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Office worker took £10,000 of client money from Norwich solicitors Leathes Prior

The worker took £10,000 before anyone noticed.

The worker took £10,000 before anyone noticed.

An office worker who took more than £10,000 belonging to clients of a Norwich solicitors has been hit with a fine by the industry regulator.

Liam Gallagher, who worked at Leathes Prior Solicitors’ Norwich office, was found to have “misappropriated £10,200 of client money for his own use and sought to cover this up by way of purported letters to clients sending out stamps and postal orders”, said the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).

He worked as office manager in the finance and facilities department at the firm’s offices in The Close, Norwich, between November 1, 2013, and August 5, 2014.

An SRA judgement published this week ordered Mr Gallagher to pay a financial penalty of £2,000 and the organisation’s investigation costs of £600. He was also given a written rebuke and made subject to an order banning him from any employment in connection with solicitors.

“It was found that Mr Gallagher acted dishonestly by carrying out the above conduct”, the judgement said.

Mike Barlow, partner at Leathes Prior, said: “The partners are shocked at Mr Gallagher’s dishonesty and abuse of trust. The punishment meted out by the SRA reflects the seriousness of such conduct and it will be a matter for the police as to whether any criminal investigation will follow.”

Norfolk police said the matter had not been reported to them.

The firm said Mr Gallagher had joined Leathes Prior when it acquired another business in November 2013, and had a role “in the main closing old files and liaising with that firm’s former management”.

His employment was terminated the following August when it “became clear there was no role for him” at Leathes Prior.

A subsequent audit revealed the missing money - which was reimbursed to clients by Leathes Prior - and Mr Gallagher was confronted and reported to the SRA.

The order Mr Gallagher was made subject to was under section 43(2) of the Solicitors Act 1974.

The judgement adds: “His practising details since leaving Leathes Prior Solicitors on August 5, 2014, are unknown.”

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