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NEWS - July 2005

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

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Date posted on UnjustIS

LEADING BURNLEY LAWYERS CLEARED

TWO leading Burnley solicitors were cleared of money laundering charges after the case against them sensationally collapsed yesterday. Mr Basil Dearing, of SFN Solicitors in Red Lion Street, and Mr John Greenwood, a partner at GHT in Nicholas Street, faced charges of conspiring to launder money.
But at Preston Crown Court yesterday morning, the Crown Prosecution Service offered no evidence against the two solicitors, as well as five other co-defendants...

The other men cleared at yesterday's hearing were: John Broughton, a 53-year-old solicitor from Foulridge, who runs a practice in Keighley; 45-year-old Anthony Radford, of Heather View, Skipton; Thomas England (56), of Seabrook Drive, Cleveland; legal representative Noel Tully (36), from Liverpool, and Melvin Radford (44), of no fixed address. They had all denied the charges.

Burnley Today

26 Jul

Ebbers sentence a warning for corporate crime

The ex-WorldCom boss’s 25 years is a strong message to white-collar crooks. By Dominic Rushe in New York
BERNARD EBBERS hung his head, his broad shoulders shaking, as Judge Barbara Jones passed sentence on the fallen business titan in the US District Court in Manhattan.

Times Online

26 Jul

Legal aid 'is close to collapse'

THE legal profession is preparing for a confrontation over legal aid with a warning from the head of the Law Society that the £2.1 billion scheme is near collapse.

Times Online

26 Jul

Probe into miners' payouts

AN INDEPENDENT inquiry has been launched into the Government's multi-billion-pound compensation scheme for sick former miners. The external review was ordered after it emerged police are investigating the Union of Democratic Mineworkers amid claims senior officials have personally benefited from the £7.5bn scheme for former miners suffering from chest diseases and Vibration White Finger. Update: Miners' Claims News 2004-2007

IC Wales

23 Jul

£70m-a-year scam smashed in Spain

A worldwide con run from post offices around Málaga in Spain has defrauded thousands of victims, including Britons, of what is thought to be more than £70m a year. Before it was broken up, the network was run like a multinational company, with bank accounts in 45 countries, according to Spanish police. More than 300 people have been arrested.

Guardian

22 Jul

Inquiry into £7.5bn scheme for sick miners will check 'integrity' of DTI

AN INDEPENDENT inquiry is to be held into a £7.5 billion government compensation scheme for sick miners, it was announced yesterday. The external review comes after revelations in The Times about the financial relationship between three solicitors’ firms and a miners’ union that has earned several millions of pounds from the scheme. Update: Miners' Claims News 2004-2007

Times Online

22 Jul

Regulation concerns trigger solicitor-wide ballot

Deep concerns within the profession over plans to hive off the Law Society’s regulatory function were revealed in an impassioned debate at the Society’s annual general meeting last week, with opponents of the proposals winning the right to a postal ballot of all solicitors.

Law Society Gazette

22 Jul

Coal health compensation review

An independent review is to take place into the administration of coal health compensation schemes for former miners. Energy Minister Malcolm Wicks announced the probe, saying it would not encroach on an ongoing police investigation into potential fraud under the schemes. Update: Miners' Claims News 2004-2007

BBC

21 Jul

She was a lawyer who forgot. So she then broke the law. But 10 years later the law remembered

AN UNDER-PRESSURE council solicitor invented an entire court case to get herself out of trouble when she forgot to prosecute a landlord. Helen Keeling used Tippex, a pair of scissors, glue and a photocopier to produce documents which she handed to her employers at the former Llanelli Borough Council.

IC Wales

21 Jul

Rich QCs should be made to share, says Lord Falconer
THE Lord Chancellor has warned barristers that extra money for the hard-pressed junior end of the criminal Bar will have to come from top-earning Queen’s Counsel. In an interview with The Times, Lord Falconer of Thoroton said that there was no more money for the £2.1 billion legal aid scheme, and that redistribution among barristers was the answer to the crisis.

