Solicitor-judge sent fake letters to planning officers

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Nov 16, 2017
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Westminster magistrates’ court was told that Keith Shaw tried to influence the planning process by sending letters in support of his application pretending to be members of the public

Dominic Lipinski/PA

A solicitor and deputy district judge has been convicted of fraud over a planning application and given a suspended prison sentence.

Keith Shaw was sentenced at Westminster magistrates’ court on Monday to 20 weeks in jail, which was suspended for two years. Shaw, 37, of Sleights, Whitby had admitted several frauds between 2012 and 2015.

The solicitor was based in north Yorkshire and first came to the attention of the police when Scarborough borough council reported concerns in 2015 that he had attempted to subvert a planning process. It was found that he had applied for planning permission to develop land at several locations around Whitby. It was alleged that he attempted to influence the planning office by submitting numerous letters and emails purporting to be from members of the public in support of his applications.

The correspondence was written and submitted by Shaw using the names and addresses of others without their permission. The content of the correspondence was fictitious.

Shaw also falsely claimed a refund of £2,747 in relation to surveyor’s fees when buying a local plot of land. He had falsely claimed that owing to a delay in the sale completing he had been charged for a survey that did not go ahead.

Shaw, who is a non-practising solicitor who was admitted to the profession in 2006, was ordered to pay £2,747 in compensation and £7,285 in costs. He was also ordered to do 200 hours of unpaid work. A spokesman for the Solicitors Regulation Authority said that it would consider the case. It could ask the disciplinary tribunal to strike Shaw off the roll even though he is not practising.

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