Please note that text in red denotes my comments

A letter from Official Solicitor Hall to my sister Vera Douglas dated 21/4/86.

Dear Mrs Douglas,


Thank you for your letter of 15 April which I duly received. Following the retirement last week of Mr R L G Davison I have been appointed to succeed him as Master (Care & Protection) with effect from Friday 18 April 1986. As it may be some time before my successor as Official Solicitor is appointed it will be necessary for me to retain responsibility for dealing with the Patient's affairs in the meantime and you may therefore continue to address correspondence to me at this office. I have obtained the confirmatory direction of the Judge that all communications received by other officers of the Court in regard to the review of the Patient's case may be re-directed to me for consideration and reply where appropriate. Turning to the points raised in your letter of 15 April I can offer the following comments and information.

1. I respectfully disagree with your suggestion that my first report "was made much too soon after [my] appointment as Committee". After obtaining the initial directions of the Judge I commenced my own enquiries in the case on Wednesday 24 August 1983. I had the advantage of being able to refer to an extensive range of correspondence, reports, accounts and other papers already produced in the case from various sources apart from the report which had been prepared by my predecessor, Mr Drennan, when acting as Committee on 15 December 1979. As a result of my own enquiries and with the benefit of other information furnished to me during the next 4 months I prepared my first report which was submitted to the Judge and circulated to all interested parties on 30 January 1984. In it I set out the facts which had been established as a result of all the investigations up to that time (including my own) [That is not true, Mr. Hall. You completely disregarded the results of the Fraud Squad investigations.] and where appropriate I expressed opinions and made recommendations for consideration by the Judge. It was for the Judge alone (not the Official Solicitor) "to assess the true position" and before making that assessment he was open to any submission which might have been made to the Court by any other interested party. [How on earth could the Judge alone assess the true position, Mr. Hall, without the most important facts obtained by the Fraud Squad and the very reason why the Courts were asked by the family to take over responsibility for my brother's estate in the first place. You deliberately obstructed the course of justice and must be held accountable for such disgusting behaviour.] In the event the only formal submission which has ever been made to the Court against any conclusion or recommendation made by me was that relating to the value of the Patient's dwellinghouse at 14 Castlehill Road at the time of the sale of that property which was negotiated on 3 December 1975.
The argument against my recommendation to the Court relating to the sale of that property, based upon the advice given to me, was made on behalf of you and your brother, Mr William J Andrews, by senior and junior counsel instructed by Messrs James Boston & Sullivan. Since the Judge delivered his reserved judgment on 28 February 1984 no appeal has been made against his finding and no other issue has been raised in Court by any party - apart from the question of costs which may be recovered by solicitors and counsel representing members of the family which will be resolved at the next adjourned hearing listed on Friday 9 May.

2. The sources of information upon which I have relied in preparing my reports are fully described in paragraphs 2 and 3 of my first report dated 30 January 1984.

3. I respectfully agree with your comment that the rent of 1,500 per annum paid to the Patient by the Company during your father's lifetime was "a token figure and should not have been used as a yardstick from which to base a realistic rent". That is the very argument which I have successfully maintained in pursuing my claim against Messrs Tughan & Co for lost rental income (which should have been secured on behalf of the Patient from his properties at Smithfield/Francis Street in the period from 1 November 1975 up to 28 February 1986). I have already described, in paragraph 2 of my letter to you of 3 April 1986, the bases upon which the true rental value of the properties was calculated by me during the 3 separate periods involved (1975-80, 1980-85 and during the final 4 month period from November 1985 until the end of February this year). The initial rental value of 3,600 which should have been secured during the first 5-year period (from November 1975 until November 1980)was established by reference to the actual rent agreed in correspondence between Mr Herbert Wright, then representing the Patient, and Miss Sullivan, then representing Mr William J Andrews as Managing Director of the Company, during the negotiations for a lease of the premises which led to the approval of a draft lease in February 1976. My account of those negotiations may be found in paragraph 15 of my first report (at the top of page 8). With regard to the rental value of the premises during the second period (from November 1980 until November 1985) I was advised by Mr Deane that a figure of 5,000 would have represented a fair rental on return which should have been negotiated during the later part of 1980 (if a proper lease had been in operation at that time). The rental income claimed by me for the short period of 4 months up to the agreed settlement date of 28 February 1986 was based simply upon the rental value of the property recommended to the Court by the District Valuer - of which you are already aware.

