CPS halts Beccle case probe

The Crown Prosecution Service has decided to take no action against Geoffrey Beccle, the former London solicitor who was arrested in January 1995 on suspicion of property frauds totalling more than £1m.

Beccle was investigated for a series of alleged swindles involving former clients and four leading mortgage lenders. His activities remain the subject of civil proceedings brought by Bristol & West Building Society, which has obtained a £500,000 High Court judgment against him for the repayment of a loan for the re-mortgage of his house. The original writ claimed Abbey National had also lent Beccle £360,000 to re-mortgage his house.

Jeffrey Bayes, a partner in London firm Burton Copeland, who has been representing Beccle during the probe, said: “The police, having consulted with the CPS, have confirmed that in relation to the matters which were being investigated, and on the evidence then available, no further action will be taken.”

But Bristol & West’s legal chief, Nick Eyre, said the building society was continuing with a “considerable amount of legal action” against Beccles, although he said he had no visible assets.

Bristol & West is also trying to recover over £500,000 compensation from the Solicitors Indemnity Fund (SIF), despite the fact Beccle removed himself from the roll in June 1993 and was therefore not insurable. The society is pursuing its indemnity claim through the cover of Morag Smith, an innocent party and now a solicitor with London firm McGuinness Finch.

Bristol & West claims that at the time of the alleged fraud Smith was a partner in Beccle’s firm Geoffrey Beccle & Co, or alternatively was held out to be a partner as she appeared as such on the firm’s notepaper.

The SIF has an affidavit from Smith stating she was only a salaried partner, but Bristol & West says the Law Society’s conduct rules say salaried and equity partners are treated equally. Bristol & West originally issued a writ against Beccle for £502,635, which it lent him to re-mortgage his £450,000 former home in Kensington.

The police became involved when two firms of solicit ors, Ashley Wilson and Read Minty, acting for former clients of Beccle, reported financial irregularities alleged to have arisen from conveyancing transactions.