Despite ALL our efforts to expose the biggest thieving bastards on the planet lawyers are still
getting away with murder as protection against rogue lawyers are non existent. She was only
caught after another lawyer shopped her to cops (Any ordinary citizen would have been turned
away by cops claiming "It's a civil matter" as they have signed a memorandum of understanding
with the law society NOT to investigate corrupt lawyers.) Most victims also find it impossible to
get a lawyer to sue another lawyer because they operate a massive corrupt international monopoly
of financial crooks.
FULL ARTICLE HERE
Memorandum of Understanding between cops and law society
Plague of lawyers greed, self-importance and lack of scruples of UK’s last unreformed vested interest group
Lawyer rogues gallery
Gangster Granny: The quiet and unassuming solicitor who won the trust of families riven with grief and stole MILLIONS from them to fund exotic lifestyle more like that of a Mafia boss than a grandmother
Petite and unassuming, the grandmother who slipped quietly into Leeds Crown Court resembled nothing so much as an ageing, middle-class librarian.
With her steel grey hair neatly combed, Linda Box had dressed sensibly in a neat black cardigan and low-heeled patent shoes.
Yet those sitting in the packed public gallery might have been forgiven a moment or two of puzzlement or even outright shock as this pillar of the community took her seat in the dock.
Because, for all her kindly demeanour and seeming modest attire, 68-year-old Linda Box has today been branded Britain’s most ruthless grandmother after abusing her position as a former president of the Law Society to siphon more than £4 million from grieving families.
It funded the sort of life you might associate not with a modest family lawyer but a gangster’s moll. So astonishing was the scale of her extravagance the Solicitors Regulation Authority, which protects clients and consumers, judged it ‘almost unprecedented’.
Box, the court heard, had spent thousands on designer clothes and vintage wines, flew her family and friends away on exotic holidays, paid £800 a night to stay at The Ritz during shopping sprees at Harrods and gave her sons a £100,000 pleasure boat.
The SRA, which investigated the case, now believes the true extent of her fraud, which stretched for nearly a decade and a half, may be closer to £10 million. In the process she has ruined the lives of at least 75 families who came to her for help, most of them mourning the loss of loved ones.
It is a particular irony that her expert handling of wills and estates was done with a sensitivity and warmth that marked her apart from legal colleagues. Indeed, Box was held in such high regard that she even acted for the Church of England, administering huge sums of money on behalf of the Bishop of Wakefield – and, as it would turn out, on behalf of herself.
She would later be found to have defrauded the estates of four vicars and even stole the proceeds from the sale of a convent to help fund her ‘obsession’ with designer clothes.
It emerged in court that more than £3 million had been spent using American Express cards in her name and in those of her sons as well as on a Harrods card.
Yet so convincing was her deceit that her victims appear to have been completely duped by the apparent kindness of a woman who filled her office with family photographs, regarding her as a true friend in their time of need.
As one grieving family put it last week: ‘How wrong could we have been when all along she was an evil con artist?’
Jailed for seven years, struck off the professional register, branded ‘evil’ by her victims, she now awaits a hearing to confiscate the proceeds of her crime. Her career justly lies in ruins. Yet only she can say quite how or why she succumbed to temptation in such spectacular fashion.
Linda Box’s career began in exemplary fashion.
Box stayed at the Ritz, above, when she went to Harrods shopping. She had full designer outfits with labels still on in undertakers' bags
She studied at Liverpool Law School before joining the 200-year-old Wakefield firm of Dixon, Coles and Gill in 1971. By 1979 she was a partner in the same firm, eventually commanding a £100,000 salary.
Married to Richard, who ran funeral directors firm Eric F Box, the couple had two sons, Edward, now 41, and Andrew, 39, who were part of the family business.
By all accounts, Box was well-liked and respected. A portion of her work involved selling assets, such as properties, from the estates of clients after they died.
The money would be transferred into her legal firm’s client account and then paid to beneficiaries set out in the will – or so the theory went.
Alongside this legal work, she held the prestigious post of Chancellor for the Diocese of Southwell and Nottingham, and later acted as legal adviser to the Bishop of Wakefield until 2005.
Box is known to have begun siphoning off funds in 2003. But if the family appeared to have very robust financial means – and Box some extravagant tastes – it was apparently not noted as suspicious.
She drove a Jaguar and paid for family holidays to the Amalfi Coast. She owned outfits from Chanel, Dior which were never worn. According to one witness, they were stored, complete with price tags, in undertaker’s body bags from her husband’s business.
