Law Society ‘knew’ banned rogue lawyer was being hidden by legal colleague. SEVEN MONTHS after the Law Society of Scotland claimed in court they could not serve court papers on a well known rogue solicitor because he had disappeared from public view, it has emerged the lawyers self regulator knew all along where their colleague was hiding out – in the posh house of another solicitor who works for a Glasgow based law firm.
Last October, the Law Society of Scotland told the Court of Session the now former solicitor John G O’Donnell was “nowhere to be seen” and this was making it difficult for the regulator to serve him with a banning order forbidding him from posing as a solicitor.
However, even as the Law Society told the Court of Session they could not find the rogue solicitor, journalists quickly located O’Donnell’s posh hideout in Glasgow, that of a house owned by a currently working solicitor linked to O’Donnell, and known to the Law Society of Scotland.
Speaking to Diary of Injustice last week, a legal insider described last October’s hearing at the Court of Session as “a sham” after it became apparent senior figures at the Law Society of Scotland knew exactly where O’Donnell was even though the judge was told otherwise.
The hurried attempts by the Law Society to act on the negative publicity, culminating in the action at the Court of Session last year only came about after further investigations by the Sunday Mail newspaper revealed O’Donnell had been involved in a scam where people desperately in need of legal assistance were sent to him by ‘would-be solicitors’ who worked for Hamilton Citizens Advice Bureau.
In a particularly shocking case, the Sunday Mail revealed O’Donnell had among over victims, targeted elderly widow Elizabeth Campbell. Papers obtained by the newspaper revealed that Gilbert S Anderson who worked as an ‘In-Court adviser for Hamilton Citizens Advice Bureau had sent Mrs Campbell to O’Donnell, who was posing as deceased solicitor Colin Anderson.
It was also revealed the Hamilton Citizens Advice worker sent the rogue solicitor a handwritten note saying “possibly in my mind a cash for Colin £3000” indicating he hoped O’Donnell would be able to scam plenty of cash from the elderly widow. Diary of Injustice reported on the case involving John O’Donnell & Gilbert Anderson, here : Crooked lawyer impersonates DEAD COLLEAGUE to lure clients in fraud scam as Law Society of Scotland’s self regulation of solicitors fails yet again
Of particular interest to the current case against O’Donnell is that Elaine Motion QC of Balfour & Manson who is currently representing the Law Society of Scotland in the Court of Session against John G O’Donnell, has previously represented the Law Society against O’Donnell at hearings before the Scottish Solicitors Discipline Tribunal.
Legal observers following the O’Donnell saga have drawn attention to the fact that during one earlier attempt to prosecute O’Donnell before the SSDT, legal representatives of the rogue lawyer tried to broker a secret deal with the QC at a Law Society Christmas party in 2009.
A ‘limited account’ of the 2009 Christmas party meeting between QC Elaine Motion & solicitor Steven Gold who acted for O’Donnell, was reported in the Tribunal’s hearing into one of the complaints against O’Donnell, which is published online here Council of the Law Society of Scotland v John G O’Donnell and reprinted below as an example of double dealing behind the closed doors of self regulation of Scottish solicitors.
Law Society’s 2009 Christmas party was scene of deal to save O’Donnell from disciplinary moves. Page three of the Council of the Law Society of Scotland v John G O’Donnell states : “In December 2009, Elaine Motion and Steven Gold, Solicitor were both at a Law Society’s Christmas Drinks Party. They were involved in a conversation with regard to the health and welfare of the Respondent. Mr Gold made representations on behalf of the Respondent to Elaine Motion to the effect that it would be humane and advantageous to everyone involved if a way could be found to allow the Respondent to hand in his practising certificate without having to undergo the ordeal and expense of an appearance before the Tribunal. Elaine Motion was sympathetic to the representations but indicated that she would require to discuss matters with the Law Society of Scotland who would make the decision. There was no undertaking given at this meeting to Steven Gold that if the Scottish Solicitors’ Discipline Tribunal struck the Respondent’s name from the Roll of Solicitors in Scotland no further Complaints would be brought against the Respondent and no undertaking was given that if the Respondent accepted pleas of guilty to the outstanding Complaint, no further proceedings would be brought against him.”
So far, the Lord Advocate & Scotland’s Crown Office & Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) have apparently refused to become involved in the case, instead preferring the matter remain a one for lawyers looking after their own.
However, with claims surfacing from individuals that O’Donnell has undertaken new ‘legal work’ since last October’s court hearings, there are serious questions over the resolve of the Law Society to make an example of O’Donnell and many other rogue lawyers who escape any penalty or prosecution for their sharp practices against vulnerable clients in Scotland.
If you are a victim of rogue solicitor John G O’Donnell, tell us more about your case and any dealings with him by contacting us at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Sunday Mail’s report of last October on the O’Donnell case :
A rogue lawyer is being hunted by watchdogs so they can tell him he’s banned – again.
John O’Donnell, 62, has been accused of breaching a ban on working as a solicitor following a Sunday Mail probe.
The Law Society of Scotland’s Elaine Motion is trying to take him to court but does not know where he is.
O’Donnell has been repeatedly rapped for professional misconduct and negligence.
The Law Society won an interim interdict at the Court of Session Edinburgh three years ago, banning him from posing as a solicitor. Six Months ago, we revealed that O’Donnell was allegedly using another lawyer’s identity to beat the ban.
That prompted the Law Society to take action against him for flouting the interdict.
One source said : “The problem is that he’s nowhere to be seen and does not appear keen to make himself available.”
The Law Society said : “John O’Donnell does not hold a current practising certificate and therefore cannot practise as a solicitor in Scotland.
“The Law Society applied to the court to serve notice – by way of an advertisement in the press – of an alleged breach of an interim interdict.”
“The Interim Interdict included an order preventing Mr O’Donnell from holding himself out as entitled by law to practise as a solicitor.”
“The application to service a notice was granted by the court on October 16”