Monday, February 08, 2010

Crown Office brought in over mortgage broker’s £24k client theft after Law Society failed to report Glasgow lawyer who 'covered up' for husband

COPFSCrown Office received report of Mortgage broker theft. SCOTLAND’s CROWN OFFICE have today received a report of the theft of a client’s £24,000 mortgage deposit by ex-mortgage broker NIGEL MACFARLANE (formerly of mortgage brokers, Ideal Mortgages), details of which were discovered during hearings at the Scottish Solicitors Discipline Tribunal after the Law Society of Scotland investigated complaints against Mr MacFarlane’s wife, solicitor Catriona MacFarlane who had represented the same client and covered up her husband’s theft.

The Crown Office were informed of matters concerning the case, and were drawn to the attention of weekend media coverage in the Sunday Mail newspaper, reporting further on the MacFarlane case and spectacularly breaking the secrecy of the SSDT report which had suspiciously failed to publicly identify Mr Wilson, the client whose funds had been stolen by solicitor Catriona MacFarlane’s husband. The Sunday Mail's report gave the victim a chance to speak publicly about his nightmare at the hands of the MacFarlanes.

Today's report to the Crown Office, which was accompanied by copies of the Scottish Solicitors Discipline Tribunal hearings, stated : “It is in the public interest, and vital for the protection of all consumers that the Crown Office investigate the case for possible prosecution as a deterrent to a further reoccurrence of this incident to consumers, and proceed accordingly.”

You can read my earlier report on the Catriona MacFarlane case, here : Glasgow lawyer who covered up husband's £24k client theft gets slap on the wrist by Law Society tribunal, continues working

Law Society of ScotlandLaw Society of Scotland failed to report crimes it detected. During my own investigation of the MacFarlane case, it transpired the Law Society of Scotland and the Scottish Solicitors Discipline Tribunal FAILED to inform both Strathclyde Police and the Crown Office that criminal activity had been detected during their investigation of the complaints made against Catriona MacFarlane. You can read my earlier report revealing the failures to inform the authorities, here : Law Society ‘routinely fails to report crime' as Crown Office admits it never received report on Glasgow lawyer theft cover-up investigation

A legal insider today commented that Law Society complaints reports and SSDT findings are routinely screened to prevent identities of clients being made known to the wider public & media, for fear that newspapers would approach those whose complaints had ended up at the Tribunal for possible ‘striking off’ solicitors.

He said : “Its a bit off that in 2010 people cant find out who is making a complaint about a solicitor just because the Law Society and the SSDT don't want journalists knocking on victims doors. People have a right to know which solicitors have done what to clients. I personally do not have a problem with that.”

Law Society of Scotland v Catriona Macfarlane 5 verdictSolicitors Tribunal revealed solicitor covered up theft but no report was made to Police or the Crown Office. A spokesman for a consumer organisation also commented on the apparent lack of detail in the solicitors tribunal findings, saying : “I feel its about time the Law Society ensured the full details of any criminal activity they come across while conducting an investigation should be handed over to the proper authorities to ensure consumers are fully protected against professionals who the general public are forced to place their trust in to handle their legal & financial affairs.

He continued : "The Law Society frequently inform complainers they cannot investigate criminal allegations but rarely if at all pass on to the Police, the details of those allegations to the proper authorities. Clearly this matter, which amounts to the legal profession turning a blind eye to criminality within its ranks, must be immediately addressed.”

The SSDT could not be contacted for a statement on the actual reasons for their rules of secrecy and the Law Society were today, said to be “angered” & “very concerned the identity of Catriona MacFarlane’s client had been revealed, which led to the renewed publicity on the case and today’s report to the Crown Office, asking the full weight of the law be applied in this case to protect consumers and act as a deterrent against similar instances.

So, the lesson here is, if you have made a complaint to the Law Society of Scotland, or the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission, or you have a case before the Scottish Solicitors Discipline Tribunal, make sure you contact someone or a journalist like myself who can publish it, because it is very clear the legal profession don't want the public to know what their solicitor has done to other clients. Time to change all that, and ensure the public do get to know who they are trusting as their legal representatives.

