A solicitor and football agent has agreed to pay a penalty of £2,000 after he was found to have knowingly employed a struck-off solicitor and failed to disclose a temporary suspension and fine placed on him by the Football Association.
Alan Middleton, partner at Middletons Solicitors in Liverpool, was also ordered to pay £2,500 in costs, according to a settlement notice published by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.
The SRA said Middleton had paid Charles Darnell, whom he knew had been struck off and jailed in 1997, without the SRA’s permission. In May 1997 Darnell received an 11-year prison sentence after being caught in a drugs sting.
Middleton amitted that Darnell, through his company Philips Legal Services, had been paid £12,450 between 2009 and 2014. Darnell provided driving services for the firm but also worked on client files and provided litigation support.
The SRA also said that Middleton failed to tell the regulator when he applied to renew his practising certificate in 2015 that he had been fined £30,000 by the Football Association earlier that year for breaking football agent regulations. The FA fine related to the transfer of footballer Calum Chambers from Southampton to Arsenal in 2014.
Lastly, third party insurers had complained that Middleton’s firm had submitted claims for costs on behalf of clients in personal injury cases without justification. Middleton accepted that he had breached principles 2 and 6 SRA Principles 2011.
In a statement the SRA said Middleton ‘understands and accepts’ that if any terms of this agreement are not complied or if he acts in any way inconsistent with the agreement then his conduct will be referred to the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal.