Whistleblower trainee solicitor struck of
The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal has struck off former trainee Emily Scott after finding her complicit in misconduct she reported at North Lincolnshire-based firm De Vita Platt. Scott, who was a trainee at the firm between September 2012 and November 2014, was found to have been “deceived, pressured, bullied and manipulated” into assisting partners Jonathan De Vita and Christopher John Platt in a number of disciplinary offences, including several of dishonesty. Despite having “very considerable sympathy” with the “young solicitor”, the tribunal reasoned that she carried out instructions “she must have known were in breach of her professional obligations and had allowed serious misconduct to go unreported for nearly two years”.
Scott reported the misconduct in 2015, just months after leaving the firm at the end of her training contract. She admitted falsifying documents in a file that was to be submitted to the legal ombudsman but said she did so under duress. She said she had acted in a manner “that any reasonable person in my position would do” under the circumstances.
Speaking to The Telegraph newspaper earlier this month, Scott said she felt “terribly let down” by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SRA) who prosecuted the case and expressed concern that the ruling might deter others from reporting misconduct. “I’m not a dishonest person. I acted naively and have now lost a career that I had pursued since the age of 18. The governing body and tribunal has punished me for doing the right thing”, she told the paper. Commenting on the case during a press briefing earlier this month, SRA chief executive Paul Philip stood by the regulators decision to prosecute and flagged that Scott had recourse to appeal. “We would have expected her, as a solicitor of the high court to have reported the matter and we would expect whistleblowing arrangements to be in place to do that”, he said. Philip acknowledged that “the consequences for [Scott] were severe”, adding “but that’s a matter for the tribunal”.