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Milford Haven: Warrant issued after struck-off solicitor failed to attend court

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Eaves Solicitors: Closed in December 2012

Eaves Solicitors: Closed in December 2012

A WARRANT was issued on Thursday (Jan 22) for the arrest of a solicitor who used money from a dead woman’s estate to bulk up his company accounts.

Simon Griffiths, 52, who ran Eaves Solicitors in Milford Haven was struck-off the roll by a Solicitor’s Disciplinary Tribunal in October 2013. Griffiths failed to attend Llanelli Magistrates’ Court to answer a charge of false accounting, and one further charge of abuse of position.

The chairman of the bench at Llanelli Magistrates’ Court issued a warrant for the immediate arrest of the former lawyer, and the police were informed.

Griffiths, from Pembroke, was arrested and appeared at Haverfordwest Magistrates’ Court today (Jan 23) to confirm his name and address.

Griffiths’ case will now be dealt with at Swansea Crown Court on Jan 30.

Griffiths was hauled before the Solicitors’ Disciplinary Tribunal fifteen months ago, after concerns were raised about his practice at Eaves Solicitors in Milford Haven.

Facing charges: Simon Griffiths

Facing charges: Simon Griffiths

He faced a number of allegations, including failing to fulfill and undertaking and misleading another firm of solicitors, which were found proved. At the beginning of 2011, Griffiths was instructed in the sale of house and undertook the duty to discharge the mortgage before the completion of the sale in April 2011.

However, despite giving repeated assurances to the purchasers’ solicitors, he failed to do so, the tribunal found. “On April 5, a day before completion, Eaves solicitors Mr Griffiths, gave a written undertaking to redeem the Bank of Scotland charge, to provide confirmation of discharge, as the sale was received by the mortgagees,” said Geoff Hudson for the SRA.

He said Eaves Solicitors had received around £100,000 from the sale of another property, but that it would not have been enough to discharge the Bank of Scotland mortgage.

“What sums that had been received were taken for the benefit of the company of which Griffiths was sole director,” Mr Hudson said. He added that one of the accounts ledgers at Eaves did not “meet the required standards” in terms of the information that it contained, and showed money being transferred into the accounts of companies for which Griffiths was the director. The panel was also told that during the sale of the house, Griffiths had twice “misleadingly” wrote to the solicitors of the purchasers to say that he had fulfilled his duty when he had not.

Mr Hudson said: “We say he knew when he wrote those letters because of the pressure and the threat to report to the SRA and to deflect the pressure in misleading them that the mortgage had been redeemed and that the problem was the mortgagee. “We say for a solicitor to mislead another in that way would be seen by reasonable and honest people as being dishonest behaviour.”

The tribunal heard that up until Monday (October 21) the mortgage had still not been discharged. In August 2012 a forensic financial investigation into the running of Eaves solicitors was launched after an allegation surfaced about the transfer of £30,000 from a client’s estate into a company account for which Griffiths was director. The woman, known only as Mrs Ward-Jones, had died and left an estate worth around £150,000 to her two sisters, one of whom, Christine Sheridan, was in a care home. Eaves accounts showed an entry in the July 31 ledger that £30,000 had been paid out as an “interim distribution” to Ms Sheridan’s account.

Financial investigator for the SRA, Oliver Baker, told the hearing that Griffiths’ book-keeper had first raised concerns about practice at the firm. “The firm’s book-keeper pulled me to one side and asked me to look at it as he had not seen supported documentation in relation to the transfer, and I believe he had some concerns about the state of the firm and Griffiths at the time.”

He added that the book-maker was also concerned because he had seen some documentation suggesting the firm might have to close down, but that this was not communicated to him. Mr Baker eventually discovered that although Griffiths had tried to hide the transaction in a paper trail, the sum of £30,000 had in fact gone to an account for Harwood Court Ltd, a company at which Griffiths was the director. “We say for a solicitor to use client monies for his own purposes is seen by reasonable and honest people to be dishonest behaviour,” Mr Hudson said.

Griffiths, who did not attend the central London hearing and was not represented, admitted all of the allegations apart from those relating to account issues. He claimed that at the time of his misconduct he has been suffering from a personality disorder, but the panel found there was not enough evidence to support this. He was found guilty of all the allegations and struck off. Griffiths was also ordered to pay £31,200 in costs.

Finding that Griffith had acted dishonestly, panel chair Dominic Green said: “We have considered this matter carefully on the respondent’s absence.

The seriousness of the misconduct was of the highest level and that a lesser sanction than striking off is not appropriate. “The decision today is that the first respondent is struck off. We have decided that, for protection of the public, and the protection of the reputation of the profession.” Griffiths’ wife, Sarah, and partner firm was initially named as a respondent in the proceedings, but parties reached an agreement with relation to her involvement.

Have you been affected by Eaves Solicitors closure? Please contact The Herald on 01646 45 45 45.

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Business

Natural Resources Wales approves Ireland-UK interconnector licence

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GREENLINK INTERCONNECTOR LIMITED says it welcomes the decision by Natural Resources Wales (NRW) to approve its application for a Marine Licence for the Greenlink electricity interconnector project, which will link the power markets of Great Britain and Ireland.

An important project for Pembrokeshire, and the UK as a whole, NRW’s go-ahead is one of several consents required for the construction of the project and covers installation of the marine cable in UK waters.

The approval is a major milestone for Greenlink and joins the onshore planning consents granted unanimously in July last year by Pembrokeshire County Council and Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority.