Mortgage Man stole my £24k - Nigel MacFarlane Mortgage Scandal Sunday Mail 070210MORTGAGE MAN STOLE MY £24K

Lawyer wife covered up scam

By Russell Findlay Sunday Mail 07 Feb 2010

A STUNNED home-buyer's £24,000 deposit was swiped by a mortgage broker whose lawyer wife then covered it up. Jim Wilson gave the money to Nigel MacFarlane, of Ideal Mortgages, but the adviser stole it and spent it. It then took 19 days for Jim's solicitor Catriona MacFarlane, 49 to tell him that the thief was actually her husband. Despite the deception, MacFarlane was not struck off by the Scottish Solicitors' Discipline Tribunal. Instead she was fined £2,500 for professional misconduct.

Jim, from East Kilbride, said : "She had her knuckles rapped. Yet for almost three weeks, she hid the fact her husband had taken our money."

MacFarlane referred to her husband as "the broker” during the property purchase.

The SSDT found that MacFarlane's delay in revealing the truth deprived her client of independent legal advice.They also ruled that MacFarlane, a solicitor for 27 years, had acted "very irresponsibly" and that her actions were "contrary to the standards of conduct expected".

Suspicious Jim found out the truth when he confronted MacFarlane at her then employers, Glasgow firm Hasties. Jim said : "She put her head in her hands and admitted it. I had to take out an emergency loan."

Nigel MacFarlane visited Jim at his home and vowed to repay the cash, which he did.


Anonymous said...

Obviously the Law Society again forgot to inform the cops there is a bent lawyer on the loose.

How many times do you think they forget to do this ?

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

In all honesty Peter I think I'd only trust any investigation if you were doing it as I dont have any faith in the Crown Office.

What are the odds they will sweep this one back under the Law Society's carpet ?

Peter Cherbi said...

# Anonymous @ 3.50pm

Quite a lot actually ... the Law Society seem not to report any criminal allegations against their member solicitors, unless the headlines start flowing.

However, conversely, the Law Society and several solicitors facing very serious complaints, seem to 'encourage' or take part in reporting complaining clients to the Police & Crown Office for a round of bullying in the hopes the complaints will be dropped ...

# Anonymous @ 4.17pm

I think there needs to be a dedicated unit of the Police to investigate crimes committed by the legal profession. Much like the SFO, but somethng that works a lot better I'd imagine ...

Of course, I wouldn't mind giving my input into such investigations ...

Anonymous said...

His wife is an accessory and should be charged just the same.

Also how about perverting the course of justice for her and anyone at the Law Society who knew about this and said nothing.

Anonymous said...

A very cosy arrangement where the Law Society uncover criminality then do nothing about it because either no one asks them or they are not obliged to tell.

You are onto a winner with this one Peter so go for it and expose these corrupt bastards for hiding the truth about what their brethren do to the rest of us.

Anonymous said...

The following found via google and I agree the Law Society should have reported her to Police.
Scottish Solicitors' Discipline Tribunal
14 Dec 09
Reports relating to Catriona MacFarlane; John James Smith

Catriona MacFarlane

A complaint was made by the Council of the Law Society of Scotland against Catriona Margaret MacFarlane, solicitor, Newton Mearns, Glasgow (“the respondent”). The Tribunal found the respondent guilty of professional misconduct in respect of her failure to disclose to her client the extent of her knowledge of the actings of her husband, a mortgage broker, her failure to advise her client timeously to seek separate independent advice, and her failure to withdraw from acting for her client, all in breach of the Code of Conduct for Scottish Solicitors 2002.

The Tribunal censured the respondent, fined her in the sum of £2,500, and directed in terms of s 53(5) of the Solicitors (Scotland) Act 1980 that for a period of three years, any practising certificate held or issued to the respondent shall be subject to such restriction as will limit her to acting as a qualified assistant to and to being supervised by such employer as may be approved by the Council or the Practising Certificate Committee of the Council of the Society.

