A TOWN centre law practice has been shut down, after a regulator said it had "reason to suspect dishonesty" from one of its directors.

Coops Law - which took over the controversial former Asons Solicitors earlier this year - was closed by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) this morning.

The SRA said that it had "reason to suspect dishonesty on the part of Irfan Khan Akram in connection with Coops Law Ltd’s business".

Mr Akram is listed as a director of both Coops and Asons Estates, which owns the office building in Churchgate, and was one of five brothers involved with the running of Asons Solicitors.

The intervention stops the company from operating and seizes possession of its documents and money.

The regulatory body added that the practising certificate of Munir Majid has been automatically suspended, so he cannot practice as a solicitor.

In March, the same action was taken against Kamran Akram, as documents, papers, and money that were owned by Asons Solicitors were seized.

The SRA says that the other grounds for the intervention are to protect the interests of clients, that Coops Law has not complied with the terms of its licence, and that Mr Majid has failed to comply with rules under the Solicitors Act 1974.

It was revealed last November that Bolton Council had given Asons a £300,000 grant to assist with the refurbishment of the town centre site, a decision that was taken in a private meeting that was not open to the press, public, or opposition parties.

Following Asons ceasing trading in March, that grant was paid back to the council in full.

When it was announced that Asons had been sold to Coops Law, the company promised a "fresh start" for its employees and the people of Bolton.

An SRA spokesman said: "An intervention means the SRA has closed a firm with immediate effect. It will stop the firm from operating, take possession of all documents and papers held by the firm, and take possession of all money held by the firm (including clients' money).

"It is not responsible towards employees or trade creditors of firms that it has intervened in.

"The SRA has appointed an agent to deal with all matters currently held by Coops Law. The agent will assess all on-going matters and deal with those of greatest need first. The SRA's archive team will take control of all documents held by the firm.

"Clients of Coops Law do not need to contact either the agent or the SRA at this time. If anyone does have a query, however, they can contact the agent Ann Harrison of Stephensons Solicitors LLP on 0333 9997190."

The spokesman added: "At this stage of the SRA's work, no further details can be disclosed. It is only if disciplinary proceedings become necessary that any information is released into the public domain.

"The SRA will now complete its investigation and decide on the appropriate course of action. There is no timescale for how long this work will take."

Disciplinary proceedings could result in a reprimand or a £2,000 fine. If it is decided that a stiffer punishment is required, the SRA will prosecute the matter at the independent Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT).

The Bolton News has attempted to contact Coops Law for a comment.