Solicitor fined £15,000 for misleading investors

Former Blyth Dutton partner Peter Hooper was fined £15,000 this month (Friday 13th) for drafting a misleading “comfort letter” to investors in motor cycle company Norton Group.

Hooper, who was charged under the Financial Services Act 1986, drafted the letter on the instruction of Norton's chief executive Philippe Le Roux, who was also fined £15,000 and disqualified from being a company director for five years at Southwark Crown Court.

In the letter designed to entice investors into a rights issue the pair alleged that an off-the-shelf company with zero assets they had bought for £2 had assets of £1.75m.

The rights issue went ahead in 1990 but was a disaster, said David Farrer QC, prosecuting, and “the result was ruin for Le Roux, professional disaster for Hooper and it led to the collapse of the Norton Group”.

Lincoln's Inn firm Blyth Dutton was taken over by Lawrence Graham in 1991. Hooper became a partner in the new firm but left shortly after.