The Thief Taker's lawyer

Tue, 30/04/2013 - 05:00
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By Man of Kent
‘Ali Dizaei recommends Shahrokh Mireskandari to Tarique Ghaffur’. This could have been a headline in some South Asian or Middle Eastern newspaper in 2008.

Ghaffur and Dizaei were both top policemen, Mireskandari a leading lawyer. All are Muslims.

But all three were operating not in Dhaka or Mecca but in London; and, well I never, would you believe it, two of them have criminal convictions!

All three belonged to the race relations mafia.

Ghaffur’s parents were Punjabis who fled to Uganda to escape the massacres of Muslims by Hindus.

When South Asians were expelled from Uganda by racist dictator Idi Amin, he came with them to Britain, where he became a top bobby, in fact Britain’s highest-ranking Asian Muslim police officer.

He often used his position to comment on issues of alleged racism in the police service, and on alleged discrimination against Muslims as a factor in creating terrorists.

Like so many Muslims in Britain, Ghaffur was devout when it suited him and ignored Islamic law when it did not. His first marriage ended after he committed adultery, which, as even us infidels know, is a crime under Islamic law for which the punishment is death by stoning.

The stones thrown during the execution ‘should not be so large that the offender dies after a few strikes, nor so small as to fail to cause serious injury.’ In Iran adultery is an offence ‘against divine law’ and is the only crime punishable by stoning.

Men are buried up to the waist while women are buried up to the chest.

In Afghanistan under the Taliban it once happened that a woman still alive after lengthy stoning had to receive the coup de grâce of a rock dropped on her head.

Ghaffur, following his Islamic capital offence, lived on to marry again, benefiting from living in a civilised country at the same time as plotting to undermine its institutions.

In June 2008 he accused the Metropolitan Police of racism, claiming, among other things, that he was not properly consulted over the proposed law involving 42-day detentions for terror suspects, and on August 28th took the issue further by accusing Met Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair of racial discrimination against him personally and confirmed speculation that he would take proceedings against Sir Ian and the Metropolitan Police Service at an employment tribunal, claiming £1.2m.

In the following days, Ghaffur (pictured right) claimed he had received death threats that he said he believed came, in part, from within the Metropolitan Police Service.

He said he considered a leave of absence as a consequence and hired a firm of personal bodyguards. Although he made these claims to the press he did not report the death threats to the police, saying he had lost faith in the ability and willingness of the police to protect him.

On November 25th the Metropolitan Police Authority announced that Ghaffur had agreed an out-of-court settlement for £280,000 in his racial discrimination claim against Scotland Yard. Both sides agreed to a confidentiality clause and two days later Ghaffur resigned from the police.

Obviously, accepting only a fraction of his claim and losing his job and credibility was a defeat for Ghaffur. He had made one big mistake.

He had been persuaded by his close friend Dizaei, who was himself mired in litigation and whose own criminal activities were at last soon to be proved, to appoint as his lawyer a convicted Iranian fraudster - Mireskandari.
Shahrokh Mireskandari, as well as being one of the many dodgy ethnic donors to the Labour Party, had already played a role in several racial discrimination cases against the Met Police.

While working on behalf of Ghaffur he was suspended from operating as a solicitor following exposure by the Daily Mail as a convicted conman with dubious legal qualifications.

This was a huge embarrassment for Ghaffur.
After stepping down, Ghaffur described himself as ‘an old-fashioned thief taker’. This could be construed as some kind of Freudian slip, for the original thief-takers were the most successful gangs of thieves of the 18th century, all the while appearing to be the nation’s leading policemen.

The most famous of them, Jonathan Wild, in 1718 called himself ‘Thief Taker General of Great Britain and Ireland’.
Leading a gang of thieves, Wild would arrange the return of property stolen by his own underlings.

To keep up the belief that he was working legitimately he would even hand over some members of his own gang, who would be publicly hanged. He himself was hanged in 1725. Wild’s hanging was a great event, and gallows tickets were sold in advance for the best vantage points, at the bottom saying, ‘Pray bring this Ticket with you’.
By his testimony, he sent more than 60 thieves to the gallows.

