Chichester solicitor struck off by tribunal

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A long-standing Chichester lawyer whose political client was jailed has been struck off the roll.

Christopher Charles Edward Hayes, 51, was a partner of Edward Hayes when ‘the firm acquired substantial sums of public money to which it was not entitled,’ a tribunal found.

Hayes, who is listed on Companies House as a director of active firm Acme Legal Limited based at 22 West Street, Chichester, had signed a contract for the provision of services in August 2005, to fund legal services to his client, Ashley Mote MEP.

Former UK Independence Party European representative for South East England, Mote was jailed in 2015 for five years for fraudulently claiming almost £500,000 in European Parliament expenses.

The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal heard that the firm Edward Hayes received £114,568 from the European Parliament over four years.

Hayes was cleared of six allegations after a five-day hearing in July, with one allegation upheld.

Hayes’ ‘primary motivation was to satisfy the demands of his client, who the tribunal accept was intimidating and difficult,’ the judgement, published in September, stated.

“However a solicitor of the respondent’s experience should have been able to stand up to that.

“The fees received by the firm over the period in question were not negligible and to that extent there was some financial motive.”

It stated that while ‘not fundamentally dishonest’, Hayes had acted dishonestly in using funds claimed from a public body.

Hayes was cleared of dishonesty on all other charges and had co-operated fully with a police investigation, which did not bring any charges, the document states.

“The tribunal recognises the significant and difficult personal consequences of being struck off the roll but protection of the public and of the reputation of the profession took precedence.”

Hayes was ordered to pay £86,792 in costs.

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