Dodgy Solicitor: Dodgy Judge Special
20 December 2013
Two judges are to be struck off for misappropriating more than £1.5 million in legal aid fees. But for the time being they still get to be judges.
Stuart Turner and Denis McKay's law firm, Lonsdales, had contracts with the Legal Aid Agency to represent legal aid-funded clients in civil claims. When their clients won, Turner and McKay were supposed to return the legal aid money to the LAA, since their costs were met by the losing opposition. Instead, the SRA held that they had kept it and ruled that they had "deliberately, systematically and extensively
" failed to account for at least £1.5 million of public funds.
|| Victims of their own success (and greed)
Both men are also costs judges, and are still in their posts. However the Judicial Conduct Investigations Office said they had "voluntarily refrained
" from sitting as judges since the SRA began its investigation. Lonsdales was shut by the SRA in 2011, and the JCIO has now started an inquiry. Criminal proceedings have not yet been commenced.
Turner said, "I’ve been tried and found guilty, so I’ve got to pay the money back. But I didn’t know the full extent of the fraud. I regret ever going into partnership with Denis McKay.