FIRST INTERESTS: Judge recommended for judicial role by Nicola Sturgeon – found First Minister committed three counts of professional misconduct – in Law Society probe of Ms Sturgeon’s failure to provide legal service protections for domestic violence victim

First Minister recommended judge role for lawyer – who found her guilty of misconduct. AN INVESTIGATION has established Scotland’s First Minister – Nicola Sturgeon – was found to have committed THREE counts of professional misconduct by a solicitor she later recommended for the position of a Sheriff within Scotland’s powerful judiciary – currently led by Lord President – Lord Carloway.

The findings of professional misconduct by Sheriff Pasportnikov against the First Minister – were the result of a complaint lodged by a client to the law firm where Nicola Sturgeon worked at the time – Bell & Craig solicitors.

The complaint against Nicola Sturgeon involved the currently serving First Minister’s failure to provide adequate legal services to a victim of domestic violence.

And, the issues in relation to Ms Sturgeon’s failure to provide adequate legal services only came to light after Ms Sturgeon suddenly left the law firm = and the client was forced to go to another solicitor – who it was reported – discovered legal aid forms had not been sent to the Scottish Legal Aid Board – despite assurances the legal aid application had been submitted.

In response to the complaint – the Law Society of Scotland appointed a case manager – a solicitor, and now Sheriff – Olga Pasportnikov – to investigate.

In a five-page report, dated Dec 1998, Olga Passportnikov said: “The complaint in this case has been identified as professional misconduct by breach of code of conduct and conduct unbecoming a solicitor.”

Pasportnikov identified three counts ‘of professional misconduct by breach of code of conduct and conduct unbecoming a solicitor’.

They were: failing to raise interdict, misleading client about legal aid application & failing to properly consider her financial circumstances

Among ‘circumstances which have been ascertained during the course of the enquiry’ were the legal aid form had been completed and signed by the client and the client’s employers but not sent.

Despite the findings of Sheriff Pasportnikov, and her identification of multiple serious issues where she concluded Ms Sturgeon’s failure to provide competent legal services qualified as professional misconduct – the Law Society of Scotland concluded there should be no further action and Nicola Sturgeon left the legal profession.

It is important to note – the Law Society of Scotland cleared Nicola Sturgeon even after their case manager Ms Pasportnikov identified various breaches of professional misconduct by Nicola Sturgeon – and that Ms Sturgeon – who then ‘stood down’ from the legal profession – to contest a seat for the Scottish National Party – then entered politics without an on the record finding of professional misconduct by the Law Society of Scotland.

Records show from announcements in the legal profession’s press, and Scottish Government news postings –  Announced on 31 July 2015 – Olga Pasportnikov was appointed by the Queen following a report to the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon – by the Judicial Appointments Board for Scotland.

Ms Pasportnikov, a University of Dundee graduate, was admitted as a solicitor in 1991. She worked mainly in private practice before joining the Law Society of Scotland in 1998. She has been with the Crown Office & Procurator Fiscal Service since 2003, and is also current convener of the Fife Young Carers Management Committee.

The First Minister has statutory responsibility for making recommendations to Her Majesty the Queen and is required by statute to consult the Lord President of the Court of Session before making her recommendation.

The Judicial Appointments Board for Scotland is an ‘independent’ advisory public body with the role of recommending individuals for appointment to judicial offices within the Board’s remit including judge of the Court of Session, chair of the Scottish Land Court, sheriff principal, sheriff, and summary sheriff.

It has since come to light this story was filed with a Scottish newspaper for publication in June 2018 – after several other newspapers refused to publish the story.

According to now deleted tweets from a former journalist which have now been widely published online – a story on the complaint regarding Nicola Sturgeon’s failure to provide adequate legal services to a victim of domestic violence, and the identification of several counts of professional misconduct against Ms Sturgeon by currently serving Sheriff Olga Pasportnikov – had support from one editor to be published – until a ‘Political editor’ at the same newspaper voted the story down.

The deleted tweet goes on to allege that some weeks later, the same newspaper which did not publish the story on Nicola Sturgeon – was leaked details of the harassment complaints against Alex Salmond and the investigation by Police Scotland – which subsequently led to Mr Salmond being charged with 14 offences, including two counts of attempted rape, nine of sexual assault, two of indecent assault, and one of breach of the peace.

Mr Salmond appeared in court on 21 November 2019 and entered a plea of “not guilty”.

At the subsequent trial, Mr Salmond was cleared by a jury trial – heard by Scotland’s Lord Justice Clerk – Lady Dorrian.

The information came to light after Justice Committee Convener Adam Tomkins (Scottish Conservative) & former Scottish Government Legal Affairs Minister Annabelle Ewing (Scottish National Party) made a motivated and concerted effort to close down the same Judicial Interests Register petition which Nicola Sturgeon has opposed and sought to close – throughout her term as First Minister.

The Justice Committee hearing of 2 March 2021 can be viewed here: Register of Judges Interests Petition PE 1458 Scottish Parliament Justice Committee 2 March 2021

This is the same Judicial Interests Register petition the First Minister has tried to undermine and block since Ms Sturgeon became First Minister.

If a Register of Judges’ Interests did become a requirement – Sheriff Pasportnikov who found Nicola Sturgeon guilty of professional misconduct may be forced to list that fact and other details of her service to the Law Society of Scotland.

On Wednesday 3 March 2021 – the Judicial Office for Scotland were asked the following questions:

A currently serving Sheriff – Olga Pasportnikov – conducted an investigation of complaints lodged about Scotland’s current First Minister Nicola Sturgeon while she was a solicitor at a law firm identified as Bell & Craig

Ms Pasportnikov was, as the Judicial Office will be aware – a case manager for the Law Society of Scotland from September 1998 to March 2003

In a five-page report released in December 1998, Olga Pasportnikov said: “The complaint in this case has been identified as professional misconduct by breach of code of conduct and conduct unbecoming a solicitor.”

Olga Pasportnikov found Ms Sturgeon guilty of 3 identifyable counts of professional misconduct:

They were: failing to raise interdict as instructed, misleading client about legal aid application, failing to properly consider the client’s financial circumstances

Events then saw the Law Society clear Ms Sturgeon, who quickly left the legal profession.

Noting Ms Pasportnikov currently declares her time at the Law Society of Scotland on her Linkedin page as a “case manager” – along with other career attributes including a term at the Crown Office as a Procurator Fiscal Depute, and her current role as a serving Sheriff

– does Sheriff Pasportnikov have any comment onthe following questions:

why she does not list her role of investigating complaints against solicitors?

why she found Ms Sturgeon guilty of 3 identifyable issues of professional misconduct?

why no regulatory punishment took place upon Sheriff Pasportnikov’s findings?

Does the Judicial Office have any comment on the above events and any comment on the impact of a currently serving Sheriff with a long history as a solicitor, prosecutor and now a judge – having found Scotland’s current First Minister Nicola Sturgeon guilty of three counts of professional misconduct to which no sanction was ever applied by legal regulators and never declared in any register of interests?

On Friday 5 March 2021 – the Judicial Office for Scotland (JOFS) issued a statement to the media.

The Judicial Office claimed Sheriff Pasportnikov had forgotten she had investigated a complaint case involving the current First Minister Nicola Sturgeon,

A spokesperson for the Judicial Office said:

“The Sheriff was one of a number of case managers working on the Law Society for Scotland’s Client Relations Team from 1998 – 2003. Her role was limited to that of gathering and categorising information as a first step in a much longer process. She did not produce any reports or make any findings. Covering a volume of work, she would not remember specific names in routine cases, including where a solicitor was cleared entirely.”

“In Scotland, sheriffs are appointed by Her Majesty on the recommendation of the First Minister, who makes their recommendation on the basis of a report by the Judicial Appointments Board for Scotland (JABS). The First Minister has statutory responsibility for making recommendations to Her Majesty and is required by statute to consult the Lord President of the Court of Session before making their recommendation.”

