Please note that text in red denotes my comments

A letter from the Official Solicitor to Vera Douglas dated April 7th 1986.

Dear Mrs. Douglas,


Thank you for your letter of to-day's date which I received at my office this afternoon - after writing to you this morning in regard to questions which you addressed to Mr Millar, the Legal Secretary to the Lord Chief Justice. I am reluctant to become involved in a protracted correspondence at this stage [You were never reluctant to become involved in answering correspondence, Mr. Hall, because every time you answered any of our family's letters to you, you were always sure to take the cost of your time and trouble out of my handicapped brother's estate. The problem was that you never told the truth, causing us to correspond with you totally unnecessarily which meant that you were, in effect, stealing my handicapped brother's money from him - a totally despicable course of action.] but I wish, if possible, to satisfy you upon all the points which are still troubling you - especially as many of them are based upon an imperfect or incomplete understanding of the outcome of my enquiries. [You totally patronising little man. The members of our family were well educated and were well accustomed by now to your trickery. You don't fool us and in a short time you will be faced with the consequences of your corruption.]

1. I simply do not understand how you seek to suggest, at the beginning of your letter, that I have failed to make full enquiries about the Patient's affairs. The list of persons and firms to whom I addressed specific enquiries (apart from Messrs Tughan & Co and Messrs Cleaver, Fulton & Rankin) is set out in paragraph 3 (on page 2) of my first report dated 30 January 1984. You, and other members of the family, have been invited by the Judge in clear terms at several successive review sittings to furnish all relevant information, documents or other material relating to the case to me in writing and I have been in regular communication with solicitors representing the interests of individual members of the family at every stage. It is only within the past few weeks that you have chosen to correspond direct with me [Maybe it was because my sister Vera (Mrs. Douglas) was satisfied up until then that my letters direct to you were sufficiently frank, like this one.] and since you are no longer represented by Messrs James Boston & Sullivan I have addressed my replies direct to you. You may not understand that in any case where a party is represented by a solicitor it is essential that correspondence affecting that party should be addressed to the solicitor rather than to the client personally. For that reason alone I have sought to communicate with members of the family only through their accredited professional representatives. I can also assure you that I have had the fullest contact with officers in the RUC Fraud Squad and in the Criminal Investigation Department at RUC Headquarters at every stage of my review. [That, Mr. Hall, is great news. You see, now that you have admitted that fact in writing, I am now even more convinced that you have set yourself and the Office of the Official Solicitor up as the solid barrier preventing the findings of Fraud Squad, CID and the most senior police officers from getting near a High Court Judge. In fact I would like to ask you what you know about the shooting of Detective Constable Mervyn Patterson who was harassed and eventually taken off my brother's case, just as John Stalker was taken off the 'Shoot to Kill' investigation about the same time. Now there's a coincidence for you.]
I believe that I have received from those sources (and from the Department of the Director of Public Prosecutions) all relevant information which has any bearing upon the civil matters with which I am exclusively concerned. [Why then, Mr. Hall, did you not make the High Court Judge aware of all that relevant information?]
By the same token I have provided for reference by responsible police officers copies of all documents, accounts or other records which have come into my possession and with which they may be concerned in relation to their criminal investigations. [Ah, so you admit that you accepted and were aware that there were criminal investigations being carried out with regard to my brother's case.]

