Fresh fears over old solicitors’ office

NEIGHBOURS and a former client of a defunct Ilkeston solicitors are demanding action over the firm’s office which they say is still full of confidential paperwork and is attracting homeless people and vandals.

Walter, Scott and Ross was based on St Mary’s Street before the Solicitors Regulatory Authority (SRA) closed the firm down in March 2009 amid claims of financial irregularities.

The Advertiser last featured a story about the office in January.

Since then more windows have been smashed and neighbours say no action has been taken to secure the building they describe as ‘an accident waiting to happen’.

A former client said: “This has been going on for too long.

“As well as the obvious health and safety risks there is confidential paperwork in there.

“I’ve been told by the SRA that it’s been sorted but it has not.

“These are meant to be solicitors, members of the legal profession, there’s nothing professional about them.”

A neighbour said: “I’ve been in and actually boarded it up myself before.

“I thought if I don’t do something someone will get hurt.

“It’s an accident waiting to happen and it will happen if something’s not done about it.

“There’s been people sleeping in there, kids breaking in, there’s broken glass everywhere, paperwork all over the place, if there’s a gas leak that place will just go up.

“It needs metal shutters at all the windows and doors and fencing around it.”

The SRA, who in January told the Advertiser that all sensitive documents had been removed, admitted this week there is always a ‘possibility’ that confidential paperwork could remain.

Paul Whiteman, SRA intervention officer, said: “It is still possible after an intervention that there will still be confidential paperwork in there.

“I’ve been and had a look at the premises myself and clearly it’s in a terrible state. It’s been vandalised and there are safety concerns.

“We are dealing with this as a matter of urgency but due to the state of the property, which is not our responsibility, there are issues in bringing contractors in.

“Since the last story we have been inundated with calls from former clients.”