Home Breaking News ‘Disgraceful’ lawyer stole £130k from company of The Chase star to repay...

‘Disgraceful’ lawyer stole £130k from company of The Chase star to repay debts

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A “highly respected” barrister clerk stole over £130,000 from the law firm of The Chase star Shaun Wallace – and spent £10,000 on dog training.

Mathew Kesbey, 48, “betrayed” colleagues and friends at Great James Street Chambers in a period when lawyers were struggling during the pandemic as jury trials were put on pause.

The London-based chambers counts professional quizzer Dr Shaun Wallace, better known as the Dark Destroyer on the show, as one of the barristers on its books.

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The head of Great James Street, Alun Jones QC, said Kesbey was a “Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde character” and had made everyone’s lives a “misery” as they had to consider closing.

The silk also lent Kesbey £68,000 to pay a tax bill and remortgaged a property at his behest to inject £250,000 into the chambers bank accounts.

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He was unaware the clerk was siphoning off funds from that account to fritter away on “everyday and mundane expenses” including dog training, meals out, groceries and orders from Argos and Amazon.

Kesbey, of Faversham, Kent, admitted one count of fraud by false representation and was jailed for three years and eight months.

Wood Green Crown Court heard Kesbey has 30 years of experience and was taken on in March 2019 earning around £100,000 a year.

0 PROD Mathew Kesbey appearing at Highbury Magistrates court Picture by Steve Reigate 362021

Mathew Kesbey appearing at Highbury Magistrates court

Prosecutor Nick Cribb said: “The relationship between a barrister’s senior clerk and his head of chambers and all barristers working under that is supposed to be one of strong trust and in the best interests of chambers – those are the words of Mr Kesbey when he was interviewed by the police.”

Within two months he was stealing money from the chambers’ bank accounts and continued to do so until the fraud was discovered by colleagues in September 2020.

False invoices were submitted to suggest around £90,000 was being used to pay tradesmen for refurbishments to the central London chambers – but no work had been done and monies were actually being paid to Kesbey.

He also paid himself and other staff ‘bonuses and gifts’ of around £20,000 and used the chambers card to make cash withdrawals of around £5,000.

At the same time, Kesbey told the fees clerk to withhold £108,000 in payments to barristers as the account sunk further into an overdraft.

The alarm was finally raised by other clerks to the chambers’ management committee, which insisted on seeing the account’s bank statements.

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Ross Cohen, defending, told the court Kesbey had “lost his good sense and decency” after an acrimonious divorce in 2018 which left him in debt.

He said: “He intends to pay back every penny to Great James Street chambers.”

Jailing him, Judge John Dodd QC said: “You charmed your way into the chambers of Alun Jones. You chose to betray the trust placed in you by those who employed you.

“The only motive is one of simple greed. You treated the chambers’ bank account as if it was effectively yours.

“Despite the great personal kindness and consideration shown to you by Mr Jones you took advantage of his goodwill.”

He told Kesbey his “utterly disgraceful conduct” has left Mr Jones in around “£200,000 of debt”.

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