“JABS is an independent advisory public body with the role of recommending individuals for appointment to judicial offices within the Board’s remit including judge of the Court of Session, chair of the Scottish Land Court, sheriff principal, sheriff, and summary sheriff.”

A response to the Judicial Office statement was submitted – querying the JOFS claim, and confirming – that material now in the public domain – does confirm Sheriff Pasportnikov did in-fact – investigate a complaint against Nicola Sturgeon and that Sheriff Pasportnikov identified several breaches of professional misconduct by Ms Sturgeon.

No reply to the additional query has been received, nor has the Judicial Office disputed the terms of questions & information supplied to JOFS staff.

It would be difficult to believe a case relevant to the current First Minister was forgotten about by the investigating reporter – Sheriff Pasportnikov – as there is obviously only one Nicola Sturgeon in Scotland – the current First Minister.

Earlier today, a legal expert assessed the material now in the public domain and deleted tweets from a former journalist which names a Scottish newspaper and a ‘spiked’ story on Ms Sturgeon.

The legal expert said he hoped the Committee on the Scottish Government Handling of Harassment Complaints would now scrutinise the information available and ask further questions of the First Minister.

He said: “In view of suggestions on social media platforms – a former journalist held this information for a number of years, and approached several newspapers seemingly without success – people may reasonably expect questions to be asked of why this story has not come to light until now and the method of travel to the media.”

He added: “Was there motive in withholding this story involving Scotland’s First Minister, either by a newspaper, a political party or a journalist? I am curious to find out. However, I am also curious as to why no one with the information offered the material in evidence to the long running Scottish Parliament investigation of issues involving Alex Salmond.”

“Given the First Minister responded to questions on what appear to be references to the investigation of Ms Sturgeon and a newspaper deal –  MSPs should ask rigorous questions of anyone involved in this matter given the situation we face where information now exists alleging the Sheriff complaint probe of Scotland’s First Minister was allegedly swapped for a story on harassment complaints and a Police investigation of Alex Salmond in the summer of 2018”

In discussions late this afternoon – others have come forward to confirm they were aware of this story for some time, but were unable to obtain any answers from Ms Sturgeon on these events.

JUDICIAL INTERESTS REGISTER – would have required declaration of Sheriff’s role in FM Complaint:

It has been previously reported Nicola Sturgeon personally intervened to block the Judicial Register petition – during a long running investigation by the Scottish Parliament’s Public Petitions Committee

The surprise intervention by the First Minister in the bid to bring transparency to Scotland’s secretive judges came to light after a failed attempt by her then Legal Affairs Minister – Paul Wheelhouse – to overturn the petition with claims that ‘gangsters’ could misuse information in a judges register.

In the letter – dated 30 March 2015 – Nicola Sturgeon also revealed Legal Affairs Minister Paul Wheelhouse had a secret meeting in February 2015 with Lord Gill to discuss the petition and the Judiciary & Scottish Government’s concerted opposition to creating the Judicial Register.

Writing in the letter to John Pentland MSP, Convener of the Public Petitions Committee, the First Minister said: “This petition calls on the Scottish Government to create a Register of Interests for the Judiciary. The Scottish Government considers that such a register of judicial interests is not necessary and that the existing safeguards – the Judicial Oath, the Statement of Principles of Judicial Ethics and the system for complaints against the judiciary – are sufficient. These safeguards, together with the register of judicial recusals, are sufficient to protect individuals from judicial bias.”

Further to the evidence that the Minister for Community Safety and Legal Affairs, Mr Wheelhouse, gave to the Committee on 9 December 2014, he discussed this petition when he met the Lord President in February. The Minister acknowledged the Lord President’s concerns about the introduction of a register of judicial interests. The breadth of such a register would make it virtually unworkable. It would need to cover not only financial interests, but also memberships of groups and associations and familial and social relationships. Even so, such a register might not capture relevant issues that could arise.”

“The position of the judiciary is different from that of MSPs and others who hold public office. The judiciary cannot publicly defend themselves. The Lord President has cautioned that such a register could also have unintended consequences. Consideration requires to be given to judges’ privacy and freedom from harassment by aggressive media or hostile individuals, including dissatisfied litigants. In addition, there is currently no evidence that judges who should have recused themselves from cases have not done so.”

The Sunday Herald newspaper reported on First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s intervention on behalf of the judiciary and her opposition to the judicial transparency proposal:

First Minister rejects call for register of judges’ interests

Paul Hutcheon Investigations Editor Sunday 10 May 2015

NICOLA Sturgeon has rejected calls for judges to declare details of their finances in a register of interest. The First Minister said the proposal, lodged by justice campaigner Peter Cherbi, was “not necessary” and claimed existing rules were “sufficient”.

Holyrood’s Public Petitions Committee is in the middle of a long-term probe into whether judges, sheriffs and justices of the peace should be brought into line with other senior public sector figures.
MSPs, MPs, councillors and board members of public bodies are all required to register their outside financial interests.

A petition lodged with the Scottish Parliament in 2012 called for members of the judiciary to declare their “pecuniary” interests, which would include shareholdings, directorships and membership of external bodies.

Judicial officer holders can recuse – or remove – themselves if a conflict of interest arises during a case, but nothing more is required.

The plan was met with hostility by the country’s top judge, Lord Gill, who repeatedly snubbed calls by the committee to give oral evidence. He relied on written testimony to blast a proposal he said could compromise judges’ privacy by encouraging “aggressive media or hostile individuals”.

Lord Gill concluded: “The establishment of such a register therefore may have the unintended consequence of eroding public confidence in the judiciary.”

The issue has now reached the desk of the First Minister, who has backed Lord Gill.

In a letter to John Pentland MSP, the Committee convener, she supported the status quo: “The Scottish Government considers that such a register of judicial interests is not necessary and that the existing safeguards – the Judicial Oath, the Statement of Principles of Judicial Ethics and the system for complaints against the judiciary – are sufficient.

“These safeguards, together with the register of judicial recusals, are sufficient to protect individuals from judicial bias.”

She also repeated Lord Gill’s fear about “aggressive media” and noted: “The position of the judiciary is different from that of MSPs and others who hold public office. The judiciary cannot publicly defend themselves.”

The First Minister also revealed that Paul Wheelhouse, her Minister for Community Safety and Legal Affairs, met Lord Gill in December to discuss the petition.

In his evidence to the Committee, Wheelhouse said he feared a register could leave judges open to “threats or intimidation”, adding that colleagues at an environment quango had already been threatened by organised criminals. However, emails between the Government and Scottish Environment Protection Agency revealed no link to organised crime.

Cherbi said: “I am surprised Nicola Sturgeon supports a judicial ban on transparency just because judges have been asked to declare their substantial interests. “We are always told if you have got nothing to hide you have nothing to fear. What are the judges hiding and what do they fear? “There cannot be one set of rules for judges and another for everyone else. A register of interests will enhance public trust in the justice system, not detract from it.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “The Scottish Government considers that a specific register of interests is not needed. Existing safeguards, including the Judicial Oath, the Statement of Principles of Judicial Interests and the system of complaints against the judiciary, are sufficient to ensure the impartiality of the judiciary in Scotland.”

Previous articles on the lack of transparency within Scotland’s judiciary, investigations by Diary of Injustice including reports from the media, and video footage of debates at the Scottish Parliament’s Public Petitions Committee can be found here : A Register of Interests for Scotland’s Judiciary


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LOOKING AFTER LAWYERS: Scotland’s THIRD attempt in 20 YEARS at reforming complaints against lawyers is doomed to fail at the hands of vested interests – but there is a Scottish Government consultation you can all participate in – for purposes of PR & distraction politics

Clients, their lawyers, & complaints reform. IN THE past TWENTY years since the Scottish Parliament came into being, there have been two earlier attempts at creating a transparent, independent body to investigate complaints against the legal profession.

As many readers will be well aware, both previous attempts at reforming self regulation of lawyers in Scotland – failed miserably after two Justice Committee investigations of how the legal profession regulates itself.

It was inevitable, that the combined vested interests of Scotland’s legal profession – the Law Society of Scotland, Faculty of Advocates, along with all their sub-groups, backed up by the judiciary – lobbied to remain in charge of looking after their own.

