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NEWS - Jan 2008


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Solicitors and other lawyers making the bad news from 2003 to date: News Roundup

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Questions asked as crooked legal eagle is freed early

A SUCCESSFUL Hampstead lawyer and television producer who became the first barrister to be jailed has been released after just two months in prison. Bruce Hyman, who has written more than 150 TV and radio shows including Unreliable Evidence with Clive Anderson, was sentenced to a year in prison after pleading guilty to attempting to pervert the course of justice. The 50-year-old, who retrained as a barrister after his high-flying career in broadcasting, was acting for Karen Sadler Young in a child custody battle when he sent a forged email with details of a bogus Court of Appeal ruling to her husband, Simon Eades. But Mr Eades traced the source of the email to an internet café on Tottenham Court Road and uncovered footage of Hyman sending it. Mr Eades, a financier from Wiltshire, is furious that Mr Hyman was released on December 20 after serving just two months. He said: "No reasons have been given as to why he has been released after just two months. It stinks.

Hampstead & Highgate Express

31 Jan

Secret bank rescues to be allowed

Chancellor Alistair Darling is to give new powers to the Bank of England to mount secret rescue operations for banks requiring emergency funds. The plan will be unveiled today as part of sweeping regulatory reforms designed to prevent a repeat of the Northern Rock debacle, the BBC has learned.
He will also make the Bank of England's loans to a troubled bank rank first in the queue of creditors.
There will be a 12 week consultation period on the new legislation. "It's unclear whether the devastating run on the Rock could have been prevented by the kind of clandestine help which the Bank may in future be able to provide," said the BBC's business editor Robert Peston.


30 Jan

When dirty money and solicitor-client privilege clash

Tax havens, money laundering and terrorist financing are all major economic concerns of developed countries. In Canada, we have the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act (PCTFA), which requires various professions, such as accountants, to report suspicious "dirty-money" transactions and cross-border movements of currency and monetary instruments. Looking for dirty money is like looking for a needle in a haystack because tax havens and banking secrecy hide the source of such money. Thus far, lawyers in Canada have escaped the full force of the PCTFA. Britain, however, is moving against the privileges of the legal profession. How long will lawyers be exempt in Canada? Tax havens are a refuge for the rich from the tax collector. We commonly associate tax havens with islands with warm climates -- such as Caymans, Virgin Islands and Bahamas. Not all havens, however, have perfect climates. Some, like Britain, are cold and damp. What makes an ideal tax haven? Clearly, the place should have stable government --preferably democratic -- the rule of law, a strong and independent judiciary and sophisticated banking. Good literature, arts, theatre, opera and sophisticated dining can be added bonuses. Britain has secure offshore financial institutions in the Channel Islands, amenable tax laws for non-domiciled residents and a cultured lifestyle. The British Treasury estimates there are approximately 115,000 wealthy mobile individuals who are non-domiciled residents in the U.K. Resident British non-doms can shelter their offshore wealth and investment income from tax. They are not taxable on overseas earnings and capital gains on offshore assets, unless they remit the income and gains to Britain. The tax advantages, sophisticated offshore banking in the Channel Islands and Britain's pre-eminent legal systems also attract tainted foreign capital. Hence, apart from being a key financial centre, London is a honey-pot for substantial capital that comes into the country from opaque sources -- Russia, former Soviet satellites, and corrupt African, Asian and Latin American countries. One Nigerian dictator alone is reputed to have processed at least £1.3-billion ($2.6-billion) through British financial institutions in the late 1990s. London is also a moneylaundering centre, which is attracting the attention of British anti-corruption investigators. Money laundering is the process by which one takes "dirty money" and cleans it to make legitimate money, which flows seamlessly into the national economy through respectable financial institutions. Typically, drugs, prostitution, gambling, political and economic corruption are the major sources of dirty money. Think also of money from ideological countries and so-called charities fleeing into secret bank accounts to fund terrorism. Since it is difficult to declare income from such sources for tax purposes, tax havens, money laundering and terrorism make happy bedfellows. Tracking dirty money is not easy, even with government reporting requirements. The underlying philosophy of the money-launderer is simple: If you want to hide illegal money, put it in the biggest haystack you can find. London wins again. (As UJ has asserted all these years - Britain is a fraudsters' paradise. UJ)

