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Last Updated: Thursday, 18 March, 2004, 11:30 GMT
Conman lawyer jailed for fraud
John Kennedy Forster
The court heard of Forster's systematic dishonesty
A lawyer who admitted defrauding clients out of nearly 700,000 has been jailed for six-and-a-half years.

John Kennedy Forster, 54, from Stranraer, was told that he had displayed a gross breach of trust.

Forster had admitted a total of 34 charges of defrauding money from clients, including wills, trust funds, churches and charities.

At the High Court in Glasgow, Judge Lord Emslie condemned "the sheer extent and persistence" of his dishonesty.

He said the former lawyer had undertaken "systematic forging and falsification of documents to conceal what he had done".

Forster admitted embezzling money over a 10-year period and despite his promises to compensate some of his victims, the formerly respected solicitor was branded a "disgrace".

Struck off

The offences occurred when he was a partner at solicitors Ferguson & Forster, MacFie & Alexander, based in Stranraer, Dumfries and Galloway.

Paul McBride QC, representing Forster, said his client had used the money, totalling 667,000, to keep his family firm afloat, rather than to fuel an expensive lifestyle.

Forster took 64,000 from the legacy of a man who bequeathed the money to Portpatrick Parish Church, the Dalrymple Hospital Patients' Fund, two charities for cancer and disabled people and the Portpatrick branch of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution.

He also took 5,000 awarded to a 17-year-old who was injured in a road accident.

Forster was caught after a farmer's widow complained to the Law Society of Scotland that he had overcharged her by 8,500 for a sheriff court civil action between her and her son in 1995.

He was prosecuted before the independent Scottish Solicitors Discipline Tribunal in 2001 after the Law Society of Scotland had carried out its own prosecution for embezzlement and attempting to mislead the society.

It had instructed him to be struck from the roll of solicitors in Scotland.


WATCH AND LISTEN
BBC Scotland's Willie Johnston
"It took nearly three years to unravel Forster's deception"



SEE ALSO:
Lawyer given time to repay funds
22 Dec 03  |  Scotland
Lawman siphoned clients' cash
03 Dec 03  |  Scotland


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