Runaway solicitor took £2m from client

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The Independent Online

Michael Fielding, the City lawyer whose sudden disappearance earlier this month led to a fraud probe, removed £2m from the client account of leading property group London & Regional before his departure.

The former partner at leading law firm Lawrence Graham is now in the United States. His solicitor, Gillian Benning, of Radcliffes, said that Mr Fielding left the county following medical advice about his mental health.

He does not plan to return until he feels able to deal with the financial carnage that he has left behind him.

Mr Fielding is understood to have removed £2m from the accounts of London & Regional, a property group run by the reclusive Livingstone brothers.

He advised the company in March when it bought the Regent Palace and Strand Palace hotels from Compass Group.

Ian Livingstone, London & Regional's managing director, said he did not want to discuss Mr Fielding.

Mr Fielding is understood to have removed large sums of money from accounts belonging to other clients, but details are hazy.

The problems are understood to go back to the early 1990s when he was senior partner of a small West End firm called Grangewoods. He is understood to have guaranteed loans taken out by the firm from Royal Bank of Scotland. The bank then pursued Mr Fielding for repayment of the loans and has now started bankruptcy proceedings against him.

The Office of Supervision of Solicitors, and the City of London Fraud Squad have both been alerted, but are waiting for Lawrence Graham to complete an internal inquiry.