Lawyer who helped fraudster run £1.6m scheme struck off

John Craxton admitted facilitating Edwin McLaren's fraud in Scotland's longest ever criminal trial.

Lawyer who helped fraudster run £1.6m scheme struck off Police Scotland

The lawyer who helped a fraudster, jailed for a £1.6m scheme, to con vulnerable people out of their homes has been banned from returning to the profession.

John Craxton, 60, testified against Edwin McLaren detailing his knowledge of the scam which preyed on “distressed” home-owners in what was Scotland’s longest criminal trial.

McLaren was jailed for 11 years in 2017 for his involvement in a £1.6m property fraud scheme.

The Council of The Law Society brought a case of professional misconduct against Craxton before the Scottish Solicitors’ Discipline Tribunal (SSDT).

The tribunal heard how Craxton facilitated McLaren’s fraud in which home sellers were “induced to relinquish their real right to their property for a small proportion of its value”.

“The Fiscal had described it as being deplorable and the Tribunal did not disagree.”

Scottish Solicitors’ Discipline Tribunal

Craxton was given immunity from prosecution in return for giving evidence in the McLaren trial where he admitted his involvement.

During the trial, Craxton – of Dumbarton – admitted that he knew McLaren was creating a portfolio of property “for his own benefit”.

Craxton acted on the sale for seven properties for which McLaren was convicted, with the tribunal before the SSDT looking at five of them.

McLaren would purchase a share of a house with the homeowner receiving an injection of cash in return, but in reality the vulnerable people were convinced to sign documents meaning they no longer owned their properties.

The former solicitor did not appear at the tribunal but did submit a letter accepting his actions amounted to professional misconduct.

Although Craxton had removed himself from the roll of solicitors, the Law Society decided the seriousness of his behaviour warranted action because it did not prevent him from having his named restored on the roll in the future.

The tribunal’s ruling stated: “[Craxton] admitted that he facilitated Edwin McLaren’s fraud.

“He admitted that he had discussed with Mr McLaren the scheme of buying distressed sellers’ properties in early 2008.

“The Tribunal considered the Respondent’s [Craxton] misconduct in this case to be at the very highest level of seriousness. The Fiscal had described it as being deplorable and the Tribunal did not disagree.”