And, Scotland’s legal profession did exactly that – looked after their own.

Headline after headline, investigation after investigation, and even when BBC Scotland deigned to come along in 2014 with “Lawyers Behaving Badly” – albeit using fantastical cases resembling dubious, ever altering cave paintings carved in fossilised stone from the Jurassic age to put their point across – about dodgy legal regulators looking after their own rogue lawyers – nothing changed.

Yes, it is true – the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission (SLCC) came along in 2008 – as a response to an ‘extensive’ probe by the Scottish Parliament’s Justice 2 Committee in 2006 of complaints against lawyers and how the Law Society of Scotland ‘handled’ clients & consumers who complained against the legal profession – to the point of destruction.

However, twelve years on from the creation of the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission, anyone with a serious & geniune complaint who has used it, knows the SLCC as more of a Cayman Islands front company for lawyers to look after their own, rather than the allegedly ‘independent’ SLCC was created and put in place by civil servants who had little clue or knowledge what they were actually doing.

Sadly, the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission spent the last twelve years mirroring the work previously done by the Law Society of Scotland where lawyers were protected time & again, while clients were often targeted by the legal profession after complaints had been submitted to the ‘independent’ SLCC.

In any case, there is now a third attempt at reforming complaints against lawyers, and you can participate in it.

On 23 December 2020, the Scottish Government published the latest consultation on reforming complaints about the legal profession – along with a questionnaire for those who like that sort of thing to fill out, and send back in the forlorn hope your views and experiences will be taken into account.

You can download the Scottish Government consultation documents here: Scottish Government Consultation: Amendments to Legal Complaints (pdf) and here Respondent Information Form and Questionnaire (docx)

The details are as follows:

Complaints against lawyers and legal firms in Scotland: consultation

Published: 23 Dec 2020

This consultation sets out proposals and seeks views on potential improvements to the legal complaints system, within the current legislative framework of the Legal Profession and Legal Aid (Scotland) Act 2007.

The handling of complaints is one of the most important parts of any regulatory system. It is crucial that users of legal services have access to an efficient, effective and fair process for dealing with their complaint. Equally, legal professionals rely on a complaints system which is efficient, effective and can resolve complaints in an impartial manner.

There is a compelling case for the consideration of amendments to the current regulatory framework for dealing with complaints that would seek to improve the way in which the legal services complaints system operates.

The objectives behind these proposals

This Consultation seeks views on whether these proposals would meet the objectives of:

1. Reducing the overall time taken to deal with complaints.

2. Achieving greater proportionality in the complaints system, allowing the SLCC to identify earlier in the process which issues are more likely to require investigation.

3. Reducing the cost of the complaints system.

4. Continuing to ensure an independent and fair system.

5. Providing greater flexibility in the system.

The changes proposed in this paper seek to build on previous changes made in 2014[1] and are based on 10 years’ working knowledge of the current legislation and the experience of the current system.

The current proposals in this Consultation on which views are sought, and which are intended to have a cumulative effect in meeting the objectives, fall into three categories:

1. Changes to the process of complaint categorisation;

2. Changes to the process of complaint investigation, reporting, determination and conclusion of cases; and

3. Changes to the rules for fee rebates.

The proposed changes listed at 1 and 3 can be viewed as standalone amendments but those listed at 2 should be viewed as a package of amendments in order to gain the maximum impact from the changes.

The proposals – a summary

The aim of the proposals detailed below is to explore options to create a more flexible and proportionate complaints system, that will be more efficient yet just as effective, if not more so. Views on whether these proposals address stated frustrations of those who have been involved in the complaints system, who often perceive it to be time consuming and overly complex, are also sought in response to this consultation.

Why is this important?

Those who make or are subject to complaints in respect of legal services have indicated that they would wish for a speedy, robust and proportionate response to each complaint. While all complaints are equally important, there is a recognition that not all complaints are the same. Those who manage the complaints process, as well as many of those who have experienced it, have stated that they consider the current statutory framework insufficiently flexible to enable the process to be adapted to the specific subject of the complaint in each individual case.

While a one-size-fits-all-approach provides consistency in the application of the complaints process, there is an argument that this does not always lead to an efficient system, with the result in the current system that the end of the complaints process can often be some time away from the time of the original incident that led to the complaint. This can be unsatisfactory for all of those involved in the process. These proposals are intended to reduce this time period and improve efficiency while continuing to maintain a robust and fair system.


The cost of the legal services complaints process administered by the SLCC is met by way of levies on the legal profession. These take the form of an annual general levy paid by all legal services providers[1] as well as a separate complaints levy[2] which is payable only by those legal professionals who are subject to a complaint which is upheld.

Should the proposals set out in this Consultation be taken forward then they will likely take time to be fully implemented. There is also likely to be a cost implication for implementation. Depending on the range of amendments ultimately decided to be taken forward, implementation in year one is likely to have associated costs in terms of changing rules, process and IT systems. These costs will be borne by the SLCC and it is not presently expected that these will require an increase in funding to either of the above levies. However, in the first full year of operation, and likely after set-up costs are offset, the proposed changes in this Consultation could lead to longer term savings.

A. About this Consultation

The objective of this consultation paper is to offer an opportunity for targeted views to be gathered on the technicalities of making specific changes to the legal complaints system in Scotland.

The main proposals relate to possible changes to the categorisation of complaints to introduce hybrid-issue complaints as well as changes to the processes of assessment, investigation, reporting, determination and conclusion of complaints. Possible changes to the rules on fee rebates are also proposed.

Responding to this consultation

The Scottish Government are inviting responses to this consultation by 20 February 2021.

Please respond to this consultation using the Scottish Government’s consultation hub, Citizen Space ( Access and respond to this consultation online at You can save and return to your responses while the consultation is still open. Please ensure that consultation responses are submitted before the closing date of 20 February 2021.

If you are unable to respond using our consultation hub, please complete the Respondent Information Form to:

Access to Justice Unit Scottish Government Justice Directorate St Andrew’s House Edinburgh EH13DG

Or by email to:

An earlier report on the Esther Roberton review, and how it began, is here: LOOK AFTER THE LAWYERS: Law Society proposals to pro-lawyer legal review seek to reclaim control of regulation & complaints, appoint ‘window dressing’ ombudsman & criminalise ‘misuse’ of the term “lawyer”


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BANKRUPTCY PROBE: Creditors & law firms in judicial conflict case linked to top judge – were excluded from sequestration by Trustee handed role by law firm linked to bust £400M Heather Capital Hedge Fund, & Court of Session illegal fee deal judgement

QC branded Levy & Mcrae ‘untrustworthy’ in £6m case. A LAW FIRM branded “untrustworthy” by a senior QC, and which once stood accused of transferring millions linked to the collapsed £400m Heather Capital Hedge Fund – is now at the centre of a case linked to judicial conflicts of interest, and the resolution of two remaining issues in a controversial sequestration linked to Scotland’s top judge.

Levy & Mcrae – the Glasgow based law firm who were recently found to have constructed an illegal fee agreement along with Advocate Jonathan Brown – in a case involving A&E Investments & businessman Robert Kidd – are now accused of appointing a trustee – Kenneth Pattullo of insolvancy practitioners Begbies Traynor – who hindered and excluded creditors attempts to secure consideration of legitimate debts including legal fees & legal funding of Mr Nolan’s case.

Files now handed to the ongoing media investigation – reveal that two remaining issues of the long running Nolan v Advance case – relate to the deliberate exclusion of creditors in the sequestrations of Mr Nolan and his partner – after their £6m action against Advance Construction – heard by Lord Woolman in the Court of Session – scored a victory on principle – but lost out on legal expenses.

The documents – released by the Accountant in Bankruptcy – reveal creditors – including solicitors who provided legal services, and the providers of significant legal funding which enabled Mr Nolan to go into the Court of Session and secure the win against Advance Construction – still await a consideration of sums due to them from the sequestrations.

