Victoria Wadsworth (strike off) [2016] MHLO 58 (SDT)

Since 2007 Victoria Wadsworth had been in charge of a law firm's mental health department, and had invented another firm called "Healthy Minds" to pretend to write medical reports for clients, at the Legal Services Commission's expense. In the Crown Court she had admitted to obtaining £25,000 between 2007 and 2012 (though the law firm stated it had repaid £181,887.72, and the Legal Aid Agency statement referred to a value exceeding £134,000 being repaid). At the time of the hearing, she was in prison having been sentenced to three years (reduced to two on appeal) for fraud, but the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal proceeded in her absence. The Tribunal agreed that the rule 5(2) allegations which had commenced its proceedings had been superseded by the conviction and should lie on file. The Tribunal found breaches of Principle 1 (which requires a solicitor to uphold the rule of law and the proper administration of justice), Principle 2 (which requires a solicitor to act with integrity) and Principle 6 (which requires a solicitor to behave in a way that maintains the trust the public places in him and in the provision of legal services). The mitigation related to Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 proceedings, financial hardship, and caring responsibilities for her severely disabled adult son. She was struck off the roll of solicitors and ordered to pay the agreed costs of £21,864.10.

Citations

Case No. 11332-2015

External links

SDT judgment

John Hyde, 'Lawyer invented medical firm to raid £25k legal aid funds' (Law Society Gazette, 18/1/17)

SRA website: Wadsworth, Victoria Barbara - 320364†. This sets out two SRA decisions: (1) prosecution, 13/5/14, and (2) control of practice, 27/6/14.