A solicitor with almost 45 years’ experience has been struck off after a number of dishonesty offences including misleading the High Court.
Marie-Garrard Newton, a former salaried partner at London firm Child & Child, admitted giving untrue oral evidence at the trial of a High Court action.
Giving evidence at trial in 2011 in a case concerning her conduct, Newton had denied she was aware that a ‘side payment’ of £4.5m had been made to the agent of a former client, and denied she had helped the agent with the preparation of documents.
But Mr Justice Henderson said he reached the ‘uncomfortable’ conclusion that Newton had given evidence that she must have known to be untrue.
She was subsequently prosecuted by the SRA and her case brought before the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal in September.
As well as admitting misleading the court, Newton admitted to other charges including failing to properly identify her client, making an untrue statement to her client’s agent and allowing £500,000 to pass through the Child & Child client account for no proper reason.
The SDT heard that Newton had also paid £1.5m from her client’s account to the agent without receiving instructions, before making untrue and misleading statement to her firm’s insurers and her colleagues about the money transfer.
Mr Justice Henderson found that Newton also caused £2m to be paid out of client accounts at the agent’s request in breach of trust.
In mitigation at the SDT hearing, Hal Branch of LSG Solicitors said Newton had enjoyed a ‘wholly unblemished record’ since she was admitted to the roll in 1971.
She had been advised to appeal Henderson’s judgment but was not in a financial position to do so, said Branch.
He added that the allegations had arisen in respect of one client ‘in wholly unique circumstances’ because of her relationship with him. ‘Something had clearly gone wrong in dealing with this particular client,’ he added.
Newton had agreed to pay £60,000 to her former firm’s PII insurers and said she had no intention of practising again. Her solicitor argued she should be subject to indefinite suspension.
The tribunal rejected that, noting that Newton’s misconduct ‘continued over a period of time and related to more than one transaction in a global situation. It had been deliberate and repeated involving more than one improper transfer of money’.
Newton was struck off and ordered to pay £30,000 costs.