Thursday, September 28, 2006

Crooked ex lawyer & Conservative Politician gets off lightly with 27 month sentence for fraud against disabled client

A case I was very interested in, of course, because Iain Catto did the same to his client, Francis Fleming, systematically robbing his vulnerable client of his funds, as a crooked sick Borders Accountant Norman Howitt of Welchs Accountants Hawick & Galashiels did to my mother, even taking her pension book & bank books.

You can read about what crooked Borders accountant Norman Howitt did to my mother, along with plenty evidence, here :
http://petercherbi.blogspot.com/2006/03/norman-howitt-crooked-borders.html
and you can read my previous coverage of the Catto fraud case here :
http://petercherbi.blogspot.com/2006/08/dont-trust-your-lawyer-or-accountant.html

Ian Catto only got 27 months for his crimes though - a pitiful sentence, which many are wondering was influenced by his political & legal connections. I certainly wonder about that .. because here we have Catto - a self-professed big wig with the Scottish Tories, with many connections within the Scottish Tory party, and with connections to the legal profession & it's allies, getting a very light sentence, for an obviously pre meditated and well thought out robbery of his client's funds.

Lets make no mistake about this here, this was robbery. Catto knew exactly what he was doing, and to show just how depraved, sick & evil he was, he preyed on a vunerable disabled client, stealing all he could from Mr Flemming.

Why then should Catto just get 27 months ? when all he will serve will be half that at the most ? let's say .. maybe 12 months at most ? for stealing over £70,000 from a disabled person who depended on him as a friend ? I think that's a disgrace. Catto should have got 5 years for what he did.

Where are the cries from politicians asking for an increased sentence ? I don't hear any ... but certainly Catto deserves a LOT more than 27 months if there is to be any deterent aspect to the sentence ...

Why is the Crown Office not announcing an appeal to the sentence to get it increased ? Shouldn't it be in the public interest that the likes of Catto get a LOT more than 27 months ? or is it because, of course, Catto comes from the legal profession and has his political pals to pull strings for him ...

If you want to email the Crown Office to urge them to appeal for an increase in Catto's sentence, the Crown Office email is : COPFS@scotland.gsi.gov.uk

If you want to write to the Crown Office on this case, their address is :
The Crown Office, 25 Chamber Street, Edinburgh EH1 1LA

If you want to email the Scottish Parliament Justice 2 Committee (who are currently handling the LPLA Bill on lawyers regulation) and ask why they aren't paying attention to lenient sentences of crooked lawyers, the Justice 2 Committee's email is : justice.committee@scottish.parliament.uk

What's Catto going to do when he comes out ? Stand again as an MP for the Tories ? With the likes of Lord Archer and a few others within their ranks .. that would be just grand for the Tories to have another like Catto in their midst .. and he will probably have every assistance he wants to get there .. because the likes of Catto don't care a damn about people like poor Mr Flemming .. or for that, any client .. because in the psychology of many lawyers - the client is just a nuisance - and deserves to be ripped off as much as possible.

I've still to hear whether Mr Flemming actually did get the money returned to him ... the Scotsman stories on the case report that Catto makes great hay of selling a flat to pay back the money .. but there is no definite mention of whether Mr Flemming actually received it yet ... and even so, giving back the money doesn't undo the sick twisted crime which Catto committed against his client - and that is why Catto should get much more than 27 months.

However, while at least Catto is going to jail, crooked Norman Howitt escaped any punishment whatsoever - because of course, he is a crooked accountant, and could rely on the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland to get him off the hook - which they did, with the most senior staff at ICAS, such as Director of Legal Services Tom McMorrow, and the ICAS President & plenty other goons from ICAS spinning a web of lies & deception to get their crooked colleague Howitt off the hook from his theft of my mothers pension book, bank books, and even his fiddling of a secret trust to keep all the money under his own control.

I wonder what's up with the Crown Office, and why they are so protective of those in the legal profession who are either charged with criminal offences, or get found guilty in criminal cases ...

The Crown Office were recently asked under Freedom of Information laws to disclose how many criminal cases & successful prosecutions there had been against members of the legal profession.

The first reaction from the Lord Advocate's office was a demand to know why the information was requied and for what purpose it would be used .. The Crown Office, then came out & said it held no such statistics on criminal cases & successful prosecutions against members of the legal profession.

Why exactly is that ? Why do the Crown Office come out with a big fanfare when it suits them with barrels of statistics on other types of criminal cases, to prove they are doing a good job of sweeping up the crooks, but when it comes to criminal cases against members of the legal profession - they keep silent .. even refusing, well, actually, lying, that they don't know how many prosecutions or criminal cases there have been against members of the legal profession in Scotland.

Even the Law Society of Scotland, of course, won't disclose how many lawyers it has within it's ranks who have criminal convictions .. and since there is around 10,000 solicitors in Scotland these days - it's anyone's guess how many of them are criminals .... certainly there have been a few cases in the papers recently, where lawyers were convicted of criminal offences ... some of them were even Procurator Fiscals .. but no statistics to be released ... what a sinister silence we have here then ... and to think the Police were forced to admit only a few weeks ago, the numbers of officers in Scotland who have criminal convictions ... but the same rule of disclosure isn't to be applied to lawyers ... how unfair .. how ... sinister ...

