A solicitor who claimed she was traumatised by the 7 July bombings has been struck off following a criminal conviction.
Olayemi Daniel, 49, was sentenced to four years’ imprisonment in June 2013 after convictions for money laundering and mortgage fraud at Ipswich Crown Court.
Daniel, a former head of conveyancing at a west London firm, had set up her own practice in east London and acted for an individual who had purchased a number of properties from a development company and sold them onto buyers.
But it became apparent that fraud had taken place in relation to the lender’s mortgage, and that either the third-party purchaser was fictitious, or there was a genuine purchaser who had not completed the mortgage forms.
Despite her conviction, she told a hearing of the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal in July that hers was a case with exceptional circumstances, and that a strike-off was not necessary.
Ivan Krolick, representing Daniel, stated that Daniel had been on the tube train immediately behind one that was bombed in London on 7 July 2005. This had been ‘extremely traumatic’ and she handed in her notice to her then-employer immediately, saying she could not travel on the underground again.
Krolick said Daniel, who is now the pastor for her church, did not make any profit from the transactions except for her conveyancing fees. These amounted to exceptional circumstances, as there was no breach of trust involved, she had not benefited from the criminal acts, and she had suffered both personal and financial difficulties.
Krolick, who suggested a period of suspension or conditions preventing her from practising on her own, added that Daniel was also doing voluntary work assisting ex-offenders.
But the tribunal said there were a number of aggravating factors involved in Daniel’s case.
The solicitor, who had also appeared before the tribunal in 2009, had been convicted of dishonesty relating to conduct repeated over a period of time, not a ‘momentary lapse’.
‘[Daniel] ought reasonably to have known that her conduct was in material breach of her obligations to protect the public and the reputation of the profession,’ said the tribunal.
‘As a solicitor [Daniel] had a heightened duty to be on her guard and ensure the rules and regulations which were in place to protect the public were adhered to.’
As well as being struck off, Daniel was also ordered to pay £2,406 costs.
* Meanwhile, another solicitor convicted in the criminal courts has failed in his attempt to avoid being struck off.
Timothy Rogers, a sole practitioner based in Leeds, was jailed for 21 months at Leeds Crown Court after pleading guilty to two counts of cheating the public revenue.
Rogers had submitted quarterly VAT returns with a minimum repayment of around £2,000, which should have come to almost £80,000. He also submitted stamp duty land tax forms wrongly set below the threshold for payment, resulting in under-payment of almost £50,000.
Rogers said in an email presented to the SDT in July that he regretted pleading guilty and that he intended to seek advice on an appeal.
The tribunal said there was ‘little mitigation’ in relation to Rogers’ stated health problems and the allegations related to ‘serious offences involving repeated dishonesty over a period of time which was calculated and deliberate’.
He was struck off and ordered to pay £2,857 costs.