Thursday, December 01, 2011

News of the World papers reveal Jedburgh lawyer David Sturrock threatened journalists over coverage of crooked partner lawyer’s £300K estate scandal

Jedburgh lawyer ‘Major’ David Sturrock threatened News International with legal action if they featured a crooked lawyer colleague. PAPERS RELEASED by journalists who worked for the former NEWS OF THE WORLD newspaper for an ongoing investigation into how the Scottish legal profession muscle newspapers away from reporting on scandals involving “crooked lawyers” have uncovered surprising results, where in one example released to Scottish Law Reporter, a JEDBURGH solicitor identified as ‘MAJOR’ DAVID PERCIVAL STURROCK (68) who holds SEVENTEEN DIRECTORSHIPS including one on a PRIVATE SCHOOL, threatened NEWS INTERNATIONAL & the NEWS OF THE WORLD newspaper with legal action if its journalists followed the Scotsman newspaper & reported on a well known scandal involving a £300K SWINDLE of a will involving Kelso solicitor Andrew Penman of Stormonth Darling Solicitors and an accountant who was the will’s Executor, Norman Howitt currently of JRW Group also based in the Scottish Borders.

The newly released letter to the then Editor of the News of the World in 1995 was sent from Andrew Penman’s own firm then called P&J Stormonth Darling, later renamed to Stormonth Darling Solicitors after the scandal involving the will and the Law Society’s cover up of a subsequent recommendation to PROSECUTE Mr Penman for his role in the affair was widely reported in the Scottish media. The letter containing the legal threat against the Editor of the now defunct News International paper is signed by David Sturrock, a partner at Stormonth Darling’s Jedburgh partner office of Turnbull Simpson & Sturrock which was bought out in 2007 by the Edinburgh based law firm Lindsays.

In the letter, featured below, Mr Sturrock, writing on behalf of solicitor Andrew Penman who had been reported to the Law Society of Scotland over the estate fiddle, threatened the News of the World’s Editor with legal action for defamation if he went ahead and published details of the notorious scandal, information on which had been provided to it by the late Mr Cherbi’s son, Peter Cherbi, now a law journalist himself.

Mr Sturrock, writing on behalf of Mr Penman forcefully told the NOTW Editor : “However we caution you that while Mr Peter Cherbi in his complaint to the Law Society has made detailed allegations against us, we are lodging with them a response to each allegation: and if you publish only the information given to you by Mr Peter Cherbi, it may constitute defamation of us.”

Prior to threatening the News of the World Editor with a defamation action, Mr Sturrock claimed in the same letter he could not discuss any of the details surrounding the estate of Mr Cherbi’s late father, however he did the exact opposite as the letter to the NOTW shows.

Mr Sturrock wrote : “We confirmed to you that Mr Peter Cherbi had lodged with the Law Society of Scotland a complaint against this firm re the administration of his late Father's Estate. We were notified of that complaint by letter from the Law Society of Scotland received 3rd January 1995. We further advised you that we could not discuss with you, nor indeed any other third party, individual client's affairs. In view of the above, we are obviously unable to give any detailed information. We further advise you that we were acting as Solicitors to the Executor of the late Mr Cherbi and that Mr Peter Cherbi has his own Solicitor.”

“We met with Mr Peter Cherbi, his solicitor and his late Father's Executor on 20 December 1994 following upon which an undertaking was given by Mr Peter Cherbi's Solicitor that by 6 January Mr Peter Cherbi would make constructive suggestions for the progression of his late Father's Estate. He duly made those suggestions, and they are presently with the Executor for instructions. The Estate of the late Mr Cherbi has already been the subject of a previous press report at the instigation of Mr Pete Cherbi in the Scotsman on 18 October 1994. We do not know what information Mr Peter Cherbi has given you, and even if we did, we could not respond to it, for the reasons stated.”

A journalist working on the story at the time today queried why Mr Sturrock threatened the paper with a defamation action when it had by that time become clear that Mr Penman had acted in a deplorable manner which the Law Society of Scotland’s own investigating lawyers thought so severe they demanded Penman be prosecuted before the Scottish Solicitors Discipline Tribunal with a view to striking him off as a solicitor.

The journalist said : “We had already heard from insiders at the Law Society that Penman was facing a prosecution for what he did so his partner’s claims of defamation were obviously a bit wide of the mark. This is a prime example of a cover up and an attempt by a lawyer with a vested interest in protecting his partner trying to censor the media”.

The journalist also queried why the letter from Mr Sturrock appeared to go out of its way not to name the Executor of the Estate as Norman Howitt, a Borders Accountant who it was revealed in an investigation had apparently taken ownership of the deceased’s widow’s Pension Book, had attempted to assume full control of the deceased’s widow’s estate through a controlling secret Trust, and had submitted a false report to Lothian & Borders Police to thwart any investigation into funds Howitt had transferred from Estate assets into his own company’s accounts.

The Scotsman newspaper widely reported on the scandal involving the will of the late Mr Cherbi who served in the KOSBs during WW2. Reports continued in the Scotsman and other newspapers through the 1990’s and into the 2000’s, after the results of a Law Society investigation released to the paper revealed investigators DEMANDED Andrew Penman BE PROSECUTED for his failures on the ruined Cherbi estate. Scottish Law Reporter featured some of the coverage in an article in September 2010, HERE

The Law Society of Scotland’s own investigators found Penman had attempted to REARRANGE and DOCTOR files in an attempt to thwart a Law Society investigation into his conduct on the estate. Investigators also found Penman had attempted to DECEIVE High Street Banks such as the Royal Bank of Scotland and also the Capital Taxes Office of the Inland Revenue, now Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs (HMRC). Scottish Law Reporter recently linked Andrew Penman to a directorship of the ‘negative equity’ Ladykirk Estates Ltd, who lost a battle to prevent an elderly farm tenant from passing on his lease to his younger nephew. Excerpts of the Law Society’s report into Mr Penman which demanded he be prosecuted are reprinted in the article.