However, further enquiries and responses from the Accountant in Bankruptcy now indicate the Trustee Kenneth Pattullo – who was directly appointed by Levy and Mcrae at Hamilton Sheriff Court in the sequestrations of both Mr Nolan and his partner – did not take account of either of the significant debts – which comprise most of Mr Nolan’s legal fees and legal expenses.

Instead – records show that Mr Pattullo and others at Begbies Traynor – did not reply to enquiries from legitimate creditors and solicitors – and focused on selling off a portfolio of properties including substantial plots of land in Wishaw, and a valuable farm – to pay Mr Pattullo’s own fees, and an offshore vulture fund known as Promontoria – which bought additional debt incurred by Mr Nolan and his partner from the secured lender – The Clydesdale Bank.

In a response to a request for review – Alex Reid of the AIB commented “Representation has been received highlighting that neither Mr Nolan nor his solicitor [redacted] received notification of any meeting of creditors. In accordance with Section 21A of the Act the trustee must give notice to every creditor known to him, at the time, whether or not they intend to hold a creditor meeting…”

However, it can be revealed the AIB have previously been presented with copies of confidential emails from law firms to Mr Pattullo’s office – showing multiple requests by lawyers to contact Begbies Traynor to establish communication and a consideration of positions regarding legal fees, and legal funding provided to Mr Nolan for his court case.

The new evidence raises questions of why Begbies Traynor did not acknowledge creditors attempts to communicate with the Trustee while there are multiple references within the released files to legal fees geneerated by Levy & Mcrae for their client – Advance Construction (Scotland) Ltd.

The files also slow some Edinburgh based law firms who did act on behalf of Mr Nolan were included in the sequestration – while other law firms, creditors and providers of legal funding do not appear.

With over 1000 documents released by the AIB currently being studied – it can now be reported that the two remaining creditors have now secured significant backing to present their case for consideration of debts and repayment to the Accountant in Bankruptcy – who are expected to remain involved in this process for some time.

Within the sequestration files released by the Accountant in Bankruptcy, legal fees for Advance Construction appear to amount to around £212K – which is in the form of legal fees the company are alleged to have paid Levy & Mcrae, and Gavin Walker & Roddy Dunlop QC.

However – legal sources close to the case have raised questions over the ‘small’ sum of £212K – given the length of the case and lawyers who represented Advance – such as Peter Watson, Jamie Robb and Ewen Campbell, with the addition of Gavin Walker QC and Roddy Dunlop – the current Dean of the Faculty of Advocates.

To compare – the legal fees of around £212K used by Advance Construction to sequestrate both Mr Nolan and his partner are much less than Mr Nolan’s legal costs – which are estimated at up to £500,000.

Mr Nolan’s legal fees including include hiring of construction site plant & equipment, use of multiple law firms including Biggart Baillie, Tods Murray, and John Campbell QC, advocate Craig Murray, solicitor Gavin McPhail and additional inspection and survey reports on contaminated material which culminated in Advance Construction being forced to admit in court they had dumped the contaminated material  illegally on Mr Nolan’s land.

And, while it is a matter of record the pursuer – Mr Nolan – won his action against Advance Construction in the Court of Session – his own QC – John Campbell – inexplicably withdrew his own client’s claim for legal expenses – which would have seen most or all of the legal fees and legal funding paid by the defenders had Mr Campbell returned to court for the expenses hearing.

A law accountant who has studied the case is of the view that had Mr Nolan’s counsel – John Campbell QC made the usual court claim for legal expenses against Advance Construction – Lord Woolman or any judge hearing the exepnses claim would have granted much of Mr Nolan’s legal expenses along with his victory in the case against the defenders – Advance Construction.

However, Mr Campbell did not follow through with instructions to appear at an expenses hearing and lodge a full claim for Mr Nolan’s legal expenses.

Mr Campbell has not offered any explanation for his refusal to lodge an expenses claim for his client’s winning case, and instead was found to have withdrew much of the claim without any instruction to do so.

A full report on how John Campbell QC reduced his own client’s financial claim almost to zero and without any instruction or consultation – can be found here: CASHBACK QC: Legal regulator’s files reveal senior QC reduced claim without instructions, withheld key evidence & witnesses including Cabinet Secretary from Court of Session case

A further investigation of John Campbell’s involvement in the case revealed the senior QC signed a no-win-no-fee agreement with his client Mr Nolan – then went back on it’s terms after Campbell refused to appear for the expenses hearing and the case had concluded.

A full investigation of Campbell’s fee scam and the Faculty of Advocates role in concealing undeclared cash payments to Campbell is reported in further detail here: CASH ADVOCATE: £9K consultations & £75K meetings – Edinburgh Quaich Project Charity QC Boss scammed clients on no-win-no-fee deal – Faculty of Advocates files reveal extent of Advocates cash-for-fees HMRC tax dodge scam

Ironically, during discussions with his clients – John Campbell himself described Levy and Mcrae as “untrustworthy” and

An earlier investigation revealed Trustee Kenneth Pattullo of Begbies Traynor was directly appointed by Levy and Mcrae at Hamilton Sheriff Court in the sequestrations of both Mr Nolan and his partner.

Documents previously published revealed Levy & Mcrae altered the appointment of the AIB in the sequestration of Mr Nolan’s partner to that of their own preferred choice – Mr Pattullo.

Now – fresh questions over the conduct of the Accountant in Bankruptcy have now been raised after documents revealed Levy & Mcrae requested the AIB become Trustee in the sequestration of Mr Nolan – in Jamuary 2015.

The letter and petition, published here:  Petition to appoint AIB January 2015 Jamie Robb Levy Mcrae reveals Jamie Robb of Levy & Mcrae asked the AIB to assume the position of Trustee in their sequestration of Mr Nolan in January 2015.

Records then show Levy & Mcrae went on to appoint Mr Pattullo in the same unusual manner in Mr Nolan’s sequestration – and the AIB did nothing in either case – despite having the power to intervene and call a meeting of all interested parties including debtors & creditors alike to find a way forward after the court’s alteration of an appointment where the court did not appear have the power to act.

A previous report published material which questioned the court’s improper use of powers to switch out Trustees in the sequestration of Mr Nolan and his partner from the Accoutant in Bankrutpcy to Mr Pattullo, here: FIRE SALE: AIB face sequestration probe as files reveal Trustee was paid £20K by vulture fund to sell home & firebombed farm five days after targeted attack on couple at centre of land case linked to top Scots judges, an ex-Sheriff, an asbestos dumping building company & law firm Levy and Mcrae

And, an earlier investigation revealed Scotland’s top judge – Lord Carloway (Colin Sutherland) – deliberately concealed his own links to this case while he faced questions in the Scottish Parliament from MSP Alex Neil and members of the Public Petitions Committee, here: JUDGE OF CONFLICT: Top judge who attacked MSPs over judicial interests probe – failed to declare relative’s role at law firm targeting MSP’s constituents’ home & farm in £6M court case linked to Lord Malcolm conflict of interest scandal

Nolan v Advance Construction Scotland Ltd [2014] CSOH 4 CA132/11 is the same case which exposed serious conflicts of interest in Scotland’s judiciary – notably where Lord Malcolm (Colin Campbell QC) failed to disclose on multiple occasions – the fact Lord Malcolm’s son – Ewen Campell – represented the defenders in the same court.

The investigation into the Lord Malcolm case of serious failures to declare conflicts of interest, is reported in further detail here: CONFLICT OF INTEREST: Papers lodged at Holyrood judicial interests register probe reveal Court of Session judge heard case eight times – where his son acted as solicitor for the defenders.


Earlier this year, Levy & Mcrae – the same law firm who masterminded the Advance Construction case in the Court of Session, and the resulting sequestrations of the pursuers in a case now linked to Scotland’s top judge Lord Carloway – were found by Lord Doherty to have constructed an illegal fee agreement after a ruling by Lord Doherty.

Levy & McRae had billed their former client – businessman Robert Kidd the seven-figure sum after representing him in a successful damages claim against another firm of solicitors.

