Darwin barrister John Lawrence SC is under investigation for alleged professional misconduct.
Darwin barrister John Lawrence SC is under investigation for alleged professional misconduct.

Barrister under investigation for foul-mouthed tirade

PROMINENT Darwin barrister John Lawrence SC will likely be dragged before the powerful Legal Practitioner's Disciplinary Tribunal after his foul-mouthed tirade at a journalist was caught on tape.

The NT Law Society Ethics Committee last week found there was a "reasonable likelihood" the Tribunal would find Mr Lawrence guilty of professional misconduct after a verbal tirade at former NT News court reporter Craig Dunlop.

During the barrage in May last year, partially captured in an audio recording made by Mr Dunlop, Mr Lawrence called the journalist "a c***", "a f***ing fanny", and "a piece of shit" following a hearing of the Legislative Assembly's Social Policy Scrutiny Committee.

Mr Dunlop had earlier testified before the committee in his role as vice president of the Darwin Press Club while Mr Lawrence watched on from the public gallery.

"I'm a mad man, I'm a passionate Scot, I'm a hysterical woman," Mr Lawrence is heard saying on the recording.

Later, Mr Lawrence can be heard telling Mr Dunlop to "f*** off, go and "get a job" to which Mr Dunlop replies "I have a job".

Mr Lawrence: "F*** off, you've never done a day's work in your life you f***ing piece of shit, f*** off, go on, f*** off."

Mr Dunlop: "I don't see what your issue is with me John."

Former NT News journalist Craig Dunlop
Former NT News journalist Craig Dunlop

Mr Lawrence: "How about the fact that you're a c***, that you give me the shits and you do a lot of damage in the community? You do a lot of damage in this community to Aboriginal people in this community, that's what you do."

Mr Dunlop also accused Mr Lawrence of threatening to "get" him and suggesting "the carpark would be a good place for a physical fight", allegations Mr Lawrence described as "absolute lies".

But the Ethics Committee found Mr Dunlop's account was more likely to be accepted as credible and the tribunal "could well be satisfied of the inherent unlikelihood that (Mr) Lawrence did not make 'threatening words or gestures'."

The committee's report said it "agreed that (Mr Lawrence's) conduct was disgraceful and dishonourable".

"It was not at a pub on a Friday night, it was on the steps of parliament, Mr Dunlop had attended at the Scrutiny Committee hearing in a role associated with his employment," it reads.

"Lawrence is a Senior Counsel and is well known within the community, and the tirade went on over a period of time, it wasn't brief."

The committee's recommendation will now be referred to the Law Society Council which will determine whether to accept the committee's recommendation.

The full transcript of the exchange cannot be published for legal reasons.