UK: Solicitor struck off after police Grindr sting

Legal Futures reports

A solicitor caught in a police sting while using gay dating app Grindr and convicted of attempted sexual communication with a child has been struck off.

The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) rejected Daniel David Pipe’s argument that he should not be struck off on the basis that his actions amounted to “a moment of madness lasting a relatively short time” and that it had been completely out of character.

It heard that, when an undercover police officer posing on a Grindr as a teenager told him he was 13, the tax specialist – who was a consultant at virtual firm Jurit – responded by sending him explicit messages and photos of his penis.

The SDT said Mr Pipe went on to tell Josh that he was a lawyer and talked about his work. Saying he was married but alone in his house, he offered oral sex and sent a Google map with a pin on his street, as well as his mobile phone number.

There was further communication, which was not sexual and did not form part of the offence, before the solicitor was arrested the following month.

He told police he believed he was “talking to an adult who was role-playing as a child”, an argument which he advanced unsuccessfully at his trial before being convicted by majority in September 2021.

Though the judge found that the offence met the custody threshold, he decided to sentence Mr Pipe to a two-year community order, with rehabilitation.

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) argued that the fact Josh was actually a police officer did not mitigate his culpability.

“As far as he was concerned, he was communicating with a 13-year-old child and it was luck, not judgement, that the child did not in fact exist.

“Mr Pipe did not admit his conduct but was convicted after a trial and continued to seek to justify the conviction on the basis that it was by way of a majority.”

In his evidence, Mr Pipe stood by his argument from the trial and said the references he made to his profession when talking to Josh were “very limited”.

Solicitor struck off after police Grindr sting