Friday, 7 December 2012

Pilot's assets were sold without go-ahead

The Official Solicitor’s Office disposed of £130,000 of assets of a man in its care without obtaining the necessary permission.

Former airline pilot Leonard Lawrence was certified from 2004 to 2006 under the Mental Health Act.

The Official Solicitor’s Office was appointed to act as his power of attorney, looking after his business and legal affairs.

To prevent fraud, the Official Solicitor’s Office had a legal responsibility to get Court of Protection approval before any assets of the individual can be disposed of.

But although the Official Solicitor’s Office did dispose of Lawrence’s assets, May Maughan, the senior lawyer of the Official Solicitor at the Ministry of Justice, has now confirmed: “There are no Court of Protection orders in respect of you – the Court of Protection has never been involved in your affairs.”

Lawrence is suing the Official Solicitor for a “failure in his duty of care to protect a vulnerable adult”, as reported in October by The Big Issue in the North. (see

A spokesperson for the Official Solicitor’s Office confirmed that it was continuing to defend itself against Lawrence’s claim but was unable to say on what grounds. 

“Ongoing litigation means we can’t comment,” said the spokesperson.

Lawrence disputes being mentally unwell. A medical diagnosis at a US clinic later revealed he was suffering from moderate brain injury caused by chemical poisoning, which he believes was the result of toxic fumes being released into planes he was piloting.

Lawrence, who quit his job in 2004, said: “Many patients who may have neurological injuries have been misdiagnosed by psychiatrists and subsequently sectioned. I particularly fear that chemicals including organophosphates have poisoned many former soldiers diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. Denied proper treatment it means too many are sectioned, homeless or in prison.” 

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