It seems her generosity knew no bounds. Her sons were given a Sunseeker motor boat called – with heavy-handed humour – Toy Box, and she paid off friends’ mortgages and funded her granddaughter’s private school fees. Other trappings of wealth included a vintage wine collection worth £800,000, and regular expensive lunches at city restaurants where she was known to be a good tipper.
She kept her designer outfits in undertaker's body bags
It took until Christmas Eve 2015 before the cracks finally appeared in this carefully crafted deceit.
That was when Box’s partner at the law firm, Julian Gill, came across an irregular payment to another legal firm and followed its trail, which led to the discovery of more irregular payments from the client account to people who were not listed as legal beneficiaries.
Gill rang the police, who eventually nailed the fraud. What they found was staggering: a deception worth at least £4,055,329 in total, which included £63,000 from the Bishop of Wakefield’s Fund for education and ministerial training.
Box admitted her dishonesty to officers, telling them she ‘didn’t think of the consequences to her family or partners and got to the point where she didn’t know how to stop and couldn’t give up’.
She revealed she would buy up to three of the same designer clothes items, and had sought help from her GP about her ‘obsession’.
She told police: ‘I was robbing Peter to pay Paul.’
Her husband and sons knew nothing of her fraudulent activities, according to her solicitor Joe Hingston, and she has expressed ‘complete remorse’. But none of this is helpful for her victims.
One heartbroken couple, speaking today for the first time, have not received a penny from their late son’s estate after Box shamelessly diverted the funds into her own pockets.
Jean and David Johnson from Leeds were left grief-stricken after their Oxford graduate son Tom, an NHS consultant, died two years ago in his 40s following a sudden illness.
They described in detail how Box lured them in before callously stripping Tom’s assets for her own gain.
So distraught are they, that the couple have asked not to use their real names.
‘My son was such a good person, a consultant virologist, researching cures for illnesses,’ said Jean last week.
‘He advised the Government on medical matters and had a brilliant, worthy future ahead.
‘When he died, we went to see Linda Box after she was described to us as “the absolutely perfect solicitor” who did charitable work for the Church.
‘Tom had been selling one property and buying another at the time of his death.
‘We stepped into her office and the walls were filled with her family photos. That made me feel we could trust her. I began crying as I talked about Tom, and she got up from her chair, brought over a box of tissues, put her arms around me, held my hand and said, “I am a mum of two sons and I can’t imagine how you feel. You must not worry, I will do everything I can to help.”
‘That made me feel better and I said to David, “Thank God we have got her.”
‘At one point, when we asked how things were progressing, she said Tom was in debt. I was shocked, as I thought that couldn’t be true.’
So far, they have no idea what happened to Tom’s money.
‘My son received a £150,000 death in service payment from the NHS – to this day, we have not had a penny from his estate. He’d be heartbroken as he left everything to his two young nieces to pay for their education.
‘We were taken in by her – she was utterly convincing as a caring person. I struggle with how a woman who is a mother and grandmother – as I am – can do what she did.’
David, who has to date spent £10,000 trying to recover their son’s estate, added: ‘She targeted and groomed us, to fund her extravagant lifestyle off the life savings of decent people. She is a ruthless, wicked person who has added immeasurably to our grief.’
George (not his real name) is another victim. He is fighting to find out what happened to his close relative’s estate after she went into care.
Having spent 50 years building up a successful small business, the relative had a comfortable £250,000 savings pot by the time she entered a home in her 80s, suffering from dementia.
The pot of money was designed to pay for her needs. But after she appointed Box with power of attorney, the cash has all but vanished.
‘Today, there is just £212 left,’ George said. ‘Box took the lot. Her care home bills are building up, she owes thousands and I am worried they may tell me she has to leave.
‘I can’t tell my frail parents as they would be so upset, it would make them ill.’
My relative had £250,000 in savings... Box took the lot
He said: ‘My relative had a pristine house and gardens. Box sold it for under the market value. We haven’t seen a penny. Box makes my blood boil – she is evil.’
Box was sentenced to seven years in jail earlier this year after admitting nine counts of fraud, two of forgery and one of theft. Her 200-year-old law firm has been forced into extinction.
The rest of her family faced no charges and issued a statement promising that Linda Box ‘will do everything in her power to put right the dreadful wrongs’ she has committed.
Today, her victims find that, stripped of cash and assets, they are short of answers, too.
A spokesman for the Diocese of Leeds pointed out that ‘her guilty pleas, while commendable for their swiftness, have prevented a full examination’ of what truly drove her.
In theory, Linda Box will pay for her actions next month when a Proceeds of Crime hearing considers which of her remaining assets must be sold to compensate her victims.
They must be praying that the woman who so expertly exploited their grief does not have one final shock up the sleeves of that neat black cardigan.