Exclusive: SRA to look into scandal involving Fieldfisher senior partner
22 July 2016
The involvement of the senior partner of Fieldfisher
in a growing horseracing scandal has attracted the attention of the Solicitors Regulation Authority.
Matthew Lohn was a member of the British Horseracing Authority's supposedly independent disciplinary panels for 11 years. However, despite the apparent conflict of interest, since 2013 Fieldfisher had simultaneously provided the BHA with paid-for legal advice. Defendants had no idea about Lohn's commercial relationship with their accuser until it emerged during an appeal by a trainer against his guilty verdict.
forced the BHA to quash the conviction, and it has now written to inform individuals in seven more cases involving Lohn that there could be “an appearance of bias
”, telling them to "come forward if they have any concerns
". The scandal also forced the BHA to fast-track a review of its panels and to clarify that at least until the review is over Lohn will not be engaged "on the panel or directly related matters
" (although Lohn's Fieldfisher profile erroneously still claims he sits as chair).
Lohn has now excited the interest of the SRA. A spokesman for the regulator told RollOnFriday, “We are aware of the issue and will look at all available information before deciding on appropriate action
”. Meanwhile a spokeswoman for the Pensions Regulator, where Lohn is a member of the Determinations Panel, said that it was “aware of these matters",
but that it would be inappropriate to comment.
Refusing to acknowledge the spiralling controversy involving the firm and its senior partner, a spokesman for Fieldfisher told RollOnFriday it "will not be providing any comment. For all press queries please contact the British Horseracing Authority
". Nick Rust, Chief Executive of the BHA and now de facto Fieldfisher press handler, said, “We are acting fairly, responsibly and proactively to deal with this matter and to address issues arising from a small number of past cases involving Matthew Lohn".