2. At the bottom of the first page of your letter, where you comment upon paragraph 1 in my letter to you of 3 April, you ask, again, "what was the true position [in regard to the title to the Smithfield properties] at the time" - in November 1983. I have already indicated to you that a full account appears in paragraph 18 of my first report dated 30 January 1984. In brief, it describes the abortive attempt made by Mr Herbert Wright to effect a sale of the 2 separate properties owned by the Patient at Smithfield/Francis Street to a company then owned by Mr Gilpin and I described in precise terms the few (inadequate) steps which he took to achieve that purpose. A careful examination of my report will show clearly that Mr Wright never succeeded in his original purpose - although he sought to mislead Mr Drennan at a later stage when, in February 1979, enquiries were being made about the alleged sale transaction. Since my first report was circulated for reference, however, it has been clear to the professional representatives of all parties involved in the case that the title to both properties was never effectively transferred from the Patient to anyone. [This case does bear out your careful use of the word 'effectively', Mr. Hall, but the illegal transfer of Freddie's property to the Ryland Vehicle Group "between the 1st day of August 1979 and the 31st day of January 1980" had the effect of causing serious loss of my brother's assets, and the criminal gain to Charles Gilpin and Tughan & Co which you, Mr. Hall, deliberately ignored. In fact you never mentioned this in you so-called 'Comprehensive Report' to the High Court.]It is not correct to suggest therefore, that "these properties [are] still in question 3 years later". [Actually, Mr. Hall, these properties [are] still in question, not 3 years later, but today in December 2006, they are in question 23 (twenty-three) years later.
The only point which had to be resolved during the recent sittings has been the appropriate amount of compensation which should be recovered on behalf of the Patient to cover his losses as a result of Mr Wright's mismanagement of his affairs during the period before Mr Drennan's appointment. [Yes, you, Mr. Hall, would like it left like that but as you now know, the world is reading about your shocking fraud. As a result of the late Mr. Wright's mismanagement of Freddie's affairs, Mr. Drennan's mismanagement of Freddie's affairs, your mismanagement of Freddie's affairs, Mr. Rankin's mismanagement of Freddie's affairs, Mrs. Bowers' mismanagement of Freddie's affairs, etc. etc., a lot of official work, honest official work is going to have to be done to determine "the appropriate amount of compensation which should be recovered on behalf of the Patient". This work WILL be done!]

3. Almost all of the second page of your letter is devoted to comments and allegation which relate exclusively to the negotiations leading to the sale of shares by your brother, Mr William J Andrews, his wife and son in September 1977. I am aware of many of the details of that transaction which led to the acquisition of the entire shareholding in Andrews & Company (Belfast) Limited by Neville Johnston (Garages) Limited but I can explain that it has not been necessary for any of those details to be considered by the Court during the current review for the simple reason that they do not have any direct bearing upon the Patient's separate interests. [That is where you are totally wrong, Mr. Hall. Actually, this was part of the findings of the RUC Fraud Squad, the fact that the gang, Gilpin, Tughan & Co and Wright, in Tughan & Co's offices, harassed and bullied my sick brother Billy into signing over his shareholding in his father's firm just as they harassed and bullied my elderly and sick mother and mentally-handicapped brother, into leaving their beautiful home so that the gang could get their dirty hands on it and benefit from its illegal and criminal sale. As you know this gang used this shareholding coup to give the impression that they had bought Freddie's interest in the Smithfield property by paying 35,000 into an account in their own names in the NIIB in Bangor as "trustees for Freddie Andrews". You knew that it had a very direct bearing on "the Patient's separate interests". Then you lied and covered up this fraud to protect your gang using the power of the High Court. How low can you stoop, Mr. Hall?]

4. At the top of page 3 of your letter you have expressed concern that I should have accepted "the word of Mr Bertie Wright". Although it is true that I have reported to the Court upon some essential features of my interview with Mr Wright on the evening of Thursday 17 November 1983 the fundamental point which affects the outcome of my enquiries does not depend upon any information which he provided but, very simply, may be deduced from an inspection of the documents of title relating to both properties which I now hold and from an inspection of Registry of Deeds Searches - which were originally made by Mr H L McCracken (of Messrs John Johnson) when he was acting on behalf of Mrs Eileen Wright. An inspection of the title deeds and the confirmatory Search both show that no conveyance or Assignment of property belonging to the Patient at Smithfield/Francis Street was ever properly completed at any time since your father's death. [So where does this charge and conviction fit in?]

5. I have not been concerned with any aspect of the management of the Patient's domestic affairs during the period while my predecessor, Mr Drennan, was acting as Committee of his estate. [If you and Mr. Drennan had done your jobs as well as members of our family had done ours, we would not be in this shocking mess.]

