Struck off and now disbarred: lawyer who defrauded the Law Society

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27 March 2015


Law Society: £23,000 fraud

Law Society: £23,000 fraud

A former solicitor and non-practising barrister who was convicted of a string of offences – including assaulting two police officers and defrauding the Law Society of £23,000 while a member of its council – has been disbarred two months after she was struck off the roll of solicitors.

A Bar Disciplinary Tribunal heard how Frances Louise Brough had been convicted of several serious criminal offences between August and October 2013.

These included assaulting her neighbours and using threatening words and behaviour, assaulting her parents, two counts of assaulting a police officer, and breaching a non-molestation order.

As a result she was sentenced in November 2013 by Newcastle Upon Tyne Crown Court to a community order for three years and required to be supervised by the probation service for 18 months, having originally been sentenced to six months in jail.

Ms Brough, who is 42 and last held a solicitor’s practising certificate in December 2009, was a member of the Law Society council between September 2009 and December 2011, representing the North-East.

In December 2013 she was convicted of fraud for making £22,847 in false expenses claims to the Law Society. She was sentenced to 15 months’ imprisonment, suspended for two years.

Ms Brough was called to the Bar in 2005 but never practised as she had not completed pupillage. The Bar tribunal heard that, contrary to the code of conduct, Ms Brough had also failed to promptly report the convictions to the Bar Standards Board. She was also found to have engaged in conduct discreditable to a barrister by failing to pay a fine of £350, imposed on her by a previous tribunal in 2013.

Sara Jagger, the board’s director of professional conduct, said: “While Ms Brough did not practise as a barrister, it is clearly not appropriate that she remain a member of the Bar. The panel’s decision to disbar her is absolutely the right one.”

In its decision in January, the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal said Ms Brough had brought the profession into disrepute.

It said: “This was a sad case where a previously reputable solicitor had rapidly descended into criminal behaviour. The tribunal noted the remarks of the judge at Southwark Crown Court on 22 April 2014 [when she was sentenced for the fraud] where he had described ‘a tragic case’ with alcohol abuse as a contributory cause.

“However, there were many aggravating factors in this case and the respondent had shown no contrition whatsoever for her behaviour. Indeed, there were no mitigating factors.”

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