One of Britain’s top black lawyers is jailed for stealing £75,000
One of Britain’s top black lawyers is jailed for stealing £75,000 from clients to prop up diamond business in Ghana
- Michael Webster stole £75,000 from clients of his firm Webster Dixon LLP
- Funnelled the cash into associate’s account to prop up diamond business
- But deal turned out to be advance fee fraud operated by foreign criminals
- Webster was today jailed for eight months for fraud by abuse of position
- Lawyer, of Streatham Hill, is ex-chairman of the Black Solicitors network
- Webster Dixon LLP was the first firm founded by black lawyers in London
One of Britain’s top black lawyers was today jailed for stealing £75,000 from his clients to prop up his diamond business.
Michael Webster, 49, took tens of thousands of pounds from the client account of his firm Webster Dixon LLP, which made history as first company founded by black lawyers in the City of London.
He then funnelled the cash into the account of a business associate who hoped to make money on diamonds in Ghana.
When the deal failed to go through, he tried to take out a loan to cover the loss, but was arrested after his bookkeeper spotted discrepancies in his accounts.
Today Webster, a former chairman of the Black Solicitors Network, has been jailed for eight months after pleading guilty to one count of fraud by abuse of position at London’s Old Bailey.
The court heard that the lawyer had made four withdrawals totalling £75,605.57 from the client account at Webster Dixon LLP between December 3, 2012, and February 1, 2013.
Leee Ingham, prosecuting, said the law firm had been in financial difficulty at the time.
He told the court: ‘What Webster was really doing was speculating with someone else’s money. The firm was suffering financially and that is the primary motivation.’
He added that the diamond deal had, in fact, turned out to be an advance fee fraud operated by criminals in Ghana.
Webster, a former lawyer at Lehman Brothers International, set up his own firm in 1998 after four years as a partner at Conway & Co. Solicitors.
Jailed: Michael Webster,49, from Streatham Hill,
London, was today jailed for stealing £75,000 from his clients to prop up his diamond business in Ghana
He was named in the Lawyer Magazine ‘Hot 100’ in 2004 and described as ‘one of an influential new generation’ of lawyers.
In July that year, he was elected as a Council Member of the Law Society and the following year, he joined the board of the City of London Law Society.
In November 2007, Webster was elected chairman of the Black Solicitors Network, the largest organisation for minority lawyers in Europe.
He also spent four years as secretary for the Society of Black Lawyers.
Tyrone Smith, defending, told the court that Webster’s good character and references from dozens of fellow lawyers, including a former President of the Law Society, meant he should be spared jail.
He said: ‘This man has been broken by his conduct. He will never be able to practise in the job he loves, his standing amongst his friends is indelibly stained by his actions.