Missing Scots' lawyer found flower-picking

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The Independent Online
A SCOTTISH lawyer who disappeared last year, leaving behind his wife, has been found working under a false name as a flower picker in Cornwall.

In a twist of fate Reggie Perrin would have been proud of, Alistair Liddle swapped his life as a small town solicitor to join migrant workers who cut daffodils for a few pounds an hour.

Mr Liddle - or Robert Fox as he called himself - fled his home in Forres, Morayshire, as he was about to face an investigation into allegations of malpractice. He was only found toiling in the bulb fields near Penzance by accident when police checked his name during a murder inquiry.

They discovered that the man who was spending up to nine hours a day bent over millions of daffodils, gladioli, and pinks, had a colourful past.

On 10 December last year, Mr Liddle, who was the sole partner in his legal firm, went missing en route to attend a meeting with the Law Society of Scotland, to answer questions about alleged discrepancies in his firm's books.

He later withdrew pounds 5,000 from a bank account and made several calls from a mobile telephone, which were traced to Edinburgh, but the trail then went cold.

Following investigations by Law Society accountants, Mr Liddle's practice was closed and sold. His wife, Anne Marie, made an emotional appeal for him to get in contact before moving out of their bungalow to stay with her mother. The couple, who met 25 years ago, were described as inseparable.

A huge police search failed to find him. But earlier this month police in Cornwall investigating the stabbing of Lyn Bryant, 41, on 20 October, discovered that the flower-picking "Mr Fox" was in fact Mr Liddle, and that he had a pounds 300 unpaid motoring fine.

Last Saturday, Grampian police took him back to Scotland. A friend said: "He was looking fine, but his appearance had changed having lost four stones. He seemed quite happy."

Mr Liddle, however, did not stay in Scotland for long, and has failed to contact his wife

A police spokesman said: "It was his wish that nothing be revealed as to where he had been and where he planned to go."