Times Online

21 Jul

Warning signs for the funding of terror

Investigating the money trail of attacks such as the London bombings or 9/11 can be a frustratingly nebulous business. Investigators are not under the illusion that financial support for such attacks comes in neat packages, or from pre-determined directions.

BBC

21 Jul

Law Society under fire over level of complaints thrown out

RED tape is deterring hundreds of people from pursuing complaints against lawyers while many genuine grievances are being wrongly thrown out, according to Scotland's legal watchdog. Linda Costelloe Baker,the Scottish Legal Services Ombudsman, said the Law Society of Scotland was hitting its target of dealing with 90 per cent of complaints against members within nine months but that this was "simply too long" for many.

The Scotsman

20 Jul

Get-rich-quick boss bankrupted

THE scene was set for an epic battle. In Court 54 of the Royal Courts of Justice in London, Kevin Foster prepared to take on the Financial Services Authority.

Instead it took just two hours for the man behind what is probably Britain's biggest easy-money scheme - and who was exposed in Financial Mail in January last year - to be declared bankrupt.

This is Money

15 Jul

Former FC Wil president jailed for fraud

BERN, Switzerland, July 15 (Reuters) - The former president of Swiss football club FC Wil has been sentenced to five years imprisonment after embezzling 51 million Swiss francs ($40 million) from UBS bank. Andreas Hafen, a former customer adviser at UBS, was found guilty of fraud by a regional court on Friday. The 48-year-old banker admitted his crime after being arrested in November 2002.

Reuters

15 Jul

Solicitor jailed for client theft

A solicitor has been jailed for 18 months after he stole £150,000 from two chronically ill patients and from bank accounts of dead clients. Nicholas Pounder, 46, from Porthcawl, south Wales, used the money to pay off credit card debts Swansea Crown Court was told. He admitted 16 charges of theft, two of false accounting, while 71 similar charges were taken into account.

BBC

15 Jul

Under pressure

What should a law firm do if it faces a media storm? Lucy Trevelyan talks to lawyers and PR specialists. It is every senior partner’s nightmare. You get up one morning and there’s a salacious story about your law firm plastered all over the tabloids. A media storm has begun, with you right in the eye. What do you do? Yorkshire firm Beresfords, which received work from the Union of Democratic Mineworkers, found itself splashed all over the broadsheets this month,...

Law Society Gazette

15 Jul

Summary of the Annual Report for the Legal Services Ombudsman for England and Wales 2004/2005

Read the summary, or download the full report as a pdf

OLSO

15 Jul

Fraud squad raids home of woman behind £7.5bn scheme for sick miners

THE fraud squad has raided the home of a woman who is at the centre of a police inquiry into a £7.5 billion compensation scheme for sick miners. Detectives arrived outside Clare Walker’s house, which is also the registered address of her company, Indiclaim Ltd, at 7.20am yesterday, climbing over the front gates to gain entrance to the £500,000 property. Update: Miners' Claims News 2004-2007

Times Online

15 Jul

Britain's Armed Forces 'under legal siege'

Six former chiefs of the defence staff rounded on politicians, lawyers, the Ministry of Defence and the military police yesterday, claiming that their handling of military prosecutions in Iraq was led by political correctness and ignored the realities of fighting.

Telegraph

15 Jul

STEP publishes Probate Fraud Report

What it is and what should be done about it
A report by Arthur Mayson ACIB TEP
What is probate fraud?
Put simply, probate fraud is an attempt to deprive the beneficiaries of an estate of their rightful inheritance. Its mainstays are false accounting, abusing a power of attorney, fake beneficiaries, property theft and bogus wills. Why is probate fraud so easy? Download pdf report

STEP Report

14 Jul

Partners back loss of fraud juries but dub prosecutors weakest link

Poll finds 61% of respondents back Government jury plans; 92% believe fraudsters escape punishment. UK lawyers have backed plans to abolish juries for some serious fraud trials, despite pinning the blame for the collapse of a string of high-profile cases on the prosecuting authorities.

