A solicitor who paid off violent moneylenders with more than £200,000 belonging to his clients and a Jewish charity was struck off this week.

David Holder ran up debts of almost £700,000 while working as sole partner of Bastion and Co. of Neasden. He started removing cash from his firm's client account to meet interest demands of £9,000 per month after moneylenders began to threaten him physically.

At one stage, Mr Holder, who is now bankrupt, had around £140,000 deposited at the bank on behalf of clients. But when the Law Society began investigating alleged breaches of the solicitors' accounting rules they found a balance of only £2.29.

The police were called in and Mr Holder, 46, of Monkville Avenue, Golders Green, was arrested and charged on four counts of dishonestly misappropriating funds from clients. He was cleared in October last year, but the Law Society continued with its disciplinary case.

The hearing heard that Mr Holder used £60,000 from a Jewish charity, the JK Charitable Trust, and a further £140,000 from personal clients to pay off debts owed to two Jewish moneylenders.

Mr Holder said he had borrowed considerable sums as his personal and business affairs deteriorated. They charged him interest at two per cent a month in cash.

Holder said: "I understood I could use those funds as long as I could return them on demand."

He added that he had done a huge amount of work and was owed more than £400,000 by clients.

But tribunal chairman Mr Jeremy Barnecutt said: "We find all these allegations proved as alleged. These allegations are very serious and the tribunal must act accordingly."