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Lawyer who embezzled from elderly aunt struck off 

William Walls swindled almost £270,000 from his relative after taking control of her finances.

Dundee Sheriff Court: Walls was sentenced to eight months in prison (file pic).
Dundee Sheriff Court: Walls was sentenced to eight months in prison (file pic). PA Images

A lawyer jailed for swindling money from his elderly aunt has been struck off.

The Scottish Solicitors' Discipline Tribunal decided William Walls would be "a danger to the public" if he continued to practise.

Walls, 62, of Muir Gardens, St Andrews was sentenced to eight months' imprisonment earlier in November after embezzling almost £270,000 when he was given power of attorney over the bank accounts of his relativc.

Sheriff Alastair Brown told him at Dundee Sheriff Court that he recognised his conviction would be "catastrophic" but he could not avoid imposing a custodial sentence.

Walls, 62, had also been the subject of a complaint to the Scottish Solicitors' Discipline Tribunal, which has found him guilty of professional misconduct.

The tribunal ruled he had charged grossly excessive fees, taken fees without rendering fee notes or obtaining authority from clients and misappropriated funds held for clients to his own use.

Its report stated: "The tribunal considered that the professional misconduct in this case was very serious.

"His dishonest conduct involving a significant number of transactions was likely to damage the reputation of the legal profession.

"If the respondent continued to practise, it was likely that he would be a danger to the public."

The tribunal said it was a fundamental principle that the client account was "sacrosanct" and decided the only appropriate sanction was to order that Walls name be struck off the Roll of Solicitors in Scotland.

Walls was earlier suspended from the Cupar law firm McQuittys, where he had been a partner, after his crime came to light.

Solicitor advocate Simon Collins told the tribunal Walls had inherited a firm that was struggling but did not appreciate the extent of the financial difficulties.

He said the conduct had represented his efforts to prevent the firm going down and added the monies had been repaid through a trustee in bankruptcy.

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