Legal Week

14 Jul

Top judges clash over plan for more diverse judiciary

Senior judges are locked in a new battle with the lord chancellor over moves to make the judiciary more diverse, which the judges fear could dilute its quality. Lord Falconer issued proposals yesterday aimed at creating more judges who are women, from ethnic minorities, and younger, and to open some posts to candidates who are neither solicitors nor barristers.

Guardian

14 Jul

QC fees cut in bid to slash legal aid costs

The Government has opened a new front in the battle to slash the costs of expensive trials and pump more money into the civil sector after last week unveiling the results of a controversial review of criminal legal aid.

Legal Week

14 Jul

Legal executives to join the judiciary

Legal executives, patent agents and trade mark attorneys will have the chance to become judges under changes designed to increase diversity in the judiciary. Lord Falconer, the Lord Chancellor, made the announcement this morning (Wednesday, 13 July) on behalf of the Department of Constitutional Affairs (DCA). The news follows a consultation paper on increasing diversity among judges.

The Lawyer

13 Jul

Solicitors rapped over complaints

The Law Society is still failing to give an effective service to customers who complain about solicitors, a watchdog has said. Legal Services Ombudsman Zahida Manzoor said complaint handling was satisfactory in just 62 per cent of the 1,265 Law Society cases she had examined, up from 53 per cent last year, but down on the 67 per cent in the previous 12 months. In comparison, she was satisfied with nearly 79 per cent of complaints handled by the Bar Council which she examined.

IC Birmingham

13 Jul

Solicitor jailed for will swindle

A north Devon solicitor who swindled clients out of more than £280,000 has been jailed for three and a half years. Philip Huxtable, 58, from Hiscott near Barnstaple, was found guilty last month of 11 charges of stealing from clients. He tried to cover up his stealing by massively overcharging clients, Bournemouth Crown Court was told. The Freemason, who has since been made bankrupt, used the money to prop up his ailing business, Pitts Tuckers, and to finance a lavish lifestyle.

BBC

13 Jul

Solicitor suspended for six years

A BELPER solicitor has been suspended from practising for six years after facing allegations at the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal in London on Thursday. Richard Alan Kerry was suspended after admitting to allegations relating to dishonest use of clients funds, failing to deposit and reconcile accounts and charges relating to delays in winding up an estate.

Belper Today

13 Jul

A different kind of magic

Thunderer (Times online)

12 Jul

Reading ban on leaked Harry Potter

By Jack Malvern, Arts Reporter and Richard Cleroux in Ottawa
WHILE the rest of the world must wait until midnight on Friday to read the latest Harry Potter adventure, a handful of fans in a Canadian commuter town might know the book’s secrets because a supermarket broke the embargo. (Bring back the workhouses for the rogues, I say. Send 'em up the chimneys, too. UJ)

Times Online

12 Jul

Third firm in pit-fund payments
THE scandal surrounding the Government’s £7.5 billion compensation scheme for sick miners deepened yesterday when it emerged that a third firm of solicitors has financial links to a company that is under criminal investigation. Detectives were already looking at payments by two law firms to Indiclaim Ltd, a company owned by Clare Walker, a senior employee of the Union of Democratic Mineworkers. It has now been revealed that a third firm, Chesterfield-based BRM Solicitors, agreed to pay money to Indiclaim for every UDM case that it settled. Update: Miners' Claims News 2004-2007

Times Online

12 Jul

Action group takes Law Society Council to task over government links

A group of Law Society members has hit out at its representative body for becoming too close to government and out of touch with the needs of the profession ahead of this Thursday's (14 July) annual general meeting. A group of around 70 lawyers has lodged a motion, called 'resolution 5', damning the Law Society Council's policy of hiving off regulation and calling for it to remain accountable to the profession.

The Lawyer

11 Jul

Criminal barristers consider strike action over fee cuts

Barristers will meet this week to discuss strike action that could severely disrupt criminal courts in England and Wales.

