A solicitor who represented an elderly victim of £1.6million mortgage fraudster Edwin McLaren has been struck off by watchdogs.
Alistair Bowie was found guilty of professional misconduct over his role in an attempt by McLaren to dupe the woman out of her home.
McLaren is serving an 11-year jail term after being found guilty in 2017 of conning 25 victims.
The case lasted 20 months at the High Court in Glasgow and was the longest in UK legal history.
Now, Bowie’s reputation is in tatters following a Scottish Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SSDT) hearing in Edinburgh.
An SSDT panel said Bowie, of Kirkintilloch, near Glasgow, “failed to act honestly”.
They also said that he had “demonstrated a serious and reprehensible departure from the standards of competent and reputable solicitors”.
It added in its findings: “There were various signs through this transaction which should have caused the respondent (Bowie) to pause.
“If he had considered these, he could have taken steps to avoid the fraud which was being perpetrated.”
The tribunal found Bowie failed to act in the best interest of his client, described as “over 70” and from Dundee.
McLaren targeted vulnerable homeowners in financial difficulty through newspaper ads.
He persuaded them to sell their homes with the promise he would clear their debts.
The conman then arranged for the homes to be bought at discount prices after making fraudulent mortgage applications.
Meanwhile his victims were left homeless and out of pocket.
The tribunal was told Bowie had been handling the purchase of the pensioner’s home by “David Johnston”, an alias used by McLaren.
The disgraced solicitor obtained her title deeds and concluded the deal without her permission.
She had been told by McLaren she could stay rent-free in her home and that he would pay off her debts. But Bowie failed to check if she had any legally binding agreement to remain in the house.
He falsely declared that the woman had been in his office in Bishopbriggs, near Glasgow, to sign documents.
Bowie was criticised for failing to ask why she was choosing to sell her home below market value. He also failed to question why three solicitors were representing McLaren, who later failed to pay the purchase price or settle the woman’s debts.
It was unclear from the judgment whether the victim held on to her home.
At the High Court in Glasgow last week, McLaren, 54, launched a bid to keep his £800,000 home in Bridge of Weir, Renfrewshire.
In 2017, he appeared in the dock with wife Lorraine, also 54. She was convicted of mortgage fraud and laundering £128,000. She was freed nine months into a two-year sentence.
Bowie, who gave evidence at the 2017 trial against McLaren, said he retired two years ago.
When approached by our reporter, he insisted he had been tricked by McLaren. He added: “My client was duped, everybody was.”