4. I believe that you (and possibly other members of your family) have been labouring under a fundamental misunderstanding as to the position in which the company (under successive managements) has been placed in the period since the first takeover agreement concluded on 30 September 1977. It is clear to me (and has been accepted by the legal representatives of all other parties) that upon the payment of 35,000 to credit of a "trust account" established on behalf of the Patient in the Northern Ireland Industrial Bank on 14 October 1977 the new management of Andrews and Company (Belfast) Limited believed that the title to the Patient's properties had been properly conveyed to the Company as an ancillary feature of the takeover. While it has now been established that Mr Herbert Wright did not actually complete the 2 deeds required to give any semblance of legality to the "purchase" of the properties it is certain that all other persons then connected with the Company acted upon the firm understanding that the titles had been properly acquired and legally conveyed into the name of the company.
At the time of the second takeover by the Ryland Vehicle Group of all the assets of Neville Johnston (Garages) Limited (which included all the assets of Andrews & company (Belfast) Limited) it is certain that the vendors (Mr Gilpin and other directors of the Company at that time) believed that the Patient's properties at Smithfield/Francis Street were properly to be included in the assets passing in that sale to the Ryland Group. I believe that Mr Herbert Wright alone knew of the true position and as he failed to declare or acknowledge the truth to any of his clients the misunderstanding (and the false position in which the Ryland Group was subsequently placed) persisted for a further period of over 2 years until Mr Wright was exposed during the investigations conducted in November 1983. [You know, Mr. Hall, that both Herbert Wright AND Charles Gilpin had worked hand-in-hand since the death of my father in 1972 conspiring to defraud my mentally-handicapped brother Freddie out of his valuable estate. You also knew that both these men had been exposed by Detective Constable Mervyn Patterson of the Fraud Squad long before the investigations conducted in November 1983. On a number of occasions, and later in this letter, you refer to the close liaison which you have maintained throughout your enquiries with responsible senior police officers and with the Department of the Director of Public Prosecutions, yet you have actively prevented the results of an investigation carried on for almost four years by the RUC Fraud Squad into the activities of Charles Gilpin and Herbert Wright of Tughan & Co. You kept the results of the Fraud Squad investigation from a High Court Judge, thereby perverting the course of justice. Whatever one of these men knew, the other knew, and if Herbert Wright knew the true situation about the Smithfield/Francis Street properties, then Charles Gilpin also knew, and there was no 'misunderstanding'.]
The short answer to the question which you have raised in regard to the non-payment of rent "for nine years" is that Andrews and Company (Belfast) Limited, whether under the management of Mr Gilpin and other directors following the first takeover or under management of directors nominated by the Ryland Group since the second takeover, did not pay any rent for the simple reason that it was assumed that the properties were actually owned by the Company - even though in reality that was not so.

5. I have confirmed that the Patient was credited with all interest earned on sums lodged in the Northern Ireland Industrial Bank in Bangor during the period from 14 October 1977 when the "trust fund" was opened in the joint names of Mr Gilpin and Mr Wright until 3 August 1979 when the account was closed by Mr Drennan, acting on the direction of the Master, and the capital sum transferred into the Allied Irish Investment Bank - where it still remains. [Does it really, Mr. Hall??? You did know, of course, that there was no "trust account", and if you didn't, you were not fit to be in your responsible position.]

6. You (and your sister, Mrs Eileen Wright) have been concerned to enquire about the Patient's entitlement to income from properties in Francis street and I have given a clear explanation in previous letters about the full extent of his legal title to properties about which I have obtained any reliable information or in respect of which I hold title deeds. In my letter to you of 10 April 1986 I referred to a Sub Lease to a man named Conlon. You may wish to note that under that Sub Lease dated 27 March 1939 the premises at the corner of Smithfield/Francis Street were demised to the lessee (Mr Conlon) subject to an annual rent of 50.00. The dimensions of the premises described in the Sub Lease were 20 feet 3 inches on the Smithfield frontage and 47 feet 0 inches along the Francis Street frontage. It is my understanding that apart from the public house located on the corner the premises comprised in the Sub Lease included the properties formerly known as Nos 1-5 Francis Street. For that reason I have never been concerned to enquire what plans may have been prepared for the eventual use of the property at 1-5 Francis Street for "a multi-carpark".

7. By the same token I do not believe that I am required to address any enquiries to the Northern Ireland Housing Executive in regard to any use which may have been made of a portacabin placed on the site of those premises during the period of 3 years to which you have referred. I confirm, however, that I will proceed to recover all payments of ground rent due to the Patient on foot of the Sub Lease in the period since October/November 1977.

8. You have referred again to the sales of properties at Little King Street and Winetavern Street about which you suggest that you have "some useful information" upon which I can act now. I do not understand why any useful or relevant information should have been withheld by you until now, having regard to the frequent exhortations expressed by the Judge at various sittings for all relevant information to be furnished to me in writing, but I will be glad to consider any new material which you may have to offer.

9. Your statement that "on 12/10/77 15,083 was credited to the Northern Ireland Industrial Bank in Bangor in the names of Gilpin and Wright" is incorrect. A precise account of the initial payment of 35,000 which established an account with the Northern Ireland Industrial Bank under the title "Mr Charles Gilpin and Mr Bertie Wright as trustees for Mr Fred Andrews" on 14 October 1977 may be found in paragraph 18 of my first report (on page 9). [Again, Mr. Hall, you know that "Mr Charles Gilpin and Mr Bertie Wright" were not "trustees" of my brother's affairs or accounts. These people were self-appointed self-seekers whom you and your fellow official solicitors have allowed to go free. My late father appointed Gwendolin Sullivan and Mr. Burnside as Trustees of his estate.]The subsequent lodgment of a further sum of 15,083 to credit of the "trust account" [Again, Mr. Hall, there was no "trust account".] on 10 October 1978 is fully explained at the end of paragraph 12 of my first report (on page 6). [Yes, Mr. Hall, your Report to the High Court is completely flawed.]

