Lawyer whistleblower struck off despite revealing misconduct

“If I hadn’t blown the whistle that company would still be ripping people off,” she told the Sunday Telegraph.“They encourage you to give them information then hang you out to dry. This could potentially prevent others coming forward in the legal world.”The law graduate first worked at the company in 2010 as an unpaid intern for six months before becoming a paralegal and then securing a trainee solicitor role. When Miss Scott managed to move to another solicitors she approached her new boss to say she wanted to report malpractice at De Vita Platt.“I was told by a senior partner that there was protection for whistleblowers,” she continued.“I wanted to do something to stop De Vita Platt’s practices hurting anyone else.”She filed a report to the SRA in 2015 and, unlike De Vita and Platt, attended the hearing in December.She accepted she had acted for four months dishonestly, but under duress and told to follow orders, waited two years to report malpractice to the SRA and at one point misled regulators.“People should not be punished if they come forward as whistleblowers, rather they should be protected,” she added.“I’m not a dishonest person. I acted naively and have now lost a career that I had pursued since the age of 18. The governing body and tribunal has punished me for doing the right thing.”An SRA spokesperson refused to comment specifically on the case, but said: “Solicitors must act with integrity, and that includes reporting serious misconduct. Our whistleblowers’ charter sets out that if someone is involved in wrongdoing, reporting to us can act as mitigation, particularly if done promptly. We cannot however comment on the details of this case.” A trainee solicitor struck off after reporting her bosses for overcharging clients by up to 2,000 per cent has warned how the legal industry does “precious little” to protect whistleblowers.The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal last month removed Emily Scott, 31, from the register of lawyers despite finding she had been “deceived, pressured, bullied and manipulated” by a senior partner into covering up misconduct at  De Vita Platt.Although the panel said it had “sympathy” for the “very junior” trainee who “had blown the whistle” on the North Lincolnshire company accused of overcharging, falsifying records and taking clients’ funds without their knowledge, it still charged her £2,000 costs and struck her off for dishonesty.They even accepted she had been in a “difficult position”, would not have behaved immorally unless coerced and in no way benefited financially from the malpractice.The solicitors, based in Barton-Upon-Humber, has been shut down, and its bosses, qualified lawyers Jonathan De Vita and Christopher Platt, have been struck off for dishonesty.Last night, Miss Scott said she felt “terribly let down” by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), the prosecuting body, and the tribunal for failing to protect her, despite her being the only person to report the misconduct. However, partners De Vita and Platt later gave her more responsibility and for four months she said she was “pressured” to falsifying documents.The tribunal heard the partners had repeatedly taken advantage of vulnerable clients, often those grieving or ill, to boost funds.Platt, motivated by “self-enrichment” and who even boasted he could not live on less than £2,000 a week, was found to have bullied Miss Scott, then in her early 20s.“The things I was asked to do were terrible, and I felt awful about it,” she said.“Whenever I questioned what they were asking me to do Mr Platt would say I could be replaced easily and there were hundreds of law graduates desperate for training contracts.  “I was trying to leave, but was told by recruitment companies that not completing my training at De Vita Platt could be frowned upon by other employers. I was between a rock and a hard place.” Christopher Platt (left) and Jonathan De Vita (right) have been struck off as solicitorsCredit:Christopher Platt/Jonathan De Vita Christopher Platt (left) and Jonathan De Vita (right) have been struck off as solicitors Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings.