St Albans ‘football lawyer’ suspended as regulator closes branches

Lawyer John Blavo's home on Cunningham Hill Road, St Albans

Lawyer John Blavo's home on Cunningham Hill Road, St Albans - Credit: Archant

A St Albans man who blogs about Luis Suarez and other Premier League stars as ‘The Football Lawyer’ has been suspended from practising as a solicitor.

Phoenix House Suites on Campfield Road

Phoenix House Suites on Campfield Road - Credit: Archant

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has closed down Blavo & Co Solicitors Ltd – the practice of sole director, John Blavo, 54, of Cunningham Hill Road in St Albans.

In a statement outlining various allegations last Wednesday (14) the SRA said: “The practising certificate of John Blavo has been automatically suspended, so he cannot practise as a solicitor.

“There is reason to suspect dishonesty on the part of a manager or employee of Blavo & Co Solicitors Ltd [and] there is reason to suspect dishonesty on the part of John Blavo in connection with his practice.”

Apart from stopping the firm from operating, the authority has taken possession of all of its documents and papers along with all funds, including clients’ money.

The decision to intervene was made by the SRA’s independent panel of adjudicators.

Until the investigation is completed, it is not known if any disciplinary action will be taken.

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Disciplinary proceedings could result in a sanction, including a reprimand or a £2,000 fine.

The closure decision affects 16 branches of the firm, including at Phoenix House Suites in Campfield Road, St Albans.

Scotland Yard confirmed to the Herts Advertiser that its fraud unit has also launched an investigation into Blavo & Co after receiving information from the Legal Aid Agency.

According to John Blavo’s profile on LinkedIn, he founded the firm in 1997, and specialises in sports law, employment law, criminal litigation, mental health law and NHS law. He has lectured ‘extensively’ on Human Rights Law and has acted “for a number of well known sports personalities and organisations”.

On The Independent’s website, John has been blogging as “The Football Lawyer”, discussing the careers of Premier League footballers, football laws and racism.

Checks by this paper into his address at Cunningham Hill Road shows a multitude of planning applications submitted to the district council by John and his wife Lynne, including for metal railings at the front of their home and, more recently, a first floor rear extension, which is currently under consultation.

In 2009 the council refused new front piers and entrance gates because it would affect the character of the area.

This was overturned at appeal, but the planning inspector in his report noted that “third parties” had commented on the then proposals, “including that building work on the site has been continuing unabated for several years”. An application by the couple for an award of costs against the council was dismissed.

The Herts Advertiser was unable to reach Mr Blavo for comment on the action taken by the SRA, as the firm’s website is no longer available, and a phone call to his St Albans branch was answered by someone working on behalf of the authority.

But according to the Law Society Gazette he recently said in a statement: “The firm has been advised, by the SRA, that it wishes to intervene. We have not been provided with an opportunity to make representations. We are currently taking legal advice and do not wish to make any further comments at this stage.”

While solicitors have the right to challenge intervention into their firm, any closure would only be lifted if such a challenge was successful.