Luckily, Neil knew a good lawyer.

A solicitor is facing the possibility of an SRA investigation after a misconduct hearing revealed that a police officer was promoting her services to victims of road traffic accidents.

Neil Clarke resigned from Suffolk Police in 2005 but rejoined three years later. In-between he worked at an East Anglian law firm identified as ‘Firm A’ at his disciplinary tribunal, where he met a partner in the personal injury practice identified as ‘Person A’.

The police panel imposed reporting restrictions which prevent RollOnFriday from naming Firm A or the nature of Clarke’s connection to Person A.

Once back in the force as a supervisor in the Roads and Armed Policing Team, Clarke gave Person A her heart’s desire, i.e. clients.

At the scene of a fatal road accident, Clarke recognised the attending doctor from her own earlier accident. “Just out of interest, forgive me for prying but - lawyer dealing with the matter?” he asked her.

When the doctor clarified, “I’m obviously fine”, Clarke replied, “You weren’t at the time, were you”, then recommended Person A.

On several occasions Clarke ‘signposted’ victims or their relations towards Person A. In one instance cited by the panel, he emailed a victim’s father the details of four firms, but put Firm A at the top and did not provide a phone number for the other three (which were Hatch Brenner, Morgan Jones & Pett and Cozens-Hardy, Suffolk law firm fans), adding, "I know that [Firm A] come highly recommended from other families”.

The disciplinary panel heard how he told another victim’s husband, “My honest advice? Give [Firm A] a call and see what they say – regionally they are the go-to firm for personal injury claims (and I’m not just saying that because [Person A, presumably referred to by another term] works there)”.

A woman involved in another fatal accident later told investigators she had instructed Person A’s new firm, identified as Firm B, because “A police officer recommended them to me…He shouldn’t have done it, or wasn’t really allowed to, but he kind of did it on the side”.

Clarke also made sure his favoured lawyer had the inside track on what was happening in the force. In 2020, he forwarded an email received from a rival law firm which contained a link that could only be opened by a police officer from a police domain address. Person A replied, "Oh my word!!! ... Are you able to access the link? I can't without your work email so can't read what it says".

Clarke was charged with gross misconduct for his thoughtful gestures and he resigned from the force a second time in 2023.

The police panel, sitting at Ipswich Town Football Club, found his approach had been “repeatedly wrong” and amounted to discreditable conduct. However, it also found that there was an absence of clarity in police policy around signposting law firms and said that Clarke had been seeking to act in good faith. As such, it found him guilty of misconduct rather than gross misconduct.

However, Person A in now facing potential difficulties of her own given that the SRA Code of Conduct requires clients to be informed by their solicitor “of any financial or other interest which an introducer has in referring the client to you”.

The code also forbids unsolicited approaches to members of the public in order to advertise legal services, which, if it applied to the police, would appear to catch most of the force given their policy of signposting their favoured law firms to victims.

An SRA spokesperson said, “We cannot confirm or deny if we are investigating a matter, it is only if action is necessary that we would make information public”.

Firm A and Person A did not respond to requests for comment. 

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Where's good old Photoshop 22 March 24 12:32

Please stop using those ghastly AI generated images and bring back the, erm, professional photoshop pix

Je Suis Monty Don l’Autobus 23 March 24 11:26

“The code also forbids unsolicited approaches to members of the public in order to advertise legal services”

why does the code do this

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