A LAW firm worker who once welcomed film star pal Brad Pitt to his Birmingham office has been convicted of fraudulently evading income tax and using a false instrument.
Mohammed Hussain, 48, played host to the Hollywood hunk in 2012 during a surprise appearance at his Sparkbrook office, an A-list event that brought the area to a standstill.
He later claimed he had first become friends with Pitt when working as part of a security entourage on director Guy Ritchie’s crime movie Snatch.
Now Hussain’s legal career is in tatters after he pleaded guilty to fraudulently evading income tax and using a false instrument (Section 3, Forgery Act).
He was found not guilty of six other offences when he appeared at Bristol Crown Court, including a charge of theft and perverting the course of justice.
Hussain was fined £1,250 – the outstanding income tax on a £5,000 payment made to him by a client.
The Mercedes-driving law firm worker, who lives in a luxury apartment in Basin Road, Worcester, was brought to justice by West Midlands Police’s Economic Crime Unit following a lengthy investigation.
On his business cards he claimed he was Head of Warwick Solicitors’ Crown Court Department in October 2012.
In fact, police say, the firm told them he was a clerk. In 2012, it was reported that Hussain’s ‘old friend’ Brad Pitt had made a surprise visit to the Stratford Road practice.
In interviews at the time, Hussain said the superstar was in his office for around 20 minutes and posed with staff for a group photograph.
“He’s a lovely guy, one of the most humble men you could meet,” he had said.
“Brad and Angelina are in the UK for the next 18 months filming back-to-back. He loves Britain and he’s been in Harrod’s every other day shopping for the kids.
“It was a surprise (he came), it was out of the blue. The last time I saw him was in Cannes a couple of years ago.
“We don’t publicise things like this. It’s a friendship thing more than anything.”
Police had initially investigated allegations from three former clients and Hussain had been charged with six offences, including theft and perverting the course of justice.
But the judge directed the jury find him not guilty on six charges and the law firm worker pleaded guilty to two offences. These were evading income tax on a £5,000 payment made to him by a client.
He also admitted using a false instrument – doctoring a client timesheet to try to show £2,000 had been paid to the company via another staff member.
In fact, the money had been paid direct into his personal bank account.
Another former client went to the police after claiming he had handed over £10,000 to Hussain for Warwick’s to represent him – only later to discover he was entitled to legal aid.
Hussain was found not guilty in regard to those allegations.
The former client said: “He had told me he was head of the crown court department at his firm – he had business cards with it on.
“He had told me he had represented lots of sporting heroes and footballers.
“I heard Brad Pitt came to see someone else in Birmingham and Hussain got his picture taken with him and claimed they were friends.“I don’t believe anything he says.”
DETECTIVE Constable Peter Christie, from West Midlands Police Economic Crime Unit, led the investigation into Hussain.
“The motivation behind this investigation was that when a person is involved in legal proceedings they have the right to have absolute faith in the people representing them,” he said.
Hussain’s business cards stated his position as ‘head of crown court department’ but he was, in fact, working as more of clerk.
Det Con Christie said: “My inquiries with the Solicitors Regulatory Authority and Bar Council did not confirm he was legally qualified in those respects.“He was described by people within the firm (Warwicks) as a clerk.
“He would attend people’s cases and attend the court building in more of a liaising role.”
Hussain gave mainly ‘no comment’ interviews to the police and kept his past educational and working background very much a secret.
Det Con Christie said: “He was very reticent about what his education and previous experience had been.
“He had external trappings of wealth. He drove a Mercedes and had access to a Land Rover at one point.
“And he had boxing memorabilia in his office, including some connected to attending a Manny Pacquiao fight.”
Of the case, the officer added: “It is important we robustly investigate any allegation in any sector and the outcome of this case has been a successful one.
“I would hope that those involved would take comfort from the fact that Mr Hussain has pleaded guilty to some wrongdoing.
“Regardless of people’s past, they have a right to expect high standard of the people who represent them.
“And the victim of the income tax offence is the ordinary person in the street – because if people don’t pay tax, then we all suffer.”