Tribunal suspends `Mr Angry' solicitor

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The Independent Online
A SOLICITOR whose law firm wrote a letter to a client beginning "Dear Taffy Bastard" and whose rudeness caused magistrates to walk out in the middle of a case, was yesterday suspended indefinitely from practising and ordered to pay nearly pounds 10,000 costs.

Edward Newfield, 53, who admitted six allegations of "conduct unbefitting for a solicitor", was "within a shade" of being struck off, the Solicitors' Disciplinary Tribunal said.

The tribunal, sitting in London, heard that Mr Newfieldsent a string of abusive letters, in which he accused people of "insolence". To one complainant, he wrote: "We haven't the slightest interest in whether your client is funded by little green men from Mars."

He wrote to the Law Society's Office for the Supervision of Solicitors demanding it be abolished when it asked for an explanation for his behaviour.

The tribunal heard how a raft of complaints was received about his practice, Newfield and Co, in Faversham, Kent. But his biggest blunder occurred when he caused uproar in a magistrates' court. Gerald Lynch, for the Law Society, told how Mr Newfield verbally abused a probation officer at Faversham and Sittingbourne Magistrates' Court. "The bench had to stop him and remind him that the client was present."

The tribunal heard that Mr Newfield,a solicitor since 1976, had been suffering from severe depression at the time of the incidents, from 1995 to 1997. His solicitor said: "He is ashamed of what happened."

The chairman of the tribunal, Jeremy Barnecutt, said: "The tribunal has severe doubts as to whether he is fit to continue to practise. We find him guilty of arrogant and contemptible behaviour."