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Legal Aid rogue bins PS100k fight; SOLICITOR BLASTED OVER EXCESSIVE CLAIMS Board win battle over report.

Byline: | Russell Findlay

A rogue lawyer demanded PS100,000 of taxpayers' cash after legal aid chiefs revealed his history of inflated claims.

Niels Lockhart, 66, said the Scottish Legal Aid Board (SLAB) damaged his reputation by releasing a damning report which laid bare "unnecessary and excessive" payments.

He accused them of breaching his confidentiality and sued them for PS100,000 - but has now dropped the claim.

The Sunday Mail obtained the report in 2011. We told how Lockhart claimed more than PS600,000 of legal aid in two years and was accused of deliberately ramping up expenses.

The SLAB report stated: "He arranges for, or permits, his clients to attend his office on numerous occasions for excessive, unnecessary and often irrelevant meetings."

They said the meetings merely acted as a mechanism for the firm to exploit the legal aid fund.

Legal reform campaigner Peter Cherbi, who unearthed the SLAB report through freedom of information laws, said: "Lockhart's history of eyewatering legal aid claims was rightly subjected to public scrutiny yet he seems to see himself as the victim."

SLAB said: "We were right to make public our complaint report to the Law Society of Scotland which set out our concerns about Mr Lockhart's legal aid work.

"We successfully defended that decision in the court action raised against us by Mr Lockhart in which he sought payment of damages of PS100,000 from SLAB. Mr Lockhart agreed to withdraw his action and pay us expenses of PS1750."

Lockhart said the decision to sue was taken after advice given by counsel who took the case on a no-win, no-fee basis.

He added: "The sum sued for was later altered to PS30,000. There was thereafter a change in legal team who were not so optimistic."

Lockhart claimed none of the SLAB allegations were proved to be correct and that they previously said no public funds had been compromised.

CAPTION(S):

EXCLUSIVE . How we broke the story

ACCUSED Lockhart was said to have exploited legal aid fund

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Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Nov 26, 2017
Words:334
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