Lawyer lied to protect police lover

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The Independent Online
A lovers' quarrel ended the career of a respected solicitor yesterday, when she was convicted of perverting the course of justice by lying to protect her policeman boyfriend from a drink drive charge.

Penelope Schofield, pictured, a 35-year-old lawyer from Hampshire falsely claimed she was behind the wheel of her partner, Nigel Phillips's car - when he drove home after a CID Christmas party.

But she had left earlier by taxi after rowing with the drunken detective, because he was "wrapped round" another woman at the party.

Schofield stormed out and demanded that a taxi should take her home alone. The couple were still arguing when taxi driver Stephen Garner arrived.

"She cried during the journey. It was difficult to sit next to someone crying, so I tried to make conversation," he said.

"She told me she was a solicitor and high up in the field. She said she had been at a police function."

The driver dropped her safely at home. But her boyfriend had returned to the party, where he stayed drinking and dancing. He was seen with his arms round another woman.

The officer was nearly three times over the legal limit when he decided to drive away from the party back to the cottage he shared with Schofield.

On the way hit the kerb, causing a puncture, then drove to Bitterne police station where he was based. Officers there promptly breathalysed him. Facing a drink-drive charge, Phillips rang Schofield and begged her to lie for him and say she was behind the wheel.

She told police later: "In a moment of madness, when I agreed to say that I had driven, I lost everything - my career, my job with the Crown Prosecution Service and it is likely that I will be struck off by the Law Society."

Schofield has since broken off her relationship with the disgraced detective.

The daughter of a respected retired solicitor, she was highly regarded by other lawyers. A sheaf of testimonies spoke of her as an "honourable person of complete integrity", "fair" and "held in high esteem".

"I have worked hard for that qualification and my whole life has revolved around the legal profession. I am ashamed of what I did and the shame that it has brought on my family. I did it for Nigel, out of stupidity, without thinking of the consequences," she said. Schofield was remanded on bail for pre-sentence reports.