Celebrating 2011′s most entertaining miscreants

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Yes, we know we’re almost a month into 2012. But with the Golden Globes just gone and the Oscars hurtling towards us, we thought we’d pay homage to the awards season by having a little ceremony of our own. So here it is. The first  – and almost certainly last – Unprofessional Lawyer of the Year.

Below are three of the juiciest stories we’ve found from 2011, presented, in true awards style, with the runners-up first.

A very middle-class dispute

In third place, it’s Mr Paul Willan, a high-flying lawyer from Manchester who was arrested after destroying his neighbour’s ornamental lights following a boundary dispute.

Mr Willan climbed over his neighbour’s wall and used a scaffolding pole to smash five ultra-expensive lamps into smithereens before scrambling back into his own garden. All of which was caught on CCTV.

According to his LinkedIn page, Mr Willan is on a committee of the British Property Federation. Whether he was invited onto the property committee, or broke into it to smash up the chairs with a piece of lead piping, is currently unclear.

Oh no, not that case again

Second place goes to high street solicitor Mr Guy Choat who was suspended from practising for three years by the Solicitors Regulation Authority last February after taking a bit too long to settle a client’s estate.

Well, 19 years, to be precise. Mr Choat originally took on the £294,000 estate in 1992 following the death of spinster Miss Muriel McCarthy. Reasons cited for the delay included accounting errors, viral infections and plain ol’ bad luck.

To put it into perspective, in 1992 Neil Kinnock led the Labour Party, Alan Shearer became Britain’s most expensive player in a £3.6 million transfer, and Boyz II Men were number one.

And the winner is…

Ta-daa! Top spot goes to former Reading solicitor Jonathan Gilbert who was struck off after losing £50 million of clients’ money by ‘improperly handling’ mortgage funds.

An investigation into Mr Gilbert’s activities revealed that he had been diverting money borrowed from banks, for the purchase of properties, to other users, who had not been approved. The tribunal called the case one of the worst it had seen and declared that the public needed to be protected from him.

Congratulations, Mr Gilbert – the trophy will be winging its way to you shortly, assuming it can get past your firm’s administrators. KM

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