Lawyer who swindled taxpayer out of £22million in legal aid is banned from profession
A lawyer who once represented Premier League footballers and led a luxury lifestyle of mansions and supercars has been struck off for swindling £22million in legal aid from the taxpayer.
John Blavo, 61, falsified documents to the Legal Aid Agency while head of Blavo & Co Solicitors for thousands of cases that never took place relating to client files, medical reports and tribunal decisions.
Andrew Tabachnik, KC, for the Solicitors’ Regulatory Authority, said in 14 specific cases, files were ‘concocted from scratch, invented and cut and pasted from other reports’.
He encouraged or gave instructions for the falsification of documents on client files between 2013 and 2015.
Mr Tabachnik added Blavo was ‘at the heart of the blatant cutting and pasting’ and is not attending the tribunal to offer any explanation.
John Blavo, 61, falsified documents to the Legal Aid Agency while head of Blavo & Co Solicitors for thousands of cases that never took place relating to client files, medical reports and tribunal decisions
He once represented Premier League footballers and led a luxury lifestyle of mansions and supercars
Mr Tabachnik said Blavo was ‘at the heart of the blatant cutting and pasting’ and is not attending the tribunal to offer any explanation.
He said: ‘His conduct in orchestrating the invention of those files was utterly brazen fraud, thoroughly dishonest and it cannot be explained.’
‘It is clear these documents were being doctored and altered in ordered to be made ready for the Legal Aid Agency.
‘He masterminded the document production exercise. There is nothing genuine or honest about any of these exchanges with the LAA.’
Mr Tabachnik said the fraud was so ‘clumsy and comical’ there were many examples where Blavo failed to change names of parties on the documents he provided to the LAA.
READ MORE: How disgraced lawyer at the centre the ‘biggest legal aid scam in UK history’ conned us all out of £22m
‘There were word for word similarities. Blavo was absolutely at the heart of operations.’
Blavo & Co was ranked by the Ministry of Justice as the second highest-earning civil legal practice in England and Wales, before being shut down by the SRA in 2015.
The firm had 18 offices across the country before it was shut down by the regulator at a cost of around £800,000.
In December 2018, the High Court ruled on the balance of probabilities that the practice of making fraudulent legal aid claims was ‘endemic’ at Blavo & Co
Mr Justice Pepperall found that Blavo was liable to repay £22.1m in claims for the thousands of cases which simply never took place.
A recent report from liquidators, filed with Companies House last month, shows the business owes £33.1m in total to 357 unsecured creditors.
Blavo owned a period house in St Albans, with indoor cinema and covered swimming pool in the grounds, as well as properties in Marbella, Cyprus and in his native Ghana.
The property in Marbella linked to the Ghanian £22 Million legal aid fraudster John Blavo who has been struck off
His home on Cunningham Hill Road in St Albans. The grand period house has an indoor cinema and covered swimming pool in the grounds
He ran a fleet of supercars including Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Porsches and Maseratis.
Blavo & Co practised in clinical negligence, housing, immigration, family and criminal law, but it specialised in mental health law.
Blavo, who qualified as a solicitor in 1997, and his wife Lynne, 60, are former psychiatric nurses.
He had listed former Cameroon and Arsenal defender Lauren and ex-West Ham full back John Paintsil as clients.
Blavo was registered with the Football Association and blogged as The Football Lawyer for The Independent newspaper.
He did not attend the hearing and was not represented.
After the tribunal found Blavo guilty of a series of allegations involving dishonesty Mr Tabachnik applied for costs but said the lawyer now claims to be penniless.
Mr Tabachnik said ‘he says he doesn’t have a single penny to his name and has no assets. I do not accept what Mr Blavo says simply because he says it.’
Tribunal chairman William Ellerton ordered Blavo be struck off and ordered him to pay £72,676 in costs.