THE Wirral coroner has been fined and warned about future conduct after his business partner made up invoices and took money from clients.
Christopher Johnson was given a maximum £2,000 fine and ordered to pay £3,000 costs by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).
An SRA investigation found that the Wirral coroner had “no direct knowledge” of the firm’s improper dealings, “which were the responsibility of another partner”.
But the fine was levied because Mr Johnson was judged to have been “jointly responsible” for Rex Taylor and Meadows’ breaches of the Solicitors Accounts Rules.
The other partner in the West Kirby firm was Alan Tickell, 54, of Meols, who was struck off and ordered to pay £20,000 costs.
When the Post contacted Mr Johnson – a former president of the national Coroners’ Society – a representative said he “considered the matter closed” and declined to comment further.
After an agreement signed with the SRA on November 20 of last year, Mr Johnson could be brought before the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal if he is found to be in breach of the settlement.
It states: “Mr Johnson agrees that he will not act in any way inconsistent with this agreement such as, for example, by denying the misconduct set out in his admission.”
The £2,000 fine is the maximum that can be levied by the SRA.
The Office for Judicial Complaints said they are “aware of the SRA finding” and are “considering whether the matter requires investigation.”
As the Post reported last month, Rex Taylor and Meadows closed down after Mr Tickell was struck off at a hearing of the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal in November last year.
In the tribunal’s sanction, it said: “The First Respondent (Tickell) had embarked on a course of dishonest behaviour over a considerable period and in respect of several client matters.
“The Tribunal did not find there to be any exceptional circumstances and therefore determined that he should be struck off.”