His ‘finding’ of lost merchandise was private but his efforts at finding thieves were public. Wild’s office in the Old Bailey was a busy spot. Victims of crime would come even before announcing their losses, and discover that Wild’s agents had ‘found’ the missing items.

After his villainy was exposed he became a symbol of corruption and hypocrisy.
Ghaffur, our modern thief-taker, should have been more careful than to hire a bent lawyer. A former colleague of his said: ‘It’s a great shame Tarique didn’t sniff out his lawyer as being a crook.’

It was also a blow to Dizaei. Already deep in scandal, he was now suspended from duty over allegations he had an improper relationship with his close friend Mireskandari.

The Solicitors Regulation Authority, the legal profession’s watchdog, scrutinised Mireskandari’s qualifications, conduct and the running of his West End law firm, Dean and Dean, investigating him over alleged dishonesty, accounting malpractice and other serious misconduct.

The Daily Mail had revealed that Mireskandari (pictured right), who insisted on being addressed as ‘Dr’ and claimed to hold a BSc (Hons), MA (Hons) and JD (Hons), gained his law degree from a discredited ’mail drop’ university in Hawaii that was shut down by the authorities. He failed to provide evidence of his qualifications.

He told clients he had 20 years’ legal experience in the US before coming to Britain but US authorities had no record of him practising as an attorney.

The Daily Mail also disclosed that he was a convicted conman who in 1991 was given three years’ probation over a tele-marketing scam in California.

Following the revelations, the High Court in London heard that he had produced a forged letter of reference from a former employer to gain entry to the law profession in Britain.

There were also allegations of other serious ‘dishonesty’ as well as a ‘whole list of concerns’ raised about Mireskandari’s conduct by all levels of the British judiciary, the hearing was told. Investigators removed dozens of boxes of files from the offices of his law firm.
Mireskandari would charge his clients as much as £750 an hour, among the highest fee rates in London.

Such fees paid for his £2m flat overlooking Lord’s cricket ground, decorated with pictures of himself.
‘Masterminding’ was how many described his powerful influence.

Mireskandari, a liar, crook and friend of billionaires and royalty, boasted while working for Ghaffur that he was ‘tearing the Met apart’ and that his team was ‘running rings’ around the force.

These comments backfired spectacularly when Ghaffur was suspended for the ‘media campaign’ run by his advisers. Most of Ghaffur’s pay-off consisted of legal costs and his salary up until the following April, when his contract was due to expire.

Meanwhile Mireskandari was pursuing his own £10m action against the Solicitors Regulation Authority, which he accused of having racially harassed and defamed him.

Both the Met and the SRA are mighty institutions. But Mireskandari also had powerful associates, many in the race relations industry.

As well as being the legal representative to his best chum, the fellow crooked Iranian Ali Dizaei, head of the National Black Police Association, for which Dean and Dean provided official legal advice and which was backing Ghaffur, Mireskandari was also ‘a very, very dear friend’ of Keith Vaz, the chairman of the home affairs select committee, a fellow Muslim who once called Mireskandari the best lawyer in Britain and one of the best in the world.
Many of the royal families, billionaire tycoons and powerful politicians Mireskandari represented were invited to his annual Christmas party at a Park Lane hotel, which was recorded on a ‘souvenir’ DVD. At social functions this crooked lawyer rubbed shoulders with the likes of Leader of the Commons and Labour Party deputy leader Harriet Harman.

And then Ghaffur, number three at Scotland Yard, goes and puts his legal affairs into the hands of this fraudster with doubtful qualifications who had left a trail of appalling litigation and blighted lives. Mireskandari was like Trollope’s Melmotte, the deceitful financier with a murky past in The Way We Live Now.

Both were simply buying their way into society. As Melmotte says in the novel, ‘All I have to do is throw a few dinners and the thing is done.’
Mireskandari was born in Iran in 1961 and came to Britain aged six. At 13 he was sent with his older brother to a Dorset boarding school.