6. You must also, please, understand that I am unable to make any comment whatever in regard to the visit made by Mr Herbert Wright to the home of your sister Mrs Betty Hamilton (when, you state, he was accompanied by Mr Doherty of Messrs Cleaver, Fulton & Rankin) as that matter is likely to be the subject of questions arising during the trial of the Chancery action which has been instituted by Mrs Hamilton. [A very useful excuse for your silence, Mr. Hall.]

7. At the bottom of the third page of your letter you have enquired about the circumstances in which the Ryland Vehicle Group became involved with the Patient's property. It is my understanding that when the Ryland Group entered into negotiations with the late Mr. Gilpin they sought to acquire all the assets of Neville Johnston (Garages) Limited which, incidentally, included all the assets of Andrews & Company (Belfast) Limited - then (and still) a wholly-owned subsidiary of Neville Johnston (Garages) Limited. - or, if you prefer, Mr Gilpin as a principal shareholder, in connection with that sale transaction. It would have been assumed by all the parties to that transaction that the Patient's 2 properties at Smithfield/Francis Street were included among the assets then owned by the subsidiary company - Andrews & Company (Belfast) Limited. [No, Mr. Hall, Gilpin, Tughan & Co and Wright at least, knew that Freddie's properties could not legally be included in any sale transaction which left the Ryland Vehicle Group who only became aware of what they had spent their money on because I told them time and time again, which is why they finally acted here.] I believe that at the time of that sale transaction [Illegal and criminal sale transaction, Mr. Hall.] only Mr Herbert Wright knew of the true position [Absolute nonsense, Mr. Hall. You state in paragraph 18 of your so-called Comprehensive Report to the High Court quote, "In the course of a long interview with Mr Wright, at which both Mr Burgess and Mr F D Tughan were present, I established that a payment of 35,000 was made over by Mr Gilpin to the Northern Ireland Industrial Bank Limited in accordance with the "understanding" reached between the parties to the takeover on 30 September 1977. I have confirmed with the Northern Ireland Industrial Bank Limited that an account was opened with them early in October 1977 under the title "Mr Charles Gilpin and Mr Bertie Wright as trustees for Mr Fred Andrews" and that the payment of 35.000 was lodged to credit of that account on 14 October 1977." Surely you are not so totally naive, Mr. Hall, as not to see the folly of what you write and the understanding you take from it. The parties involved in the "takeover" were Gilpin, Tughan & Co and a brow-beaten and bullied Billy Andrews. Tughan & Co knew all about what was going on. Didn't the harassment and bullying take place in Tughan & Co offices and my brother Billy was refused permission to phone his solicitor when he requested the presence of his solicitor. Herbert Wright was only the message boy.] and that he gave a false account of the title to those properties in response to enquiries made by solicitors acting for the Ryland Group - as he had already done in response to Mr Drennan's initial enquiries in February 1979. [Mr. Hall, the Ryland Vehicle Group were not even in the picture in 1977.]

8. It is correct that rising from this false report or declaration (by Mr Wright) a separate firm of solicitors in Belfast, Messrs J Christopher Napier & Co, was engaged to represent the interests of all 3 companies now concerned with the Patient's Smithfield properties - Andrews & Company (Belfast) Limited, Neville Johnston (Garages) Limited and the "parent Company" - Ryland Vehicle Group. Mr Napier instituted proceedings against Messrs Tughan & Co for damages in respect of the loss suffered by his clients - arising from the non-completion of the original purchase which was to have been negotiated and settled in September 1977 but which had never been carried through. Mr Napier ultimately concluded a settlement of his claim against Messrs Tughan & Co during the first week of last month and it was only at that stage that it was possible for me to conclude the terms of a final settlement of the claim which I had to make on behalf of the Patient for his corresponding loss. [But, Mr. Hall, as I stated in the previous paragraph, the Ryland Vehicle Group was not even in the picture in September 1977, and if it was, and Mr. Napier won Ryland a handy lump of cash from Tughan & Co insurance, in the first week of March 1986 for the professional failings of Tughan & Co in 1977, why did Ryland go ahead and prosecute only Herbert Wright in the County Court in Belfast on the 28th September 1988 as is stated here, two and a half years later, for the profession failings of the same Tughan & Co "between the 1st day of August 1979 and the 31st day of January 1980"?]

