A disgraced former fee-earner who pleaded poverty to escape prosecution costs has been told to pay up after buying a house less than a year later.

Eshrat Saddiq was found at the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal in September 2013 to have misled her employer about holding an LPC qualification.

The former fee-earner at the Sheffield office of Russell Jones & Walker had also sent emails to the Solicitors Regulation Authority purporting to be from a university’s director of legal practice.

Saddiq was removed from the profession and ordered to pay £15,000 costs, but the costs order was not enforced because of her financial position and lack of income.

But the SRA subsequently became aware that in July 2014 she had bought a £120,000 house in Sheffield.

At an SDT hearing in March, the regulator argued that to buy the house Saddiq must have had an income to show she could repay the mortgage.

Even if she did not put down money as a deposit, neighbouring properties had gained enough equity to suggest Saddiq could now pay her prosecution costs from 2013. Saddiq was not living at the purchased house and was believed to be letting the property to unknown third parties.

The SRA stated her purchase of the property ‘provided prima facie evidence’ that Saddiq had assets and income which she did not have at the time of the costs order. It said that it would enforce costs orders when financial positions changed, and not necessarily due to unexpected windfalls. 

Saddiq did not appear at the latest hearing and had not responded to any attempted communication. Her position was unknown.

The tribunal said it was satisfied that it was appropriate to vary the 2013 order to enable the SRA to enforce the order for costs immediately. Saddiq was also ordered to pay a further £1,500 for the new application.