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GUEST,Max in Louth 'Celtic Music/Dave Bulmer' saga: Pt 2 (96* d) RE: 'Celtic Music/Dave Bulmer' saga: Pt 2 19 Sep 01


By Joe Lumley

The Louth District Coroner and his brother, the deputy coroner, have both been struck off as solicitors. Neil Anthony Nicholas Sharpley, and his deputy Nigel Jeremy Peter Sharpley, were both found to have acted dishonestly at a tribunal yesterday (Tuesday).

The ruling could lead to both men being axed as coroners.

At the hearing before the Solicitor's Disciplinary Tribunal, in London, the brothers, partners in Allison and Helmer, of Mercer Row, Louth, denied they had acted dishonestly in relation to their dealings with two estates.

The brothers also faced a string of allegations including withdrawing money from client accounts other than in accordance with account rules, paying client funds into office accounts and failing to maintain properly written-up books.

It was also claimed they misapplied funds held in their client account belonging to an estate in which they acted as executors, and acted improperly where there was a conflict with client interests.

The tribunal heard the Louth firm was intervened in by the Law Society on May 30, last year, on the basis of an inspection of the accounts and suspicion of dishonesty.

Geoffrey Williams, for the Law Society said: "In a nut shell, the respondents admit everything in this matter that I allege save that they deny having behaved dishonestly."

In one case 25,000 was transferred from the estate of a client named as "L" to enable Neil Sharpley to qualify for Halifax shares.

Neil Sharpley, the tribunal heard, said he had the agreement of one of the estate's two executors (both of whom the firm was acting for) to the loan and the money was repaid quickly.

But Mr Williams told the tribunal: "These funds were there without proper formalities being observed, thus rendering the transaction improper."

Two months later another loan of 22,000 came from the estate to Neil Sharpley, which Mr Williams described as "even more sinister".

He said: "The loan was taken out on May 30, 1997 and remained outstanding for some considerable time."

The tribunal heard that initially Neil Sharpley said he could not remember what the loan was for other than for use in his "other business activities".

Mr Williams told the tribunal the loan had been used by Neil Sharpley "to repay a bank which had threatened to repossess his own house".

Mr Williams, who pointed out that everything done by the brothers was done deliberately, added: "The question for the tribunal is does an honest solicitor behave like this?"

Peter Ross, representing both solicitors, told the tribunal: "Here are two partners, brothers who have taken on a family firm and had to bring it through some exceedingly difficult times."

Following the tribunal's decision, Mr Ross said the solicitors would almost certainly lose their office as Coroner and deputy Coroner.

Chairman, Jeremy Barnecutt, said the tribunal found Neil Sharpley (50) of Westgate, Louth and his brother Jeremy (46) of Swift Avenue, Manby, had acted dishonestly.

He said: "The order will be that in the case of each respondent that they will be struck off."

The brothers were also ordered to pay the Law Society's costs to be assessed if not agreed.

A spokesman for The Lord Chancellor's office said any allegation of misconduct or complaint against a coroner would be investigated by the Home Office

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