9. You have referred to 2 attempts which I have made in recent months to sell the Patient's properties and asked whether "this information has been given to the Court?" Once again I am confounded by your enquiry.
My original application to the Court for approval of an Order for sale of the property at the price of 110,000 was made on foot of a Summons (of which copies were sent to all interested parties) supported by a confirmatory Affidavit which was originally listed for hearing before the Judge on Friday 29 November last and which was adjourned until Friday 20 December when, as you know, my original recommendation was withdrawn. [Why was it withdrawn, Mr. Hall? What mistake did you make? Did you suddenly realise that the 110,000 you were asking on 22/11/1985 on behalf of my mentally-handicapped brother Freddie for ALL his Smithfield property at "62-65 Smithfield, and at 66-69 Smithfield and 1-11 Francis Street", would someday (like now) be compared to the 375,000 that Gilpin, Tughan & Co and Herbert Wright actually received from the Ryland Vehicle Group "between the 1st day of August 1979 and the 31st day of January 1980" for just one-third of that same property - six years later? To my mind, Mr. Hall, those figures do not make sense and anyway, you wouldn't want me to be talking about the fact that the Ryland Vehicle Group did not pay their 375,000 for one-third of Freddie's property until "between the 1st day of August 1979 and the 31st day of January 1980". They were not, as you stated above, in the picture at all in 1977, which is why you didn't bother the High Court Judge with such important information. Oh, yes, it was very important information as far as justice for Freddie Andrews was concerned. You see, the Fraud Squad found out that Charles Gilpin took one million pounds to the island of Jersey (you will know the date since you say at paragraph 1 above "I can also assure you that I have had the fullest contact with officers in the RUC Fraud Squad and in the Criminal Investigation Department at RUC Headquarters at every stage of my review") and part of that one million pounds was the 375,000 stolen from the Ryland Vehicle Group which they never got back from that source. They did get it back as you can see here and you just could not tell a High Court judge that the victims - the Ryland Vehicle Group - of a stolen property scam just held on to it since the only way they believed they would get their money back was to do exactly the same as solicitor Herbert Wright was punished for - handling stolen property - and the money the Ryland Vehicle Group received from Laing for that property, stolen from my mentally-handicapped brother Freddie Andrews, went into the bank account of the Ryland Vehicle Group including the obvious massive profit they would have gained as well. Well, they probably said to themselves that they had been out of pocket to the tune of 375,000 for so many years and they would need to be paid for that loss too.] The subsequent efforts made to re-negotiate a sale of the properties at a higher price proved unsuccessful and the original offer was withdrawn - as I reported to the Judge and to all interested parties on 22 January. At every stage all relevant information has been provided for the Court and for interested parties. [Did you actually say that to the judge, Mr. Hall? Now tell me, what did the good judge say? I would be very interested to know. Did he believe you? I don't think he would if he had been awake while you were reading all the **** contained in your 'Comprehensive Reports'. But then the judge didn't know about the Fraud Squad findings which included Gilpin's running off to Jersey with the booty because you had decided not to tell him. Of course I am not surprised that the "subsequent efforts made to re-negotiate a sale of the properties at a higher price proved unsuccessful and the original offer was withdrawn" when the Ryland Vehicle Group had Freddie's deeds to one-third of his Smithfield property and would not let go of them until they got their money and you were in a pickle as to know what to do. Is there not some sort of warped justice there in a mixed up sort of way, Mr. Hall? Of course the original offer was not withdrawn. That original offer was just rejected as your hands were tied and you couldn't proceed as you had planned. In spite of all this unprofessional conduct, Mr. Hall, you get promoted almost five months later to Master of the Office of Care and Protection. I'm sure you really did breathe a big, big sigh of relief!]

10. On the fourth page of your letter you have referred to the failure of Mr Burnside to keep the Patient's tax affairs up to date. I do not understand the assertion that "he [Mr Burnside] listened to Mr Gilpin" but you will be aware that one of the terms of the Agreement which I concluded on 6 March last provides that any additional tax liability which the Patient may suffer by reason of the delay in settling his tax affairs will be discharged by Messrs Tughan & Co. [Ha, ha, ha!]

