Law firm finance head lied about fraud conviction to get job

SRA: Conduct was dishonest

A law firm employed a head of finance who concealed the fact that he had been jailed in Ireland for defrauding his previous employer.

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has now disqualified Gareth Booth from working for a law firm.

He was employed by Stephenson Law as head of finance between 6 June and 16 August 2022, when he was dismissed for gross misconduct.

An SRA notice published last week said that, in September 2020, Mr Booth was convicted of defrauding his previous employer of £586,694 while working as its group operations director.

According to a report in the Belfast Telegraph, he used the money to fund a share trading addiction, often chasing his losses.

He was sentenced to three years and three months in custody, spending half of it in prison, and was excluded from membership of Chartered Accountants Ireland as a result.

The SRA said that, in April 2022, Mr Booth completed an application form with a recruitment agency for the role, in which he responded ‘no’ when asked if he had any unspent criminal convictions or had ever been disqualified by a professional body.

This conduct was dishonest and “posed a risk to the reputation of the firm and the wider profession”.

As Stephenson Law was an alternative business structure, the disqualification was under section 99 of the Legal Services Act 2007.

Mr Booth was also ordered to pay the SRA’s costs of £1,350.

Stephenson Law was recently in the news for going into a creditors voluntary liquidation, with founder Alice Stephenson continuing in an unregulated legal practice.

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