Solicitor headbutts EastEnders star's property developer father inside High Court during £100m legal dispute

Nicola Harley

A top property solicitor headbutted a property developer during a £100m legal battle at the High Court.

Philip Saunders, 69, assaulted Mohammad Reza Ghadami after a hearing in the Royal Courts of Justice, London, leaving him with a fractured nose.

Mr Ghadami, whose son Davood plays Kush in the BBC soap EastEnders, required treatment under general anaesthetic after the incident.

Saunders was found guilty by a jury of assault occasioning actual bodily harm after a trial and has been given an 18-month suspended sentence.

Mohammad Reza Ghadami  - Credit: Gustavo Valiente/Central News/Gustavo Valiente/Central News

CCTV of the clash showed the property lawyer, of  Maida Vale, north London, being stopped from passing by Mr Ghadami during an exchange inside the court in April last year.

He then swung his  case between Saunders' legs, prompting Saunders to lunge forwards and headbutt him.

The pair had both been involved on opposing sides in an ongoing land dispute being heard at the court.

Sentencing, Recorder Steven Gasztowicz QC said Saunders had completely lost his self-control when he "quite deliberately headbutted him".

He said it was "clear from the CCTV footage that you could have left his presence without doing anything like that".

"The offence was committed in a High Court building where any litigant" should "feel safe, however annoying they may be and whatever is going on".

Recorder Gasztowicz QC added that a solicitor "is trusted to act properly in such buildings" even when there as a litigant.

Philip Saunders - Credit: Gustavo Valiente/Central News/Gustavo Valiente/Central News

However, he said the assault was on the spur of the moment and noted that it was an isolated incident.

Defending, David Nathan QC said there was "a very high degree of provocation" between the pair "against the background of tension" in relation to long-running civil proceedings at the High Court.

Mr Ghadami flung abuse at Saunders, calling him "a piece of ****" and used "words to the effect" of "don't be so Jewish", Mr Nathan QC said.

He said the comments "effectively broke the camel's back", leading Saunders to headbutt Mr Ghadami in a "moment of madness".

Mr Nathan described Saunders as a "man of good character with no previous convictions" who had been a solicitor for more than 40 years.

Mr Gasztowicz said he had decided to suspend the sentence of 18 months as an "exceptional measure" for two years.

He ordered Saunders to complete 200 hours of unpaid work, and issued an electronically monitored curfew of between the hours of 8pm and 6am.

Saunders was also made to pay the prosecution costs of £5,000 within 28 days and was given a restraining order banning him from contacting Mr Ghadami - unless through a solicitor - for five years.

He will also face a disciplinary tribunal in due course.

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