10. Your suggestion that the Patient appears to have received no money from the sale of the premises at 5-21 Winetavern Street is also incorrect and I am at a loss to understand why you should persist in making such an unfounded assertion at this stage. The precise details of that sale may be found in paragraphs 11 and 12 of my first report.

11. It is fair to acknowledge that the form in which Messrs Tughan & Co (Mr Herbert Wright) maintained accounts on behalf of the Patient during the period between 1973-78 makes it difficult to identify, at first glance, the true record of all financial transactions undertaken on his behalf. [That, Mr. Hall, is a long-winded way of stating that your fellow professional lawyers behaved abominably in regard to my brother's estate] At an early stage during Mr Drennan's enquiries a statement of account was produced for his reference marked "General Account" in which an entry appears dated 29 March 1977 showing "net proceeds of sale of Little King Street" - which is only then recorded in that "General Account". I have established, however, that it was the practice of Messrs Tughan & Co to keep separate accounts for each individual sale or purchase transaction undertaken on behalf of the Patient and the account relating to this sale shows that entries of the initial deposit payment (of 750) and the balance purchase money (6,750) for the Little King Street premises were properly recorded upon receipt in 1974. I am satisfied, therefore, that no complaint of "misappropriation" can be made in regard to moneys arising from that sale. [Do you not realise, Mr. Hall, that Little King Street could not be sold legally as it was left to Freddie for the upkeep of Tara House, Freddie's home, and could only be sold legally when funding was needed for the upkeep of Tara House.]

12. I am surprised that you should think it necessary to refer to the general duty (not restricted to "those concerned with and in charge of any mental patient") defined in Section 5 of the Criminal Law Act (Northern Ireland) 1967 "to inform the police of any irregularities". On the afternoon of Thursday 19 January 1984 you attended, together with other members of your family and your respective solicitors, at a meeting in my office in Bedford House during which I explained fully the result of my initial enquiries and my own conclusions as to the extent of any possible criminal offences which might have been committed by Mr Gilpin or Mr Herbert Wright. Following the discussion with you and other members of the family [You, Mr. Hall, and everybody else at that meeting know that there was absolutely NO discussion. We were not even allowed to comment during that meeting and after two hours we left in disgust.] (lasting just over two hours) and a further discussion with your solicitor Miss Sullivan (for a further one and a half hours) I had a long interview with responsible police officers, by appointment, at my office on the next morning - Friday 20 January 1984, which lasted over 3 hours. During that meeting, at which the Detective Chief Inspector then responsible for the investigation was present, I gave a full account of the result of my review (up to that time) and dealt in detail with 4 separate aspects of the case about which any suspicion might have been entertained and in respect of which further investigations might have been thought to be justified.[What a load of waffle, Mr. Hall. I wonder were any of these officers allowed to speak.]

13. I categorically repudiate the suggestion made on the third page of your letter that "the reason why [the Patient's] case has lasted over seven years is because the police were not informed by [my] office".
During early meetings with you, other members of your family and your solicitors more than two years ago and in many letters since then I have described the extent of the close liaison which has been maintained throughout my enquiries with responsible senior police officers and with the Department of the Director of Public Prosecutions. [Why do you tell such lies, Mr. Hall? We had no meeting with you. This is the reason why so many letters have been exchanged. You just could not face us or communicate face to face with us simply because you are afraid of the truths we have to very eloquently put to you and for which you have no answers.] You will have noted that copies of both my reports dated 30 January 1984 and 2 December 1985 have been submitted for reference to the Department of the Director of Public Prosecutions and to the Criminal Investigation Department at RUC Headquarters as well as to the RUC fraud Squad. You will also be aware that responsible police officers have attended at all the recent review hearings. I can confirm that I am in regular communication with responsible senior officers in relation to all aspects of this case and they have been furnished with all documentary evidence, accounts and supporting statements for which they have made requests to me.

14. You have enquired about the damages paid to the Ryland Vehicle Group. It is my understanding that upon the second takeover by the Ryland Group, described in paragraph 4 above, the new directors and the parent (holding) company believed that they had acquired a legal title to the properties at Smithfield/Francis Street which were still owned by the Patient. It may be seen, therefore, that when payment was made by the Ryland Group for all the assets of Neville Johnston (Garages) Limited - including the assets of Andrews and Company (Belfast) Limited, it was supposed that the 2 Smithfield properties were properly included in the deal. The subsequent disclosure that Messrs Tughan & Co (Mr Herbert Wright) had failed to convey any valid title in respect of those properties to the purchaser (the Ryland Group) gave rise to a legitimate claim for compensation in respect of the loss sustained by that Company.

15. I have referred again to your letter of 7 April, which I had already considered carefully in detail. I do not believe that there are any questions contained in it which I failed to answer in my letter to you of 10 April.

Yours sincerely,