Bristol set Guildhall Chambers has said one of its members who has been charged with conspiracy to defraud has the “support, respect and friendship” of his colleagues.
Silk Stephen Davies QC, who is also a door tenant at London’s Wilberforce Chambers, appeared at Westminster Magistrates’ Court last week charged with conspiracy to defraud in relation to the sale of four open-cast mining sites in South Wales.
Davies specialises in insolvency cases and was formerly president of the Insolvency Lawyers’ Association. Guildhall Chambers said he denied the charges and would plead not guilty should the case against him proceed.
“Stephen Davies is perfectly clear that he is not guilty of any offence and if the case proceeds against him. He will plead not guilty,” the set said in a statement.
“He remains a member of Guildhall Chambers with the support, respect and friendship of his colleagues. Guildhall Chambers, its members and staff are unable to make any further comment at this time”.
Three solicitors were also charged following an investigation by the SFO. The solicitors, partners Alan Whiteley and Eric Evans, and solicitor Frances Bodman, were all formerly based at Cardiff firm M&A Solicitors. Whiteley, who was also a former chief executive of Cardiff City FC, and Evans were suspended from the partnership in March 2011 after the firm referred them to the SFO (18 March 2011).
Their alleged co-conspirators, former directors of Celtic Energy Richard Walters and Leighton Humphreys, were also in court.
It is alleged that the defendants conspired to defraud Neath Port Talbot, Bridgend and Powys councils and The Coal Authority by “deliberately prejudicing their ability effectively to enforce obligations to restore open cast mining sites in South Wales to open countryside and/or for agricultural use”.
The alleged conspiracy is said to have involved the establishment of companies in the British Virgin Islands in the ultimate beneficial ownership of Evans and Whiteley.
Whiteley stood down from Cardiff City FC board last month (24 January) at which point the club posted a statement on its site showing its support for the lawyer. “We have no doubt that in due course he will be completely exonerated of any allegations or charges,” it said.
The SFO said the court proceedings would be transferred to a crown court.