Crown 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 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.”
Solicitors 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.
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.