The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has banned a host of non-solicitors from working in the profession for misconduct ranging from taking money and fabricating correspondence to accepting a £20,000 gift from a client.
They have been made subject to orders under section 43 of the Solicitors Act 1974, which means they cannot work for a law firm without the regualtor’s permission.
Olusola Oyediran, who was a caseworker at North London firm Chris Solicitors, was instructed to make an application to the Home Office to extend his client’s right to remain in the UK.
He showed the client two letters to the Home Office which purported to evidence that the application had been made, when actually it had not been.
During the SRA investigation, Mr Oyediran was asked to provide a copy of the client-care letter he sent in May 2015. He provided a letter dated May 2018; he said he had inadvertently changed the date when printing it off.
But the metadata showed the letter had been created in August 2018.
The SRA imposed the section 43 order after finding that Mr Oyediran had been dishonest.
Emma Beddows was a non-solicitor salaried partner and head of private client at Kerwoods Solicitors in Redditch until October 2018, when it closed.
It was found that she misappropriated £97,077 from a probate estate in or around September 2018 and fabricated a letter of gift dated 1 March 2017 in an attempt to conceal her conduct.
The SRA said Ms Beddows was currently self-employed and practises under the name of Plan Ahead Legal, handling unreserved work, in particular wills, trusts and powers of attorney.
Donna Marie Bibby was the client relationship and business development manager of former Leeds firm Shulman’s debt recovery unit.
In 2018, she was convicted of making false statement in statement tendered in evidence and sentenced to nine months imprisonment, suspended for 12 months, plus 150 hours of community service.
Ms Bibby did not tell her employer of her conviction, which she was obliged to do, and then fabricated two letters from the firm to the community services company “providing inaccurate and misleading information about her overtime and work-related charitable activities”. This was dishonest, the SRA said.
Ben Moore spent six years as a probate manager at Ramsdens in Huddersfield. In April 2016, he was instructed by ‘Mr B’, then aged 92, to draft his will. Mr B later used him for three other matters.
In February 2018 Mr B gave Mr Moore a gift of £20,000 by cheque, which he accepted without informing the firm in breach of its anti-bribery and corruption policy.
West Yorkshire Police investigated allegations of financial abuse by third parties against Mr B the following year, during which Mr Moore disclosed the gift. The SRA stressed: “Mr Moore was not a suspect in the police investigation and did not face any charges in respect of it.”
The police nonetheless reported his conduct to the SRA, which in turn told the firm. He was fired in 2019 for serious misconduct.
Mr Moore told the SRA that he had not considered it necessary to advise Mr B to seek independent legal advice before he accepted the gift.
Finally, Thomas Ponsonby, who was a paralegal in the personal injury department of Southport firm Fletchers, was banned for signing a consent form to obtain personnel records and told the defendant’s solicitors it was signed by his client.