One of Cumbria’s best known lawyers has gone on trial accused of stealing more than £700,000 from two of his clients.

Marcus Nickson, 66, is facing five allegations - two thefts and three frauds.

The 66-year-old solicitor is one of the best known figures in Cumbria’s legal profession, who for many years has been a specialist in complex medical negligence litigation.

One day one of his crown court trial - expected to take four weeks - the jury panel were told that the two alleged victims of the offences were clients who had been represented by Nickson.

Both suffered a serious brain injury as a result of medical negligence.

Addressing the jury panel, prosecuting barrister Arthur Gibson the jury gave a brief outline of what the case will be about.

He said: “The prosecution allege that Mr Marcus Nickson, whilst acting as a solicitor for two people, who both sustained serious brain damage as a result of medical negligence, and having successfully won damages on their behalf, stole money from them.

“He took money from their damages, pretending he was entitled to do so for his own legal remuneration when he had no entitlement whatsoever.”

Nickson, from Blencogo, near Wigton, has pleaded not guilty to two of the frauds.

He has yet to formally enter his pleas to the third alleged fraud and the two alleged thefts.

Judge Andrew Newell told the jury panel the case would in due course involve various claims for damages for personal injury.

As a result of that, said the judge, the jury should not include any person who worked as a solicitor. The panel was also given the names of the witnesses who are due to give evidence during the trial, including two solicitors.

The court then selected the 12 jury members - consisting of nine women and three men.

Judge Newell warned them not to undertake any kind of research into the defendant - particularly through the internet.

To do so, warned the judge, would amount to a contempt of court - an offence which can be punishable by a potential prison sentence.

“This is a trial of some complexity,” continued the judge.

For this reason, two extra jurors were added to the usual 12, though they will be allowed to leave the case once the trial is properly underway, said the judge

Mr Gibson is expected to open the case at Preston Crown Court on Wednesday morning, with tomorrow likely to be taken up by legal arguments

A former partner with well known Cumbrian law firm KJ Commons & Co, which had offices in west Cumbria and in Carlisle, Nickson sat in the body of the court as the jury panel were selected and spoken to by both the judge and prosecutor. The value of the alleged thefts and frauds is around £720,000.