Dear Mr. Beggs
IN THE MATTER OF FREDERICK ANDREWS - 1978 No 516
Your letter of 5 March 1987 addressed to the Prime Minister has been passed to me for reply as I have responsibility for oversight of the management functions of the Official Solicitor to the Supreme Court of Northern Ireland.
The case of Frederick Andrews junior was referred to the court in December 1978 and on 11 January 1979 the Lord Chief Justice of Northern Ireland made an Order appointing the then Official Solicitor (Mr John G Drennan) to act as Committee of Mr Andrews' estate.
Following the retirement of Mr Drennan his successor as Official Solicitor, Mr F B Hall, embarked upon a comprehensive review of the Patient's case under the direction of the judge then assigned to the Family Division, Mr Justice MacDermott.
My Hall submitted two reports to the court on 30 January 1984 and 2 December 1985 setting out in detail the results of his investigation, together with his recommendations to the court, made upon the advice of senior counsel engaged on behalf of the Patient. Copies of these reports were circulated to all members of the family, their legal representatives and other interested parties. In the course of the review the judge presided at nine separate hearings on dates between 24 October 1983 and 9 May 1986.
The Official Solicitor did not, as you have suggested, accept uncritically the explanations or information obtained from the individual solicitor to whom you have referred in your letter. On the contrary Mr Hall's full report on the conduct of that solicitor, named Herbert Wright, led to substantial compensation being paid to the Patient in a settlement which was approved by the judge. In addition, a full account of Mr Wright's conduct together with copies of all relevant documents were furnished by the Official Solicitor to officers of the RUC Fraud Squad and to the Director of Public Prosecutions.
I should also tell you that at the hearing on Monday 9 March, to which you refer in your letter, the judge gave approval for the sale of the Patient's interests upon terms recommended by the Official Solicitor and supported by the District Valuer.
No objection was raised by solicitors representing individual members of the family who were also present at the hearing. [That information coming from the Lord Chancellor himself is nothing short of incredible. For over ten years our family members had been complaining about the plunder of Freddie's property, firstly by Charles Gilpin and solicitors Tughan & Co, then we felt obliged to contact his psychiatrist who in turn contacted the officers of the court for the reinstatement and protection of Freddie's property. When the Official Solicitor Drennan failed to do his duty and provide the necessary protection under the law for Freddie, we then took the advice of a professional journalist and notified the RUC Fraud Squad of the continuing plunder of Freddie's property. The Fraud Squad Officers confirmed our fears of criminal activity in regard to Freddie's property but the Office of the Official Solicitor ignored the Fraud Squad findings. Worse still, the senior members of the RUC also ignored the findings of their own Fraud Squad Officers and the plunder, now under the supervision of the Official Solicitor actually continued. Now that the members of the legal profession had joined the official silence at our expense, the Lord Chancellor himself found this acceptable. What an abominable excuse for a judicial system. It is nothing more than a state engineered mafia.]
I understand that you have already communicated with the Department of the Director of Public Prosecutions and you will therefore by aware that police investigations are continuing and that statements have been taken from members of the Patient's family. It will be for the Director to consider, upon the completion of those enquiries, whether any criminal prosecutions should be brought against any person involved in the suspect transactions to which you refer.
Having regard to the exhaustive enquiries which have already been completed under the direction of the judge, the many opportunities afforded to individual members of the family and their separate solicitors and counsel to raise substantive points at formal hearings and the fact that any interested party who wishes to offer new evidence in the case has liberty to apply direct to the court, I do not consider that there is any justification for my intervention or for a public enquiry.
I hope you will find this helpful in understanding the situation.
From: THE RT.HON.LORD HAILSHAM
OF ST. MARYLEBONE, CH. FRS. DCI.