value on ethical conduct, including honesty, integrity and candor.  We are very disappointed that the conduct of our Dubai-based partner, Peter Gray, fell far below the standard which the court rightly expects of all counsel.  We have apologised to the Court for these shortcomings.  The firm had already suspended Mr Gray pending further inquiry.’ 

The spokesperson added: ‘It is important to note that the allegations of misleading the court were made only against Mr Gray and not against any other partners or employees of the firm.  We will continue to represent the government of Djibouti in pursuing its claims in this matter.’

Fountain Court Chambers’ Mark Simpson QC, Nico Leslie and James Hart, represented Gray, and Gibson Dunn instructed Fountain Court Chambers’ Timothy Dutton QC.

Representing the claimant – the Republic of Djibouti – was Gibson Dunn’s Lord Falconer, who instructed Fountain Court Chambers’ Deepak Nambisan and Daniel Edmonds, and Serle Court’s Jennifer Haywood.

Byrne and Partners’ Yvonne Jeffries instructed 7KBW’s Dominic Kendrick QC and Keir Howie, and Essex Court Chambers’ James Willan, in representing the defendant Boreh.

Click here for the full judgment