A WOMAN who claimed to be a barrister has been disbarred for misleading her clients.
Yvonne Turley, 50, who lives in Hampshire Terrace, Fratton, was struck off by the Bar Standards Board on Monday, February 10, for misleading clients, who believed she was an employment barrister. She did not turn up to the hearing.
She was also found to have lied to a client about submitting vital forms for his employment tribunal, despite knowing she had failed to do so.
Her name was included on a list of employment specialists that was made available to clients of East Hampshire Citizens Advice Bureau for at least a decade, according to its chief executive officer.
Jon Stuart has apologised to Susan Simms, who was one of ‘dozens’ of people who were given Ms Turley’s contact details.
After being called to give evidence at Ms Turley’s tribunal, three of her victims who had complained to the Bar Standards Board about her conduct met in London for the first time.
Shaun Marsh, who lives in Milton, Jacquie Hawkins, of Gosport, and Susan Simms, from Bedhampton, had all approached Ms Turley for help with their employment tribunals.
Little did they know their ‘barrister’ was not qualified to describe herself as one.
The three have come forward to tell how their chances of a fair hearing against their employers were ruined by Ms Turley.
Susan Simms, who had been working as a phlebotomist for the NHS, was put in touch with Ms Turley by East Hampshire Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB).
After taking a period of sick leave, the 58-year-old says she was bullied by managers and had difficulty moving into a position in a different department because of a reference she was given.
She says she was told about Ms Turley by an adviser at the CAB and was given her contact details.
‘They told me they had a barrister who deals with all these sort of issues. I thought that would win me the case, when they told me I could get help from a barrister. I got in touch with her in 2011. She would never answer the phone.
‘Eventually I got through and told her I had been put through to her by the CAB. I asked if she was a barrister and she said “that’s right”.
‘She asked me to meet her in her office at the Big Yellow Storage Offices in Fratton.
‘When I got there, she drove us around the corner to McDonald’s.
‘We went in and she didn’t buy anything. We had our meeting there.’
She was also told by Ms Turley that she had an office in 1000 Lakeside in North Harbour.
Susan said she repeatedly tried to get updates on her case but was unable to contact the woman she thought was her barrister.
She began to have suspicions when she received a letter informing her there had been a settlement and her case was not going to tribunal.
In a letter sent to Susan on March 21, 2012 by Acas, the organisation that works with employers and employees to resolve workplace disputes, reference is made to the payment of a ‘settlement sum’. She never agreed to settle the case and has not been able to find out what the settlement involved.
She is now working with a law firm to get to the bottom of what happened.
Jacquie, 58, had worked for the same company in Fareham for 20 years before she went on sick leave.
After disputes between her and the company began about her returning to work, she sought advice.
‘I contacted Acas and told them I was finding it extremely difficult and that I needed legal representation,’ she explained.
‘They said there was a company in Portsmouth called Tribunal Representation and Appeal Centre that helped with representation and that they charged 25 per cent, no win, no fee. The woman at Acas did say she was not recommending her but that was one option for me.’
After organising a meeting with Jacquie, Ms Turley told her she had a good case and could expect in the region of £20,000 if successful.
But when her case for constructive dismissal and disability discrimination got in front of a panel at Southampton Employment Tribunal, the woman she believed to be her barrister did not represent her as expected.
‘She turned up late to the tribunal. She had no paperwork with her. She had not prepared anything.’
Jacquie said none of her evidence was put to the tribunal and none of the witnesses was examined.
‘I had all the evidence and she did nothing, She could not string a sentence together. She could not present the case.’
The tribunal found in favour of the employer, and Jacquie was told to pay £5,000 legal costs.
She said: ‘I did not have the money. I thought I was going to have to remortgage my family’s home to repay it.’
With the help of the CAB, the claim was dropped in the circumstances.
Ms Turley was recommended to 52-year-old Shaun by a friend. He was in need of advice after his employer changed working conditions for him and colleagues.
Following a disciplinary hearing, Ms Turley told Shaun he should resign.
He did that day and believed she was assisting him with launching a tribunal against his employer.
He later found out she had not submitted vital forms to allow him to take his case to the employment tribunal.
After he discovered and filled the forms in, he was told it was too late to be able to bring the action. It got to the pre-hearing in Havant.
‘They asked why my application was not submitted within three months. The judge said he was concerned about the lateness of the application and it was thrown out. I explained I did not have my paperwork because Yvonne had kept it.
