Relief as prosecutors drop Facebook charge

Karl Lowry was one of the people duped by fake barrister, Yvonne Turley. ''Picture: Allan Hutchings (142666-029)
Karl Lowry was one of the people duped by fake barrister, Yvonne Turley. ''Picture: Allan Hutchings (142666-029)
Professor Dominic Tweddle

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ONE of the ‘victims’ of fake barrister Yvonne Turley was arrested and charged after making comments about her on Facebook.

Karl Lowry from Havant was placed in a police car, put in a cell and even appeared at magistrates court after being left shocked and upset by a feature on the BBC’s One Show following up The News’ story about the woman, who he believes scuppered his chances of having an employment tribunal.

But now, the Crown Prosecution Service has discontinued the court case after solicitor Gary Leonard of Leonard & Co intervened.

But the CPS says it cannot comment on the decision because of a complaint lodged by Ms Turley.

Mr Lowry, who is 26, saw a feature on the show in July. The following day, after rewatching the show, he posted a Facebook status to his friends saying how upset he was. He also said if she had taken his money – which she had not – he would go to her house with a baseball bat.

The post was not public but by coincidence someone who Mr Lowry knew on Facebook also had a connection to Ms Turley, and it was passed on.

The following day, he was arrested on suspicion of making threats to kill, and was charged with sending malicious messages.

He said: ‘I was at my friend’s house and my nan called me and told me to turn the television on. We turned it on and I was really shocked when I saw it. My friend has two children and it was quite noisy. The next day, I watched it again. I wrote on Facebook that I had seen the show and that I was livid. I said if I lost my settlement money I would go to her house and break a bone for every pound she had taken – which was a huge exaggeration.’

The next day, Karl’s home was visited by police and he was arrested. He was charged the same night and appeared in magistrates’ court at the end of July. When he arrived, he was granted legal aid.

‘It was so over the top,’ he said.

‘I went there to plead guilty. It just so happened I got a solicitor and he said to plead not guilty. I was so shocked when they said it needed to have a trial. I could not believe what was being done over something so trivial.

‘The whole thing has made such a mockery of the justice system. I don’t think people understand how much this can ruin someone.’

Hampshire Constabulary made no comment when approached.

‘Barrister’ was struck off earlier this year

YVONNE Turley is believed to have claimed to be an employment barrister for a decade.

Earlier this year, she was disbarred for misleading her clients.

Ms Turley, 50, who lives in Hampshire Terrace, Southsea, was struck off by the Bar Standards Board on Monday, February 10, for misleading clients, who believed she was an employment barrister. She did not turn up to the hearing.

She was found to have lied to a client about submitting forms for his employment tribunal, despite knowing she had failed to do so.

Susan Simms was one of three people who complained to the board and gave evidence at the hearing.

Speaking of Karl’s arrest, she said: ‘It’s disgraceful, considering what the boy has been through.

‘You should not say things like that online and I was careful not to do it myself, but I just think it was an absolute waste of time and money.’

MP says ‘common sense has prevailed’

WHEN Karl Lowry was given a bad reference by his employer, he did what he could to overcome the problem.

But just before he was due to start a new role in the NHS, Karl was told he was no longer being offered the job.

His local Citizens Advice Bureau advised him to research employment law specialists. Yvonne Turley’s website for her company Tribunal Representation and Appeal Centre (TRAC) was the one he chose.

‘I clicked on to hers and it looked like the type of employment issue I was having,’ he said.

‘It looked like it specialised in employment law.’

But after being given a date for his employment tribunal, Mr Lowry was told by Yvonne Turley that she could no longer represent him.

He got in touch with his MP, David Willetts.

Mr Willetts told The News: ‘Mr Lowry came in to see me on January 27 2012, saying he had been promised a job in the NHS but when they received a negative reference, the job offer was taken away and he felt that was unfair.

‘I asked who his employment advisor was and he said Yvonne Turley.

‘He said he had a tribunal booked and at the last minute it had been cancelled.

‘My secretary tried to get a message to her and got information that the address had changed for TRAC. She had a new address and we tried again. It does sound like he has a genuine grievance. The circumstances around what happened are very mysterious.

‘I do not know if he would have won that employment tribunal or why it was abandoned.

‘He should absolutely not have said what he said on Facebook. He should not have said what he did on there, but there are extenuating circumstances in this case.

‘It is understandable that he was arrested. People seem to think you can say what you want on Facebook. The same rules apply to Twitter and Facebook. What he said was completely wrong but I am pleased common sense has prevailed and this case has been dropped.’