A THIEVING solicitor who was working as a Citizens Advice Bureau adviser while serving a five-year prison sentence has had his contract terminated.

The CAB announcement was made the day after the Lancashire Telegraph revealed that convicted conman Philip Pressler, formerly of Higher Whittlestone Farm, Darwen, was being allowed to give advice to members of the public who knew nothing of his past.

Pressler, who swindled more than £750,00 from clients and charities in East Lancashire, has been in a position at the Bureau where he could advise the public on wills, powers of attorney and other legal issues at the CAB despite being locked up for fraud and theft in August 2004.

Despite, a few days ago defending their decision to allow him to work as an adviser, CAB bosses have now announced that Pressler will now no longer be allowed to continue volunteering at their Manchester District branch, in Swan Street, Manchester.

On Monday the CAB said Pressler had no access to clients' cash, had been through stringent vetting and risk assessment and was closely monitored and supervised. The organisation added that employing Pressler as an advisor did not undermine the CAB's work.

But a CAB spokesperson said today : "Philip Pressler is no longer a volunteer adviser with the Citizens Advice Bureau.

"His period with the bureau has come to an end."

And when asked if his contract had been terminated as a direct result of the Lancashire Telegraph's inquiries and whether they still thought it was appropriate to have had him there, they declined to comment saying they had nothing more to add.

A Prison's Service spokeswoman said she could not reveal why the 53-year-old had stopped working at the CAB, which was organised as part of an on-going programme of rehabilitation, and could not say what he would now been given to do during the remainder of his sentence at Kirkham prison.

However Darwen and Rossendale MP Janet Anderson welcomed the news and said if it hadn't been for the Telegraph's intervention the former Darwen solicitor would have continued to have access to the vulnerable members of the public indefinitely.

She said: "This is really good news - a victory for the paper and for common sense.

"I must congratulate the Lancashire Telegraph and their reporter for making sure that no one else is exposed to the possibility of being defrauded by Mr Pressler.

"However we need to make sure this doesn't happen again and ensure he isn't placed at any other CABs during the remainder of his prison term.

"I will still take this issue up with the prison's minister as a matter of urgency."

Pressler defrauded families and charities out of £759,000 while he was operating as senior partner at Darwen solicitors Hindle, Son and Cooper - predominantly detectives believe between 1999 and 2001.

He was jailed for five years in August 2004 after admitting 36 counts of theft and asking for another 11 to be taken into consideration and was struck off as a solicitor by the Law Society, which regulates the industry in May 2003.

Detective Sergeant Graham Norris, from Lancashire Police's major crime unit, led the investigation which led to Pressler's conviction.

He said: "I did not like the idea of someone who is proven to be a dishonest person giving advice to people who are vulnerable.

"I had already raised my concerns about the suitability of this position with Kirkham prison but it took an excellent piece of investigative journalism to bring about this sensible decision."

One of Pressler's victims, Helen Willett, from Padiham, said: "As one of his many victims, I was absolutely appalled to read about him being able to work for the CAB.

"The only place he should be is in prison - where he belongs!"