News Business Crime & Financial Services 8th Jan 2020

Merry van Woodenberg acts for Compliance Officer acquitted of involvement in Legal Aid Fraud

Merry van Woodenberg represented an individual charged with Conspiracy to Defraud the Legal Aid Agency and Perverting the Course of Justice. Merry’s client was the Compliance Officer of a London immigration solicitor’s firm, which was alleged to have made fraudulent claims to the Legal Aid Agency (previously the Legal Services Commission) over a 6 year period. The Crown alleged that over 4000 fraudulent claims were made by the firm, for clients who never in fact existed. This equated to around 40% of the firm’s income from the Legal Aid Agency.

The principals of the firm were convicted of the conspiracy last year. The Compliance Officer was alleged to have assisted in the conspiracy to defraud the LAA, and to have assisted in creating forged documents and misleading the LAA as to the veracity of the claims made.

Merry applied to extend representation to leading counsel, and was then led by Natasha Wong QC in a four-week trial at Southwark Crown Court.

Their client was acquitted by the jury in under an hour of deliberations.

Merry was instructed by Graeme Hydari of Hodge Jones & Allen.

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