Solicitor who pressured client into £65k loan struck off
A solicitor who represented a sex offender and then pressured him to lend him £65,000 has been struck off.
Stephen Kettlewell, a solicitor for more than 15 years, undertook reserved legal activities through an unauthorised body when he acted for a client facing charges for a sex offence whom he had met in a pub.
Kettlewell told the defendant, named in the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal judgment as Charles Kevin Irving Littleboy (KL), that he had previously handled a similar case with a successful outcome. He went on to appear on Littleboy's behalf at Northallerton Magistrates' Court in November 2011.
The tribunal heard that Kettlewell was then paid £5,000 for representation at court and at a police station.
Following a second appearance at the magistrates’ court, Kettlewell told the client that he needed a £65,000 loan in connection with a property matter in Spain, without which he could no longer represent him.
The money was lent on the basis of it being returned within a week, but the tribunal heard the money had never been repaid.
The tribunal also heard that Kettlewell issued European orders for payment through a body, Kettlewell Solutions Limited, which was not authorised or recognised by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.
‘The misconduct was deliberate, calculated and repeated and had continued over a period of time,’ said the tribunal. ‘[The client] was in a vulnerable position at the material time and [Kettlewell] had exploited this.
‘[Kettlewell] had taken advantage of his relationship with KL, who was under enormous pressure at the material time, to obtain this loan. This was a client facing very serious criminal charges who was presented with the choice of advancing a significant sum of money to [Kettlewell] or facing the prospect of being unrepresented at court.
‘The tribunal regarded this conduct as completely lacking in integrity and clearly damaging to public confidence in the provision of legal services.’
Kettlewell was not present at last month’s hearing. He applied for an adjournment on the grounds of ill health, a lack of finances to obtain representation and his involvement in a road accident.
But the tribunal ruled that the case, originally fixed for a substantive hearing in December 2014 before Kettlewell raised similar health issues, should go ahead in his absence.
Following a prosecution by the SRA, the tribunal found all five allegations against him proved beyond reasonable doubt.
Kettlewell was admitted as a solicitor in December 1999 and his name remained on the roll at the time of the hearing. His most recent practising certificate was granted for the year 2010/11 and held over until it was terminated in August 2012.
He had previously admitted acting dishonestly in 2008 and was fined £5,000 at a tribunal.
The tribunal this time opted to strike him off and ordered him to pay £22,500 in costs.