Humanitarian Seán Binder has been granted permission by the Inns’ Conduct Committee to continue his training to become a barrister, despite facing a controversial criminal prosecution in Greece.
The 29-year-old faces criminal charges for life saving migrant search and rescue work he carried out as a volunteer for a humanitarian NGO in Lesbos, Greece in 2018. The charges have been much criticised by jurists, international human rights experts and independent commentators.
In 2021 Mr Binder applied to become a student member of Gray’s Inn, but the ongoing Greek case meant his application was referred to the Inns’ Conduct Committee to determine if he can be admitted as a student member, in order to complete the Bar Course.
Mr Binder was represented at the ICC panel by Ed Fitzgerald KC of Doughty Street Chambers, Gráinne Mellon and Emma Fitzsimons, of Garden Court Chambers, instructed by Hickman & Rose’s head of regulatory and disciplinary law, Andrew Katzen.
On 30th November the ICC panel unanimously decided that Mr Binder is a fit and proper person. He can now continue his legal studies, with a view to starting his career in legal practice.
Andrew Katzen said: “Seán Binder was carrying out vital, life-saving humanitarian work in Greece when he was arrested. The panel’s decision confirms his fitness and propriety to pursue a career in the law. I hope that the Greek authorities will take note of this and terminate the misconceived prosecution against him.”
Gráinne Mellon said: “We have serious concerns as to the basic compliance with international human rights law in this case and consider that a series of breaches of Mr Binder’s fundamental rights have already occurred. Mr Binder’s search and rescue work sought to protect the life, health and physical integrity of men, women and children at sea and immediately on arrival in Greece.
“A proper application of the duty to provide assistance – and the exemption for humanitarian work – in international law should, serve to protect him from prosecution for this work. We reiterate our call to the Greek authorities to urgently review and drop the remaining charges against Mr. Binder.”
More information here.