Financial Post

30 Jan

Court ruling shatters hopes of compensation, says lawyer

Roger Maddocks, partner and industrial disease specialist at Newcastle personal injury law firm Irwin Mitchell, says aspects of the way the Government handles the British Coal VWF Claims Handling Arrangement have meant scores of former miners, many elderly, in the north east are missing out on compensation. Mr Maddocks said many former miners who have had their claims rejected dispute that their claims have been properly considered and subsequently turned down by the Government's claims handlers, Capita, who have assumed the role of judge and jury on the claims. They were hoping that they could turn to the courts to resolve the disputes, but this is being blocked by the Department of Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform. The issue had been taken to the High Court which this week said individuals' disputed claims for compensation under the CHA could not be resolved in the courts. Instead, VWF sufferers who have had their claims rejected partially or in total under the CHA will have to mount their own civil cases outside the CHA for any part of the claim they wish to purse – basically this means starting afresh, nine years after the CHA was set up.

News Guardian

25 Jan

Balham solicitor admits blue badge fraud

A solicitor who fraudulently used his wife's blue badge to park outside his Balham law firm was given two suspended jail sentences yesterday. Mohammed Lodhi, a partner at A to Z Law Services in Balham High Road, was fined £1,000 and told to pay £1,989 in costs and ordered to carry out 100 hours unpaid community service.

Wimbledon Guardian

25 Jan

Rogue trader to cost SocGen $7bn

French bank Societe Generale has announced losses of 6.9bn euros ($10.2bn, £5.2bn), blamed on a fraud by its trader and the credit crunch. Societe Generale said it uncovered a fraud of 4.9bn euros by a Paris-based trader, who has been suspended. It also announced new write downs of 2.05bn euros related to the sub-prime mortgage crisis in the US. The bank, one of France's largest, will need to seek 5.5bn euros in new capital to make good the losses.


24 Jan

Legal Opinion: Legal showdown in the court of public opinion

Barristers are playing a dangerous game of chicken with the Government over new rates of pay for representing defendants in the most serious and costly criminal trials. Some advocates say they will strike rather than sign new contracts which they claim will lead to a substantial pay cut, with as little as £285 a day on a murder trial. In turn, the Government and the Legal Services Commission insist that the new scheme is a much fairer way of paying barristers. Tension between the two sides reached breaking point last week when Richard Collins, Executive Director for Policy of the Legal Services Commission, which administers the contracts, wrote to the chairman of the Bar implying that the Bar Council had encouraged its members to break the criminal law prohibiting cartels. (UJ has a copy of The Bar Council's "REPORT OF THE VERY HIGH COST CRIMINAL CASES CONTRACTING REVIEW" Revised 23/05/2004, which makes interesting reading...if anyone is interested...)


23 Jan

'I can buy the law' said Sheikh Maher al-Tajir as he dismissed his gamekeeper

A billionaire Arab sheikh said that British law worked on “money not justice”, and vowed to “stitch up” an employee who dared to challenge him, an employment tribunal was told yesterday. (Justice in Britain for sale? Surely not. UJ)

Times Online

22 Jan

FSA to look at marketing of locked funds

The Financial Services Authority has started an investigation into commercial property funds in the wake of the growing number that are freezing payouts to investors. The Daily Telegraph has learned that the financial watchdog is examining marketing materials that fund managers have been using to sell the products in the recent past. It is understood the investigation centres on the disclosure of redemption policies within the funds, and whether investors were given sufficient warning that their money could be locked into the funds for extended periods. Although an FSA spokesman tried to play down the move, saying it was not "a full-blown investigation", if the funds are found to have breached strict rules on disclosure it could result in the next mis-selling scandal.


