Addict solicitor struck off after hiding cocaine offence


Cocaine: Caution and then conviction for solicitor

An experienced solicitor has been struck off after accepting a caution for possession of banned drugs, failing to report it to the regulator, and misleading police.

Lee Robert Lipson, who was born in 1977 and became a solicitor in 2005, admitted being a drug addict.

He had been a litigation and insolvency partner at BPS Law in Manchester, although from summer 2016 and until he left in 2017, had been an assistant there instead.

In April 2016, he was arrested and then given a conditional caution in Birmingham for possessing cannabis and cocaine.

But he told the police he had not taken the cocaine and that the cannabis was for medicinal purposes to treat pain from a “neurological” condition.

He then failed to alert the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), which was instead informed by the police.

However, when questioned by the regulator, he claimed the drugs belonged to his ex-partner and she had spiked his drink with some of them, while he was found with the rest, which he had confiscated from her.

In a statement of facts and outcome agreed with the SRA, Mr Lipson admitted that it had been the police that he had misled.

Some eight months after the first incident, he was caught driving under the influence of cocaine and was given a 12-week custodial sentence, suspended for a year. He was also disqualified from driving for 18 months.

It was noted at the time that the reading for cocaine in his blood was “extremely high”.

In mitigation, Mr Lipson said he had been suffering from drug addiction at the time and was now seeking treatment. He conceded his actions meant he should be struck off.

Approving the agreed outcome, the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal said the misconduct “will inevitably have caused significant harm to the reputation” of the profession.

Misleading the police when first arrested was a “significant departure” from the standards expected of a solicitor, it said.

Aggravating the case was that Mr Lipson had repeated his misconduct over time and had misled the police.

Mitigating his misconduct was that he had shown “genuine insight” into the seriousness of what he had done.

He agreed also to pay costs of £3,585.

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