A LAW firm in Bury issued a string of legal letters to tour operators over sickness claims - with nothing to back up their symptoms.

Clients of solicitor Mark Hughes John Walker were also not told of the potential cost pitfalls if their claims were unsuccessful, a watchdog found.

Walker, who ran Bolton Street-based Hughes Walker Solicitors, has now been suspended from the profession for 18 months after a Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) hearing.

In a ruling just published by the SDT, the disciplinary body stated Walker’s practice sent out “lengthy and detailed allegations” about the illnesses their clients were supposed to have suffered while on holiday.

Further inaccuracies occurred when the claims went to on list alleged losses incurred by the holidaymakers, according to the ruling.

But the firm used an automated claims management system, says the SDT, which would generate letters of claim without clients providing any pertinent details about their experiences.

Walker also made admissions over 24 monetary transfers between the client account at Hughes Walker and the office account.

He insisted at the hearing that this was the responsibility of a former colleague, who had left the firm just as the Solicitor’s Regulation Authority began an inquiry into their financial affairs.

But Walker accepted that, as the sole director and accountable financial officer, he should have had greater oversight of his unnamed colleague’s conduct.

He told the hearing he had reimbursed the client accounts after the matters came to light.

Walker, in mitigation over the holiday claims, said there was no “deliberate intention to mislead” by the issuing of generic letters. He told the hearing the letters were intended to present a “tableau of possible particulars” covering potential liabilities.

Walker, whose firm was established in 2003 and also dealt initially with flight delay cases, said the majority of the holiday sickness claim letters were sent to major travel firms, and he believed they would recognise they had been drafted in standard terms.

He claimed no tour operator would have been seriously prejudiced by the correspondence but accepted the letters should have been tailored towards the circumstances of individual cases.

Walker also accepted there should have been a detailed review, as each case was taken on, so relevant issues could be identified regarding personal injury matters. Under an agreed settlement with the SDT, Walker was also required to pay the £21,000 costs of the hearing.