22 Jan

Lawyers pocket £1bn from UK private equity

UK law firms pocketed more than £1bn in fees from the private equity sector in 2006, with legal advisers confirmed as one of the main beneficiaries of the boom in venture capital activity over recent years. Research published today (21 January) by the British Private Equity & Venture Capital Association (BVCA) shows that the estimated 200 law firms involved in private equity work trousered fees worth a combined £1.2bn for the 12-month period. Professional services firms, including law firms, earned a total of £5.4bn in 2006, with private equity deals for the year totalling £14.9bn – equivalent to 1.4% of the UK’s gross domestic product. Omega Funds general counsel Claire Wilkinson, who chairs the Private Equity Lawyers Forum, said the industry was due recognition for its contribution to the UK economy. (Ha! UJ)

Legal Week

22 Jan

Judge lets teen sex abuser walk free

Controversial Judge Julian Hall was condemned last night after he let a paedophile walk free from court. Judge Hall, criticised last year for saying a 10-year-old rape victim dressed provocatively, gave a Berinsfield teenager three years' probation for molesting a five-year-old girl. The 17-year-old - who Judge Hall banned the Oxford Mail from naming - had also abused a seven-year-old boy. But the judge said the teenage abuser was "not dangerous". The mother of the five-year-old victim had to be led out of Oxford Crown Court after Judge Hall passed the sentence, which also included a ban on the teen from having any contact with children in online chatrooms and via his mobile phone. He told the defendant he must also attend courses to sort out his attitude to sex and children. Relatives of the victim last night condemned the sentences handed down by the judge. Last year, Judge Hall sent Blackbird Leys window cleaner Keith Fenn to prison for just two years after he raped a 10-year-old. He also told a 71-year-old man who sexually abused a six-year-old to compensate her with money for a new bike.

Oxford Mail

21 Jan

Barristers' legal aid boycott may leave defendants in limbo

Hundreds of barristers are boycotting new legal aid contracts which must be signed by today, in a move which could leave defendants charged with the most serious crimes, including complex fraud, terrorism and murder, without proper representation. Barristers say most of the 2,300 chosen for panels to represent defendants in very high cost cases (VHCC) say they will not sign the contract, mainly because the rates are significantly lower than their current pay. Feelings are running so high that one criminal barrister wrote at the weekend to the Metropolitan police commissioner, Sir Ian Blair, asking him to investigate Richard Collins, an official at the Legal Services Commission, which administers legal aid, for attempting to "blackmail" barristers into signing.


21 Jan

Property lawyers sued for fraud

ONE of Britain’s biggest property-law firms has become embroiled in a spectacular fraud claim. The case, involving more than £15m, is being brought against firms of solicitors that have been absorbed into DLA Piper. The claim alleges that the solicitors were involved in fraudulent deals involving former directors of Hampton Trust, a property company that is now in effect controlled by funds run by JO Hambro Capital Management. A claim was lodged with the High Court on Friday. It names as defendants DLA, Dibb Lupton Alsop and Alsop Wilkinson � all predecessors to DLA Piper, which describes itself as Britain’s fifth-largest legal-services organisation by turnover, with more than 2,800 employees. DLA Piper itself is not being accused of any fraud. The allegations focus mainly on a former partner of the firms that were absorbed into DLA Piper. The claim details a string of allegations dating back to the mid1990s. It includes the accusation that in 1996 and 1997, the solicitors, “in fraudulent breach of trust” took more than £5m of Hampton’s money that was sitting in their client account and paid it to a firm controlled by Hampton’s then directors. The alleged frauds included one involving a payment of £1.8m. “[The solicitors] tried to cover up the fraud,” claims Hampton. (I'll keep an eye on this one because the legal establishment has these last many years insisted that my own claims are time-barred - limitation and laches - and that justice is forever denied to me. If the above claim is also so old it will fail, won't it? UJ)

Times Online

20 Jan

Police issue warning after woman loses £100,000 in 'black money scam'

