Cleared solicitor rails against 'these disgraceful allegations'

Freshfields partner and former Westminster deputy chief solicitor, Robert Lewis, was one of three people to be cleared of wilful misconduct at the conclusion of the 'home for votes' inquiry.

Lewis, the council's deputy chief solicitor between 1986 and 1988, said after the release of district auditor John Magill's report last week: “These disgraceful allegations should never have been made in the first place.”

Lewis was one of only two of the accused Westminster councillors and officials to give evidence in the 1994 hearing, which was held after the unveiling of the controversial provisional report.

He was accused of knowing about the 'key wards' policy, and of being involved in disguising the alleged true motives of the scheme to sell off houses in both marginal and non-marginal wards.

But, during the hearing, Christopher Clarke QC, acting for Lewis, had questioned why a local government solicitor “with unblemished character, who attached importance to political neutrality” would improperly help Conservative councillors win an election.

Lewis said at the hearing that he was convinced that the decision to change housing policy was lawful after taking advice from counsel. He also thought that the provisional findings of auditor John Magill had “cast a shadow” over his professional life.

Matthew Ives, the other former Westminster solicitor who was accused of wrongdoing in the homes for votes scandal was cleared in July 1995.