Top law office raided

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The Independent Online
Police in four counties yesterday raided the offices of a firm of solicitors which claims to be the biggest criminal law practice in Britain.

The investigation into Robinson's law firm, based in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, is understood to be in connection with alleged legal aid "irregularities". Scores of plain-clothes and uniformed officers took part in the operation, which is being run by the Serious Fraud Office in London.

Police visited the home of the firm's principal, Timothy Robinson, at the Old Vicarage, Badgeworth, near Cheltenham, and searched company offices in Gloucester and Cheltenham and others in Gloucestershire, Avon, Somerset and Wiltshire Mr Robinson said the firm was "co-operating fully" with the inquiry. He added: "I support efforts being made by the authorities to prevent abuse of the legal aid fund.

"It is possible the investigation has arisen as a result of malicious allegations made by a former employee who was dismissed for this type of fraud. We have total confidence that the firm will be given a clean bill of health."

Legal executives from Mr Robinson's firm support solicitors in magistrates' courts, instruct barristers at crown courts, and are on round-the-clock call to attend police stations when clients are arrested.

Last year the firm set up a "flying squad" of lawyers to deal with serious crimes throughout the country.