It was clear to the Tribunal that the respondent’s conduct amounted to professional misconduct. The respondent had a duty by 7 February 2007 to give a full disclosure to her client of her state of knowledge about missing funds appropriated by her husband and the fact that she was married to Mr MacFarlane. The Tribunal considered that there was not only a conflict of interest in this situation but also an absolute duty on the respondent to advise her client to seek separate independent advice. The respondent’s conduct left her client in a vulnerable position for 19 days, which clearly caused a lot of distress to her client and his wife and left them exposed to an unacceptable risk. The Tribunal considered that the respondent had acted very irresponsibly and that her conduct was completely contrary to the standards expected of a solicitor. The Tribunal considered that a restriction on the respondent’s practising certificate was required in order to ensure protection for the public and that the respondent is properly supervised. The Tribunal also imposed a fine of £2,500 to reflect the seriousness with which the Tribunal viewed the respondent’s behaviour.

Anonymous said...

also found this by the Herald and they say she didn't even attend the hearing !!!!!

Lawyer fined for keeping quiet while husband took cash

Brian Horne

Published on 12 Nov 2009

A lawyer who kept quiet when her mortgage broker husband misappropriated a client’s cash has been fined £2500 for professional misconduct.

The independent Scottish Solicitors’ Discipline Tribunal heard the man did not know that Catriona Macfarlane and Nigel Macfarlane were married. In conversations with the man, identified only as Mr A, she simply referred to her husband as “the broker”.

The tribunal ruled that Mrs Macfarlane, 49, of Loganswell, Newton Mearns, should have been more honest earlier, told the client to seek independent advice and withdrawn from acting.

The case was brought by the Law Society of Scotland, which regulates the professional conduct of the country’s solicitors.

It told the tribunal that in May 2006, Mr A wanted to buy a house and contacted Ideal Mortgages, where Mr Macfarlane worked. Between then and November that year, he handed over a total of £24,150 to be used as a deposit.

Soon afterwards, Mr A went to Hasties Solicitors in Glasgow’s Lynedoch Crescent where Mrs Macfarlane works. She acted for him during the purchase of a property and, when it emerged that there were problems with the loan, phoned her husband.

Mrs Macfarlane also got the settlement date put back a month to February 8, 2007, but, the day before the deal was due to be concluded, she phoned the seller to say that her client “had been badly let down by his broker” and was unable to complete the transaction.

By this time, Mrs Macfarlane knew that her husband had misappropriated the money he had received from Mr A, said the tribunal in its written ruling.

Two weeks later, Mr Macfarlane visited Mr A, confessed what he had done, and promised to sort things out.

By this time, Mr A had become suspicious because solicitor and broker shared the same surname and confronted, Mrs Macfarlane who admitted they were married.

The tribunal heard that a new solicitor took over acting for Mr A and the property purchase was successfully completed in April 2007. Mr Macfarlane paid back what he had taken and also paid the additional costs caused by the delay.

But they decided that Mrs Macfarlane, who has been a solicitor for 27 years, had acted “very irresponsibly” and that what she had done

was “completely contrary to the standards of conduct expected of a solicitor”.

The tribunal also made an order that for the next three years Mrs Macfarlane could work only as an assistant, supervised by another solicitor.

Mrs Macfarlane did not contest the facts and was not present at the hearing.

Anonymous said...

"it transpired the Law Society of Scotland and the Scottish Solicitors Discipline Tribunal FAILED to inform both Strathclyde Police and the Crown Office that criminal activity had been detected during their investigation of the complaints made against Catriona MacFarlane"

of course they would never grass up their own or there will be no lawyers left !

btw that sub heading on the Mail story should have read "Lawyer wife covered up SCUM!"

Hope Jim gets some justice.

Anonymous said...

If the Macfarlanes read this I'm sure they will do a runner before lumbering Crown Office get their act together.

Also willing to bet Nigel might have done this before.Once a crook ..?

Anonymous said...

Theft is theft and with the evidence from the tribunal they both should be prosecuted.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Quite a lot actually ... the Law Society seem not to report any criminal allegations against their member solicitors, unless the headlines start flowing.


Anonymous said...

I also agree they should have been charged when it happened.Not too late to do it now as you say to prevent others falling victim to the same tricks.

Anonymous said...

