In the last few days of the presidency of Donald Trump, when he was granting pardons to his chums and executing three black men and a woman while his mob was looting the Capitol, I read a tweet that has stayed with me. I can’t remember who wrote it, or if they were quoting someone better known, but it said this: “If you want to know whether you are on the right side of an argument, look at who is standing next to you.” This has caused me a fair bit of soul-searching in relation to a couple of stories.
Back in November 2006, Glaswegian publican and restaurateur David Martindale was jailed for 6½ years for drug offences and money laundering. While in jail he started working on a university course, and when he was released in 2010 he continued and was awarded a degree in construction management. Once a promising young footballer, he started coaching and eventually found his way to Scottish Premiership club Livingston. And on 26 January 2021 he was deemed a fit and proper person to work as the club’s manager – a test he had failed before.
In 2003, Shadab Ahmed Khan set up his own law firm and was named professional of the year at the Yorkshire Asian Business Convention. In 2007, after being found guilty of money laundering, by conducting conveyancing for properties worth £593,000 for convicted drug dealer Khalid Malik, he was jailed for four years. He was struck off by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal in 2011, after he was found to have acted with a lack of integrity, but not dishonesty. And a couple of weeks ago he was readmitted to the roll by the SDT after they found that he had been “totally rehabilitated”. The move was opposed by the Solicitors Regulation Authority, which said that “limited evidence of recent rehabilitation” had to be balanced against Khan’s conviction for “serious offences involving money laundering in relation to drug dealing”. The SDT imposed conditions on his practising certificate, preventing him from being a sole practitioner, a partner or manager of a law firm, a COLP or COFA or holding client money.
Now here’s my confession. In all other aspects of my life, I am a strong believer in second chances and in rehabilitation. The point of the criminal justice system must be to punish, of course, but also to repair and re-direct. I make a point of patronising businesses, like Timpson’s, that employ ex-offenders. But when it comes to money laundering, I can feel myself getting ready to throw away the key. So I think I need to chill. Yes, I hate money laundering – see, it’s written up there, right across the top of this page. But I shouldn’t hate the money launderer – and the more of them that we can steer back onto the path of righteousness (like David Martindale, and Jerome Mayne, and the Fraudster behind the Diary), warning others of the dangers, the better.