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Solicitor struck off after embezzlement conviction

7 January 2019

A solicitor has been struck off by the Scottish Solicitors' Discipline Tribunal following his conviction for embezzlement.

Paul O'Donnell, now of Glasgow, pleaded guilty at Edinburgh Sheriff Court in April 2016 to embezzling £21,485 of clients' money between November 2012 and September 2014 while employed by Edinburgh firm Thorley Stephenson. He was given a six month restriction of liberty order rather than a prison sentencde after selling his house in order to repay the money.

Under the Solicitors' Scotland Act 1980 the tribunal can exercise its powers whenever a solicitor has beem convicted of an act involving dishonesty. in its decision the tribunal said that a conviction for embezzlement which disclosed a course of dishonest conduct involving clients was incompatible with being a solicitor. Members of the public had to have confidence that solicitors were trustworthy and honest, and clients and colleagues should be able to expect these qualities of every solicitor as a matter of course.

O'Donnell, who did not attend the tribunal hearing, had failed to show any remorse or any insight into his conduct. He was not a fit and proper person to be a solicitor and the only appropriate course was to strike his name off the roll.

Click here to access the full decision. In a second case (click here to access), which overlapped with the first and involved O'Donnell retaining cash paid in advance of fees and outlays and not disclosing it to the firm, the tribunal censured him in view of the limits on its powers where he had already been struck off.


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