Solicitor and ex assistant coroner struck off over allegations of '˜misusing funds'

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, who stepped down as assistant deputy coroner for Hull and the East Riding in the summer, misappropriated money received from the fund and “acted without integrity”.

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.

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Details of the claims against Mr Stott on the Solicitors Regulation Authority’s website alleged 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 allege 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 would be applying for a stay of the sanctions, allowing him to continue to practice, while an appeal is prepared. He has denied all the allegations. A statement said they were “extremely shocked and very disappointed” by the decision, adding: “The case relates to a technical issue with some funding in 2012 that Ingrams Solicitors required while fighting a high-profile class action on behalf of more than 4,000 clients. 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.”