July 2016

Lancashire lawyer suspended after being caught with indecent photos of young girls

A LAWYER from East Lancashire has been suspended from practising by his professional watchdog after being caught with indecent photographs of young girls.

Police cautioned Michael Loveridge, 62, after he was found in possession of four images of girls in indecent poses and one short video, the Solicitor’s Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) was told.

And now, Loveridge, who ran his own self-titled firm in Well Terrace, Clitheroe, has been barred from acting as a solicitor for 12 months after admitting to two misconduct allegations during a hearing in London.

The tribunal heard that initially the Solicitors’ Regulation Authority had received a referral from Loveridge’s own representatives, Murdoch Solicitors, informing them of the caution. An inquiry was undertaken by the SRA and the matter was referred to the SDT.

Nick Trevette, for Loveridge, told the hearing that the images were at the lowest category of seriousness, and had involved 14 to 16-year-olds, rather than young children.

The solicitor had searched for images relating to teenage girls and cheerleaders, and had understood that the girls involved were aged over 18, he said.

Mr Trevette told the hearing that it was to his client’s credit that he had contacted his own solicitors, shortly after accepting the caution, to arrange for the matter to be reported to the appropriate.

Tribunal chairman Ashok Ghosh said: “While the tribunal was satisfied that the respondent’s offence was at the least serious end of the scale for such matters, it was nevertheless a serious matter.

“The public would expect a solicitor to be someone who could be trusted to the ends of the earth, and of the utmost probity and integrity.”

“Given the huge damage done by child pornography, and the great importance of safeguarding the welfare of children, possession of images of the kind in question in this case could not be dismissed as being in any way minor matters.”

The tribunal heard Loveridge had been forced to dispose of his firm, which involved paying off run-off insurance costs of £40,000. Since the caution, he had been employed as a consultant solicitor by another firm, which was aware of his pending disciplinary action.

Loveridge was also ordered to pay £3,000 costs in relation to the SDT hearing.