Mears defeated over Lowe's pay-off

MARTIN Mears' bid to veto Solicitors Complaints Bureau head Veronica Lowe's pay-off has been blocked by the Law Society Council in the first major defeat of his presidency.

There was speculation that John Hayes might resign if Mears' resolution to “examine” the pay-off of around £80,000 agreed by the secretary general had been passed.

Mears was furious when he heard about the package which had been drawn up just before he took office without his or his predecessor Charles Elly's knowledge.

His resolution was widely seen as a thinly disguised no confidence vote.

Meeting in private on Thursday, the council passed a much softer resolution recognising that Hayes had acted properly but directing that any future severance arrangements be scrutinised by elected council members.

Mears, his deputy Robert Sayer and four other council members voted against the motion.

After the meeting, however, the president was defiant claiming “the motion passed allows me to do what I was planning to do”.

He said the agreement with Lowe would stand but there were “loose ends to be tied up” in the interests of the profession.

He added he had no criticism of Lowe's performance and accepted Hayes had not been acting out of ill intent.

Hayes said he was “perfectly happy” with the resolution and there was no question of his resigning.