Duncan Shipley-Dalton is a long-standing friend of this blog who has given many hours of his time providing expert legal opinion on matters of importance to SKWAWKBOX readers, as a search for “barrister” on the blog will reveal.
He’s a man with a passion for social justice and an armed-forces veteran who suffered for years with post-traumatic stress. He’s also anything but your typical barrister – and this time it’s he who needs our help.
Duncan was born on the Isle of Wight 1970 and grew up with his mum in a single parent household in a council house, living on benefits. He knows what poverty is like and what it is to go hungry. He went to the local comprehensive school.
After completing his A-levels, Duncan went to University of Essex to read Law, then moved to Belfast, where he first worked for the NI Police Authority and then joined the Army, 7th (City of Belfast) Battalion the Royal Irish Regiment.
While still serving in the army, Duncan studied at Queens University of Belfast Institute Professional Legal Studies, read the Bar exams and was called to NI Bar in 1996.
In 1997/98 he became involved in the Peace Process talks at Stormont and campaigned hard for the Good Friday Agreement. He then moved to USA and went to Harvard University to take Master in Public Administration (MPA) degree before working for Boston Police Commissioner Kathleen O’Toole (now Chief Seattle Police) as a special consultant.
In 2007, things took a bleaker turn. Duncan’s marriage broke up 2007, he had a mental break down and tried to commit suicide – “a very close call, I was super lucky!” – then returned to Southampton UK in 2008, unable to work due mainly to PTSD and depression problems. Since then he’s been just scraping on the disability benefits ESA and DLA, but is being moved to PIP, which is likely to impact his income.
Duncan joined the Labour Party in 2012 but says he only felt real political passion again in 2015 when Jeremy became leader.
So much for Duncan’s past – you can certainly see why he’s not your typical barrister.
He’s now finding a new sense of purpose in politics and has given many hours of free effort to help SKWAWKBOX readers – and he’s looking to return to the bar, as well as looking to stand for political office to do what he can to help others and help Corbyn’s Labour change our country for the better.
And that’s where he needs our help – even though it makes him uncomfortable asking for it.
Having originally qualified in Northern Ireland, Duncan has applied for status as a barrister in England and Wales in order to return to practice here – and has been accepted, subject to passing four exams.
But he has to pay £2,220 to take those exams – an unreachable sum for someone living on disability benefits. So Duncan has set up a crowdfunding page to try to raise the funds.
Duncan’s help to the SKWAWKBOX and its readers has been invaluable and always cheerfully offered and if we had the cash to cover the cost, we would do it in a heartbeat. But we’ve seen, from our appeal for a campaigning carer who was being impoverished by malicious right-wingers, just how generous our readers are, so we’re handing the issue over to you.
If you can help, please do so by clicking here.