Grahamstown, South Africa - Candidate attorney and naked skydiver James "Buttman" Reilly, 36, was officially cleared of any impropriety by the Cape Law Society on Tuesday. Reilly has also received an extraordinary apology from the partner of the lawyer who lodged a complaint against him.
South East Cape Attorney's Association president Raj Daya called the society's decision a "victory" for the profession. "The overwhelming support James got from within the profession shows that lawyers are not a bunch of stiff boards," he said.
Reilly's competition-winning leap into freezing air - naked but for a stick of deodorant taped firmly to his manhood - won him a small car in a radio competition for the zaniest act two weeks ago.
The society said in a statement that James's act was irrelevant to his application to become an attorney.
After considering a report, Cape Law Society president David Macdonald released a press statement yesterday saying: "The Council took note of the fact that the media reports at the time presented the incident as indeed, no more than a stunt or prank; that there was no sense of public offence reflecting on the attorney's profession as such."
The partner of the lawyer who complained to the society had personally sent James a note apologising for his partner's actions.
"I really appreciated that," said James, adding that he "never doubted" the law society would reach a decision in his favour, but still felt "relieved" when it arrived. - ECN
Buttman's wings clipped
Grahamstown, South Africa - Naked skydiver and candidate attorney James Reilly, 36, has been temporarily barred from entering the legal profession after an unnamed Port Elizabeth attorney lodged a formal complaint that his stunt was "improper".
Reilly's jump into minus 12 degree air 4km above here last week won him first prize in 5fm radio station's Speedstick Give-it-Stick competition for the whackiest act.
Reilly won a new Peugeot in a blaze of national and regional media coverage. News photographs of his naked backside flying through the air earned him the nickname "Buttman".
However, Reilly, who was due to be admitted as an attorney at the Grahamstown High Court on Thursday, will now have to wait until the Cape Law Society has properly investigated the complaint.
A highly upset president of the PE branch of the SA Attorney's Association Raj Daya said the law society was obliged to deal with the complaint and a committee has been set up to investigate the matter and advise the society whether Reilly's behavior was improper. Daya said: "It is ridiculous that the matter reached the law society."
He said what Reilly had done had injected some positive energy into a profession that was suffering from "terminal cancer".
'We had one big laugh about it'
"He (Reilly) discussed the matter with me beforehand and asked whether I believed any problems could result. I said 'I hope you win the car'."
On the day Reilly's stunt was publicised in the media, Daya had been attending a conference in Knysna together with the law society's president, director and other senior members of the profession. "We had one big laugh about it."
"All that is happening now is a procedural issue due to this complaint. This attorney (who issued the complaint) should go for a ride with James in his new car. I think it's a matter of sour grapes. I am terribly upset that it has reached such a ridiculous stage.""
He felt that if Reilly was not be admitted to the roll of attorneys, the law society would be "seriously misusing it's powers.
"James is not fresh out of university. He is an honorable person respected and held in esteem by his colleagues. His stunt has won the hearts of the public at large and not admitting him would be stretching the moral code a bit too far.
"There are much more serious allegations on a daily basis. The law society should be using its time to investigate issues of a much more serious nature."
Cape law society director Susan Aird said the matter was to be tabled before a council meeting on Monday. Aird said she could not express any personal opinion. - ECN