Disgraced lawyer Jeanne Denham has been suspended from practising law for three years - but not struck off.

A Lawyers and Conveyancers Tribunal panel decided in just 15 minutes the ex-wife of former Kristin School principal Peter Clague should be censured and suspended.

Denham was found guilty of misconduct earlier this year over her decision to pursue a private prosecution of Clague for assault which the judge called an "abuse of process".

She also conducted an elaborate PR campaign against both her ex-husband and Kristin School, with the assistance of controversial PR man Carrick Graham and blogger Cameron Slater.


Denham was not present for the sentencing hearing, instead submitting an affidavit.

Lawyer Michael Hodge argued that striking-off should be the starting point for the sentencing decision.

"Her conduct over a lengthy period of time reflects very adversely on her fitness to practise.

"Her conduct in and of itself points towards strike-off."

Hodge also said her evidence showed a "lack of candour" and was misleading in parts.

Peter Clague, the subject of Jeanne Denham's negative PR campaign and private prosecution. Photo/File
Peter Clague, the subject of Jeanne Denham's negative PR campaign and private prosecution. Photo/File

Although part of the misconduct took place before Denham began working as a lawyer, Hodge argued it was still relevant to her fitness to practise law.

Denham's lawyer Warren Pyke said the fact she practised law for less than a year and did not receive sufficient guidance on her responsibilities should be considered.

"She required better guidance and I've submitted she didn't get it."

Hodge said Denham's affidavit showed little insight or remorse, claiming she was reliant on what others advised.

Panel chair Judge Dale Clarkson observed that Denham painted herself as a victim in her affidavit.

"She has kind of leapt straight into this victim role.

"She asks us to feel sorry for her having to give evidence before the tribunal."

Hodge said he did not believe Denham was genuinely remorseful following the tribunal's decision, as her evidence during the original hearing did not suggest that.

"It's difficult to believe that there's been this 180 degree shift."

He observed that she had already had her private prosecution dismissed and labelled abuse of process by the judge when the case went before the tribunal.

Pyke argued Denham's affidavit showed "the beginnings of insight".

"To her credit, she has accepted the tribunal's decision about how wrong and inappropriate her conduct was."

"Ms Denham has, in my submission, been stung by the adverse view reached of her professionalism by the tribunal."

Pyke said he had been given no definite instructions on whether to go ahead with an appeal of the tribunal's guilty verdict.

Denham was declared bankrupt after the case against her ex-husband was thrown out and she was ordered to pay $146,000 in costs. It remains outstanding.