THE diocese of Leeds and four national charities are suing an imprisoned former solicitor, Linda Box, in an attempt to retrieve some of the £4 million that she stole from clients who had made bequests to them.
Ms Box, who is 70, was a senior partner at Dixon Coles & Gill, a law firm in Wakefield, and a registrar of the former diocese of Wakefield until 2005. She was arrested in 2016, and later pleaded guilty at Leeds Crown Court to nine charges of fraud, two of forgery, and one of theft. She received a seven-year sentence in 2017, and was told that another eight years would be added if she failed to repay at least £2.5 million of the defrauded funds.
In court papers seen by The Times this week, four charities — Guide Dogs, the British Heart Foundation, the National Trust, and Yorkshire Cancer Research — declare that the stolen funds include money left to them.
A separate claim has also been brought by the Bishop of Leeds, the Rt Revd Nick Baines, on behalf of various Church of England organisations and charities that say that they also suffered losses owing to Ms Box’s fraud. It emerged that she stole £63,000 from the Bishop of Wakefield’s fund.
The church and charity claims are due to be heard in full later this month.
Ms Box took nearly £4 million over 12 years from clients at her firm, which was closed by the Solicitors Regulation Authority in 2017. She was reported to have spent the money on school fees and mortgages for her family, home improvements, holidays, clothes, and vintage wines.
Her former law-firm partner Julian Gill, the legal practice, and its insurer HDI Global Specialty are also being sued, although the judge said that Mr Gill was unaware of Ms Box’s crimes. There is no suggestion that he acted dishonestly.