Solicitor & Local Councillor in £580,000 Will Fraud
Posted Dec 18, 2019.
A London based solicitor, local Labour councillor and purported pillar of his local community has been found guilty of illegally appropriating funds from a deceased client’s estate, which was then used to fund the purchase of a house.
The guilty solicitor, James Allie had originally been appointed as the executor of Ruth Ballin’s will, but rather than following the instruction in Mrs Ballin’s will and administering it as she had instructed, he chose to divert a significant part of the funds to buy a house in Brent, North London. Mrs Ballin had left a sizeable estate valued at over £1.6m to the Canon Collins Educational and Legal Assistance Trust charity. Mrs Ballin had been a long-term supporter of charity, who focus on social justice work and helping provide education to the poor in southern Africa, for a number of years.
James Allie was appointed executer of her will through his employer at the time, law firm Spence and Horne. Over a 2 year period from June 2016, Allie secretly siphoned off £580,000 from the estate funds. As well as buying the house – which he started living in 2017 – Allie failed to divulge any details of the estate with the genuine beneficiary.
High Court Legal Action
As soon as his employers became aware of Allies illegal action, he was immediately dismissed, and a freezing injunction was also sought to protect the remaining assets in the estate. The charity beneficiary was only notified of the fraud in September this year and launched legal action in the High Court immediately afterwards.
Presiding Judge David Rees QC has ordered that Mr Allie hand over the house, which he purchased through a limited company he had set up and of which he is sole director. He must leave the property by the end of January 2020 and must also repay any remaining money from the estate.
A spokesperson for the charity, which is seeking £72,000 in legal costs from him, said:
“Mr Allie was appointed as executor under the will of Ruth Ballin. The estate was sworn to be worth £1,591,694 net…the deceased’s estate was simple. The administration of the estate should have been straightforward. Mr Allie has utilised the liquid assets within the estate to purchase a property… which he currently occupies. He has not been paying an occupation rent.’
His former employers, Spence and Horne, are also seeking over £60,000 in costs.
Mr Allie, who had also run for parliament as a Lib Dem in Brent North in the 2010 general election, was not in court but was seen canvassing for Labour in the run up to the recent General Election.
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