So, what’s it like to discover your assets are frozen – apart from cold. It’s a horrible feeling. It takes your breath away. You are speechless. Your mind is in turmoil – How could this happen? How can they do this?
How did it happen…. sneakily! We were due to attend an employment tribunal/meeting and at the last moment it was cancelled. The following morning we were on line attempting to cancel any unnecessary direct debits and to see how long we could survive with no income, and that’s how we found our account had been “suspended”. We called the bank and were told to go into a branch for an explanation. We went to our local branch and they had no explanation and told us to go home and await a call (we were like a couple of zombies at this point). About an hour after returning home, a rather jubilant looking female solicitor arrived at the door with a male colleague, asking whether she could come in (I denied her this privilege), telling us she had come to serve us an order to attend the Royal Courts of Justices. She advised us we had 24 hours in which to deliver certain information regarding accounts and when I explained this was not possible without internet access (which had been removed by husband’s company) she explained I could go to an internet cafe….. How kind and thoughtful.
Shock is a wonderful thing. Sometimes it just protects you from doing what you really should not do – like punching a solicitor full in the face.
We got out the yellow page to try to find a solicitor and that’s when we discovered how impossible it is (a) without money and (b) without legal aid. Several times I was asked by solicitors whether or not we had a “wealthy benefactor” who would be able to meet our costs (we don’t by the way). And several times I was told how difficult if not impossible it was to get legal aid to fight a civil case. You see, you’ve stayed on the right side of the law, you are not aware of “civil” cases versus “legal” cases. We asked a couple of solicitors if it would make any difference to go to a police station and for my husband to hand himself in. Would we then gain Legal Aid….. we were advised by the solicitors we asked, not to pursue this course of action (and in hindsight, I still do not know why considering what we did not know then, that the “other side’s” fraud investigation company have a “duty” to advise the police if they know of any fraudulent activity going on).
So there we were, in the lounge, with files the sizes of bricks hastily cobbled together by “the other side” accusing husband or goodness knows what – half of it untrue, the only true bits was what I had said in my phone call. The solicitors had even tried to get our passports taken away, claiming we were a flight risk….. erm, where the hell were we going to go? But maybe to a thrusting law firm this is standard practise, maybe you just chuck all the mud you can find cause as sure as eggs is eggs, something is going to stick.
Under the court order, we were allowed a “living allowance” but trying to get money out of the bank with suspended cards was impossible. I had a total of £75.00 in my personal account, an account I’d had since starting work many years ago and used just by me when I didn’t have access to our joint account (little tip for you ladies out there – keep a sum of money in an account in your name just in case…. you never, ever know when you might need it).
And then Vodaphone satellites went down. We actually had to go to a friend’s house to send our legal documents through. Luckily these were good and true friends, ones that hadn’t deserted us (and to this day stick with us through thick and thin). Lesson number whatever (?) You certainly do know who your friends are in a crisis!
And I think for today I’ll finish there – and finish by saying thank you to those friends – and they know who they are – for seeing us, me, through this nightmare. They were there for me at all times and understood, questioned, offered assistance – even put a roof over our head at one point. They are friends that I could never do enough for and will never be able to repay their kindness.