Struck-off Hull solicitor Paul Stott will 'fight' to restore his reputation

By Hull Daily Mail | Posted: 9 Dec 2016

A solicitor struck off after allegedly misusing £3m of investment funds has said he will "do what it takes" to restore his reputation.

Paul Stott, senior partner at Hessle-based firm Ingrams, was barred from practicing after he borrowed the £3.15m sum, which he allegedly knew would not be repaid.

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has accused him of misusing funds and entering into an agreement which had links to fraud.

Speaking to the Mail, Mr Stott - who has also had to relinquish his position as assistant coroner for Hull and the East Riding - protested his innocence and said he would appeal the decision.

He said: "I do not believe I have done anything wrong. I feel my reputation has been damaged and I want to put that right through an appeal. I have to fight and I want to restore that (reputation).

"I was managing partner at the firm and was a coroner for ten years, and dealt with over 450 inquests for the people around the area and have had no issues with those at all. All of that has gone as a result of this."

In the ruling, the SRA alleged Mr Stott knew the money he borrowed from the Cayman Islands-based Axiom Legal Financing Fund in 2012 would be used to keep the business afloat, and that he had no intention to repay the sum.

In a report outlining the judgement, the SRA said it was misconduct "at the highest level" and that they had found "dishonesty proved multiple times".

But Mr Stott, who said the case had been "hanging over" the company's head for five years, said he only borrowed the money to keep his business afloat and insisted his actions were not malicious.

He said two other firms had also borrowed funds from the firm, but had been exonerated by the SRA.

"We were confident we would win the ruling," said Mr Stott, who established Ingrams around 15 years ago. "It was a mixture of emotions when it happened. I think it was a mix of anger, exasperation. I was just shocked.

"I felt a large amount of responsibility for my members of staff as well, because they had all been dragged through it as well. I wanted to make sure that they were looked after.

"It hit my family as well. This has been a large thing for my family and they have been through it. They have been incredibly supportive but it has been a tough time."

Mr Stott, who is now in the process of selling the firm, has said he will appeal the decision at the High Court.

"I have had a lot of messages of support from colleagues and friends that I have known throughout the city," he said.

"I have worked in Hull for the better part of 30 years and it has been quite overwhelming to see the levels of support that I have had. I have had messages saying this is just nonsense."

Mr Stott said he would be leaving the legal profession, whatever the outcome of the appeal. But he insists he will not give up his quest to restore his reputation.

"It's been quite horrendous, really," he said. "I have got to try and make sure that my family and the staff are looked after. But I need to do what it takes to try and restore my reputation."

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