Police have warned of an international money scam which cons victims into buying worthless pieces of paper, believing they are smuggled or stolen bank notes dyed black to avoid detection. Victims have lost thousands of pounds through the fraudulent scheme, known as the 'black money scam' or 'wash wash scam'. Officers claim there are many more victims who haven't reported the scam because they are too embarassed. The scam involves the fraudster telling victims the money has been dyed so it can be smuggled out of Africa through customs. The victim is also told to purchase useless 'cleaning liquid', which will remove the dye so they can use the notes. One woman in Dorset recently lost £100,000 after falling prey to the scam. (How did someone so stupid get £100,000 in the first place? UJ)

This is London

17 Jan

Solicitors again criticised over miners' compensation

A NUMBER of former Nottinghamshire miners could be in line for further payouts after an ombudsman's report into how compensation complaints were handled. The Legal Services Complaints Commissioner Zahida Manzoor has published a special report into how the Legal Complaints Service (LCS) dealt with objections from sick miners about fees they were charged by solicitors. She is critical that some miners suffered distress or inconvenience but did not receive any compensation for this and said those that did not should have their cases reopened, along with those who did not receive a full refund of fees. Warsop MP John Mann has been fighting to win back money for miners suffering from Vibration White Finger and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, which solicitors have wrongly deducted and welcomed the report.

Mansfield Chad

17 Jan

Solicitor denies £1m scam

A LAWYER conned almost £1m from a man left paralysed after a road accident, a court was told. Keith Anderson, 45, was awarded £1.8m damages to pay for his care following the crash in 1996. But Manchester Crown Court heard that the solicitor in charge of looking after his interests took the money to help his debt-ridden business. Police say Thomas McGoldrick, 59, tried to cover his tracks by forging a letter which appeared to show that Mr Anderson had given him the money as a thank-you gift for his Altrincham law firm's help in negotiating the damages. David Friesner, prosecuting, said it was `quite incredible' for McGoldrick to suggest the crash victim would have condemned himself to a life on benefits by giving the money away. (Update: Mcgoldrick guilty Feb 2008)

Manchester Evening News

17 Jan

Hain aide's firm has same address as think tank used to channel secret donations

Peter Hain was facing fresh questions over the donations row today, despite winning the backing of his local Labour party. The Work and Pensions Secretary won a vote of “utmost confidence” from Neath Constituency Labour Party, even though he failed to declare £103,000 given to his failed campaign for deputy Labour leader. The party also praised Mr Hain for having the “highest integrity”.
Mr Hain is facing an Electoral Commission probe over claims that the Progressive Policies Forum (PPF) “think tank” was used to funnel cash from donors not wanting to be named publicly. But the controversy continued when it emerged that a PR firm founded by Mr Hain's former campaign manager Steve Morgan shares the same registered address as the PPF.

Daily Mail

17 Jan

Miners hit by compensation failures

Sick miners and their families are losing out on compensation they are entitled to because of administrative failures, according to a critical report by Legal Services Complaints Commissioner Zahida Manzoor. Manzoor's second investigation into the British Coal compensation schemes for respiratory diseases and vibration white finger found that the Legal Complaints Service (LCS) had given "poor service" to some miners and their families. The report claims that the LCS is, as a result, at risk of damaging its reputation. It warns that miners' complaints could become an "Achilles heel" for the LCS if it did not act on Manzoor's proposals, such as good management and administrative checks and balances. The findings showed that the compensation miners received depended on a "bewildering array" of variables including whether a Member of Parliament was involved, the LCS caseworker handling the complaint and the cooperation of the solicitor's firm being complained about. Manzoor said: "The LCS side-stepped a recommendation from my first investigation in 2006 to revisit complaints that had not been investigated fully by insisting improvements had already been made. These new findings show that some of the same issues are still to be addressed." (Roundup of miners' claims news to date)

The Lawyer

15 Jan

Solicitor drawn into Hain donation row

A solicitor from Chorleywood has been drawn into row over controversial donations given to a senior cabinet minister. Work and Pensions Secretary Peter Hain faces the possibility of a police investigation after it emerged last week that he failed to declare £103,000 in donations in his bid to become deputy leader of the Labour Party. More than £26,000 of the money was channelled to Mr Hain through the Progressive Policies Forum (PPF), a company purporting to be a left-wing think tank. However, in the 13 months since its incorporation in December 2006 the company has produced no reports and held no conferences. (No wonder we can't make the government take complaints against solicitors seriously. UJ)

