Labour councillor ‘plundered £1.6m will to buy house’ after he was appointed executor of woman’s estate, court hears
Solicitor James Allie, 50, ‘stole from dead woman’s estate to purchase a house’
The Labour councillor is said to have ‘utilised’ her assets to buy £580,000 home
High Court judge orders him to hand over the house – and must leave by January
He was not seen in court but was seen out canvassing for Labour at the weekend
By INDERDEEP BAINS FOR THE DAILY MAIL
PUBLISHED: 22:02, 8 December 2019 | UPDATED: 22:02, 8 December 2019
A Labour councillor stole from a dead woman’s £1.6 million estate – which had been left to a charity – to buy himself a house, a court heard.
Solicitor James Allie, 50, had been appointed the executor of Ruth Ballin’s will, but instead of administering it as instructed he secretly used some of it to purchase a property.
The wealthy woman, who died in June 2016, had left her fortune to the Canon Collins Educational and Legal Assistance Trust charity.
But Mr Allie, who at the time worked for legal firm Spence and Horne, hid the news of the bequest from the charity for more than two years, the court was told.
Instead, the councillor is said to have ‘utilised’ her assets to buy a £580,000 property in Brent, where he has been living since it was purchased in 2017.
Mr Allie has represented the Alperton ward in Brent, north-west London, since 2005, first as a Lib Dem before defecting to Labour in 2012. He ran for parliament as a Lib Dem in Brent North in the 2010 general election.
The High Court heard that after learning of Mr Allie’s actions Spence and Horne ‘dismissed’ him and obtained a freezing injunction over the estate’s assets.
It was only in September that the charity was told that Mrs Ballin, from Hornsey, north London, had left her estate to it. The charity brought its case before the High Court last week.
Judge David Rees QC has now ordered that Mr Allie hand over the house, which was bought through a company of which he is sole director, plus any remaining money from the estate.
He must vacate the property by January 31. The charity is seeking £72,000 in legal costs from him, while Spence and Horne wants him to pay more than £60,000 costs.
The court also heard that both the police and the lawyers’ watchdog, the Solicitor’s Regulation Authority, have been informed.
Ruth Hughes, for the charity, told the court that the councillor was ‘in clear and flagrant breach of his fiduciary duty’.
She said: ‘Mr Allie was appointed as executor under the will of Ruth Ballin. The estate was sworn to be worth £1,591,694 net.
‘The deceased’s estate was simple. The administration of the estate should have been straightforward. Mr Allie has utilised the liquid assets within the estate to purchase a property… which he currently occupies. He has not been paying an occupation rent.’
Mr Allie did not appear in court, but at the weekend he was seen out election canvassing for Labour.
Mrs Ballin had been a supporter of Canon Collins Trust – which carries out social justice work and helps the poor access education in southern Africa – for several years.