EXCLUSIVE: A high-profile Melbourne barrister and member of the Victorian Bar, Peter H Clarke, is currently under police investigation while a restraining order has also been sought against the lawyer following an alleged homophobic assault last December, a day before new laws were enacted in Australia allowing gay people to get married.
As well as facing potential criminal charges over the assault, the privileged lawyer has also been accused of ongoing homophobic and discriminatory behaviour, including allegedly standing outside a business premises in inner-city Melbourne and loudly referring to its owner as a “faggot”, “poofter” and “nancy boy” over a period of years.
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A lawyer since 1974, Peter H Clarke is a 30-year veteran of the Victorian Bar who was first admitted all the way back in 1989.
Prior to his admittance into the Bar, Mr Clarke was a highly experienced commercial lawyer, having been a solicitor and partner at Corrs Pavey Whiting & Byrne for eleven years. His current practice is based at the Owen Dixon Chambers West offices at 525 Lonsdale Street in Melbourne’s CBD.
Since being at the Vic Bar, Mr Clarke has apparently “established an extensive practice in commercial law principally in the Supreme Court and Federal Court”, according to his official biography.
And beginning from July last year, Mr Clarke has also been listed as a “Nationally Accredited Mediator”.
But it seems those very ‘mediation’ skills professionally advertised by Mr Clarke could be a little haphazard in his own personal life.
It can now be revealed by True Crime News Weekly that Mr Clarke is under police investigation over an alleged assault that took place late last year on December 6, 2017, which allegedly saw the elite lawyer physically attack another man in a homophobic rage as well as destroy property and cause criminal damage.
The alleged altercation involving Mr Clarke took place at the KaDo Warehouse on Cremorne Street near the trendy inner-city Melbourne locality of Richmond. The cabaret bar was launched in mid-2014.
It just so happens that the queer friendly cabaret venue and arts space is right next door to a commercial property which Mr Clarke rents in the suburb.
According to information provided to True Crime News Weekly, it has been alleged on December 6 that Mr Clarke physically assaulted a male victim at the KaDo Warehouse, while also dismantling and damaging a large Ikebana floral display and destroying a number of pot plants. The victim was allegedly punched in the neck during the assault.
An anonymous source connected to Victoria’s justice system has informed True Crime News Weekly the alleged altercation was the culmination of a long-running pattern of “homophobic abuse” that came to a head following the changes in federal law last year to allow for same-sex marriage.
“The alleged assault occurred in the wake of the Marriage Equality decision, after it is alleged a long standing pattern of homophobic abuse directed at [the victim],” the source said.
The alleged incident took place just a day before the Federal Parliament passed legislation allowing for two people, regardless of sex, to marry. The national laws were enacted following an unnecessary and expensive yet politically convenient plebiscite last year which found the public overwhelmingly in favour of the proposed changes. The plebiscite also coincided with a marked increase in anti-LGBTQI assaults and attacks.
An initial application for an Interim Intervention Order against Mr Clarke was made at the Neighbourhood Justice Centre in Collingwood, just a day after the alleged assault.
On December 7, the court heard detailed allegations of persistent threats and homophobic abuse allegedly made towards the victim by Mr Clarke over a period of many years, including instances of Mr Clarke’s behaviour which had allegedly been documented and witnessed by third parties.
According to information provided to the court, it was heard that Mr Clarke would stand out the front of the KaDo Warehouse and loudly abuse its owner as a “nancy boy”, “faggot” and “poofter”.
That hearing was then adjourned until early January to allow Mr Clarke to contest the hearing.
On January 8, with Mr Clarke not present in court, a comprehensive intervention order of two years was granted by the sitting Magistrate after hearing evidence from the alleged victim.
However, that order was soon nullified by the court after it apparently came to light that there was a request for an adjournment from Mr Clarke which had never been placed in the court file thanks to a filing error.
The matter was due to return back to court this month on Monday, February 5 but was then adjourned for a month after the victim provided a medical certificate stating the alleged assault and subsequent decision to reverse the intervention order had created trauma.
True Crime News Weekly understands that a police investigation into Mr Clarke’s behaviour has been launched and is still ongoing.
A spokesperson for Victoria Police has told True Crime News Weekly that police however are not at liberty to discuss the case.
“Due to restrictions imposed under the Privacy Act we cannot comment on individuals,” the spokesperson said.
It is believed that police have taken statements from potential witnesses as part of their investigation.
Sources close to the investigation have informed True Crime News Weekly that Mr Clarke though has so far refused to be interviewed by police over the matters.
A spokesperson for the Victorian Bar meanwhile has told True Crime News Weekly that while it does not tolerate any form of discrimination it was not in a position to speak about the assault allegedly perpetrated by their elite barrister member.
“We cannot comment on a matter before the court,” the spokesperson said.
“The Victorian Bar has long had a zero tolerance approach towards all forms of discrimination, harassment and vilification on the grounds of gender and gender identity, race, religion, sexuality and disability.”
Mr Clarke initially did not respond to repeated requests for comment when contacted by True Crime News Weekly by both email and telephone. When we finally tracked the lawyer down, he claimed that it was True Crime News Weekly who was “threatening him”.
“Your statements in relation to proceedings on 5 February are factually incorrect, defamatory and threatening,” Mr Clarke replied in an email on February 7.
“As to any assault on 6 December, the relevant allegations against me are false. I was the person who was assaulted. The facts are as set out in my Application before the Court, the information for which was prepared on 15 December.”
Mr Clarke refused to be interviewed by True Crime News Weekly over the telephone and also would not answer specific questions on why he was outside someone else’s business premises allegedly destroying flowers and potplants.
He would also not comment on whether he had used the terms, “faggot”, “poofter” and “nancy boy” while allegedly abusing other people. Mr Clarke also did not explain why he had not yet spoken to police, considering his claims that it was he who was a victim of an alleged assault.
The alleged victim of the incident turned down an opportunity to publicly comment when approached by True Crime News Weekly.
The matter over the intervention order is expected to return to court in early March.