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Watchdog launches inquiry into legal advice charity founded by Lord Harley

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Probe follows concerns struck-off solicitor is still acting as trustee

Alan Blacker

The Charities Commission has launched an investigation into whether struck off solicitor Alan Blacker has “continued to play a role” in the Joint Armed Forces Legal Advocacy Service (JAFLAS), a legal advice charity he founded in 2000.

The colourful former lawyer was slapped with a nine-month suspended jail sentence for benefit fraud in 2020, which automatically disqualified him from acting as a trustee or a senior manager.

Blacker, otherwise known as Lord Harley, unsuccessfully applied for a waiver to continue acting as a charity trustee, according to the watchdog. He subsequently appealed this decision to the Charity Tribunal, but this was rejected.

The commission confirmed yesterday it had launched a “statutory inquiry” into JAFLAS following “concerns that a disqualified individual was still acting as a trustee”.

It noted that as of last month Blacker was still listed as a director of the charity and as being a person of significant control on Companies House records.

The inquiry will examine the “administration, governance and management” of the charity, including whether a disqualified individual has continued to play a role in the charity. It noted acting whilst disqualified has both criminal and civil consequences.

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The commission will also look at the trustees’ response to Blacker’s disqualification and their decision-making regarding what appears to be his continued involvement in the charity, which despite its name has no official connection with HM Armed Forces.

Blacker will be eligible for trustee status once his suspended sentence expires in October 2024.

The commission stressed that no conclusions had been reached and the opening of an inquiry is not a finding of wrongdoing.

Blacker and JAFLAS have been approached for comment.

Blacker first hit headlines in 2014 following a bust-up with a judge at Cardiff Crown Court. Unhappy with the then solicitor’s appearance, the judge described him as “like something out of Harry Potter” thanks in part to a number of colourful ribbons attached to his robes.

With the national newspapers lapping up the quirky comparison, Legal Cheek stumbled across the real story — Blacker’s epic LinkedIn page. Highlights at the time included being a Transactional Analysis Psychoanalytical Psychologist; a Fellow of the Zoological Society of London; a Licensed Boiler Examiner; and a Stanford University graduate, among many (many) other things.

Blacker was struck off in 2016 after multiple misconduct charges were proven.

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