The SSDT found that MacFarlane's delay in revealing the truth deprived her client of independent legal advice.They also ruled that MacFarlane, a solicitor for 27 years, had acted "very irresponsibly" and that her actions were "contrary to the standards of conduct expected".

Peter Cherbi said...

Thanks for all your comments so far.

To the unpublished comment - my response is I agree, although take out the blog address if you would and just let them 'google' for "crooked lawyers" .. that way, they find out more on their own, which I am all for.Team effort, everyone.

Oddly enough tonight, a Law Society source indicated to me a few of the 'big white chiefs' at Drunsheugh Gardens are "all het up" over me again ...

Really.I do hope I'm not causing any rises in blood pressure because all I'm doing is giving consumers a voice which the Law Society, and the law itself when used abused by solicitors, so eagerly & regularly, denies.

Anonymous said...

Obviously the Law Society and SSDT failed to report it but what about the firm her husband worked for ?

He committed the theft so why didn't they call in the cops ?

Cover up cover up !

Anonymous said...

Yet more proof if it were needed that the Law Society of Scotland is a thoroughly corrupt organisation and self regulation does not work.

Why was this not on the Scottish Television News I wonder?

Anonymous said...

Hi Peter.

Just to let you know there's more than Jim Wilson having problems with MacFarlane's old firm and another lawyer also involved.

I think you better get the tabloids back on the case asap

Anonymous said...

Lawyer corruption and the SLCC Law Society have such an infamous name for corruption that the words CROOKED AND LAWYER are now a unity.

People of Scotland, trust no lawyer, those with degrees with the letters LLB stand for Lowlife Lying B******s.

Anonymous said...

How do the Law Society get away with not reporting crime by lawyers ?

That is outrageous.Thanks for highlighting it.

Anonymous said...

To the Law Society of Scotland. You are evil incarnate, warped individuals. The profession must be protected at all costs.

Well Law Society, protect you must but you are digging your own grave. You destroy people's lives and expect us to lie down and die. No we will fight, not with violence but with word of mouth, phone calls, internet, you are going to pay dearly for your love of those you bestow practicing certificates on. If you are mentally capable of this, ROLE REVERSAL TIME. WHAT WOULD YOU DO IN THE CLIENTS SHOES? Lawyers are collective scum, with power, and vile morals. You are reaping what you have sown. Clients blood pressure is more important that lawyer blood pressure. Death to all of you lawyer UNTERMENCHEN.

Anonymous said...

Yes Peter giving consumers a voice. This is the most frustrating part of dealing with these crooks, they want to silence the voice, (soto voce) to silence, is this right? It means in a undertone (quietly) in music, that wonderful international language.

I digress, excuse me, yes your blog is brilliant and I am sure many of us spread the word. All the best.

The Law Society would rather see us all dead but David can and will beat Golliath.

Anonymous said...

You can only report what is happening Peter, if they are het up it is because they have no legal clout to stop you.

My Prescription to the Law Society chiefs, you have created your own misery be covering up client misery. We are not here to be abused so you can line your coffers. I would shut the Law Society down.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

Theft is theft and with the evidence from the tribunal they both should be prosecuted.

6:00 PM

Yes but the Law Society and tribunal should be charged for covering up a crime which only now is getting coverage about why nothing has been done.

Stinks the whole thing really.

Anonymous said...

Almost every day a story about another crooked lawyer.
I think I will give Scotland a miss this year.Too bloody dangerous if anything happens to me !

Peter Cherbi said...

Thanks for all your comments so far ...

and .. #Anonymous @ 9.07pm

Please contact me with any info you have and I will see it gets attention.

# Anonymous @ 8.24pm

Good point ... I wonder why Ideal Mortgages didn't call in the Police ... consumers should take note of that.

# Anonymous @ 8.41pm

It sounds like selective reporting again ...

Anonymous said...

sounds like you are causing problems for the crooks

good luck in nailing them !

Anonymous said...

Also dont forget her own law firm - Hasties didn't bother calling in the Police, preferring to rely on the Law Society's secrecy tactics keeping the lid on it all. Macfarlane can still work - she was not struck off so beware everyone same could happen to you.