A solicitor has been struck off after inventing a fictional victim and accusing a real client of blackmail.
The SRA brought several actions of misconduct against Shuaib Saeed, an ex-solicitor at MK Law in Bromley, before the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal.
In one of the matters, Saeed was instructed by a client (unnamed in the tribunal's judgment, so let's call him Jon) who had been charged with actual bodily harm. The daughter of the client paid fees of £2,400 into the personal bank account of Saeed, thinking that she was instructing Saeed as a solicitor of MK Law. But Saeed did not inform the firm about the matter.
Jon was convicted at the trial. According to statements by Jon and his daughter, Saeed had arrived late at the court for the hearing, had missed a deadline to submit certain key evidence and also not informed Jon of his right to appeal. Jon wrote a letter of complaint to MK Law and the firm launched an investigation into Saeed, who promptly resigned.
The tribunal heard that Saeed contacted Jon and allegedly offered him "financial inducement" to drop the complaint as he said he needed a reference from the firm. Jon claimed that Saaed later told him that he would take legal action against him for blackmail and that "the police would be knocking at his door to arrest him".
The tribunal also heard another matter where Saeed had acted for a client, let's call him Zac, over allegations of criminal damage. Saeed advised Zac to pay a settlement sum to avoid civil proceedings being brought by a supposed victim. Zac's father and another party involved in the incident paid £3,800 as settlement to the supposed victim.
But it emerged that the police had not been aware of such a victim in their investigations, and officers concluded that the character was in fact Saeed's fictional "creation". Saeed did not account to MK Law for the settlement money and the tribunal deemed that he had taken it for his own "personal benefit".
Saeed's victim wasn't quite ready for cross-examination
The tribunal lambasted Saeed, saying that his misconduct was "extremely serious" and there were a number of "aggravating factors and dishonesty" that had been proved. The tribunal struck him from the roll and ordered that he pay £10,000 in costs.
"We agree with the decision made by the SDT and as a firm we are extremely disappointed by the actions of Mr Saeed" said Manisha Knights, Director of MK Law. "He was in a position of trust and he abused that trust, causing losses to vulnerable clients and causing significant financial losses to our firm, by diverting work away from our firm for his own financial gain without our knowledge."
Knights also told RollOnFriday "We hope that now the SDT have come to their findings, the police will now fully investigate this matter so that Mr Saeed can be prosecuted in the Criminal Courts where he once practiced."