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Solicitor's 'career in tatters' after wrongly claiming expenses

PUBLISHED: 16:36 23 April 2019

Solicitor Michael Rowan avoided an immediate jail term. Picture: ARCHANT

Solicitor Michael Rowan avoided an immediate jail term. Picture: ARCHANT

A solicitor who claimed £3,000 of expenses he wasn't entitled to while working for Ipswich Borough Council has been spared an immediate prison sentence.

Sentencing Michael Rowan to a suspended prison sentence at Ipswich Crown Court, Judge David Pugh said that when he applied to become a locum with the council he clearly felt he should be paid expenses on top of his daily rate.

Rowan, of Highfield Road, Whitehall, admitted fraud between September 4 and October 1 2016 by dishonestly claiming to Law Absolute recruitment that his claimed expenses on an unsigned form had been agreed by a representative of IBC ( Ipswich Borough Council).

He also admitted fraud between September 12 and 21 2016 by dishonestly claiming to Law Absolute that his claimed expenses in two expense forms had been authorised by a representative of IBC.

He was given a 26-week prison sentence suspended for 12 months and ordered to do 180 hours unpaid work in the community. He was also ordered to pay £1,750 costs.

Judge Pugh said that Rowan was called to the Bar in 1991 and had a 30-year career in the legal services industry.

He said Rowan was of previous good character and the offences were out of character.

He said that when he applied to be a locum with IBC, he he had clearly felt that not only should he be paid a daily rate but also his expenses.

He said it had become quite apparent to him that the contract that had been agreed with IBC was meant to be one payment a day to include expenses.

He said the total mount involved in the expense forms submitted by Rowan over a short period of time more than two years ago was about £3,000.

Judge Pugh said the expenses claimed by Rowan had been incurred by him and since the offences had come to light he had repaid the money.

The court heard that after being called to the Bar in 1991, Rowan had worked in the legal sector for 30 years.

“His legal career is in tatters,” said Ahmed Muen for Rowan.

He said Rowan was currently working in a government legal department but this job was unlikely to be continued when he disclosed his conviction for the offences before the court.

He said at the time of the offences Rowan had been living in Gloucestershire and travelling to Ipswich and felt he was mislead by the recruitment agency about expenses.

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