Law firm secretary banned after county lines drug gang conviction

SRA: Trust in legal services would be damaged without order

A legal secretary convicted of offences to supply class A drugs due to her involvement in a county lines gang has been banned from working in the solicitors’ profession.

An order under section 43 of the Solicitors Act 1974 means Georgia Burns could only in future be employed by a firm regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) with its permission.

A notice published on Friday said that, before becoming a legal secretary in the personal injury department of Stockport firm Harvey Roberts, Ms Burns worked “in other roles supporting the delivery of legal services”.

In May 2023, Ms Burns, 22 at the time, was convicted alongside her former partner, Jamie Upton, and his second in command, Kade Joyson, for exploiting three 16-year-old boys to sell crack cocaine and heroin.

The trio were given mobile phones and transported numerous times along the M62 between Tameside and Hull, often missing from home for numerous days and staying in properties that were described as crack dens. They were threatened with violence to ensure their co-operation.

All three pleaded guilty. The ringleader, Jamie Upton, 25 at the time, was sentenced to eight years and three months imprisonment for possession of a class A drug with the intent to supply, three counts of being concerned in the supply of class A drugs and arrange or facilitate the movement of a person with a view to exploitation.

Kade Joyson, 27, was sentenced to seven years and three months imprisonment for two counts of being concerned in the supply of class A and arrange or facilitate the movement of a person with a view to exploitation.

Ms Burns was sentenced to two years imprisonment, suspended for two years, for two counts of being concerned in the supply of heroin and cocaine. She was also handed 20 rehabilitation days and 200 hours of unpaid work.

According to the SRA, the judge found she was “fully aware of the involvement of the co-accused in a county lines drugs supply operation”. She drove the co-accused to facilitate his drug dealing on at least four occasions and on at least two occasions transported a minor for the purpose of dealing drugs.”

The regulator said: “Ms Burns was a legal secretary handling sensitive and confidential case information, preparing files of documents for court and corresponding with clients. She would be expected to do so with integrity and in a way that upholds public trust and confidence in the safe delivery of those legal services.

“The public’s trust and confidence in legal services is diminished if Ms Burns, who has been convicted of offences as described, can work in such a role without the SRA’s prior permission.”

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