RAPE Crisis Scotland has warned of a "culture of misogyny amongst some members of the Faculty of Advocates".

The charity hit out after one of Scotland’s top lawyers was hauled before the professional body after complaints about texts, including one about their Chief Executive, Sandy Brindley.

The faculty has confirmed that a finding of “unsatisfactory professional conduct” had been made against QC Brian McConnachie.

The complaints were first sent to the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission (SLCC) – an independent body which handles disputes between the public and lawyers. It found there were grounds to refer six conduct complaints to the Faculty of Advocates, which regulates QCs.

According to the Daily Record, on October 27, 2020, Mr McConnachie sent a text claiming another QC had said he wanted to have sex with the chief executive of Rape Crisis Scotland, Sandy Brindley.

He wrote that a high-profile criminal advocate - referred to as Mr A - had “once said to me he’d shag Sandy Brindley”.

Secondly, he added: “I might shag her, just to have something over her, but I wouldn’t enjoy it.”

The disciplinary committee probing the complaints said Mr McConnachie had been guilty of “unsatisfactory professional conduct” only in relation to the first part of the message and because it showed “disloyalty” to his fellow advocate by sharing his comments.

The committee said if Mr A had not made the remarks Mr McConnachie should not be linking him “with distasteful and base comments” which could prove embarrassing.

The committee’s concern was that if a third party had seen the messages they could have jeopardised the reputation of Mr A and the Faculty.

The committee didn’t regard the behaviour as “serious and reprehensible” enough to meet the bar of the more serious “professional misconduct”.

But it said while the second part of the message was “distasteful”, it “concerned only Mr McConnachie’s” feelings and wishes about “hypothetical sexual activity that he might engage in” with the head of Rape Crisis Scotland.

It dismissed this part of the complaint, saying it didn’t involve another QC, was a “private” communication and therefore didn’t directly concern the Faculty of Advocates.

On the same date, Mr McConnachie sent a sexually explicit photograph to a woman, declaring he was in an aroused state in the toilets of Livingston’s High Court.

Mr McConnachie, who had just finished defending a rape accused, didn’t deny the picture was taken in the court toilets but insisted it was a private matter and the committee had no authority to investigate it as he wasn’t engaged with a client when it was sent.

The committee unanimously agreed and dismissed the complaint as the picture was sent a minute after the court day usually ended at 4pm and it couldn’t be proven he was still engaged by a client.

In other WhatsApp messages to a woman, he also made claims of having sex in various legal buildings including courtrooms and the Crown Office and at an official party for Scotland’s top law officer, the Lord Advocate.

In another text he referred to a client as a “lying c***” and was found to have breached his duty of confidence.

A spokesperson for the Faculty said: “As the process is ongoing it would not be appropriate for Faculty to comment on this matter, beyond confirming it is correct to say that a finding of unsatisfactory professional conduct had been determined regarding Brian McConnachie QC.”

Rape Crisis Scotland called on the professional body to address the “misogynistic attitudes which clearly exist within the profession”.

A spokesperson said: “This situation and the unacceptable comments directed towards our chief executive expose a culture of misogyny amongst some members of the Faculty of Advocates and lay bare an environment where entitled, arrogant attitudes and behaviours are clearly present.

“We have engaged in good faith with members of the Faculty to try to find common ground to improve the protections and rights of complainers of sexual crimes.

“For senior members of the Faculty to discuss our staff in such a sexist and demeaning way is deplorable.”

The spokesperson added: “Sexist attitudes like these should have no place within the legal profession.

“If senior QCs are comfortable conversing about someone they have held a professional external relationship with, then this raises serious concerns about how they will behave towards other women they encounter, including women entering the profession, or women that they cross-examine in sexual offence cases.

“We are calling on the Faculty and other legal professional bodies in Scotland to commit to taking urgent action to address the misogynistic attitudes which clearly exist within the profession.”