Mears says no to Howells' request for open inquiry

A demand from Michael Howells, Law Society treasurer, that an inquiry into his future should be held publicly has been snubbed by president Martin Mears.

Three society ex-presidents are to decide whether Howells should resign as treasurer, if re-elected to the council, after it was found he had been severely reprimanded by the Solicitors Complaints Bureau. The SCB found he had failed to furnish a client with adequate professional services and ordered him to pay £1,000 in compensation.

Howells has written to Mears calling for his case to heard by the society's council in open session. “I am convinced that a policy of openness has to be adopted in relation to the affairs of the society and in relation to members of the council,” he says. “Any attempt to conceal matters is not only doomed to failure but tends to bring disrepute. The council appointed me as treasurer and it is for it to consider whether it wishes to remove me.”

Mears said: “Past presidents are looking into the matter and that remains the arrangement.”

Howells said he would talk to colleagues before deciding whether to take further action but was surprised by the response in view of “the president's campaign for openness”.

The results of the presidential and council elections were due to be announced on Monday. The new president will officially start his tenure on Thursday at the AGM when the Solicitors Association, headed by presidential challenger Anthony Bogan, will propose to split the society's representative and regulatory functions and allow members to call an election of the whole council mid-term.