A CROOKED Greenock lawyer has been caught ripping off his clients to the tune of more than £200,000.

William Murnin systematically overcharged by up to 7,000 per cent above what his fees should have been.

In one case — where he was dealing with a deceased woman's estate — he billed for £73,280.76 instead of the correct figure of £1,066.74.

But it has taken more than ten years for him to be found guilty of professional misconduct by the Scottish Solicitors' Discipline Tribunal.

Murnin, of Finnart Street, was reported to the financial compliance department of the Law Society of Scotland by colleagues in 2010 amid serious concerns at his level of fee charging.

He was solely responsible for the now-closed Greenock office of the Glasgow-based Murnin McCluskey law firm, of which he was senior partner.

In its findings, the tribunal — which became involved in the case in 2018 — stated that 'files were requested but not made available' for a Law Society financial inspection in May 2010.

But in a cross-check of ledgers it 'became clear' that something was wrong with the way Murnin had been operating.

It was discovered that he had conducted a total of 17 fraudulent transactions and had overcharged his clients by £217,478 — with three of the cases involving the estates of deceased people.

Only £30,402 out of all the cases combined could have been 'legitimately charged' by Murnin.

The tribunal found him guilty of professional misconduct on four counts.

It said he 'knowingly issued fee notes and took funds from client ledgers which were unjustified and excessive, and improperly overcharged clients'.

It was also found that Murnin 'created a deficit on the client account up to an amount in excess of £200,000', 'failed to render fee notes' and 'submitted inaccurate accounts certificates'.

He had succeeded early on in the disciplinary proceedings with a move to have the case heard in private 'due to related ongoing criminal proceedings'.

But the Telegraph can today report on the level of Murnin's deceit after the tribunal ruled: "Direct publicity will be given to this decision and this publicity should include the name of the respondent [Murnin]."

The shamed lawyer did not attend the video conference hearing last November where witnesses gave evidence in the case, nor was he represented by any legal counsel.

The tribunal heard how beneficiaries of a deceased woman's will were to receive £20,000 each in October 2009 but following delays which Murnin 'apologised' for in February 2010, he eventually told them in August of that year that only a balance of £3,141.68 was due to both of them.

He explained in writing in the 'final account of charge and discharge' that 'the sum of the charge was £68,246.97'.

In another case Murnin took £13,658.06 in fees when he should have charged only £1,291.94.

He 'deliberately' claimed fees totalling £29,375 in another executry transaction when he was only entitled to £5,711.67.

Murnin overcharged by nearly 7,000 per cent in another instance and 900 per cent in another.

His name has now been struck off the roll of solicitors in Scotland and he is liable for the expenses of the Law Society of Scotland in the case.

The Telegraph confronted Murnin about his crooked dealings at his west end address and asked if he wanted to comment.

He replied: "I probably do, if I think about it."

Our reporter left his details with him but Murnin made no further contact.