PO­LICE LAUNCH CASH PROBE INTO BUST LAW FIRM

COPS GIVEN DOSSIER AF­TER PART­NERS STRUCK OFF Un­paid clients hail new move

Sunday Mail (UK) - - News - Stephen, top & Pen­ning­ton

Craig McDon­ald An po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tion has been launched into the col­lapse of one of Scot­land’s top law firms.

Ross Harper and Co, who had of­fices across Scot­land, were shut down in 2012 af­ter more than 50 years in prac­tise.

It emerged that pub­lic cash claimed in Le­gal Aid fees was not paid to sup­pli­ers and ex­perts hired by the Glas­gow firm.

A leng thy probe by the Law So­ci­ety of Scot­land led to four part­ners be­ing struck off and two more be­ing cen­sured.

We can re­veal a dossier has now been passed to pol ice, who have launched a crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

The Ma i l un­der­standsds the ini­tial fo­cus is on for­mer­mer se­nior part­ner Alan Miller, 38, who was struck from the roll of so­lic­i­tors last month.

One ex­pert wit­ness hired by the firm wel­comed the probe. Foren­sic psy­chol­o­gist Ian Stephen, who’s owed £5000000 in fees, said: “I think it’s ap­pro­pri­ate that po­lice in­ves­ti­gate. said:id “I ffeltlt bbad­lydl llett downd by Ross Harper. You should be able to put your faith in a lawyer.

“I was al­ways writ­ing to them to ask why I was not be­ing paid. I was shocked they were so bla­tant about it.”

Pro­fes­sor Hugh Pen­ning­ton saw £ 4000 in fees go un­paid.

The bac­te­ri­ol­go­ist said: “I was shocked to dis­cover Ross Harper were with­hold­ing pay­ments from me and oth­ers. There has been a be­trayal of trust.”

Miller and Jim Price, also a se­nior part­ner, were struck off last month by the Scot­tish So­lic­i­tors Dis­ci­plinary Tri­bunal for pro­fes­sion­almis­cond­pro­fes­sion­almis­con­duct.ct

Price was em­ployed as gen­eral man­ager of Not­ting­ham For­est in 2013 but left the foot­ball club within a year.

Two fur­ther part­ners, Paul McHol­land and Joseph Mullen, were cen­sured by the SSDT but are still able to prac­tise.

Cameron Fyfe and Alan Susskind – also part­ners at the firm – were struck off in May.

The SSDT found Le­gal Aid cash lay in “a drawer”, the firm’s bank ac­count, for up to two years. The cash was used to help them bal­ance their books af­ter the 2008 fi­nan­cial crash. Ac­counts also showed a cheque was can-can­celledlld andd reis­sue­didththree ti­mesti be­fore it reached its des­ti­na­tion.

On at least two oc­ca­sions, the same tac­tic was used to hold up pay­ments of £300 to Pen­ning­ton.

We told last month how le­gal watch­dogs are fac­ing more than £100,000 worth of claims from vic­tims of the firm.

Any com­pen­sa­tion would be paid from a Law So­ci­ety client pro­tec­tion con­tin­gency fund.

Ross Harper had 12 of­fices in Scot­land and were the coun­try’s big­gest earn­ing Le­gal Aid firm, with 2006-07 earn­ings of £1.7mil­lion. They were founded in 1961 by ex-law pro­fes­sor Ross Harper.

A po­lice spokes­woman said: “In­quiriesIn are at an early stage.”

A Law So­ci­ety of Scot­land spokesman said: “Con­cerns were raised about the firm’s ac­count­ing record fol­low­ing one of our rou­tine com­pli­ance in­spec­tions.

“This led to us go­ing to the Court of Ses­sion to re­quest the ap­point­ment of a ju­di­cial fac­tor to the firm in April 2012 and, fol­low­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion, we pros­e­cuted all six for­mer part­ners be­fore the in­de­pen­dent SSDT.

“We have a le­gal duty to re­port sus­pi­cious ac­tiv­ity to the rel­e­vant au­thor­i­ties but can­not com­ment on whether re­ports have been made on spe­cific cases.”

MIS­CON­DUCT For­mer se­nior part­ner Price TAC­TICS Susskind was struck off TRI­BUNAL Fyfe, above, was struck off and McHol­land cen­sured

UN­PAID

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