The Court of Appeal yesterday exonerated a senior barrister accused of incompetence - and lashed out at the former client who levelled the allegation. Mr Justice Frank Stock said the claims of negligence made against John McNamara by former British soldier Barry Peter Miller, who was convicted of manslaughter in March 2000, were made without 'one scintilla of justification'. 'We are wholly satisfied that Mr McNamara conducted this trial . . . with consummate skill, with the common sense for which he is known and with the highest of propriety,' he said. Mr Justice Stock added that his exonerating judgment did not go far enough after Mr McNamara was forced to withstand the publicity generated by the claims. Mr Miller, who flew in from Britain during the appeal, was absent from court yesterday morning as Mr Justice Stock dismissed his appeal against conviction. A Court of First Instance jury found Mr Miller, 42, an ex-British army boxing champion, guilty of the manslaughter of Australian Gary Tait, 34, who was struck outside the New Pussy Cat Club in Wan Chai on April 20, 1997. He was also found guilty of wounding Tait, who fell into a coma and died in hospital nine days later. Mr Miller was sentenced to two years' jail and released on June 23 last year. Last week he claimed his chance of a fair trial had been endangered as a juror had been dozing throughout the hearing. He also called English teacher Lorna Robertson - who attended the trial as a supporter - to testify about concerns she said she raised with Mr McNamara about the juror. She said he dismissed these concerns, saying the juror was on their side. Ms Robertson also produced a notebook, saying she had drawn a sleeping eye in it during the trial which proved her account. But Mr Justice Stock said it was strange that she remembered the notebook only last Sunday - one day before the appeal. 'The evidence of the appellant and Ms Robertson is demonstrably unreliable and not worthy of credit,' he said. Mr Justice Stock also brushed aside Mr Miller's objection to the deposition of former colleague Timothy Best, who said he saw Mr Miller punch Tait. Mr Miller told the court Mr McNamara disregarded his instructions to accuse Mr Best of being the actual culprit. But Mr Justice Stock said Mr McNamara's refusal was the correct defence tactic. He also lashed out at Mr Miller's claims that Mr McNamara had not properly looked at the medical evidence and failed to pursue the line that Tait had received the fatal blow due to medical negligence, such as falling off a stretcher. Tait had been brought to hospital in the deepest possible coma, the judge said. Mr Justice Stock also criticised Mr Miller's counsel, Yeung Yeuk-chuen. He said counsel advising clients alleging professional incompetence must exercise a proper degree of objectivity. Mr Justice Stock ordered Mr Miller to pay legal costs.