As a long-retired solicitor I was approached recently by an old friend and client. He wanted to know what the words ‘safe keeping’ meant. I was intrigued and he explained.

He had written some children’s stories. They were published and 40,000 copies were sold. He had prepared extensive notes, writings and drawings for new books, having paid the artist for the drawings.

For various reasons he wanted all this material to be held by his solicitors for a period. They agreed. He set out the items in detail and received a receipt indicating they would be held for him in safe keeping. He felt much assured. Indeed, he offered to pay the lawyers for looking after the items but they said it was not necessary.

So the material was put in a suitable container and my friend received a receipt. Despite all his efforts he has never been able to recover his material. As far as he can see, the problem may have arisen from negotiations between two firms of solicitors and the partners involved.

When he asked for the items so that he could proceed with the books he was told they could not be found, although they were accepted for ‘safe keeping’.

All his efforts, through ombudsman, Law Society, Solicitors Regulation Authority, have got him nowhere, so he asked me what he could do.

Hence this letter. Your readers may have had experience of items held in safe keeping; items that seemed to have just disappeared.

I do think, as the former senior partner of a London firm, that this issue is most relevant in view of the many items held by firms ‘in safe keeping’. The question now is what to do? Do your readers have an answer?

Aubrey Rose CBE, Hadley Wood, Herts