Clients of failed solicitors firm urge police to probe 'criminal activity'

McClure went into administration two years ago and some 90,000 people may be affected by so-called 'family protection trusts'.

A group representing clients of a failed solicitors firm has urged Police Scotland to look into whether any criminal activity has taken place.

They held a meeting with representatives from the force on Wednesday in regard to so-called “family protection trusts”.

McClure went into administration two years ago and campaigners say up to 90,000 people may be unaware they are affected.

Among them is Helen Keenan, whose dad died with Covid-19 in a care home in 2020.

Helen Keenan.

Thomas Lee, from Edinburgh, had put his house into a trust through the law firm McClure Solicitors.

It took his family three years to untangle his estate following his death.

“We didn’t really have much of a funeral for him or anything like that, Ms Keenan told STV News.

“We couldn’t have a wake for him, the family couldn’t get together and then we were finding that we were having to zoom call and phone call to try and get this resolved.

“It took so long and just took so much out of us.”

Mr Lee paid what was billed as a one-off fee and had been told the arrangement would make things simple for his survivors after his death.

But with two solicitors from McClure named as trustees on the document the family were unable to sell the house.

Ms Keenan said: “There was an issue with one of the trustees, who was refusing to sign the trust. She wanted more money. We basically said ‘we were told there would be no other fees’.

“She was determined she was going to charge us for signing a piece of paper.”

In the end Helen had to pay the trustee as well as solicitors acting for both sides.

McClure had gone into administration in 2021 – its files were passed to another company called Jones Whyte.

It has said it has sympathy for the clients of the former firm and is committed to engaging with them in a “measured, constructive and sustainable manner.”

But hundreds of people have joined a Facebook group sharing their stories.

Alexander Mills put his home in Aberdeenshire into a trust with McClure – attracted by the claims of simplicity.

“My mother had not long died and it took forever to get her estate sorted out – and (using McClure) they were to look after everything, a one shot deal, pay the money, they would look after everything.

“I though that’s a good deal because I would be able to get my children less stressed.”

Alexander Mills.

After McClure went into administration, he was asked for further fees to review the trust – and ultimately had to pay to have solicitors names removed.

Members of the group calling itself Vicitims of McClure met MSPs on Thursday to call for more regulatory oversight.

Mike Pilbeam of the McClure Action Group said: “There’s probably in excess of 90,000 people who are unaware of what’s gone on. All of those people are my age and older – I’m 75.

“There are people in their 80s, 90s, many that are incapacitated, some have died, and it’s their descendants that are trying to sort out the mess.”

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