Telegraph

11 Jul

Miners' fund had no fraud checks

Company running £7bn scheme 'was a sausage machine that churned out compensation'
A COMPANY chosen by the Government to run the world’s largest personal injury compensation scheme — now the subject of a full-scale criminal inquiry — had no systems in place to target and detect fraud, it was revealed last night. Update: Miners' Claims News 2004-2007

Times Online

11 Jul

Expert View: What do we have to do to get a fraud-trial conviction?

There are many aspects of life in contemporary New York that are incomprehensible, even ludicrous. None more so than the entire Wall Street tribe's obsession with the Hamptons, a collection of mediocre villages clutched at the wrong end of Long Island - a good three-hour drive from the city. For the Fourth of July weekend party, anyone who was anyone was there, and as I tucked into my $200 burger there was only one topic of conversation - the Scrushy acquittal.

Independent

11 Jul

Wills: why you can be cheated

THOUSANDS of people are being swindled by dishonest solicitors, legal advisers and money-grabbing relatives, according to a report on probate fraud out on Wednesday, writes David Budworth.  
The Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (Step), the author of the report, will be pressing ministers at a meeting on Thursday to take action.  Lord Falconer, secretary of state for constitutional affairs, has declared that, if he can be persuaded that there is a serious problem, he might introduce regulation

Why you can be cheated

10 Jul

Miners to sue for their money back

A TOP London law firm is offering ex-miners and their relatives the chance to sign up to group legal action against solicitors and claims handlers who have "double charged" them. A packed Harworth meeting hosted by Bassetlaw MP John Mann heard how the big city legal experts plan to take on firms such as the UDM-owned Vendside, who have been charging miners despite getting paid by the Government. Update: Miners' Claims News 2004-2007

Worksop Today

08 Jul

Woman, 70, conned in phone scam

Police are investigating after a south Wales pensioner lost her life savings in a competition scam.
The 70-year-old woman from Rhydyfelin, Pontypridd, was called in January to say she had won several million pounds. She was told she needed to send £10,000 to an address in Toronto to cover tax and solicitor's fees.

BBC

08 Jul

Barristers trapped in cheerful chappie's £130m black hole

After the public announcement, the truth begins to emerge. The legal aid crisis is much deeper than Lord Falconer led reporters to believe when he briefed the press on Tuesday. What reporters were not told was that, on present projections, the legal aid budget will overspend by £130 million this year and by similar amounts in subsequent years.

Telegraph

07 Jul

Trainee reporters face extra law exams due to flood of legislation

Law exams for journalism trainees may soon have to be split into two stages because of an avalanche of new legislation affecting the press, tutors and lecturers fear. The Queen’s Speech in May proposed 50 new Bills to be dealt by Parliament – many of them including offences which could unwittingly be committed by newspapers and broadcasters and their journalists.

Holdthefrontpage

07 Jul

Judge voices concern over pay-out claims

A SENIOR judge yesterday expressed concern about reports that compensation due to miners was instead finding its way to solicitors and other third parties involved in the multi-million pound scheme. Sir Michael Turner, the judge appointed to manage the litigation, said that there was legitimate public concern that miners' compensation "goes where it is intended to go". Update: Miners' Claims News 2004-2007

Yorkshire Post

06 Jul

Law Society addresses complaints

The Law Society of Scotland is writing to 6000 people who have recently complained about their solicitors, after consumer groups called on the Scottish Executive to widen consultation on controversial proposals for reforming the current regulatory regime.

The Herald

06 Jul

Jail whistleblower wins £477,000

A whistleblower who alleged abuse of inmates at Wakefield prison has been awarded compensation of £477,600 after winning a claim for unfair dismissal. The amount awarded to former prison officer Carol Lingard is thought to be the highest for a public sector claim.

BBC

06 Jul

Concerns over Revenue and Customs merger brushed off
By Chris Giles and Vanessa Houlder
Published: July 5 2005 03:00 | Last updated: July 5 2005 03:00
The merger of the Inland Revenue and Customs & Excise has involved "possibly the biggest amount of change that we have seen across the public sector", David Varney, chairman of the tax authority, told the Financial Times. Mr Varney emphasised the scale of the task involved in completing the HMRC merger.

