Bankrupt solicitors will face no penalty

No action will be taken against a chain of solicitors and estate agents that closed down when the partners were declared bankrupt after one of the workers was jailed for stealing £165,000, it can be revealed today.

Head cashier Pauline Sutcliffe who pocketed more than £165,000 from clients
Head cashier Pauline Sutcliffe who pocketed more than £165,000 from clients

Stables & Company’s premises in Halesowen, Stourbridge and Rowley Regis were closed by legal watchdog The Solicitors Regulation Authority 20 months ago after three of the partners were declared bankrupt – leaving thousands of clients in limbo.

The watchdog said there was also ‘reason to suspect dishonesty’ on the part of a former employee. Head cashier Pauline Sutcliffe later admitted theft at Wolverhampton Crown Court.

Partners David Moore, Nigel Jordan and Jessica Bird were all declared bankrupt on April 30 last year and their practising certificates were suspended.

They could have been banned altogether once the investigation was completed. But the SRA today revealed that no further action will be taken.

SRA spokesman Lee Shrimpton said: “One of the reasons for closing down Stables & Co was that we suspected dishonesty by an employee. There followed criminal proceedings against that employee, which have now concluded.

“Having considered all of the circumstances of the case, we decided it was not in the public interest to pursue formal disciplinary proceedings against the partners of the firm, David John Moore, Jessica Louise Bird and Nigel Jordan.”

Clients who believe they were owed money were advised to apply for compensation via the SRA. The court heard Sutcliffe, who was jailed for 14 months, controlled cash payments from clients to Stables and Co and regularly skimmed off small amounts of the money for herself before fiddling the books to cover up the crime.

She admitted stealing from the firm between 2001 and 2010.

The scam was only discovered when the 58-year-old from Wolverhampton Road, Oldbury, handed herself in.