Having failed all his O-levels, he moved to London, where he failed the exams again. He returned to Iran just before the Islamic Revolution, upon which he fled to Turkey.

He says he rode 500 miles on a pony across the mountains but you cannot believe anything these types say and he probably just caught a scheduled flight at the airport.

From Turkey he went to the eastern United States, where he claimed political asylum and lived with his father.
By the late 1980s he had moved to California, where he worked as a chauffeur, driving the gold Rolls-Royce of a Beverly Hills businesswoman.

But he wanted riches himself, and to this end he set up a tele-marketing business, cold-calling victims to say they had been ‘randomly selected’ for discount international air fares and hotel accommodation.

Part of the deal was to buy a camera.
Of course, the air fares were not bargains, the camera’s price was grossly inflated and when travellers turned up at the hotels with their certificate from Mireskandari’s firm ‘no one knew anything about it’, said the district attorney’s office.

When he had gone through all the phone books in the area he moved to the town of Ventura, where he opened an office in an employee’s name and bought a Jaguar with a mobile phone using her social security number to get the account.

With a friend, he charged up to $1,000 at a time to her credit card and never paid her back. Because he would not pay for anything she eventually had to file for bankruptcy.

He even bought a piano on her credit.
Mireskandari moved on to a Los Angeles law firm, his job being to find clients among the town’s wealthy Iranian expatriates.

When he was charged with the tele-marketing offences the firm stood by him, representing him in court.
As the Daily Mail reported: ‘Mireskandari was sentenced to three months on the “criminal justice work release programme”.

This meant that instead of being jailed around the clock he would be allowed to attend his place of work during the day, returning to prison in the evenings and at weekends.
‘In time, according to his ex-attorney, California state law allowed Mireskandari to have his guilty plea bargain struck out and his criminal record expunged.

The conviction became spent.
‘Unless, of course he applied for something like an attorney’s licence.
‘Senior attorneys at the LA law firm which employed him were persuaded to give him another chance following his conviction.

“There was a time when he seemed sincere,’ one told the Mail. “We tried to help him.
‘“His main academic credential was a bachelor’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania (the university has no record of it). 

“He had documentation which seemed to support this, although having seen his written work, I am sceptical he could have graduated from any college, anywhere at any time.

Nevertheless, on the strength of this degree and our letter of recommendation, he started a law course at a minor local university. Unfortunately he failed his exams miserably at the end of his first semester. He failed his retakes and that was that. I want to make it clear that he never worked for us as a lawyer.”

‘The attorney said that Mireskandari worked for the LA law firm until the mid-1990s, when the relationship was “terminated and not amicably”.

‘What would he do next? He would return to the UK and become one of London’s most expensive lawyers.
‘So how did he manage to accumulate so many letters after his name: BSc, MA and JD, all with honours?

‘A profile of him in the Law Gazette states that he gained “a business degree in the United States followed by a doctorate in law and a masters in international law”.

‘This summer the Solicitors Regulation Authority sent investigators to the US to examine the veracity of Mireskandari’s qualifications.

‘One man they spoke to was Jeffrey Brunton, head lawyer for Hawaii’s Office of Consumer Protection. He said the SRA had interviewed him about a law degree which it said had been awarded to Mireskandari by the American University of Hawaii.

‘Mr Brunton said the “university” was founded in the early 1990s by a couple from Arizona.

They based it in Hawaii because of the “lax laws” at the time. It was then sold to an American-based Anglo-Iranian named Hassan.

“He ran the American University of Hawaii until our courts shut it down,” said Mr Brunton.’
Of course it is possible Mireskandari has a legitimate law degree from a credible university somewhere.

But when the Mail asked him repeatedly to specify where he gained his qualifications he refused to answer.
‘For the record the State Bars in California and Virginia both said that they had no listing of any licensed lawyer by the name of Mireskandari.

‘By 1999, with the discredited Hawaiian doctorate to his name, Mireskandari was back in London and founding Tehrani and Co, Solicitors.

His US qualifications were convincing enough for him to be accepted on the Law Society’s rigorous Legal Practice Course, a conversion course for overseas-qualified lawyers.

