A solicitor convicted of seven counts of fraud, involving goods worth £10,600 – including fireworks and tickets for the Grand National – has been struck off.
The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) said Nathan Horsley had been convicted of “serious offences involving dishonesty which struck at the heart of what the public would expect of a solicitor”.
Mr Horsley, admitted in 2010, ceased to practice three years later but remained on the roll.
He was convicted of seven counts of fraud in 2019 and sentenced to two years’ imprisonment for each offence, to run concurrently, suspended for two years.
In an agreed outcome with Mr Horsley, now approved by the SDT, the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) said he set up a company called BCBG Pyrotechnics in 2016, using his Halifax banking app to order over £5,300 of fireworks from two companies.
He sent them screenshots from his app indicating that the payment,500 had been made, when in fact it had not because he had insufficient funds.
Mr Horsley used his app, and made fraudulent misrepresentations, in five further incidents.
He attempted to buy hampers worth over £3,400 from two luxury hamper companies, gift cards worth £1,500 from Marks and Spencer, and chocolate boxes from Thorntons worth over £300.
In each case, he misrepresented that payment had been made when in fact he did not have the money for them. But none of the goods were sent to him.
Mr Horsley also advertised several Grand National tickets for sale on Gumtree in early 2017 and was paid £270 for the tickets by Ms M, who “did not receive her tickets nor was she repaid any money”.
The SRA said Mr Horsley argued at his trial that “he had tried to arrange finance for his business through the Halifax Building Society” and had assumed that the finance had been granted.
“On the basis of this assumption, he ordered fireworks, equipment, and marketing materials for the business. The payments, which had been made over a period of time, did not clear as the building society had declined the finance.”
However, the solicitor “admitted that he had failed to check his finances before ordering substantial goods and services” and that he ought to have done.
The SRA said the judge directed the jury that Mr Horsley was “an intelligent man and should have checked that the finance was approved before ordering the fireworks”.
Although the fireworks were returned and the hampers not delivered, Mr Horsley “made attempts to make a gain” in respect of the Grand National tickets.
In mitigation not agreed by the regulator, Mr Horley said he “whistleblew to the SRA” over financial irregularities at a law firm where he was head of litigation before his fraud offences.
This triggered a police investigation, which caused him “profound stress” before he was acquitted of all charges in 2020. Meanwhile, he had set up a business organising corporate events and firework displays.
He admitted being “foolish” and failing to do “proper due diligence” at that business but said his earning capacity had been “nullified” by the law firm’s “witch hunt” against him.
The SRA said Mr Horsley’s dishonest conduct was “sustained over a period of time and very serious”.
The SDT struck him off and ordered him to pay costs of £1,300.