Financial Times

06 Jul

Miners' lawyers investigated by society

By Andrew Norfolk and Nicola Woolcock

THE Law Society is investigating more than 30 firms of solicitors linked to the Government’s £7.5 billion health scheme for sick and dying miners. The society’s inquiry — its largest into solicitors’ conduct — involves several teams of investigators. Its scale emerged in the High Court yesterday at an extraordinary review of the miners’ scheme after revelations in The Times that a police fraud inquiry had been started into leading officials and employees at the Union of Democratic Mineworkers (UDM). Update: Miners' Claims News 2004-2007

Times Online

06 Jul

Falconer details legal aid plan

The Lord Chancellor has announced a more competitive approach to the way lawyers are paid in criminal trials, in an effort to curb legal aid spending.

BBC

06 Jul

A fairer deal for legal aid

This paper outlines our long-term strategy for legal aid reform and was laid in parliament on 5 July 2005. It sets out proposals that aim to guarantee continued fair and equal access to justice; improve outcomes for those who most need publicly funded legal services ensuring that the taxpayer gets value for money from those who provide legal services.
You can download and print the paper in sections that are smaller file sizes. (use the link, right)

DCA

05 July

Falconer unveils Legal Aid reforms

The Lord Chancellor set himself on a collision course with the legal profession as he announced fundamental reforms to the way lawyers are paid to defend criminals. Lord Falconer of Thoroton announced the appointment of Whitehall trouble-shooter Lord Carter of Coles to look in detail at the possibility of introducing competitive bidding between lawyers for Legal Aid cases. A series of immediate measures will shave £7 million from the annual criminal Legal Aid budget of £1.2 billion this year.

The Scotsman

05 Jul

‘I will continue protest against solicitor’

A CARLISLE man has vowed to continue his protest against a prominent Cumbrian solicitor despite agreeing to be bound over to keep the peace yesterday. Terence Marrs had been accused of carrying out a campaign of harassment against solicitor Anthony Butterworth between March and August last year in Carlisle and Little Salkeld.

News & Star

05 Jul

Man used electric underpants 'to fake heart attack'

A judge yesterday threw out a claim by a man who, the court heard, used "electric underpants" to give himself fake heart attack symptoms. Marcus Danquah, 41, of Kirton Lindsey, Lincolnshire, had sought up to £300,000 in damages after claiming that a wrongly wired £34.50 Morphy Richards 42400 Comfi Grip iron gave him a heart attack.

Guardian

05 Jul

DCA launches judicial complaints office

The Department of Constitutional Affairs (DCA) last week announced the beginning of a new era of judicial transparency with the establishment of an Office for Judicial Complaints (OJC) and a judicial appointments and conduct ombdusman. The OJC will handle judicial discipline, while the ombdusman will review the OJC's handling of complaints about judicial conduct and investigate judicial appointment complaints.

The Lawyer 05 Jul

Businessmen defrauded Dome by £4m

Two men defrauded the Millennium Dome's operator out of nearly £4m to fund a "luxury lifestyle", it was revealed. Simon Brophy, 39, and David Gordon, 44, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud the New Millennium Experience Company. Updated Sept 2005

BBC

05 Jul

QCs on £500,000 a year rebel at legal-aid pay cuts

TOP-PAID Queen’s Counsel, who can earn £500,000 a year from the legal-aid fund, are the prime target of a cost-cutting review to be announced by ministers today.

Times Online

05 Jul

Bail bid in Zimbabwean asylum row

A total of 50 Zimbabweans are making a mass application for bail while the dispute over their deportation back to the southern African state continues. Forty-two Zimbabweans being held in UK asylum centres are refusing food after a ban stopping their forcible return to Robert Mugabe's regime was lifted.

