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Misuse of cash solicitor is axed.

Byline: By Simon Armstrong

A solicitor who used pounds 432,000 of clients' cash to cover up a legal blunder was struck off yesterday.

As reported in later editions of last night's Chronicle, Donald Halling was kicked out of the profession after using customers' money to settle a negligence claim against his company.

The 52-year-old, known as Keith, landed himself in trouble after bungling a couple's pub lease application.

When the angry pair made a complaint against South Shields-based Patterson, Glenton and Stracey, Halling tried to settle the dispute with other people's cash.

Andrew Miller from the Office for the Supervision of Solicitors slammed his behaviour, saying: "This is misconduct at the most serious end of the scale."

"This is the wrongful appropriation of clients' funds and I submit his actions were dishonest.

" He must have been conscious while carrying them out of his impropriety."

The tribunal also heard how Halling, of Central Avenue, South Shields, bungled during the sale of a casino.

He failed to disclose to a client that one of his fellow businessmen was getting a much higher price for his shares in the gambling firm.

A spokesman for his former employers, Patterson, Glenton and Stracey, said: "We informed all the appropriate authorities and our actions have been endorsed.

"The decision of the tribunal vindicates the behaviour of the firm in the actions it took in 2002."

An apologetic Halling admitted six allegations against him and made a failed attempt to convince the panel he was sorry in a bid to save his career.

"There is no question of me having stolen any money from clients for my own benefit," he said.

"I have not gained or attempted to gain personally from these matters.

"I stupidly thought I could repair the situation I had created."

Giving evidence, Halling even said he had used pounds 25,000 of his own money to fix the problem before using clients' money.

The hearing was told he resigned from the firm in July last year.

Since then, he has been employed as an assistant solicitor at a practice in Warrington, Cheshire, doing conveyancing and licensing work.

The discrepancy was confirmed in September 2002 following a Law Society inspection.

Although the panel accepted he had made no personal gain, it struck him off and ordered him to pay pounds 7,600 in costs.
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Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Jul 4, 2003
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