The £19 million settlement figure was paid to Levy & Mcrae – after the firm deducted it’s legal fees which included £3million of “success fees” for winning the case.

Mr Kidd then launched a legal action against Levy & McRae, claiming it should not have charged him the success fees on top of its legal fees.

The case was heard by Lord Doherty – who later ruled the fees were “illegal and unenforceable”,

The judge said the fees breached a legal principle designed to prevent conflict of interest when a lawyer has a financial stake in the amount a client gets in compensation.

The £6million sum included a basic fee to Levy & McRae of £2.1million plus a success fee of £1.89million while advocate Jonathan Brown was paid £1.1million plus a success fee of £990,000.

Lord Doherty said: “The substance of what was agreed was that the defenders’ (Levy & McRae and Jonathan Brown) remuneration would increase in proportion to the sum recovered.

“That gave them a clear ­pecuniary interest – a stake – in the amount recovered.

“In my view, that pecuniary interest created a conflict of interest which gave rise to an unacceptable risk that the proper administration of justice might be obstructed.”

Levy and Mcrae have lodged an appeal against the decision by Lord Doherty.

The full judgment from Lord Donerty is here: A&E Investments Robert Kidd v Levy & Mcrae and Jonathan Brown – Lord Doherty 2020csoh14

And more a recent report in the Sunday Post Top advocate found guilty of “unsatisfactory professional conduct” after charging client extra fee of almost £1 million reports the Advocate Jonathan Brown was found guilty of “unsatisfactory professional conduct” after charging his client – Robert Kidd an extra fee of almost £1 million for representing him in a successful £20m damages action against another firm of solicitors.

The case arose after Mr Kidd hired lawyers, including Mr Brown, to sue his former solicitors over the sale of his oil firm ITS. Mr Kidd said Mr Brown had failed to tell their QC Andrew Smith details of the arrangement which brought his total bill to £2m.

The Sunday Post further reported that the Faculty of Advocates Disciplinary Committee has since made a finding of unsatisfactory professional conduct against Mr Brown, ruling that he should have informed Andrew Smith QC that he had an arrangement with Mr Kidd by which his fee increased according to the amount recovered from the opponent, and how the amount on which the success fee was measured should be calculated.

Mr Kidd’s spokesman Jim Diamond told the Sunday Post: “We’re very happy with the decision of unsatisfactory professional misconduct. We want the success fee repaid in full plus interest at 8%. We will also be seeking repayment of our legal fees in this matter which could amount to more than £100,000.”

Levy & Mcrae – Court papers reveal their part in Heather Capital hedge fund writ

Detailed documents submitted to the Court of Session as part of a now abandoned writ against Levy & Mcrae and their former partner Peter Watson – revealed the following acts attributed to Levy & Mcrae and Heather Capital:

[21]      In the Levy Mcrae case:

  • On 4 January 2007, Heather Capital transferred £19 million to its client account with Levy & Mcrae (Lord Doherty paragraph [5]).

  • On 24 January 2007, Heather Capital transferred £9.412 million to its client account with Levy & Mcrae (Lord Doherty paragraph [5]).

  • The money was intended to be loaned to a first level SPV Westernbrook Properties Ltd (WBP) for onward lending to second level SPVs (Lord Doherty paragraph [5]).

  • On 9 January 2007, Levy & Mcrae transferred £19 million to a Panamanian company (Niblick) owned and controlled by Mr Levene:the money was not therefore transferred to WBP.The transfer was undocumented and without security (Lord Doherty paragraph [5], and Condescendence 6 and 17, pages 20 and 44 of LM reclaiming print).

  • By a memorandum dated 17 March 2007, Heather Capital’s auditors KPMG “identified a number of concerns relating to the documentation provided in respect of these loans”.Further work and information was required (Condescendence 5, page 13 of Levy & Mcrae reclaiming print).

  • On 29 March 2007, Levy & Mcrae transferred £9.142 million to Hassans, solicitors, Gibraltar, under the reference “Rosecliff Limited” (a company controlled by Mr King):the money was not therefore transferred to WBP.The transfer was undocumented and without security (Lord Doherty paragraph [5], and Condescendence 6 and 17, pages 20 and 44 of LM reclaiming print).

  • In April to June 2007, amounts equivalent to the loans thought to have been made to WBP (including accrued interest) were “repaid” to HC via Cannons, solicitors, Glasgow.The directors were unable to ascertain the source of these repayments (Lord Doherty paragraph [7]).

  • Approaches made by Heather Capital to Mr Volpe and Triay & Triay, a firm of solicitors in Gibraltar, were met with a total lack of co-operation (Lord Doherty paragraph [8]).

  • At a board meeting on 6 September 2007, “KPMG could not approve HC’s accounts … Santo Volpe had executed certain loans to SPV companies where non‑standard procedures had been followed which meant that inadequate security had been given for some loans … Gregory King stated that the loans to the SPVs had been repaid in full in May 2007” (Condescendence 5, page 13 of Levy & Mcrae reclaiming print).

  • By email to a non‑executive director of HC (Mr Bourbon) dated 7 September 2007, Mr McGarry of KPMG referred to the previous day’s board meeting, and expressed concerns about the situation.He asked for further information, namely “all possible evidence regarding the movement of monies out of Heather Capital into these SPVs and onwards to whatever purpose the funds were applied – ie, sight of bank statements, payment/remittance instructions, certified extracts from solicitors clients’ money accounts etc”.(It should be noted that, contrary to HC’s averment in Condescendence 5 at page 13C‑D of Levy & Mcrae reclaiming print, the email did not restrict the inquiries requested to “explaining what information was required from Santo Volpe”:the request was much broader.)

  • In October 2007 the non‑executive directors of HC met with the Isle of Man Financial Services Commission (FSC) to discuss “the issues” (Lord Doherty paragraph [8]).A director also disclosed the suspicious activity and Mr Volpe’s obstruction to the Isle of Man Financial Crime Unit (FCU), who said they would investigate (Condescendence 5 page 14 of LM reclaiming print).The auditors KPMG carried out an additional full scope audit.

  • By letter dated 18 October 2007, FSC wrote to the directors of HC setting out further information which they required.

  • By letter dated 26 November 2007 Mr King advised the HC board that “some sort of fraud had been deliberately introduced with invalid land registry details on a number of the loans”.He stated that he had applied pressure to Mr Volpe and Mr Cannon, whereupon there had been “full repayment of the loans with relevant interest” which meant that “investors were secure”.

  • On 17 December 2007, KPMG signed the accounts and added a completion note using language such as “The risk of fraud increased to high as a result of the documentation issues surrounding the SPVs, where some form of fraud appeared to have been attempted”.In their audit report opinion, they stated “We have been unable to verify where funds advanced to the SPVs were invested.In addition, we were supplied with false documentation in relation to the SPVs which appears to have been a deliberate attempt to mislead us.Given these loans were repaid in the period, we consider that the effect of this is not so material and pervasive that we are unable to form an opinion on the financial statements [opting instead for express qualifications that loan and security documentation could not be validated] … There is uncertainty as to where the monies lent to the [SPVs] were then subsequently invested … Investigations continue to determine what party (or parties) were involved in and were accountable for these events, and whether any action should be taken against them …” (Lord Doherty paragraph [9]).

  • By letter to HC dated 4 January 2008, KPMG gave serious warnings about their inability to validate loan and security documentation, and lack of evidence as to the purpose for which the money advanced to SPVs was applied.In their words:

“ … Our report is designed to … avoid weaknesses that could lead to material loss or misstatement.  However, it is your obligation to take the actions needed to remedy those weaknesses and should you fail to do so we shall not be held responsible if loss or misstatement occurs as a result … [Having explained the disappearance of the funds and the apparent repayments, on which legal advice had been received, KPMG warned] … these matters are extremely serious … an attempted fraud appears to have been perpetrated … We would recommend that the Board continue their investigation into this matter and formally document their decision as to whether or not to inform the criminal justice authorities …”

A full copy of a court opinion detailing these and other claims with regards to a further case against Burness Paull LLB  – which coincidently also collapsed earlier last year – can be viewed here: Court of Session allows proof against Levy & Mcrae and Burness Paull LLP in Heather Capital case as liquidators attempt to recover cash from collapsed £280m hedge fund.

