Mears attacks Hayes in leaked letter

LAW Society president Martin Mears has accused John Hayes of deliberately excluding him from a key decision in a leaked letter revealing the true extent of his hostility towards the secretary general.

In the memo to Law Society council members, Mears accuses Hayes of acting outside “the spirit” of his authority in negotiating departing Solicitors' Complaints Bureau head Veronica Lowe's £80,000 severance package.

“A very important principal was involved,” he says. “A generous financial arrangement was made without the knowledge or acquiescence either of the president, the treasurer or the finance committee.

“Moreover, it was concluded in such a way as to suggest that the new office-holders were being deliberately excluded from involvement.”

Mears acknowledges Hayes was acting in “good faith” over the agreement struck before he took office. He chides the council for not reasserting its authority and re-examining the severance package at the council meeting on 21 September.

He adds: “Some of my supporters outside the council and some elements of the legal press have accused me of allowing myself to be outmanoeuvred.”

Mears' defeat over the motion was a major factor behind his recent calls for his supporters to stand against Law Society council members who opposed him.

At last week's council, however, Mears announced plans agreed with the finance committee for hiring and firing powers over senior staff to be given to the committee rather than the secretary general.

He said the new rules, to be drawn up by the strategy committee, should affect up to 40 staff.

After the meeting, the president said he was very pleased with the development. “We are making progress,” he said.

Lowe, who stands down from the SCB at the end of the month, said she hoped she could continue her duties without further reference to the severance package. “We must all look forward and not succumb to the temptation to delve into past history.”