Anthony “Tony” Freudmann was a solicitor with the firm of Wace Morgan in Shrewsbury, Shropshire. In 1991, the other partners at Wace Morgan discovered that over a period of years, Mr Freudmann had been helping himself to money held in various client accounts and immediately fired him.
In 1992 he was brought in front of the Solicitors’ Disciplinary Tribunal facing allegations (from the partners in his own firm) that “he had used clients’ funds for his own purposes”.
Mr Freudmann had been given the trusted position of managing partner, which gave him the access to the client accounts. Wace Morgan stated that Mr Freudmann “had undertaken a misappropriation of client funds over a long period of time. The number of payments had been on a large scale and had been taken clandestinely”, and that he “had indulged in a deliberate and deceitful course of conduct over a long period of time”.
Mr Freudmann’s submission to the Tribunal is a cringe-making stream of “poor me” excuses – paragraphs 27 to 64 in the document. Poor Tony was working SO hard, and had difficult clients, and the other partners didn’t work as hard as he did (which made him resentful), and he was only “borrowing” the money, and it was only a little bit at a time, and so on. As a result of this, “he behaved in a way which he found difficult to understand”… FOR YEAR AFTER YEAR.
His partners were cross with him, very cross.
- They let down the tyres of his leased car and took his car keys (presumably to safeguard the car) and frog-marched him out of the building.
- They cancelled his petrol account at the local garage, cancelled his life insurance and cancelled his wife’s car insurance.
- They grassed him up to the Lord Chancellor’s Department, who suspended him as a Deputy District Judge.
- They grassed him up to the Chief Executive and Chairman of the County Council, and the County solicitor, which cost him his position as Leader of the County Council.
- They grassed him up to the Crown Prosecution Service, so he was no longer able to work as an Agent for the CPS.
- They grassed him up to the local press.
- They grassed him up to potential clients.
All of this caused Tony “considerable embarrassment, alarm and distress”. I think that may have been the point.
The Tribunal found “the allegation to have been substantiated” – bang to rights, in English. Even though they described Tony as “ambitious, dominating and aggressive”, they fell for his sob story, saying “the Tribunal has in these exceptional circumstances decided to treat him with an unusual degree of leniency”, and fined him £5,000. Not everyone thought this was the correct judgement, but it wasn’t any of his victims or even his ex-partners who appealed against the decision, because the (then) Solicitors Complaints Bureau beat them to it. Well done, SCB.
As you can see in the hand-written addition to the front page of the document: “The Tribunal’s decision was quashed on appeal to the Queen’s Bench Division of the High Court of Justice, and an order that the respondent be struck off the roll was substituted on 22nd October 1993.”
So, a happy ending.
Shortcut to this page is: bit.ly/FREUDMANN
By the way, if you search for “Tony Freudmann” on Google, you will find that he is one of those people who has taken advantage of Google’s “unremembering” service – there’s a footnote to the search results explaining that some results have been removed. This episode in Mr Freudmann’s life was meant to have been air-brushed from history.