Monday 17 December 2018

More than 20 criminal cases may be tainted by uncertified lawyer

Alan Lloyd advised clients without a proper certificate. Picture: Mark Condren
Alan Lloyd advised clients without a proper certificate. Picture: Mark Condren
Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

More than 20 criminal cases could be "tainted" by the actions of a solicitor who advised clients despite not having the necessary practising certificate to do so.

A Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal recommended Alan Lloyd be struck off after the Law Society expressed concerns about the potential impact on criminal prosecutions as a result of his actions.

The tribunal heard the solicitor's conduct had the potential to prejudice investigations as detainees have a constitutional right of reasonable access to a practising solicitor.

Although qualified as a solicitor in New York and on the Irish roll of solicitors at the time, Mr Lloyd had no practising certificate and little experience when he attended to clients at garda stations in Co Offaly on at least three occasions during 2016 and 2017.

A practising certificate must be issued to a solicitor by the Law Society before they can advise clients.

The tribunal heard he was involved in consultations with people arrested for questioning over alleged rape, drugs and assault offences.

When challenged by a garda sergeant involved in a rape investigation, Mr Lloyd, who is in his 50s, claimed to be a registered solicitor and provided a registration number. But in reality he was effectively on "work experience" at Tullamore firm AM Maloney & Co.

The tribunal heard he attended the garda stations when the firm's principal, Aisling Maloney, was abroad or on business elsewhere. She claims not to have known what he was doing and alleges he ignored specific instructions as to the extent of the work he could do for the firm.

In the rape case, Mr Lloyd advised a then 17-year-old boy, but gardaí became suspicious of his qualifications and experience when he constantly interrupted instead of maintaining a watching brief during interviews.

Mr Lloyd admitted to several counts of misconduct and apologised for his behaviour, saying he was "over-eager", had "overstepped" and had been "trying to stay in work".

He said he was currently unemployed and in receipt of jobseeker's benefit.

The tribunal heard Detective Garda Liam Lonergan was investigating Mr Lloyd's activities and, in a sworn affidavit for High Court proceedings last year, said that "in excess of 20 cases have been identified as possibly being tainted".

The detective told the tribunal yesterday that his inquiry was ongoing.

Barrister Frank Kennedy, for the Law Society, told the tribunal: "It will not necessarily be the case that there will be an adverse consequence arising from this wrongdoing, but there is a very serious risk of that happening."

In recommending the solicitor be struck off, tribunal chairman Michael Lanigan said Mr Lloyd's expressions of regret had been noted.

"However, it is a fact that trials have collapsed for lesser reasons," said Mr Lanigan.

The chairman said the "dishonesty" involved was "grave" because it related to people's constitutional rights.

A separate tribunal yesterday heard allegations of misconduct against Aisling Maloney, the principal in AM Maloney.

Mr Kennedy alleged she failed to properly supervise Mr Lloyd and that if she didn't know what he was doing, then she ought to have.

Ms Maloney vehemently denies misconduct.

The tribunal will give its findings in that case in January.

Irish Independent

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