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COURT ON AUDIO, M’LORD: Clients should be given SAME DAY access to Court of Session audio recordings – as ongoing probe reveals QC’s admissions in case linked to Lord Malcolm, Lord Carloway & concealed judicial conflicts of interest

Court recordings should be available same day to clients. AN ONGOING media investigation into hearings in Scotland’s top court – the Court of Session – has received evidence which casts doubt on the integrity of witnesses and  counsel’s actions – which could be remedied if unedited digital audio recordings were required to be provided to clients involved in cases – upon the conclusion of a hearing.

Audio recordings of hearings in a £6million land case Nolan v Advance Construction (Scotland) provided by a court source – and a study of their content have led to calls for clients who already pay tens of thousands of pounds for their claims to be hard by the Court of Session – to be given unrestricted access to audio records of proceedings in court – without obstruction or prohibitive cost being used to block access to proceedings in their case.

In the case which features in the released audio –  extraordinary exchanges between counsel, witnesses and the judge – Lord Woolman – can be clearly heard and further exchanges were counsel take an unrealistic, if combative approach with local planning officials in attempts to conceal or contradict legislation relating to the dumping of toxic, hazardous waste from the court.

In the cassette tapes of the Court of Session hearings – obtained by journalists from court sources – the audio recordings of interactions between witnesses, John Campbell QC, and the current Dean of the Faculty of Advocates – Roddy Dunlop QC – has since led to a separate investigation which has discovered one of the chief witnesses in Nolan v Advance held compromising interests linked to the defenders – which were concealed from the court and the judge – Lord Woolman.

In one exchange, Dunlop questions a North Lanarkshire Council planning officer – Mr Fraser Miller – on the conditions and legislation which are required for the removal of hazardous material including asbestos. From the recordings and what happened in court, it becomes clear the planning officer says planning permission would be required to remove the asbestos from the site, and the same permission would be required fo the asbestos to be dumped on the site.

As the case proceeds over a number of days in August 2013 before Lord Woolman – Dunlop’s client – Advance Construction (Scotland) Ltd – are ultimately forced to admit to Lord Woolman they were responsible for illegally dumping the toxic material on Mr Nolan’s property.

The audio tapes of the Nolan v Advance hearings go on to reveal many discrepancies between the accounts of what John Campbell QC said to his own client, and what actually transpired in court – including the as yet unexplained reasons why Campbell QC removed much of his own client’s financial claims – and critically the claim for legal expenses – without receiving any instruction to do so.

While it is important to note this case was initially won by Mr Nolan – the pursuer –  the failure of counsel to return to court for legal expenses against the defender led to financial loss & disaster after counsel for the pursuer turned on his own client by inexplicably stripping out much of the financial claim – an act which Lord Woolman said he had never seen in such a case.

A full report on how John Campbell QC reduced his own client’s financial claim almost to zero and without any instruction or consultation – can be found here: CASHBACK QC: Legal regulator’s files reveal senior QC reduced claim without instructions, withheld key evidence & witnesses including Cabinet Secretary from Court of Session case

Readers may be familiar with Nolan v Advance – one of the most extraordinary cases in recent times – which has since led to the discovery of carefully concealed interests of Court of Session judge Lord Malcolm (Colin Campbell QC) and Scotland’s current top judge – Lord Carloway (Colin Sutherland).

During a consultation between journalists currently engaged in the probe and court sources, further issues in the Nolan v Advance case have now come to light including a source which identified a comment between counsel to the effect of an unreferenced instruction with some degree of motivation – which states “you have got to four o’clock to get this sorted”.

And now – further audio recordings have been provided to journalists which lay down in crystal clear terms an extraordinary attitude on payment of fees on the part of the pursuer’s legal team – which included John Campbell QC, advocate Craig Murray and solicitor Gregor McPhail.

The legal team for Mr Nolan had previously signed up to a no win no fee agreement – which Campbell admits to in the recordings.

However, and without hesitation Campbell then appears to turn against the fee deal and demands his team all be paid – this coming after further material and already published emails revealed John Campbell demanded, and insisted on collecting  in person – cash sums of up to five thousand pounds at a time from his client Mr Nolan.

In one exchange – Campbell QC says “As fond as I am of you, none of us are doing this for love and neither is Craig [Murray]”

Campbell is then challenged over his already agreed position of working on the case via a no win no fee deal

John Campbell agrees he was working on a no win no fee deal but then replies: “That is correct, hmmm but we just have to see whether that actually holds up because hmm you know…”

A number of further recordings are now being studied where it is acknowledged by counsel Lord Woolman states he is  concerned about counsel’s lack of provision to the judge of evidence given by certain witnesses for the pursuer, Mr Nolan.

In an additional audio provided to journalists, John Campbell QC – who now heads the Edinburgh based Quaich Project – clearly admits responsibility for key failures in his presentation of evidence to the court.

Journalists and technical experts are now considering the content of the court recordings for futher publication and potential inclusion in reports to the Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee of events in the Nolan v Advance case which identify a pattern of deliberate and concealed conflicts of interest by judges in the Court of Session.

And – in another court case where recordings have also come to light, it is also very clear what happens in court is very loosely transcribed to parties when there are requests by court participants for transcripts – some costing clients tens of thousands of pounds over hearing after hearing.

In a further case presented to the media team looking into Court of Session audio recordings – a court source has come forward with claims that a transcribing firm who were given court recordings as part of an order for transcripts – were told in a phone call to go easy on certain dates across hearings in one major case – and pay less emphasis to one side’s counsel in their provision of a final transcript ordered by the other side’s legal team.

A legal insider who has been given access to some of the audio material handed over to journalists now believes clients should be given unfettered access to recordings of their cases in court.

He said: “Clients pay a lot of money for their legal representatives to take a case through to the Court of Session and should be provided with audio recordings of each day’s proceedings at the end of that day”

He added: “The equipment to record court hearings has been installed for some time, and this should be properly used to ensure clients on both sides of the court have access to these recordings, without any attempt by court staff or the sitting judge to use unsatisfactory excuses or prohibitive costs as a reason for withholding audio access to those who are paying for the hearings.”

Currently, clients can request a copy of recordings from the Court of Session to be transcribed by an external private company, however – seldom if ever do the actual audio recordings pass into the hands of clients or either side’s legal team.

Clients must pay for the transcribing of the court recordings in what can run into bills of tens of thousands of pounds, however – there are notes of many cases where court staff, and the judge have blocked a client’s request to obtain transcripts of proceedings – and even when the court has agreed to transcription in some cases – clients and legal teams have identified multiple omissions in transcripts which suggest a motivated approach was taken to omit particular evidence from print.

For the media, a different approach to recording and broadcasting from the Court of Session & High Court of Justiciary currently exists in the following format:

Protocol on Recording and Broadcasting of Proceedings in the High Court of Justiciary and the Court of Session, and the Use of Live Text Based Communications from Court

Broadcast: Except where the context otherwise requires, for the purposes of the Protocol,
“broadcast” means the transmission to members of the public of a video and/or audio recording; or live streaming. For the purposes of the Protocol, a recording refers to a video and/or audio recording. Broadcast may be for live streaming, news broadcast or documentary production. Individual sections within the Protocol identify the extent to which broadcasting may be permitted for a particular type of case.

Guiding Principle: The guiding principle is that broadcast of court proceedings is in the interests of open justice and for the information and education of the public.

Judicial Control: Subject to the guiding principle, whether a hearing should be recorded must remain under judicial control. The court may rule that, in any given case, recording a hearing would not be in the interests of justice.

Fair and Accurate Reporting: A report or presentation of proceedings that includes a broadcast of a hearing must be fair and accurate, having regard to the overall content of the report or presentation and the context in which the broadcast is presented. It must not be used for: the purposes of a party political broadcast; advertisement or promotion (except where such advertisement or promotion relates to a report or presentation that includes the broadcast); light entertainment; comedy or satirical purposes.