11. At the top of page 5 of your letter you have asked how Neville Johnston (Garages) believed that they had acquired the full legal estate or title to both properties. I have explained in paragraph 7 above that the directors of Neville Johnston (Garages) Limited and, at a later stage, the directors of the Ryland Vehicle Group were both misled by Mr Wright. [No, Mr. Hall, only the directors of the Ryland Vehicle Group were cheated. Wasn't Charles Gilpin the main shareholder in Neville Johnston (Garages) Limited. Wasn't his son married to Neville Johnston's widow?]

12. If you now understand that the Ryland Vehicle Group is effectively in control of both subsidiary companies you will appreciate that during my negotiations for a short-term letting I have been concerned simply to deal with their accredited solicitors in Belfast - Messrs J Christopher Napier & Co. All decisions communicated to me by Mr Napier have effectively been those of the parent company in England. [Are you serious, Mr. Hall? Do mean to tell me, and of course anyone around the world who wants to read this, that you actually dealt directly with the holders of the deeds of my mentally-handicapped brother's stolen property? Are you also telling me that you actually went along with the decisions of a firm which had possession of a large part of Freddie's stolen estate and instead of handing this criminal situation over to the RUC and DPP, you actually colluded with a firm which not only did not hand over to you the deeds of the property they had stolen from the Patient in Care that you were ordered by the Supreme Court to look after, but that you did not even DEMAND that they hand over those deeds?]

13. You have asked why counsel and solicitors representing the separate interests of members of the family only received details of the final Agreement from me on the afternoon of Friday 7 March - immediately before the commencement of the review sitting on that day. Mr McFerran (of Messrs McCloskey & Co) representing Messrs Tughan & Co had been suffering from a virus infection and was absent from his office on days earlier that week. As a result I was only able to obtain his signature to the Agreement dated 6 March 1986 at 10.30 pm on the evening before the hearing - when I called with him at his own home. It was then too late to circulate copies of the Agreement by post and copies were provided in Court at the hearing itself. In paragraph 9 of my letter to you of 3 April I have pointed out that the basis upon which the settlement was concluded had been fully described in paragraph 11 of my second report dated 2 December 1985 of which copies were circulated to all interested parties. The only significant feature of the final Agreement which was different from copies already circulated at the earlier hearing on 20 December 1985 was the adjustment of the figure for lost rental income.
I do not consider that any obstacle has been put in the way of any member of the family or of their professional representatives. I have already acknowledged that the precise terms of the final Agreement were not communicated to you personally before the last hearing but in paragraph 10 of my letter to you of 3 April I pointed out that I had advised the court of your interest in the case so that you might make a submission if you wished. That opportunity is still open to you and as the case will be re-listed before the Judge on Friday next, 11 April, you may make a further submission on the point if you believe that the settlement was not properly concluded and that you were denied an opportunity to say so.

14. At the bottom of the fifth page of your letter you have enquired, once again, about the sales of properties at Little King Street and Winetavern Street. I have dealt with these points in paragraph 5 of my earlier letter to you of to-day's date. The proceeds of the sales of both properties are referred to in my first report of 30 January 1984 - in paragraph 6 (Little King Street) and paragraph 11 (Winetavern Street). All the monies produced from those sales have been accounted for.

15. On the last page of your letter you state "we were not present or represented on the 6th Mar.'86 and have no further comment to make". I do not understand what is meant by this statement.

16. In your concluding paragraph you suggest that before compiling my reports I "should have allowed the family access to [my] office" so that you might put your points forward. I must refer again to the explanation which I have given in paragraph 1 above where I have defined the strict protocol which must be observed by solicitors when dealing with parties who are separately represented. It is not correct to suggest that any member of the family has had any difficulty in gaining access to me through their accredited professional representatives. So far from seeking to deny such access I have repeatedly urged solicitors representing family interests to provide me with details of any substantive point about which I should undertake further responsible enquiries. I believe that I have received from those solicitors (and their counsel) all relevant information which has (or is likely to have) any significant bearing upon the Patient's affairs.

Yours sincerely,

Official Solicitor