BBC

04 Jul

Doctors 'fear criminal charges'

Doctors are increasingly fearful of facing criminal charges when patients die, experts say.
Medics can be charged with involuntary manslaughter if they make a mistake because of reckless behaviour. Doctors argue the law is too open to interpretation and needs reforming. Prosecutions used to be rare, but have risen sharply since 1990.

BBC

04 Jul

Mining union contract may be suspended during police inquiry

THE Government is considering suspending its contract with a union at the heart of a police probe over the multi-million-pound miners' compensation scheme. The Union of Democratic Mineworkers is under investigation amid claims senior officials have personally benefited from the £7.5bn scheme for sick former miners suffering from chest diseases and vibration white finger. Update: Miners' Claims News 2004-2007

IC Wales

04 Jul

Fraud inquiry prompts law firm to repay sick miners


A FIRM of solicitors that handled health claims by former miners has offered to pay its clients every penny deducted from their compensation by a miners’ union that is under police investigation. The decision by Hopkins Solicitors, which could cost the firm up to £100,000, comes after a story in The Times revealing a fraud-squad inquiry into the Union of Democratic Mineworkers (UDM). Update: Miners' Claims News 2004-2007

Times Online

04 Jul

Duo jailed for stealing £2m in benefit fraud

FRAUDSTERS who stole nearly £2million by swindling Camden Council for a decade have been jailed.
Former benefits office employee Hieten Patel, 45, was sentenced to six years in jail for his part in the scam. Meanwhile accomplice Bruno Hofferer, 55, received a four-year jail term.

Hampstead & Highgate Express

01 Jul

Banks lose right to be paid first

The British banking industry was dealt a severe blow yesterday after the House of Lords ruled that lending institutions were no longer ranked as preferential claimants in insolvency cases and could be liable for huge retrospective claims. The case, Natwest v Spectrum, was ruled on unanimously by seven law lords, who found that employees and other creditors from insolvent companies should be repaid debts before banks.

Telegraph

01 Jul

Some data related to the news item below. Miners Claims Data examples 02 Jul

Miners' officials to stand down over fraud inquiry

TWO senior officials of a mineworkers’ union who are being investigated by the police over the administration of the world’s largest industrial compensation scheme are to stand down...

"Josh Battle, 27, whose father, John, was the Energy Minister in 1999 when the first of the compensation schemes was set up, has worked since last year as a marketing consultant for the Doncaster law firm Beresfords, which has earned £27.2 million in government fees for settling miners’ claims." Update: Miners' Claims News 2004-2007

Times Online

01 Jul

£2m pension fund fraud solicitor jailed

A SOLICITOR who helped his client plunder more than £2m from the pension fund of hundreds of Scottish workers was jailed for two years yesterday. Carsten Iversen, 44, played a "vital role" in reassuring trustees that a complex cash transfer scheme was above board.

The Herald

01 Jul

Law Soc in bid to approve pro bono initiative

The Law Society is moving to green-light law firm plans to plough expired client funds into pro bono initiatives as it emerges magic circle giant Clifford Chance (CC) has added its support to the move.
A professional ethics committee at Chancery Lane has drawn up a paper that is expected to approve the proposals, which were championed by Lovells earlier this year and could potentially generate million of pounds annually for pro bono. The plan would see cash from the accounts of former clients that firms have lost contact with over a long period of time channelled back into pro bono work.

Legal Week

30 Jun

Probe launched into "Crazy Frog" sales tactics

The regulator that oversees premium-rate phone services is launching a probe into the wildly popular "Crazy Frog" mobile phone ringtone, after complaints that it dupes children into signing up for an expensive subscription plan.

Reuters

30 Jun

Fraudster Ordered to Pay £10 Million Compensation

A former top businessman was today ordered to pay more than £10 million compensation following one of Britain’s biggest accountancy cons. Carl Cushnie, who was jailed for six years last year, was made the subject of a confiscation order at Southwark Crown Court in London. The money is to be paid to defrauded investors who are also still free to pursue civil actions for damages. Cushnie has until April 2007 to comply or face an additional three years in jail.

The Scotsman

30 Jun

 

 

 

 

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