Thursday, 26 August 2010

Did senior Hackney lawyer have two jobs?

Did Michael Sobell, Hackney's principal lawyer for property and regeneration from 2006-2009 have two jobs? And did his role at the borough include the olympics legacy?

These were questions that Blood and Property put to the council earlier this week.

No answer was supplied as to whether Sobell had responsibilities for the borough's Olympics work load.

Whether or not he dealt with the Olympics, Sobell was in his post during a difficult time when the borough's legal team was massively under-staffed.

During this period he appears to have been responsible for a parking debt recovery business - a suggestion that has been partially confirmed by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.

Blood and Property left messages with two call centre staff at Sobell's law firm Graham White but has not yet received a reply.

On August 17 Blood and Property asked the council:

1 What was his (Sobell's) role at the council was it full time or part time?
2 Was it acceptable for him to run a separate legal business while working for the council?
3 When was the council first made aware of his non-council work?
4 Do any other council solicitors run legal businesses that are not related to the council?
5 Did the council ever investigate Mr Sobell's activities beyond his role in the council?
6 Did his work outside the council breach any of the terms of his contract with the council?

In its first response Hackney Council said:

“Michael Sobell worked as an interim agency employee for Hackney Council on a full-time basis between November 2006 and June 2009. He was an Interim Principal Lawyer for Property and Regeneration. As this individual no longer works for Hackney Council, it would be inappropriate for us to comment any further.”

This week Blood and Property asked:

1. Did his role cover the olympics? This council document suggests that Mr Sobell might have had something to do with this.
2. Was Hackney council aware of his extra curricular activities?
3. Also, does Hackney Council check on the non-council commitments of its employees?

Hackney Council said:

“Michael Sobell performed his duties adequately. There is no evidence to suggest that he breached the terms of his engagement through the agency, while working for Hackney Council.”

“Permanent employees of Hackney Council must seek permission to conduct any secondary employment. This does not apply to agency staff. Michael Sobell was agency staff.”

These links suggest that Sobell had work commitments beyond his role at the council.

According to this message board, ( a letter was sent to the mayor last month to complain about him.

This early mention of Sobell (Oct 2007) notes that he works for Hackney Council:

More links to discussions :

Discussion about Graham White coincidence: and here -

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