Solicitor and ex assistant coroner struck off over allegations of ‘misusing funds’

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A solicitor and former assistant coroner has been struck off after facing allegations of using cash from an investment firm in “improper” circumstances.

It was alleged Paul Stott, an assistant deputy coroner for Hull and the East Riding, misappropriated money received from the fund and “acted without integrity”.

Last night Hull Council said Mr Stott had not been used since the Chief Coroner became aware he was facing a disciplinary hearing.

It added: “Action will be taken to formally remove Mr Stott from this public office unless he decides to resign from the position.”

Mr Stott, a senior partner at Hessle-based Ingrams Solicitors, was struck off on October 28 by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal, which adjudicates on breaches of the rules applicable to solicitors and their firms, and has been ordered to make an interim payment of £100,000 costs no later than November 25.

Allegations on the Solicitors Regulation Authority’s website against Mr Stott included that he “caused or permitted the firm to accept and use monies from an investment fund in circumstances where it was improper for him to do so.”

They alleged he “misappropriated or caused/permitted the misappropriation of, money received from the investment fund.” He was also accused of misusing the funds by failing to apply them only towards “Eligible Legal Expenses” and of misusing client money “in breach of the Solicitors Account Rules by transferring unallocated funds from client to office account.”

Ingrams said Mr Stott denied all the allegations. He had stepped down voluntarily as assistant coroner in the summer, before resigning on Monday. They would be applying for a stay of the sanctions while an appeal is prepared.

The firm expressed shock and disappointment at the decision, and said the case related to a “technical issue” with funding needed in 2012, while fighting a class action on behalf of more than 4,000 clients.

It added: “It was alleged that a technical error occurred during the fundraising process, however the funding arrangements were subject to extensive scrutiny by one of the UK’s largest firms of accountants at the time, and no issues were raised whatsoever.”

Three other solicitors using the same funding arrangements had been exonerated by the tribunal, the firm said.

It added: “No clients of Ingrams Solicitors suffered any losses as a result of the technicality, nor was there ever a risk of them doing so.”