SRA to probe Da Vinci painting plot solicitor

One of the lawyers charged with attempting to extort £4.25m for the safe return of a Da Vinci masterpiece has had his firm closed down and is being investigated by the Solicitors ­Regulation Authority (SRA).


SRA to probe Da Vinci painting plot solicitorOne ;of ;the ;lawyers charged with attempting to extort £4.25m for the safe return of a Da Vinci masterpiece has had his firm closed down and is being investigated by the Solicitors ­Regulation Authority (SRA).

Marshall Ronald, ­formerly of Lancashire firm Marshall Solicitors, recently appeared in court in connection with the 2003 theft of the ­Madonna of the Yarnwinder. He is understood to have entered no plea.

An SRA spokesperson said: ;“His ;firm ;was ­intervened into on the grounds ;of ;suspected ­dishonesty and breaches of the solicitor account rules.”

It is alleged that the £30m painting would not be returned unless £2m was deposited in a client account at Marshalls and a further £2.25m into a Swiss bank account.

Ronald appeared in court alongside two lawyers from the Glasgow office of HBJ Gateley Wareing. David Boyce, a property partner, and his former colleague Calum Jones, an insolvency partner, are understood to have pleaded not guilty to attempting to extort money.

Neither of the two ­Scottish lawyers are being investigated by the Scottish Law ­Society, ;but ;Malcolm McPherson, senior partner at HBJ, said the body was “very aware of the situation”.

Jones left the firm last October (The Lawyer, 5 October 2007). Boyce will leave at the end of this month. McPherson said the firm has no plans to appoint direct replacements.

In what was the UK’s largest-ever art theft, the painting was taken from Drumlanrig Castle, the South West Scotland home of ;the ;late ;Duke ;of ­Buccleuch, in August 2003.