A criminal defence solicitor accused of defrauding the legal aid fund along with two business associates this week told the court that he did not know ‘how all this has happened’.

Solicitor Reuben Ewujowoh (pictured), 44, principal at Rae & Co in Southwark, London, and co-defendants legal assistant Lloyd McDonald, 68, of Sutton-in-Ashfield, Nottinghamshire, and Robert Odong, 33, of Islington, London, all deny two counts of conspiracy to commit fraud.

Ewujowoh faces one additional count of fraud, which he denies.

It is alleged the three defendants plotted together to defraud the legal aid fund in relation to two criminal trials.

The jury was told that the plot was exposed by chance when the same legal aid determining officer happened to be working on claims for both trials.

Ewujowoh said: ‘It is still a mystery to me why [one client] was billed as category A... I did not go to court or the prison, and the train and taxi claims have nothing to do with me.

'Mr McDonald was responsible for that.

‘I put my hand up that I did not check the bill properly, but there was pressure of time and I was not well. I had high blood pressure and did not realise they were forgeries.’

False claims could easily have also been made by Odong, insisted the solicitor.

‘He has access to all the case papers and the memory stick containing blank attendance notes,’ he said.

Ewujowoh continued distancing himself from the allegedly fraudulent claims during three days in the witness box, which saw him reduced to tears.

‘This is not my creation and I did not give anyone instructions to do this,’ he said. ‘I don’t know how all this has happened.’

The trial continues.

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