For the purposes of the Protocol, a media party means a journalist registered with the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service (SCTS), or a party who can provide sufficient, appropriate evidence of relevant journalistic or documentary work. Any media party wishing to record a hearing is required to submit an application using one of the prescribed forms

Applications must be submitted to Judicial Communications for consideration by the Broadcast Working Group well in advance of the date of commencement of proceedings.

On receipt of an application, the Broadcast Working Group must notify the residing/chairing judge and ask him, or her, to provide to the Broadcast Working Group any comment or response which he, or she, may have on the application within an agreed time. Once the Broadcast Working Group has considered any such comment or response, it must make a recommendation to the Lord Justice General (or Lord Justice Clerk) as to whether the application ought to be approved. The final decision lies with the Lord Justice General or, in the absence of the Lord Justice General, with the Lord Justice Clerk. Approval may permit recording to take place in accordance with sections 2 to 5, or in accordance with any additional conditions as may be specified.

A decision on the application must be intimated to the media party within an agreed time. In the event of an application being refused, in whole or part, written reasons must be provided by the Broadcast Working Group.

In the event of an application being refused, in whole or part, the media party may submit an amended application taking into account the reasons for refusal.

If permission to record is granted, the Broadcast Working Group must appoint an SCTS staff member as a liaison officer. That officer is the point of contact between the media party and the court for all purposes connected with the recording.

If permission to record proceedings is granted, the presiding/chairing judge retains responsibility for ensuring that: the grant of permission remains appropriate; the recording is carried out on the terms approved by the Broadcast Working Group; and the recording is carried out in a way which does not disrupt court business. If, at any stage in the proceedings, the judge forms the view that to proceed with the recording would constitute a threat to the administration of justice, or that such a risk is present, or that the media party has breached the Protocol or any condition imposed, the presiding/chairing judge may withdraw the permission. If the presiding/chairing judge is considering withdrawing permission, an opportunity should be afforded to the media party to make representations to the judge before a final decision is reached.

Despite the progress of technology in the world outside of Scotland’s creaky Victorian courts and justice system, recording and broadcasting of what goes on in Scotland’s courts has not yet had the full impact on increasing transparency and accountability in the justice system which the same application of audio and video technology have had in courts in other jurisdictions.

Currently, the media must rely on a ‘judge-led’ review chaired by Lady Dorrian – who was appointed to chair it by Lord Brian Gill, Scotland’s former Lord President and Lord Justice General who famously liked to go after the media and block access to courts and documents during his short three year term as Lord President in which he continually held the media, and transparency in disdain.

Report of the Review of Policy on Recording and Broadcasting of Proceedings in Court, and Use of Live Text-Based Communications

A judge-led group which was appointed by the Lord President to review the current policy on the recording and broadcasting of proceedings and the use of live text-based communications from Scottish courts has published its report.

The review group, chaired by Lady Dorrian, has made a series of recommendations following a public consultation exercise, to which 17 individuals and organisations responded.

The review, which examined the existing practice in Scotland and other jurisdictions, was carried out in the context of a complete acceptance of the importance of the principle of open justice, recognising however that any steps taken in support of this principle must not pose any risk to the administration of justice.

In summary, the report recommends the following:

  • Filming of civil and criminal appeals, and legal debates in civil first instance proceedings, such as judicial review or procedure roll hearings, should be allowed for live transmission. Subsequent news broadcasting and documentary film-making should be allowed subject to clear and comprehensive guidelines.
  • The court should allow criminal trials to be filmed for documentary purposes in certain circumstances, subject to the safeguards referred to in the report. Cases involving children, sexual offences and vulnerable witnesses should not be filmed.
  • No live transmission or filming for subsequent news broadcast should be allowed for criminal first instance business or for civil proceedings involving witnesses.
  • For subsequent news broadcasts, the delivery of sentencing remarks of the judge should be permissible, with filming focused only on the sentencing judge.
  • Filming of criminal trials for live transmission should not be allowed.
  • In civil cases at first instance, filming for documentary purposes only should be allowed, but should exclude certain groups such as family cases and those involving asylum seekers.
  • A structured approach to considering applications to film.
  • All filming should be subject to robust, clear and comprehensive guidelines.
  • Journalists who register in advance with the Scottish Court Service should be permitted the use of live text-based communications such as Twitter from court, subject to guidelines which will be issued in due course.

The Lord President, Lord Gill said: I am grateful to Lady Dorrian and her group for having carried out this exercise so thoroughly. These well-considered recommendations have the support of the judges. I accept all of the recommendations. They are entirely appropriate in the contemporary world. My office will now prepare guidance on the implementation of Lady Dorrian’s report.”

On 18 October 2012, the Lord President, Lord Gill, appointed a judicially led media review group, whose remit was to review policy on the recording and broadcasting of proceedings in court. This was later extended to include consideration of the use of live, text-based communications (LTBC) from court.

Guidance on the conditions under which cameras could be allowed in court was previously contained in a practice note issued by Lord President Hope in 1992. These conditions were revised by Lord President Hamilton in 2012. The revised conditions allowed filming to take place without the consent of all parties involved. The production company and broadcaster had to provide an undertaking to the presiding judge that the final broadcast would not identify those who had not consented to the filming.

The passage of time since guidance was issued, together with the development of social media, the use of instant text-based communication and the broadcasting of proceedings before the UK Supreme Court have all contributed towards a need to review this matter. When filming for documentary purposes has taken place in Scotland, the guidelines have had to be complemented by detailed negotiations as to the precise terms in each case. In appointing this review group, the Lord President considered that a more structured approach was desirable, not least in the interests of consistency.

The review was chaired by Lady Dorrian. The other members were: Lord Bracadale, Lord Woolman, Sheriff Principal Stephen, and Sheriff Drummond. The group was supported by: Christopher Nicholson, Deputy Legal Secretary to the Lord President; Elizabeth Cutting, Head of Judicial Communications; Steven D’Arcy, Head of Strategy and Governance, Judicial Office for Scotland.


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ADVANCE, QC: From Big Invoice to Cash Register – New Dean of Faculty of Advocates stood silent in court while Lord Malcolm concealed his son was on same legal team representing asbestos dumping construction company who lost case – then used law firm linked to top judge to hunt down couple for legal fees

Lord Carloway & Lord Malcolm welcome new Dean R.Dunlop TO WATCH and listen to members of the Faculty of Advocates who strut around Scotland’s courts as if they have a starring role in a grand pantomime or musical overseen by a figure dressed in fiery red and white robes – you may be forgiven for thinking you just entered the world of fantasy and cosplay.

However – what you are actually witnessing is Scotland’s ‘Victorian’ justice system – where lies spoken in court by a figure in a black gown & wig can become an accepted ‘truth’, prosecutors can intimidate defence counsel by adding the dead to witness lists, deals can be done in-chambers to avoid the press & public in open court, and evidence can be lost down the back of a filing cabinet.

And, if you are looking for shameless, outright dishonesty – try the time where Scotland’s top prosecutor James Wolffe QC – himself a former Dean of the Faculty of Advocates –  was being sued in the Rangers admin case of wrongful arrest.

The stakes in that case were so high that Scotland’s ‘world leading’ courts system then neatly engineered a scenario so that Sarah Wolffe QC – the wife of that same top prosecutor James Wolffe QC – could hear and rule on the £9 million claim against her husband and Scotland’s Chief Constable.

You all know the story – A real howler: WOLFFE COURT: Lord Advocate James Wolffe and his judge wife at centre of £9million damages claim – Questions remain why Lady Wolffe avoided recusal during emergency judge swap on court case against her own husband

It gets better: ‘World famous’ (really, not) Scots QCs taking millions in publicly funded legal aid – can literally dream up an entirely false line of defence (commonly known as a lie) – for their child murdering clients and get away with trolling it out to a sceptical judge, jury and entire court room – and then bill the Scottish Legal Aid Board (Taxpayer) for their time spent doing so.

