One ;of ;the ;lawyers charged with attempting to extort £4.25m for the safe return of a Da Vinci masterpiece has had his firm closed down and is being investigated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).
Marshall Ronald, formerly of Lancashire firm Marshall Solicitors, recently appeared in court in connection with the 2003 theft of the Madonna of the Yarnwinder. He is understood to have entered no plea.
An SRA spokesperson said: ;“His ;firm ;was intervened into on the grounds ;of ;suspected dishonesty and breaches of the solicitor account rules.”
It is alleged that the £30m painting would not be returned unless £2m was deposited in a client account at Marshalls and a further £2.25m into a Swiss bank account.
Ronald appeared in court alongside two lawyers from the Glasgow office of HBJ Gateley Wareing. David Boyce, a property partner, and his former colleague Calum Jones, an insolvency partner, are understood to have pleaded not guilty to attempting to extort money.
Neither of the two Scottish lawyers are being investigated by the Scottish Law Society, ;but ;Malcolm McPherson, senior partner at HBJ, said the body was “very aware of the situation”.
Jones left the firm last October (The Lawyer, 5 October 2007). Boyce will leave at the end of this month. McPherson said the firm has no plans to appoint direct replacements.
In what was the UK’s largest-ever art theft, the painting was taken from Drumlanrig Castle, the South West Scotland home of ;the ;late ;Duke ;of Buccleuch, in August 2003.