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Error message stating Unable to delete a contact due to the contact being associate with lead

Knowledge Article Number 000187227
Description Upon trying to delete a contact, a system administrator may receive this error message:

Your attempt to delete [record name] could not be completed because it is associated with the following leads. If the following table is empty, it's because you don't have access to the records restricting the delete.

This message would be followed by an empty table.
Root Cause:
As the user is a system administrator, he/she would have access to all Lead records - except those which are converted.
This issue is therefore caused if there is a custom Lookup relationship on Leads with Contacts, and is set so that if you pick contact XYZ in that field on Leads, then contact XYZ will not be able to be deleted.  Attempts to delete this contact would be met with the same error message, but the table would be populated with the lead.  That is, unless the lead is converted, in which there is limited access to it and therefore does not populate the table.

1. Delete the converted lead. (Needs Data Loader, API, or Mass Delete function)
2. Change the lookup to a null value (or something else, as desired) - this requires either the API or Data Loader
3. Go to Setup > Customize > Leads > Fields, go to the lookup field in question, and change the setting from "Don't allow Deletion..." to "Clear Value".  Then delete the contact, and change it back  to "Don't Allow Deletion" (if desired).  This effectively does option 2 without needing Data Loader or the API.

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