Solicitor caught on CCTV giving cash to clients at police station

police station

Police station: Solicitor knew the correct procedure

A veteran solicitor caught on CCTV four times giving cash to arrested clients at a Kent police station has been struck off.

Derek Hayward, who qualified in 1976, said he had acted with the “utmost stupidity” and “gave into pressure on these occasions which was to say the least unprofessional”.

Mr Hayward was a duty solicitor and principal of Derek J Hayward & Co in Rainham, which closed earlier this summer, the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) heard. The four incidents took place in autumn 2019.

In the first, Mr Hayward was in a consultation room at Medway police station with a client, SB, who was about to appear at a virtual court hearing.

The solicitor was filmed taking something of a trouser pocket under the table, then reaching “behind his laptop” to pass it to SB, who took it and put his own hand under the table as if “concealing something”.

When SB later returned to his cell, CCTV footage captured “a small item” dropping, apparently from his trouser pocket, onto the floor.

Two screwed-up £20 notes were later found on the floor in front of the custody desk.

SB called the front desk on the intercom and “said he had £40 which was hidden in his buttocks the whole time he had been in custody and that he had dropped the money”.

SB claimed he was given the money while in hospital after his arrest and before being taken to the police station, but he had been strip-searched before his meeting with Mr Hayward.

In an agreed outcome with the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) approved by the SDT, the solicitor admitted that he had acted dishonestly and with a lack of integrity by passing money to clients in the custody suite and attempting to conceal it.

In the second incident, he passed over £20 by shaking hands with the client, while in the third incident a £20 note was found in the bandage of a “well-known drug user” after a meeting with Mr Hayward. In the fourth, the client concealed the handing over of cash with a piece of paper.

The regulator said a solicitor with “a legitimate reason to pass money to his clients whilst they were in detention would have contacted the custody sergeant and sought his permission to give money to his clients”.

If the sergeant agreed, he would have recorded the receipt of money and returned the cash to the client on release from detention. Mr Hayward was aware of this.

In non-agreed mitigation, he described himself as ashamed and “thoroughly embarrassed” and that his actions were “to say the least of utmost stupidity and certainly not for any personal gain”.

He said that “in all probability” the money he handed over “would only have been to assist his clients getting home”.

Mr Hayward denied that his misconduct was intended “to ‘curry favour’ with clients” or “because of any inducements given”. Instead, he “gave into pressure on these occasions which was to say the least unprofessional”.

He was struck off and ordered to pay just over £3,400 in costs.

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