A legal source today confirmed Mr Sturrock had also been the subject of complaints to the Law Society of Scotland regarding the actions he took on the Cherbi estate after he had taken over the case from his partner, Andrew Penman. The source also sensationally revealed Mr Sturrock and the Cherbi estate Executor, Norman Howitt, took for themselves and used the £1,000 of compensation provided to Mr Cherbi for the apparent £300K losses, TO PAY OFF ‘estate debts’ to a real estate agency business known as “John Sale” which was regularly used by both Sturrock’s law firm in Jedburgh and Penman’s law firm in Kelso.

Accounts show Mr Cherbi himself received NOTHING of the compensation paid by the Law Society of Scotland and rather it was used by the lawyers & Executor to pay off debts accrued on it by the actions of Penman and the Executor, Mr Howitt.

A legal insider said the Law Society’s decision to pay the compensation direct to the same Executors & lawyers who had threatened the News of the World newspaper with defamation and had disowned any involvement in Peter Cherbi’s complaint due to the fact the law firm itself was implicated, “…was corrupt, and was taken in the knowledge the money would be handed back to the lawyers who were doing all the damage.”

No one at the Law Society of Scotland was prepared to give official comment on the allegations it had paid the compensation for Mr Penman’s actions direct to the same firm of lawyers who threatened the News of the World for defamation however an insider confirmed the version of events reported here today.

A retired Police Officer based at Jedburgh has since come forward to Scottish Law Reporter, alleging a series of incidents arising from false reports provided by lawyers & an accountant to Lothian & Borders Police “were directly linked to Peter Cherbi’s complaint against Penman & Howitt”.

The now retired officer alleged he and certain colleagues at the time “were under pressure” after attempts were made to use the Police to stop Mr Cherbi’s demands the Law Society investigation into Penman and the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland (ICAS) investigation of Howitt go ahead. No one from Lothian & Borders Police was prepared to comment on the serious allegations made against them.

Speaking to Scottish Law Reporter today, Peter Cherbi branded the Law Society of Scotland as “a hateful institution used to target members of the public who dare complain about their lawyers” He also called for an independent investigation into information provided by the retired Police Officer on why Lothian & Borders Police “were apparently used as a battering ram" against his family in attempts to persuade them to drop the complaints & investigations against Penman & Howitt and silence any further media coverage (which obviously did not work – Ed).

A Companies Check on Major David Percival Sturrock of Easter Ulston, Jedburgh, Roxburghshire, reveals he has SEVENTEEN Company Director or sectretary appointments including the THE K.O.S.B. ASSOCIATION FUNDS, THE K.O.S.B. MUSEUM FUND and a Private fee-paying School in the Scottish Borders, ST. MARY'S SCHOOL, MELROSE

Major David Percival Sturrock has 17 company director or secretary appointments :


Mr David Sturrock’s late grandfather, of the same name was also a solicitor based in Jedburgh in the early part of the 20th Century. Papers show the late Mr Sturrock died at at the small Northumbrian village of Otterburn in the late 1930s after a scandal broke where it was alleged he had used the proceeds of a deceased client’s estate in Jedburgh along with a property to repay debts. Mr Sturrock was reported to the authorities at the time after papers were discovered in waste bins, and it was reported he was to have been charged in connection with the affair. Papers show the late Mr Sturrock’s cause of death as natural causes however it is widely thought the solicitor committed suicide to avoid prosecution for the scandal.


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Have to admit the Law Society paying the complainer's compensation to the same law firm who ruined the estate who then use it for themselves is a bit of a fraud to say the least.

Anonymous said...

Odd the NOTW was scared off so easily and even more suspicious with the level of attention the story went onto receive in the Scotsman etc

I think you will find there was some arm twisting of the NOTW from the Law Society itself.It often happens.

Anonymous said...

I have no time for ex-military who call themselves by their former rank in civilian life.It usually indicates they are living off it bceause they are bugger all use at anything else or are using it for undue influence over others as in BULLY.

As for the Major's list of directorships,well it doesn't take too much intelligence to come to the conclusion he has used his considerable influence to shut the News of the World up along with the victims of his crooked partner pal Penman.

Nice touch on pocketing the compensation.Should be enough of a warning to others to stay away from the 'Major'

Incidentally are the KOSB's funds all in order?

Anonymous said...

caught this on twitter

so its like grandfather like grandson as far as the lawyer goes?

Anonymous said...

Caught red handed!

But no doubt 'insufficient evidence' for the Law Society of Scotland to do anything about it.

Anonymous said...

How much did it cost the bent lawyers to put the bent L&B cops "under pressure"?

This story reeks of corruption in high places...

Anonymous said...

So Mr Sturrock what exactly is defamatory about publishing a story about a lawyer who is so bent the Law Society's own lawyers even wanted to prosecute him?

Get a hobby Major!I hope you end up on the front page of the Sun!

Anonymous said...

what a disgusting letter sent by someone protecting the actions of a CROOKED LAWYER which should really be classed as CRIMINAL ACTIONS

Anonymous said...

What else is Major Bully hiding?I think this guy needs to be thoroughly investigated

Anonymous said...

Good to see reports such as this, and appearing on the likes of twitter - I wonder if the Law Society of Scotland will attempt to close it down too?

Anonymous said...

Compensation paid by the Law Society to a complainer is meant to be for the complainer and not law firms or residual estates.There could be a fraud in what happened here.