20 November 2009

Legal Trouble in the North East

1. Walking past Alderman Fenwick's house earlier today I noticed that someone had stuck thick black tape over part of the brass plate that would ordinarily display the name of the legal firm, Hunt Kidd; the Legal 500 recommended law firm.

I made a point of going past it because earlier in the week local BBC radio reported that the offices had been shut; its licence suspended and two of its solicitors had to answer to the solicitors regulation authority.

The story is taken up in the local newspaper, "Law firm shut as investigation starts."

"The SRA stated that it acted on the belief that Kenneth Hunt and Barbara Gayton had breached practicing regulations and a full regulatory hearing is now expected to follow in the New Year. If the pair are found to have broken professional regulations, it is understood they could ultimately be struck off.

An SRA spokesperson said: “The Solicitors Regulatory Authority have intervened into the practice of Hunt Kidd Law LLP on November 9 on the grounds of suspected financial irregularities on the part of Kenneth Hunt and Barbara Gayton.

“The practising certificates of both Mr Hunt and Mrs Gayton have been suspended with immediate effect.”
"

2. Malcolm Graham and Wendy Gurr have been arrested as part of the Northeast property buyers (Company No. 05609732) scandal. Northeast Property buyers bought houses from people who couldn't keep up with their mortgage loan repayments with a view to renting the property back to them. This meant that the former homeowners would be able to live in the property as tenants. Unfortunately, Northeast property buyers met financial difficulties with the result that whoever lent the money to Northeast property buyers wanted to liquidate assets. In other words, they wanted to sell the properties occupied by the tenants. It isn't clear why proprietary estoppel isn't being played by the tenants but a number of people have already been evicted.

This business practice is currently being investigated by the police with the result that, "Second solicitor arrested in fraud probe".

(Note Graham ran SFM Legal Services (Company No. 05718006) along with Gurr. This company provided legal services to Northeast Property buyers and were based in the same business unit).

Again, more details as they emerge ... but this is the tip of the iceberg in the UK. Expect more scandals of this nature and political fallout - remember that the taxpayer is underwriting all of this sh*t.

I wonder when they'll be enough details to start creating Lombardi diagrams?


Update 26th Nov 2009, Solicitor Barbara Gayton arrested after firm closed,

"The Journal can now reveal that partner Barbara Gayton has been arrested on suspicion of [s4 Fraud Act 2006] fraud by abuse of position."


Update 12th December 2009 "Solicitor from Alnwick arrested in £1m fraud probe"

"A SOLICITOR from one of Tyneside’s most prominent law firms has been arrested in connection with a £1m fraud probe.

A 63-year-old man was arrested at his home in the Alnwick area of Northumberland yesterday morning and brought to Newcastle to be questioned by officers from Northumbria Police’s Economic Crime Unit.

The Journal understands him to be Kenneth Hunt, a partner at Newcastle solicitors Hunt Kidd.
"


Update 17th December 2009, "Arrested solicitors struck off after SRA hearing"

"TWO solicitors arrested in connection with the North East Property Buyers scandal have been struck off by law industry watchdogs.

Malcolm Graham and Wendy Ostell, also known as Gurr, were both stripped of their right to practise at a Solicitors Regulatory Authority (SRA) disciplinary hearing.

And the two former directors of Gateshead-based SFM Legal Services, have both also been given heavy fines.

Mr Graham, 34, of Darras Hall, Northumberland, has been ordered to pay £116,800 in costs, and Ms Gurr, 32, of Whickham, Gateshead, will have to cough up £20,000.
"

Update 21st Jan 2010, SRA Interventions(scroll down).

"Hunt Kidd Law Firm
On 5 November 2009, the committee resolved to intervene in the above recognised body of Alderman Fenwick’s House, 98-100 Pilgrim Street, Newcastle Upon Tyne NE1 6SQ, on the basis that they were satisfied that grounds for intervention existed under paragraphs 1(1)(a)(i) and (c) of part I of schedule 1 to the Solicitors Act 1974 (as amended), namely that there was reason to suspect dishonesty on the part of Kenneth Hunt and Barbara Gayton; and that they had failed to comply with the Solicitors Accounts Rules 1998. In addition, the committee was satisfied that grounds for intervention existed under paragraphs 32(1)(a) and (d) of schedule 2 to the Administration of Justice Act 1985, namely that Hunt Kidd Law Firm had failed to comply with the Solicitors Accounts Rules 1998, and that there was reason to suspect dishonesty on the part of its officers, Mr Hunt and Mrs Gayton.

Nigel Coates of Russell Cooke, 2 Putney Hill, London SW15 6AB, 020 8789 9111, has been appointed to act as the intervention agent.

The first date of attendance at the practice address was 9 November 2009 and all client files/accounting records were uplifted.

The practising certificates of both Mr Hunt and Mrs Gayton have been suspended with immediate effect.
"

Solicitors Regulatory Authority Decisions: Kenneth Hunt - 096179 Decision - Closure. Barbara Gayton - 126291 Decision - Closure

Update 29th January 2010 - "North East Property Buyers director bankrupt

Update 10th January 2011. Solicitors at Hunt Kidd in Newcastle charged with theft,

"Two solicitors have been charged with stealing more than £1m from clients."

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