‘I am concerned it’s going to happen to other people,’ he said.
‘She needs to be stopped. I am angry that the company I worked for have not been in front of the tribunal.
‘I wanted to see them punished but they have got away scot-free. The only compensation that I have got is that she has been punished.’
When Ms Turley was approached by The News last week, she said she had no comment to make.
CHIEF EXEC SAYS SORRY FOR CAB’S INVOLVEMENT
Jon Stuart, chief executive officer of East Hampshire Citizens Advice Bureau, said Yvonne Turley’s name had been given out on a list of employment specialists for at least a decade.
‘Over the years, the CAB has offered a lot of services. We have got a capable in-house team but we do have a long list of legal people and the like who are not recommended but that we allow our clients to have access to.
‘It would not be a recommendation from us but we would have opened up her contact details.
‘There are other clients out there that we are concerned have been let down. We have a list of legal people of varying ranges and we would share that with clients.
‘We would give them the names and contacts of two or three people who we thought could help them.
‘Yvonne Turley had been visited by dozens of our clients over the years.
‘It goes back many years and we had reports that she was doing a reasonable job from them. We did not have any concerns until more recently.
‘We have referred it on to Trading Standards and a firm of solicitors. We have chosen to restrict our list of legal representatives to a group of well known solicitors.
‘That was reviewed pretty soon after the Yvonne Turley issues were raised with us – the best part of two years ago.’
Asked whether he would apologise to any person who had been given Ms Turley’s contact details by the CAB, he said: ‘It is a difficult one. On the other hand, we have got other cases where she did what she was required to do.
‘Now that the dust has settled, we will do something in particular with Susan Simms by way of apology.
‘In Yvonne Turley’s case, she was alleging she had a qualified background. She was very experienced and was doing employment tribunals all the time, but there were questions about her background.
‘What we do need to do is find out where other people are who have been affected.
‘We are still acting with Susan with her employment issues and we have got our own specialist working with her. We really want to wrap the whole thing up with her but we really do want to apologise for the problems. We just want her to be back in a job.’
WHAT The BAR STANDARDS BOARD SAID
A panel of five, chaired by His Honour Judge Stuart Sleeman, decided Yvonne Turley, who was known to the organisation as Yvonne Lloyd, should be disbarred.
The decision was made on the grounds she was not in a position to provide legal services as a barrister when not entitled to do so.
The panel also felt she had engaged in conduct that was dishonest or otherwise discreditable to the profession.
Disbarment means she is expelled from the practice of law.
Head of professional conduct at the Bar Standards Board, Sara Down, said: ‘Ms Lloyd was not in a position to provide legal services as a barrister.
‘Her actions misled her clients and the service she provided caused real detriment. Such deception and dishonesty is unacceptable and not compatible with holding the title of barrister.’
Ms Turley was an unregistered barrister as she completed the academic stage of the bar’s training but had not completed pupillage so she was not entitled to provide legal services as a barrister.
THE Charity Commission says it will now be contacting Yvonne Turley after it was informed of her disbarment.
Tribunal Representation and Appeal Centre remains a registered charity, with accounts dating back to April 2010 still not received, according to the commission’s website.
A spokesman said: ‘We would expect the trustees to file a serious incident report to us. If we do not receive one in the future, now that we are aware of this, our contact team will get in touch with the charity.’
A number of companies belonging to Ms Turley, including Tribunal Representation & Appeal Centre Ltd, to which the three victims were referred, have been dissolved.
THE case has been referred on to Action Fraud, the UK’s national fraud and internet crime reporting centre.
A complaint has also been lodged with Hampshire Constabulary’s professional standards department and the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) regarding the police’s response when the case was taken to them last week.
Financially, the three victims who have spoken to The News did not directly pay any money for the legal services.
But the lack of a tribunal in the case of Shaun Marsh and Susan Simms, and the loss of the case for Jacquie Hawkins, has had serious consequences on their chances of finding employment, their confidence and overall health.
The three feel they missed out on justice in not being able to take their cases forward to employment tribunals.
WERE YOU A VICTIM?
THE three victims met because of complaints they had made to the Bar Standards Board.
But they are convinced many others could have fallen victim and lost out trying to take employment grievances forward.
They are now looking at their options and want to hear from anyone else who has been affected.
If you have been given employment advice by Yvonne Turley, contact Claire French at The News on (023) 9262 2226 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.