ONE of the region's well-known legal firms has been shut down because a manager at its owners is suspected of dishonesty by the industry regulator.

Kingly Solicitors, a law firm consolidator with 16 offices across the UK – including Coles Solicitors in North Yorkshire and Teesside – has been closed by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).

Coles, which was formed in 2007 by Darlington MP Peter Gibson following a merger, became part of Kingly Solicitors in 2019 and has offices in Northallerton, Stockton, York, Harrogate, Redcar, Ripon and Market Weighton, employing about 15 people.

The SRA issued a notice saying Kingly Solicitors, which employs about 180 people, has not complied with one or more of the terms of its licence.

It also said there was “reason to suspect dishonesty” by one of the managers of the firm, which is headquartered in London and has offices all over the country.

Mr Gibson, who was director of Coles until last December, when he was elected, said: "I am appalled and angry that the obligations owed to my former team and former clients have been betrayed in this awful way.

"Those responsible must be held to account and face the full force of the law for any wrongdoing.

"I am calling upon the Solicitors Regulation Authority both to carry out an in-depth investigation at a high level and to publish its findings.

"Solicitors practices must operate the highest professional standards and I am shocked that those standards appear to have not been adhered to by the new owners of Coles.

"This intervention will have an impact on thousands of clients across this region who will now have to appoint a new Solicitors, and staff who will sadly lose their jobs.

"I worked alongside the team for over a decade, they are not to blame for this and it in no way reflects upon their individual integrity or ability.”

The SRA said it had intervened because of a failure to comply with its rules and a "reason to suspect dishonesty on behalf of Nural Miah", a manager of Kingly Solicitors.

A spokesperson added: “An intervention means the SRA has closed a firm with immediate effect. It will stop the firm from operating, take possession of all documents and papers held by the firm, and take possession of all money held by the firm (including clients' money)."

It is investigating further and said it would take action as necessary.

Two agents have been appointed to deal with all matters, who will contact clients.

The SRA's archive team will take control of all documents held by the firm.

Clients have been told they do not need to contact either the agents or the SRA at this time.

If anyone does have a query, however, they can contact James Dunn by emailing or calling 0207 065 1830 or John Owen by emailing or calling 0113 227 0360.