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Last Updated: Friday, 18 March, 2005, 17:12 GMT
Guilty legal clerk back at work
Hoole & Co
The application to lift the ban was made by Hoole & Co
A solicitors' clerk convicted for his part in a massive legal fraud has returned to work in Bristol - doing the same job as before he was banned.

Lawyers and the police say they are angry at the Law Society's decision to allow Damon Whitlow to practice.

Twenty-two legal staff at the now defunct Robinsons Solicitors were convicted after claiming up to an estimated 10m of bogus legal aid work.

Damon Whitlow pleaded guilty for his part in the scam.

The firm claimed false payments on bogus legal aid forms.

Whitlow was given a nine-month prison sentence suspended for two years, and was banned by the solicitors' governing body, the Law Society, from working again.

Lose confidence

But that ban has been lifted after an application was made by partners at Hoole & Co in St Pauls to the Law Society in London.

Local lawyers are angry the Law Society failed to consult them about the application to lift the ban and are now demanding its reinstatement.

Joanna Clarke from the Bristol Law Society said: "Law Society guidance states that it is unusual to employ somebody who has been involved in an offence of dishonesty.

"We are keen to know the guidance has been followed so the public does not lose confidence in the legal profession.

No access to money

"We don't know what was presented to the Law Society, but we are surprised."

The Law Society in London said: " If the Bristol Law Society or the police wish to make representations to the Law Society about the status of Damon Whitlow they will be considered carefully. "

Partners at Hoole & Co say they acted above board and that the matter was one for the Law Society.

They also said Mr Whitlow worked under stringent conditions and had no access to clients' money.

Mr Whitlow was unavailable for comment.




SEE ALSO:
Legal Aid scam boss convicted
29 Oct 04 |  Gloucestershire
Legal staff convicted over fraud
29 Oct 04 |  Gloucestershire



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