Stormonth Darling Solicitors in Kelso. ANDREW PATERSON PENMAN, a Crooked Lawyer working in the firm of STORMONTH DARLING SOLICITORS based in the Scottish Borders town of Kelso who was investigated by the Law Society of Scotland in the long running case of the Cherbi Executry Estate swindle where over a QUARTER OF A MILLION POUNDS including foreign assets located in Italy were alleged to have been wiped from the value of the estate of the Jedburgh businessman in the early 1990’s has been identified as a Director of LADYKIRK ESTATES LTD, a land agent operating in the South of Scotland and around Berwick Upon Tweed who recently challenged the right of an elderly farming tenant to assign his tenancy to his nephew. Ladykirk Estates lost the case in the Land Court and appealed the decision to allow the tenant farmer to pass on his tenancy to his nephew in the Court of Session.
In an online companies check entry for Ladykirk Estates Ltd Reg No SC015891, information listed reports the company’s registration date of 22/03/1930 as “Private Limited with share capital”. Its last accounts were filed on 26/02/2011 tor period to: 28/05/2010. Ladykirk Estates Ltd is registered at the same address of Penman’s law firm, Stormonth Darling, located at BANK OF SCOTLAND BUILDINGS, KELSO TD5 7HQ.
The report on Ladykirk Estate’s Financial Summary from its last accounts lists the following : Cash at Bank : £288 (Cash at bank and 'in hand' is the bank balance for LADYKIRK ESTATES LIMITED at the end date of the period the accounts were for). LadyKirk Estate’s Net Worth is listed as : £-1,660,755 (Negative) (A company’s Net Worth is calculated as Shareholders Funds minus Intangible Assets. £-1,660,755 is from the accounts filed in 2010) Ladykirk Estate Lrd’s Total Current Liabilities : £1,228,186 (The sum of Trade Creditors, Bank Overdraft and Miscellaneous Current Liabilities in 2010) Total Current Assets : £913,602 (The sum of Stocks, Trade Debtors, Cash and Miscellaneous Current Assets in 2010)
The Land Court decision against Ladykirk Estates Ltd, who challenged the right of one of their elderly bachelor farm tenants to pass on his tenancy to his nephew (also a farmer) and subsequently lost the case, is reported here : FLEMING v LADYKIRK ESTATES LTD. (Application RN SLC/62/08 – Order of 28 April 2009). The decision was widely welcomed as it removed some of the obstacles hindering the succession of young tenants into their family farms, ruling that in this case, the Borders tenant farmer from Coldstream is allowed to assign his tenancy to his nephew despite various objections raised by Ladykirk Estates Ltd, his landlord. The issue was further reported in the Land Gazette HERE
Penman, known to some as ‘Drew Penman’, is still working as a solicitor partner in the firm of STORMONTH DARLING SOLICITORS, KELSO even though several investigations carried out by the Law Society of Scotland issued reports finding Penman had deliberately rearranged evidence before investigating officers took possession of the files in an attempt to prevent the Law Society’s own reporter from investigating the circumstances of the losses. The Law Society investigating reporter found “there was also evidence of what appeared to be a bungled and unsuccessful attempt to put the file into order
Law Society investigating lawyer found Andrew Penman deliberately mislead the Royal Bank of Scotland, amounting to professional misconduct. Page two of the Law Society report said : “The reporter noted there was a complete failure on the part of Messrs. P. & J. Stormonth-Darling to deal with this matter. They completely failed to acknowledge the instructions they had received from the Royal Bank in this connection and failed to take any steps to deal with the matter. The reporter was of the view that the substantial and unnecessary delays which had taken place in the executry might amount not only to an inadequate professional service on the part of Messrs. P.& J. Stormonth Darling but professional misconduct on the part of Mr Penman the solicitor dealing with the matter up until the time the complaint was lodged with the Law Society on 17th October 1994. Further the reporter was of the view that the apparent deliberate attempt to mislead the Royal Bank in regard to the Banco di Roma account may amount to professional misconduct.”
The Law Society investigating lawyer went onto demand a prosecution of Andrew Penman, saying : “In respect of the extraordinary delays and the repeated failures to respond to correspondence and the apparent, deliberate attempt to mislead the Royal Bank the reporter was of the view that the professional misconduct was such that it would warrant prosecution before the Scottish Solicitors Discipline Tribunal The reporter was or the view that there had clearly been an inadequate professional service but in the, event of a referral to the Scottish Solicitors Discipline Tribunal this would be incorporated into the complaint.”
