The Solicitors Regulation Authority was today accused of leaving ‘not just gaps but massive holes’ in its case against a former City solicitor accused of acting where there was a conflict of interest and of misleading the regulator. Alexis Maitland Hudson denies all charges.
During opening arguments in the hearing, which is expected to last three weeks, the SRA had alleged that businessman Steve Cosser had approached Maitland Hudson to agree short-term loans after experiencing financial difficulties. The SRA alleged the loans were ‘disadvantageous to Cosser and advantageous to Elite Partners Limited’ – a British Virgin Islands incorporated company which the SRA says Maitland-Hudson was involved in either as a ‘director beneficiary or both’.
The SRA’s counsel Mark Cunningham said that no solicitor could have 'possibly recommended the loans without being dishonest’.
But Maitland Hudson told the tribunal today that a three-year investigation by HM Revenue & Customs found no dubious relationship between himself, Elite and other organisations known as the ‘R Group’.
‘The SRA’s claim is that myself and the R Group are effectively ‘one and the same,’ Maitland-Hudson said. ‘The SRA are asking you to believe something that HMRC, with all their recourses and a three-year investigation, found to be the opposite’ Maitland Hudson said.
Earlier today Maitland Hudson asked the tribunal to adjourn or dismiss the case on the basis of a psychiatrist’s report. ‘This is not an application for a sick-note to avoid running around the school playing fields. I have already revealed my health struggles through previous doctors’ notes,’ he said.
The application was rejected by the tribunal which determined there was ‘nothing in the reports’ to suggest that Maitland-Hudson could not continue with the trial.
Cunningham had urged the tribunal to allow proceedings to continue. The charges against Maitland-Hudson were ‘vary grave’ and the ‘public had a right to know we are acting appropriately to prevent such action,’ he said.
This afternoon the tribunal said it was satisfied that there is a case to answer. The hearing continues.