The last time I set eyes on Leonard Ogilvy we were at Government House attending the swearing-in ceremony of the newly elected United Workers Party government headed by Sir John Compton. By his own unproved account a proud son of Nigeria and “a lawyer with a social conscience,” Ogilvy had more than once successfully represented poor clients, often free of charge, in the courts of Saint Lucia. In his final appearance as an attorney before a local judge he had represented a group of taxi operators in their civil suit against the Kenny Anthony administration. Making the government’s case was well-known Labour Party front-liner Hilford ‘Poog’ Deterville QC, pompous president of the Saint Lucia Senate, and a close friend of attorney general Mario Michel who retired from politics shortly before the 2006 general elections and now is an appeal court judge. Deterville passed away in November 2014.
Based on his victory in the matter against the highly regarded Queens Counsel, Ogilvy had every good reason to look forward to operating his own lucrative legal practice in Saint Lucia. Alas politics got in his way—in particular the fact that the Kenny Anthony administration was determined to prove, never mind his successes here, that Ogilvy was not what he pretended to be; that he was actually a fake. His finally embarrassing victory arguably against one of the more feared and revered members of the Saint Lucia Bar Association, the Saint Lucia Labour Party and the Kenny Anthony administration generally, further strengthened the government’s determination to upset the Ogilvy apple cart.
Shortly after he delivered a scathing anti-Labour Party speech from the platform of a then independent Richard Frederick just weeks before the 2006 elections and was about to board a Virgin aircraft at Hewanorra for the UK, the police grabbed him. He was held at different locations, which made it especially difficult for friends here to be of much assistance.
By the time Saint Lucians went to the polls on the morning of December 11 the attorney general’s office had already officially declared Leonard Ogilvy persona non grata. But he continued to challenge the deportation order in the days immediately following the change of administration. I imagined when I saw him impeccably accoutered among the specially invited guests at the Government House swearing-in ceremony that the change of administration meant his troubles with the law were at an end—not that it wasn’t pretty obvious no one wanted to be seen too close to Ogilvy, as if indeed he were the bearer of some contagious deadly virus.
At one point, as he breezed past me, he hissed: “I can’t believe how everyone is avoiding me. Even Richard, after all I did for them during the campaign. I can’t get anyone to take a moment to speak with me, not even on the phone. Politicians change so quickly.” Then again, the last thing members of a new administration with its own image problems wanted was to be seen hobnobbing with suspect characters, innocent or not. The new attorney general proved more determined than his immediate predecessor to let the law take its course. And in this instance the earlier programmed course led up the sky and out of Saint Lucia—never to return. There was hardly any press coverage of Leonard Ogilvy’s officially sanctioned forced exit.
For several months afterward he stayed in touch with the STAR, expressing via a number of articles his determination to continue fighting from afar against what he referred to as “my enemies” in Saint Lucia, the now opposition party. From time to time he informed this paper of his success in one court case or another. And then the correspondence suddenly ended. When on occasion I inquired about him, his former local friends said it had been a while since they heard from him. Then this week I received from a friend the following from News Shopper, an online UK publication: “Fake Abbey Wood Barrister Who Pocketed 21,000 Pounds In Legal Fees Jailed For Two Years!”
Accompanying the item was a photograph that I immediately recognized even before I’d read the caption that identified it as Leonard Ogilvy, 51, of McLeod Road, Abbey Wood. By all the story told, he had “two clients who were seeking advice on employment law and another who needed help with a divorce settlement.”
Additionally: “The three victims paid him an initial consultation fee between 120 and 150 pounds, with the fraudulent barrister demanding more money for further legal advice. Two of his victims didn’t go much further but one of them alone paid 19,500 pounds in legal fees. One of the victims grew suspicious of Ogilvy’s credentials and contacted the Bar Counsel and the Law Society.” It soon turned out that Ogilvy was “not registered, although he tried to claim to the complainant that he was registered but not practicing.”
Leonard Ogilvy, the News Shopper reported, was taken to Southwark Crown Court where he was found guilty of three counts of fraud and “willfully pretending to be a barrister. He was sentenced on July 5 to two years in prison.”
One of the detectives involved in the case was Constable Gavin Popplewell, of the Met’s Complex Fraud Team. The News Shopper quoted him as saying: “Ogilvy is a serial conman who posed convincingly as a barrister, persuading vulnerable individuals in their hour of need to part with often large sums of cash for legal advice he did not, nor was qualified to provide. If other people believe they have also fallen victim to him, I would urge them to contact police via Action Fraud.”
Leonard Ogilvy was found not guilty of two further counts, one of pretending to be a barrister and one of fraud by false representation.”
My suspicion is that over some areas of this Rock of Sages the stars will shine brighter than they have in over a year!