Statement from the Law Society On Christopher Hales – crime agency alerted in 2011
The Law Society is confirming today (Friday 9 October) that it submitted a report on Christopher Hales to the Serious & Organised Crime Agency (SOCA, now the National Crime Agency) in 2011.
The Law Society has a legal duty to report suspicious activity and submitted a 'suspicious activity report' ('SAR') to SOCA in October 2011. This was following the original Law Society inspection of the firm which resulted in Christopher Hales being suspended, prosecuted before the independent Scottish Solicitors' Discipline Tribunal and struck off as a solicitor in 2014.
The Society received confirmation from SOCA that the report was received in 2011.
Until the existence of the police investigation came into the public domain, the Law Society considered it could not disclose the fact that a SAR had been submitted. Police Scotland has since confirmed that it has been instructed by the Crown Office to carry out an investigation into the property transactions involving Christopher Hales. Given this is now a matter of public record and after receiving independent legal advice, the Society is able to confirm the submission of a report to SOCA in 2011 and believes the disclosure of this fact to be in the public interest.
Separate to this, we note the calls for the Law Society to publish “any and all” files relating to the case of Christopher Hales.
We have sought to be as open as possible about our handling of this case, the steps taken that led to Mr Hales being struck off as a solicitor and our reporting to the relevant authorities.
However, it would be irresponsible to release all of the files on this case as has been suggested. Not only would publication of this kind go against our data protection obligations but it could jeopardise the ongoing police investigation and potentially prejudice any legal proceedings which followed. We will of course give Police Scotland our full assistance.
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