Watford Observer

15 Jan

Stockbroker firm fined £250,000 for sales scam

A firm of stockbrokers that sold £75,000 of risky securities to an 89-year-old customer without permission has been fined £250,000 by the Financial Services Authority. Square Mile Securities, a retail stockbroker specialising in smaller UK-based companies, was criticised for a series of “reckless” and “dishonest” sales practices. These included entering transactions into customer accounts without consent and using high-pressure sales techniques to convince clients to make risky investments.

Times Online

15 Jan

Pensioner loses fight to keep period home

A PENSIONER who lost a 10-year legal battle over her period cottage is facing an uncertain future after being made homeless. Margaret Evans, 83, pleaded with High Court judges for a stay of execution at her home in Fishpond but was evicted by bailiffs. Mrs Evans said: "I have asked the bailiff for an extension of time but he said he cannot do that. "But he said he will give his permission for the estate agent to come up with me with the key to get everything out." Mrs Evans has been forced to leave April Cottage after running up a massive £200,000 in legal fees, eventually declaring herself to be bankrupt. Her turbulent ordeal started 10 years ago when she bought the cottage and decided to renovate it. Mrs Evans disputed a bill for work she said had been botched, sparking a long-running dispute with builders, architects and solicitors. Now she says she has been left disheartened. "I am feeling absolutely desolate," she said. "I had just lost the will to live. I am usually a very upbeat person but all I could think was where I was going to spend the next night. Nothing seemed worthwhile any more. "It is just so unjust what has happened to me over the years. It is not only the money - it is the injustice of it." Once her house is sold and the legal bill paid off, Mrs Evans will receive the difference..."We need a decent civil legal system in this country." (Nice country, Britain. UJ)

Dorset Echo

14 Jan

Judge 'can't remember' why he bailed murder suspect

A judge today said he could not remember why he had granted bail to a policeman accused of murdering his wife. Garry Weddell, 47, was released from custody before his trial and officers now fear he went on to kill his mother-in-law before turning the gun on himself. An investigation is under way into why the Metropolitan police inspector was freed despite being accused of strangling his wife and faking her suicide.(Fellow Freemasons, perhaps? Brothers first, everyone else second.UJ)


See also:

judiciary.gov.uk FAQs

14 Jan

Fraud set to rise as economy weakens

More corporate fraud is likely to emerge this year as the result of the predicted slowdown in the economy, business advisers warn. Simon Bevan, the head of fraud services at accountancy firm BDO Stoy Hayward, said: "With an economic downturn now already affecting the property and financial services sectors, I expect to see many more frauds being discovered in 2008." KPMG said more frauds were uncovered during periods of belt-tightening, when processes came under height-ened scrutiny. A 20-year analysis of fraud showed that the last big recession, in the early 1990s, was followed by the emergence of substantial frauds involving Polly Peck and BCCI. Alex Plavsic, the head of fraud investigations at KPMG, said: "If the current credit crunch does lead to a slowdown through 2008, we may, therefore, see the detection of some high-value frauds in its wake."

Financial Times

14 Jan

Solicitors shunning legal aid work as pay rates fall, survey reveals

Some of the most experienced solicitors are deserting legal aid work amid a shake-up of the scheme which will see their pay rates drop further. The exodus is particularly acute among expert lawyers who represent children and parents in cases where local authorities are threatening to take the children into care. The departure of some of the leading specialists raises concerns about the quality of representation for parents at risk of losing their children, who often face complex medical evidence which is hard to rebut.