‘Surprisingly, perhaps, he passed, qualifying as a solicitor in 2000.
‘Did he disclose his conviction?
‘A spokesman for the SRA said: “We run a criminal record check as standard practice.

All applicants have to divulge all criminal convictions from the past. A conviction would not necessarily bar someone and we use our judgment.

But if it had something to do with financial dishonesty that would be a very serious matter indeed.”’
By 2003 the firm’s name was changed to Dean and Dean, with Mireskandari its figurehead.

He specialised in race relations and the wealthy Middle Eastern, Asian and Russian expatriates. He planned to open offices in Moscow and Mecca. His ‘expertise’ did not come cheap.

One client was charged £10,000 for a day’s work.
The SRA was told of received numerous complaints ‘from people who have been cheated out of their life savings and paid for services they never got’.

One of his clients was Iranian-born academic Dr Sheida Oraki. She employed Mireskandari for an agreed fixed fee of £1,000. Yet when it was presented his bill had risen to £19,000.

She refused to pay and made a complaint to the Law Society. After litigation she offered to pay, but Mireskandari forced her into bankruptcy as she would not withdraw her complaint.

He then pursued her for more than £150,000 in costs.
Another cause célèbre was Mireskandari’s even more expensive battle with former client Angel Airlines, which refused to pay a grossly inflated bill of £500,000.

A specialist costs judge estimated that a reasonable bill would have been one fifth of that figure. Mr Justice Coulson pointed out that Mireskandari’s pursuit of the full fee had occupied 50 days of court time and the participation of 24 judges.

One fellow judge had described Dean and Dean’s case as ‘an appalling piece of litigation’.
Mr Justice Coulson agreed. He said, ‘The multiplicity of proceedings, appeals and applications is the product of what I consider to be an abuse of process by the proposed applicants, Dean and Dean.’

Mireskandari was finally booted out of the legal profession on June 21st 2012 and ordered to pay £1.4m in costs. He was struck off after it was proved he had faked his legal qualifications and hid his criminal convictions.

The conman was found guilty of an incredible 104 breaches of the rules governing solicitors’ conduct by a central London disciplinary tribunal, which ruled he racked up debts, overcharged clients, conducted improper litigation, failed to keep proper records and used clients’ cash to pay staff salaries.

The decision to kick him out of the legal profession followed a six-week misconduct hearing dogged with attempts by him to halt the proceedings.

After getting the hearing adjourned for 14 months, he failed to return from Los Angeles to give evidence, instead bombarding the tribunal with applications to adjourn on medical grounds.

He was represented by 17 barristers but the panel ruled that allegations of dishonesty had been proved, adding that it was ‘not credible’ that he could have achieved top marks in his doctorate at the discredited American University of Hawaii, while at the same time working full-time and being thrown out of three law schools for poor performance.

It also ruled that ‘without a shadow of doubt’ he acted dishonestly when he hid his criminal convictions for 15 counts of tele-marketing fraud in America from the Law Society and the SRA when he returned to England.

The tribunal found he racked up huge debts at Dean and Dean and then ‘dishonestly and recklessly’ used clients’ cash to prop up his business. One client’s mortgage account fund was pilfered by him to pay off debts.

Another client’s £200,000 bail bond was withdrawn without permission from the court. When a judge ordered it be repaid, Mireskandari was forced to borrow £250,000 from a client to cover the shortfall.

He was also found guilty of reproducing images of a client’s injuries, using a make-up artist, before passing them off as police photographs to the home secretary.

On being slung out of the profession, Mireskandari claimed he was the victim of a racially motivated vendetta.
With this record of deceit and criminality, could Mireskandari really have represented Britain’s top ethnic policeman?

Could the Rt Hon Keith Vaz MP, chairman of a committee with a crucial role in law-and-order issues, really had described Mireskandari as the best lawyer in Britain and one of the best in the world?

What is occurring?
The likes of Mireskandari and his friends seem to believe they can get away with anything.

They play for high stakes, brazen and confident, believing that the game is not one of chance but of skill, and feeling unbeatable with the race card up their sleeves.

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