A disgraced judge is facing the loss of his home in Lytham after failing to pay his share of more than £1.5m in misused public cash.
Denis McKay, 64, of Agnew Street, and fellow judge Stuart Turner, 54, from Elswick, were both accused of ‘deliberately and systematically’ failing to account for legal aid cash when they worked as partners at a Lancashire law firm, Lonsdales Solicitors.
Lonsdales, with offices in Blackpool and Preston, received payments from the Legal Services Commission (LSC), now the Legal Aid Agency, for work done for clients.
But in a ‘large’ number of cases it failed to return the money to the LSC when costs were recovered from the other side. They were both struck off after a hearing of the Solicitors’ Disciplinary Tribunal last year.
Lonsdales Solicitors, the firm McKay founded, was forced to shut its doors when the alleged wrongdoing came to light in 2011.
It emerged yesterday that lawyers acting on behalf of the Lord Chancellor, Chris Grayling MP, are attempting to take possession of the home.
Patricia Hare, for the Lord Chancellor, applied to Deputy Master Bard for a charging order over the property. A charging order is used when a debt has not been repaid, in violation of an earlier court order.
After a charging order is won, the claimant is able to purse an order for “possession and sale” - effectively taking control the property.
But Miss Hare told the deputy master that McKay was denying direct ownership of the house.
She said: “The case that is being put forward is that the husband is holding it [the house] in trust for the wife’.
“We apply for a charging order over the husband’s interest.”
Deputy Master Bard declined to make the order, saying a longer hearing would be necessary to hear argument from both sides.
Chris Baxter, for Denis McKay, asked for an independent valuation of the house to take place.
Deputy Master Bard ordered a half-day hearing to establish the value of the house, whether Mr McKay has an interest in it, and if so, whether the charging order should be made. The next hearing is expected to be in November.