Litigation Writs 11/10/94

Dorking solicitors Downs face a u45,000 High Court claim over theft of money by a former secretary who committed suicide after confessing what she had done.

The writ has been issued against the firm by the executor of an estate the firm was handling and from which the money is said to have been stolen.

The writ says the firm was dealing with the estate of the late Mrs A V Rekstin and had opened a building society account containing u114,000 in respect of it with the Portman Building Society in Dorking.

It claims that between May 1992 and February 1993 the secretary, Gill Berryman, dishonestly obtained u45,000 from the Portman account by forging the signature of a solicitor, altering the payee name and paying the money into her own building society account.

Theft of the money was discovered on 8 April last year, and on 15 April Berryman confessed to partners that she had taken the money, before taking her own life later that day, says the writ.

Now John Hignett, one of the executors of Rekstin's will, has launched a u45,000 claim against Downs of High Street, Dorking, and the Portman Building Society.

He claims Downs was vicariously liable for the actions of Mrs Berryman, and that the building society was also negligent, among other things, in failing to observe that the identity of the payee had been altered into the name of Mrs Berryman, and not initialled.

Writ issued by Radcliffes & Co, London SW1. H1402

Marilyn Ancona, 40, whose husband died in a multiple motorway pile-up on the M4 in March 1991, is seeking damages. Her husband, Cosmo Ancona, a self-employed carpen- ter, died after the accident in which his car was engulfed in flames while he was still in the car.

Writ issued by Sheppards, Bristol. A1984

Well-known Bradford peace campaigner Lindis Percy is being taken to the High Court to stop her going illegally onto Ministry of Defence land at RAF Lakenheath, Suffolk.

The MoD has just issued a writ against her seeking a court order banning her crossing land at RAF Lakenheath in Suffolk. The writ says she is not entitled to enter onto or cross land at RAF Lakenheath except for lawful use of a public footpath crossing the land.

Writ issued by Treasury Solicitor.