Greenlink’s proposed 190km subsea and underground electricity cable will run beneath the Irish Sea to connect National Grid’s Pembroke Power Station in Wales and EirGrid’s Great Island substation in County Wexford, Ireland. It will have a nominal capacity of 500 MW.

The Wales-Ireland link is just one of four interconnectors being installed

Nigel Beresford, CEO for Greenlink Interconnector Limited, said: “We are delighted by Natural Resources Wales’s decision to grant this licence. This marks a significant milestone for Greenlink and another important step towards project construction, which we expect to commence later this year.

“The Greenlink team has worked constructively with Natural Resources Wales and Welsh marine stakeholders to find workable solutions to the many technical and environmental challenges facing a large infrastructure project like this, and this has been reflected in the quality of the final proposal.

“The thorough environmental and technical assessments we have undertaken, supported by the practical and value-adding feedback we have received from key marine stakeholders, have ensured that we move forward confident that we are delivering a well-designed project with the interests of the Welsh marine habitat at its core.”

The subsea section of the cable will be approximately 160km in length and uses high voltage direct current (HVDC) technology. The preferred route and installation methods were chosen following the conclusion of subsea surveys and consultation with key stakeholders.

In Ireland, a Foreshore Licence application was submitted to the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government (Foreshore Unit) in 2019 and the onshore planning application was submitted to An Bord Pleanála in December 2020.

Greenlink is one of Europe’s most important energy infrastructure projects and brings benefits on both sides of the Irish Sea for energy security, regional investment, jobs and the cost-effective integration of low carbon energy. The project will offer important local supply chain opportunities and plans are being drawn up for ‘meet-the-buyer’ events in the local area prior to construction.

Once fully consented, Greenlink is expected to have a three-year construction programme, with commissioning planned by the end of 2023.

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Appeal from Fire and Rescue Service to install working smoke alarms

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AT 01:17am this morning, Tuesday, March 2, 2021, crews from Milford Haven were called to a property fire in the Hakin area of Milford Haven.

The fire was confined to a pan on a stove in the kitchen area and extinguished by firefighters using two breathing apparatus, a hose reel jet and a thermal imaging camera.

Crews also ventilated the property and fitted smoke alarms within the property.

The Fire Service left the incident at 02:00am.

Watch Manager Alun Griffiths, Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service, said “This fire was the result of cooking left unattended. It is so important to remove all pots and pans from a heat source when you are called away from the cooker.

“Thankfully, the occupiers of the property managed to exit the property before our firefighters arrived, but it could have ended very differently as there were no smoke alarms fitted in the property.
“I cannot stress enough the importance of installing working smoke alarms in your homes and testing them regularly. In the dreadful event of a fire, they can alert you to the danger sooner and could mean the difference between life and death.

“As a Fire and Rescue Service, we provide Home Fire Safety advice which is free of charge. We also offer Safe and Well Visits which you can arrange by phoning us on 0800 169 1234 or by visiting the Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service website.”

For further Home Fire Safety advice or to talk about the possibility of a Safe and Well Visit by Fire and Rescue Service personnel, please phone us on 0800 169 1234.​​​ Alternatively please complete an online Request a Safe and Well Visit​ form on the Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service website: https://www.mawwfire.gov.uk/eng/your-safety/in-your-home/

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Milford Haven: Apocalyptic scenes as work truck catches fire in Meyler Crescent

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A MILFORD HAVEN businessman says that he is “absolutely gutted”, after he lost his tipper truck in a dramatic fire overnight.

Callum Hicks, of Meyler Crescent, was woken just after 1am on Monday morning (Mar 1) to see his vehicle in flames, with fuel running down the street on fire.

The apocalyptic scenes brought neighbours out of their homes and the fire brigade was quickly called and put out the blaze.

At this time the police and fire brigade are not suspecting foul play, but in a telephone call to a Herald reporter Callum Hicks said that he thought it was impossible that the vehicle would just spontaneously combust.

Work van: Callum Hicks with his truck, which he says was his “pride and joy”

Explaining that he thought his truck had been set on fire deliberately, he said: “There was CCTV of the fire, but its a football pitch length away, with a white van parked blocking the view of the camera. There was not a clear uninterrupted view.”

“I parked the truck at 2pm on Sunday afternoon so it was 11 hours before the fire started. The vehicle was therefore cold, and locked up.”

Firefighters at the scene

The Herald has asked two mechanics, one of whom has worked on Transit vans for decades. The first said: “It is very unlikely that a vehicle like this would catch fire on it’s own – its impossible – I am 99.9% sure that this was arson.”

The second, a specialist in vehicle electronics said: “There are so many fuses and fail safes its highly unlikely for diesel vans to burst into flames like this without some kind of catalyst.”

Burned out shell: The vehicle after the fire

“There have been issues regarding Transits in the past, even a product recall involving a fire risk from a towing module. But, the chances are a million to one of it catching fire after being parked up for almost twelve hours. It just doesn’t happen.”

The Herald asked Callum Hicks if he could think of anyone who may want to torch his truck. He said that he could not think of anyone who would do such a thing.

Commenting on the police handling of the matter, he said: “They told my missus, Rhianna Pearce, that they were not taking matters further because it was just an accident – its not!”

“I have been in trouble with the police before, and they know I am a bit of a boy, but I think this is the reason that the police are not looking into this properly.

“At the end of the day this was a large fire in a residential area, lives could have been in danger. I have lost thousands because I was insured third-party only and I do not have cover for fire.

Dyfed-Powys Police and Mid & West Wales Fire and Rescue Service have been asked for a comment.

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