It could be the case that if Catto ever came back as a lawyer no one would know about this conviction if they weren't aware of it and since the Crown Office refuses to disclose statistics on numbers of criminal cases or convictions against the legal profession, even Catto's conviction might not come to light if he doesn't tell anyone about it - which he obviously wont.

I think it's time for it to be made mandatory that lawyers disclose their regulatory & criminal history to clients .. and the Lord Advocate Colin Boyd should get his underlings to appeal Catto's sentence for something much more substantial than a mere 27 months, of which he wont serve much.

Read on for the article, from The Scotsman, at :
http://thescotsman.scotsman.com/scotland.cfm?id=1427092006

27 months for lawyer who robbed 'friend' of £70,000
VALERIE MACGREGOR

HE was once a successful and well- connected lawyer, a city councillor and a man tipped to be a future Westminster MP.

But yesterday, the political aspirations of Iain Catto were ended forever when he was jailed for 27 months for stealing £70,000 from a disabled client, who depended upon him as a close friend.

Catto took the money over two years from December 2002 to maintain his lifestyle of foreign travel and exclusive restaurants after losing his job as a solicitor. He now faces a hearing before the independent Scottish Solicitors' Discipline Tribunal, where he could be struck off.

Edinburgh Sheriff Court heard yesterday how the 41-year-old - a leading member and secretary of the right-wing Scottish dining club the Tuesday Club - befriended Francis Fleming, 59, who had been partially paralysed in an assault, and offered to look after his finances.

But Catto, a Conservative member of Lothian Regional Council from 1990 to 1994, was regularly withdrawing sums of up to £11,000 from the large criminal injuries payout his client had received. He also sold some of his victim's shares to get more cash.

To cover up his scam, he had all Mr Fleming's bank statements sent to his own home address. Mr Fleming, who was left partially paralysed and impaired following an attempt on his life in 1968, trusted the solicitor so completely that he even gave him a key to his home in Craigentinny Road, Edinburgh.

Meanwhile, Catto was buying himself airline and train tickets for the UK and abroad, hotel rooms, restaurant meals, software, goods from Oddbins and expensive haircuts.

Mr Fleming, who separated from his wife and lost touch with his son, had gone to the legal firm where Catto was a trainee to get financial help. The former councillor befriended him and took over power of attorney in 1996.

Alison Innes, fiscal depute, told Edinburgh Sheriff Court that Catto lost his job as a solicitor in 2002 and turned to stealing from Mr Fleming for his own use between December 2002 and December, 2004. She said: "He became very close to Mr Fleming and used to come and go as he pleased. Mr Fleming, being the trusting soul that he was, did not have any problems with that."

Catto carried on with the scam until Mr Fleming was reunited with his son, Frank MacLennan, who first became suspicious about Catto when he tried to help them buy a home in Spain during a holiday.

"Had it not been for the son arriving, we can only speculate if the accused would have stopped at all," Mrs Innes told Sheriff Kathrine Mackie.

Mr MacLennan realised £4,000 had gone missing and arranged to take over the power of attorney from Catto.

In November 2005, Catto, of Edinburgh,pleaded guilty to the theft and has sold a flat to repay the stolen cash.

Fiona MacDonald, the defence agent, said Catto had forged a promising career but when he was sacked could not admit the shame of it to family and friends.

The sheriff told him: "You callously took funds from Mr Fleming to support yourself when you knew that he depended on that money and you. It was a gross breach of trust."

Mr MacLennan, 42, criticised the sentence as too short. He said:
"He bled my father dry. We had been planning to move to Spain, but now that idea is gone. He lied to my dad and me from the start."

The Law Society of Scotland confirmed it would be looking into Catto's case.

8 comments:

rab said...

Just read about Howitt. I read from google hes a senior partner at Welch and director of an Eildon Housing and Borders College ?

His pal T McMorrow did a fine job of getting him out of the shit. More criminals helping other criminals.

I will write to the Crown Office as you suggest.

Good one Peter Cherbi.

Bert said...

good idea about increasing the sentence. he should get a lot more than 27 months.

Phil said...

I've been reading your comments on the Scotsman website.

I like what you say and I can see why now.

All the best and make sure you nail that hood Howitt

Anonymous said...

For Christ's sake, will someone from the News of te World give this guy a job !

Bloody great effort here to expose Scottish villains.

Anonymous said...

Hanging that guy would be too good for what he did. Try burning at the stake instead.

Hope Flemming gets his money back. If he does, it will be a first.

Alan Wattie said...

Thanks for the link to the Consumer Action Group.

Going to have a go at my Bank after I totalled up their charges. No wonder the RBS is making billions its off our backs.

Anonymous said...

Didn't hear any outraged Tories at Catto's fraud either. They will probably give him a knighthood for it if they ever get back in

Anonymous said...

Heard your name mentioned at an occasion .. along the lines of the Law Society management want you dead ...