A former senior staff member of international firm Schillings has been disqualified from working in the profession after selling mobile phones belonging to his employer over five years.

Martin Flowers, head of operations at Schillings until he resigned last September, took 95 handsets belonging to the firm, according to a Solicitors Regulation Authority notice published today. He then sold the devices to a phone recycler and kept the £13,547 made from the arrangement. 

The SRA notice said Flowers had used his role authorising expenditure on equipment. He was caught after Vodafone identified unusual activity on the account last summer and notified the firm. An internal investigation uncovered Flowers’ misconduct. He was interviewed by his line manager and the head of human resources and admitted to the events set out in the Vodafone report, resigning the same day.

Flowers admitted breaching two SRA principles and that his conduct had been dishonest. He agreed to a disqualification order after abusing his position of trust for personal gain.

In mitigation he said that he cooperated with the firm and SRA investigations, had apologised and offered to repay the money in instalments, and was experiencing financial difficulties at the time.

The SRA rebuked Flowers and fined him £13,547. He is disqualified from acting as the head of legal practice, head of finance and administration, or manager of any licensed body. He is also disqualified from being employed by any licensed body.