07 Jan

25,000 criminals go free as CPS decides it is not in the 'public interest' to prosecute

Crown prosecutors are dropping tens of thousands of criminal cases each year despite having enough evidence to bring offenders to court. Last year they halted proceedings against more than 25,000 offenders, including thugs, vandals and shoplifters, because it was not in the "public interest" to continue. Officials admit the vast majority of cases are stopped because prosecutors are "snowed under". A Crown Prosecution Service source said: "We are chronically underfunded and have an increasing backlog of cases. "If a case starts to go badly, prosecutors may want to stop it so they can concentrate on another which they have a better chance of winning." Stopping trials in the "public interest" still counts as an offence "brought to justice", helping courts hit Government targets. Critics said the figures raised troubling questions and were another example of Labour's demolition of Britain's criminal justice system.

Daily Mail

06 Jan

New hunt for solicitor who went on the run

The fraud squad has launched a fresh hunt for a solicitor suspected of running away with his clients' cash. David Rawlings disappeared eight years ago after he was charged with stealing more than £250,000 from his clients. Detectives believe the then 62-year-old may have fled to Thailand and could still be hiding out in the country. And following a review of the case last month officers from Sussex Police's major fraud unit have stepped up their inquiries to find him.

The Argus

06 Jan

How doctors lie on death certificates to hide the true scale of the toll from hospital infections

Joan Horne once worked for the National Health Service. In her day the wards were scrubbed with bleach, while nurses washed their hands with soap and water before caring for a patient. If not, a strict matron wanted to know why. She has never forgotten the golden era of the NHS. So when 78-year-old Joan watched Edwin, her husband of 37 years, die after catching a deadly superbug at her local hospital, she began a fight for justice. Just before Christmas, a tape recorder in her hand, she marched off to Barnsley Hospital in Yorkshire and forced managers to admit that not only had Edwin contracted a lethal infection called Clostridium difficile (C. diff) as a patient, but that doctors failed to declare the truth on his death certificate.

Daily Mail

03 Jan

Public shame for lawyers who break the rules

Thousands of solicitors who are found guilty each year of a range of crimes and misdemeanours, from ignoring letters to plundering clients’ money, are to be identified publicly. Solicitors in England and Wales found guilty of breaching professional rules will be listed on a Solicitors’ Regulatory Authority (SRA) website open to the public. The move took effect at the start of the year and is the latest initiative by the SRA, which is responsible for the training, standards and discipline of 100,000 solicitors. Details are expected to appear at the end of this month. The Solicitors’ Disciplinary Tribunal, which deals with the most serious cases of misconduct, publishes its findings. By the end of this year it will have dealt with more than 300 cases, 20 per cent up on last year. But hundreds more solicitors are disciplined by the authority for lesser offences of misconduct, which are dealt with privately. In the past 12 months from November 2006 1,984 solicitors had conditions put on their practising certificates and 351 were given warnings, rebukes and reprimands. (See also: SRA on this site)

Times Online

03 Jan

Bent lawyers open door to terrorists in passport scam

TODAY the News of the World exposes a shocking seam of corruption right at the heart of Britain's legal system—a string of unscrupulous lawyers ready to aid terrorists in return for cash. One bent solicitor, a regular at the High Court and a member of prestigious Lincoln's Inn, even supplied a FAKE PASSPORT to an investigator he believed to be a fugitive Islamic terror boss. (Video on site)

News of the World

30 Dec

Take the money and run – illegal migrants go ‘home’ on handouts

Posing as a migrant eager to return to India, Vivek Chaudhary finds a government body eager to help him on his way with £4,000 in cash and allowances and no questions asked

I’VE often been told to go back where I came from – but never quite as pleasantly as now. Here, in a modest office in the heart of Westminster, I am being asked by a polite young man to name my price for quitting Britain. The advert I ripped out of Mann Jitt, a Punjabi newspaper in London, was to the point – and generous. “Thinking about returning to your home country? If you are an asylum seeker, call IOM free for an individual or a family return plan.” It spelt out the sweeteners available courtesy of the British taxpayer. “Small business start-up. Travel arrangements. Flight ticket. Relocation grant. Baggage allowance. Short-term accommodation. Job training. Work placements. Education.” (I wonder if Britain would pay me to leave this country? UJ)

Times Online

16 Dec






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