In several damning verdicts, the Law Society’s investigating officer found that Penman had DELIBERATELY MISLED the Royal Bank of Scotland, while documents involving correspondence from the then INLAND REVENUE now Her Majesty’s Revenue & Custons (HMRC) showed Penman had also deliberately misled tax inspectors after vast sums of money disappeared from the deceased’s estate in an organised attempt by the Executor, a Borders Accountant identified as Norman Howitt to pay the monies over to the deceased’s wife and then into a SECRET TRUST FUND controlled by Howitt himself and revealed in an article on Scottish Law Reporter in 2007, HERE where evidence revealed Howitt had INCREDIBLY even taken possession of the deceased’s widow’s pension book.
Law Society Complaints Committee said Andrew Penman mislead the Royal Bank, was a failure at handling an executry. The Committee’s consideration of the investigating lawyer’s findings revealed : “The Committee expressed grave concern at the way that this executry had been handled by Mr. Penman and the extraordinary delays and the complete failure to deal with correspondence in an adequate manner, The Committee were of the: view that there: had been very poor attention paid to the administration of this estate and that whilst the complainer's uncertainty in certain matters might have caused some confusion there was a general lack of effort on the part of the solicitors to deal with matters in a reasonable manner.. It was noted in connection with the proposed loan by the Royal Bank. to the complainer there was a complete and utter failure to deal with the matter in any way or even to acknowledge the instructions. In connection with the Banco di Roma account the Committee noted the failure on the part of Mr. Penman to deal with matters in a reasonable way. They were particularly concerned at the terms of the letter written by Mr. Penman to the Royal Bank on 29th September 1992 which appeared to be an attempt to mislead the Royal Bank into believing that matters were being actively dealt with when they were not.”
“The Committee concurred with the views of the reporter in this matter indicating that the apparent attempt to mislead the Royal Bank persuaded them that Mr Penman's acting in the matter were so serious and reprehensible as to amount to professional misconduct. The Committee thereafter considered whether the professional misconduct was such that it would warrant referral to the Scottish Solicitors Discipline Tribunal. The Committee were of the view that the administration of the executry had been so appallingly badly done as to take the issue out of service into that of conduct and coupled with the apparent attempt to mislead the Royal Bank the conduct was such that it would warrant prosecution before the Scottish Solicitors Discipline Tribunal. The Committee were of the view that Mr, Penman's acting in respect of the extra-ordinary delays and failure to progress the administration of the executry and in apparently misleading the Royal Bank of Scotland were so serious and reprehensible as to amount to professional misconduct. The Committee determined to recommend to Council that Mr. Penman be prosecuted before the Scottish Solicitors Discipline Tribunal in relation to the professional misconduct and the service provided and any other matter which the Fiscal feels appropriate.”
The actions of Penman were so severe the Law Society’s reporter DEMANDED in his report, sections of which are reprinted above, that Penman BE PROSECUTED before the SCOTTISH SOLICITORS DISCIPLINE TRIBUNAL and STRUCK OFF due to the seriousness of his actions against the Cherbi family, however a secret deal was brokered between a key Law Society official, James Ness and the then Complaints Committee to commute Penman’s punishment and reverse the prosecution, thought to be the first & only case of its kind ever happening at the Law Society. The deal to reverse the prosecution was branded as corrupt by many legal insiders and the wider media.
The Penman scandal was significantly reported in the Scottish media at the time, including the Scotsman newspaper. It was also alleged at the time the law firms involved in the scandal had used their local influence to intimidate the remaining family of the deceased in an attempt to thwart any further investigation of the estate swindle. Lothian & Borders Police had cooperated with Interpol at the time to establish the loss of the foreign assets yet no action was taken by Penman or Howitt to recover them. A legal insider said a claim against the Master Policy for negligence failed after the family of the deceased were further intimidated by the legal profession, including the then Chief Executive of the Law Society of Scotland who demanded legal aid be cut off to the Cherbi family in a further attempt to prevent the secret deal at the Law Society becoming the subject of courtroom debate.