Veteran lawyer suspended amid investigation

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A veteran coroner and solicitor has been suspended from practising and is under investigation, it has been revealed.

Officials with the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) acted to stop the small private West Wales firm practising with immediate effect.



The office of John Owen Solicitors, in Llandeilo, closed last week in a move described by one customer, who did not wish to be named, as "a bombshell".



Mr Owen, 76, has been a well-known solicitor for more than 50 years and the Coroner for Carmarthenshire for more than 25 years.



The move by the legal profession's watchdog leaves a question mark over his continued role as a long-serving coroner.



A series of inquests scheduled to take place this week have been cancelled.



It is understood the firm's office staff of six, including Deputy Coroner Pauline Mainwaring, were served redundancy notices last week.



The SRA watchdog regulates more than 120,000 solicitors in England and Wales.



It was set up at the start of 2007 with the purpose of ensuring that solicitors adhere to high standards.



It also has a duty to act when risks are identified, according to a definition of its role on its own website.



"We can confirm that we have intervened in the practice of John Owen Solicitors, Llandeilo," a spokesman for the SRA said.



"The practising certificate of Mr Owen has been suspended with immediate effect. SRA inquiries are still ongoing."



He added: "Mr Paul Caldicott, of Morgan Cole LLP, Llys Tawe, Kings Road, Swansea, West Glamorgan, SA1, has been appointed as agent acting on behalf of the SRA and he will write to all clients of John Owen Solicitors about ongoing business."

PA