Going further up the tree – Scotland’s top prosecutor – the Lord Advocate – on an instruction to cover up for top cops with shady pasts – can ram-raid a Tribunal hearing and intimidate Tribunal judges into blocking claims of corruption and evidence tampering in the most senior ranks of Police Scotland – from becoming public.

Want to see examples of what most in the real world call corruption and money laundering? – try case after case where Advocates and QCs quietly demand with menaces – sums of cash in envelopes from their criminal or civil case clients. The ‘whisper’ goes like this – Pay up – or the desired court outcome will not be achieved.

And, don’t forget the ranks of slick, overcharging QCs who represent newspapers and the media – you know the type – all smooth talking on telly in between demanding appearance fees for doing so, hair gel to deflect from the botox injections, slick suits, a brown envelope on the way to the court, and a seat on a local rugby club along with a property grabbing, grubby, dishonest local high street solicitor who happens to sit on several Tribunals where he and his brethren live out their squalid existence extorting millions more from taxpayers.

Yet, for those in the know – behind the backs of their very own fee paying media clients, the same QCs with media scorecards find a quiet corner in the Court of Session to contact a colleague to get a message to opposing counsel on what and what not to say – to prolong the case for fees, or do the dirty on the case before them, for a favour on another.

You do for us today, we do for you tomorrow. And, tell you what mate – there is an opening in the Faculty for the son of that judge –  even though he only worked as a trainee lawyer for a few weeks.

But of course, these same legal legends in their own minds jealously guard their profession and self-created reputations – even on social media – where a critical article – or realistic tweet on the legal world can draw the ire of a grubby QC who actually lives on defending the worst filth in society and makes the taxpayer pay him staggering amounts of legal aid millions for doing so.

If anyone dares to question these weird legal people with double lives and multiple personas who market themselves as more valuable to society than doctors and nurses – in their legalistic, legal aid funded view of the world – that critic, person, politician or even a journalist – is not fit to live.

It’s all good though – as they say – because when such public exchanges take place – inevitably someone in an office comes forward with a bundle of papers to show the same high and mighty advocate or QC was actually knocked back by the Legal Aid Board for submitting false claims for public cash – so let’s call that attempted fraud, for the purposes of reality.

To complete the picture of what is in actuality – the Faculty of Fantasy – remember those envelopes full of cash – collected in person by a ‘leading light’ or ‘top’ Advocate or QC – of the same Faculty of Advocates whose members are money laundering and tax dodging all the way to the bank.

Take it from people who write of reality in the justice system – when you enter the eerie world of Scotland’s legal mafia and fall prey to that business known as the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service – you are witnessing a cash grabbing, case fiddling, double dealing world of avarice and greed, rather than the work of robbed figures who would have you believe they are the saviours of humanity, or anyone’s Human Rights.

Clients – mean nothing. Cash collecting and Big Invoice are king. Take them to task and they will see you suffer. And, they do exactly that.

The last Dean of the Faculty of Advocates – Gordon Jackson QC – stood down on 30 June after being filmed talking about the Alex Salmond trial in a train.

The video footage published by the Sunday Times revealed remarks Mr Jackson made about his client Alex Salmond – and his accusers.

In a statement published by the Faculty of Advocates on their Twitter feed, Mr Jackson said in April: “I have intimated my decision to resign as dean of the Faculty of Advocates, with effect from 30 June, at the latest.”

“It would not, however, be appropriate for me to remain as Dean at a time when the Faculty was considering disciplinary proceedings regarding my conduct.”

“Accordingly, if, before that date, the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission remits the recent complaint for consideration by the Faculty’s Complaints Committee, I will stand down as Dean immediately. I do not intend to make any further comment.”

Since that announcement in April, Gordon Jackson has been less conspicuous on twitter – with much of the Faculty’s usual posturing on all things, law, legal and ‘other’ taken up by Roddy Dunlop QC – who was handed Jackson’s job in a lower than usual fanfare of the Court of waffling Session earlier this week.

Albeit  Dunlop only gained the position by default – he was the only candidate to put forward his name for the role – after Gordon Jackson ended his own run as dean in a blaze of careless comments in a train, filmed for posterity.

Dunlop – who – earlier this year gained the position of Vice Dean after Angela Grahame resigned her role – was welcomed in as Dean of the Faculty by Lord Carloway (Colin Sutherland), Lord Malcolm (Colin Campbell QC) and Lord Woolman.

However – the three judges who welcomed Mr Dunlop into the poisoned position of dean – have their own story to tell.

Two of those judges – Carloway & Malcolm – concealed conflicts of interest to a case which Dunlop lost, but was then used to go after the people who won it for the legal fees generated by Dunlop and his colleagues – including Lord Malcolm’s son. This case is currently at the heart of an ongoing media investigation and ticks all the right boxes for dishonesty, greed and conflict of interest.

The probe has so far linked Dunlop’s client (Advance Construction Scotland Ltd) to an ex-sheriff Peter Watson who resigned from the judiciary after he was suspended to protect public confidence in the judiciary

Then, there was the law firm – Levy and MCrae – who escaped a £28m writ over a £400m collapsed hedge fund.

The judge – Lord Malcolm – who concealed the fact his own son was linked to the same case he heard eight times

And, Scotland’s top judge himself – Lord Carloway – who concealed from MSPs that the law firm where his son worked was employed by Dunlop’s client to go after, and seize the properties of the party who actually won the case which Dunlop lost – courtesy of a ruling by the third judge – Lord Woolman.

Only in Scotland’s justice system will you ever find such a gang loaded with conflict of interests who use their seemingly unquestionable status in society to welcome another to their safe-house.

The investigation which reported on Lord Malcolm’s failure to declare serious conflicts of interest, is reported in further detail here: CONFLICT OF INTEREST: Papers lodged at Holyrood judicial interests register probe reveal Court of Session judge heard case eight times – where his son acted as solicitor for the defenders.

When Lord Malcolm’s son bailed out of the court case – but only after the secret his own father was hearing the same case in the same court – came to light – Ewen Campbell ended up in the same Advocate stables as the new Dean of Faculty – Roderick William Dunlop QC of Axiom Advocates.

Nicely done – as some may say.

A recent development in the ongoing media probe of this case saw publication of a witness statement from Advocate Ewen Campbell – Lord Malcolm’s son –  which directly contradicts evidence given by  Lord Carloway – to the Public Petitions Committee and MSP Alex Neil in a hearing on 29 June 2017.

A further development saw a court-sourced witness statement of solicitor and ex-Sheriff Peter Black Watson to the Court of Session – which confirmed Watson employed the son of Lord Malcolm in the case to represent the client – Advance Construction Scotland Ltd – which ended up being heard by Lord Malcolm – who concealed his link to his son during multiple court hearings.

Lord Carloway’s son – Alexander Sutherland – then bailed out of a law firm linked to the same case heard by Lord Malcolm – after the Judicial Office were asked for comment on why his father – Scotland’s current top judge concealed this conflict of interest from evidence in the Scottish Parliament.

Carloway’s son – Alexander Sutherland then spectacularly ended up in the Faculty of Advocates – after only a few months working as a trainee solicitor.

Everything happens for a reason, right?

An earlier investigation revealed Lord Carloway failed to declare his son was linked to the same case: JUDGE OF CONFLICT: Top judge who attacked MSPs over judicial interests probe – failed to declare relative’s role at law firm targeting MSP’s constituents’ home & farm in £6M court case linked to Lord Malcolm conflict of interest scandal

A full report on the publication of evidence contradicting Lord Carloway’s testimony at the Scottish Parliament can be found here: DISHONESTY, LORD: Files reveal Lord Carloway misled Holyrood Committee on involvement of judges’ relative in Court of Session claim – witness statement exposes direct role of Ewen Campbell in £6M land case heard by his father – judge & privy councillor Lord Malcolm

Another turn of luck in the ongoing investigation of the Nolan v Advance case – was the discovery of methods employed by QCs and Advocates to get round signed up fee agreements – by demanding substantial sums in cash payments – which the QC or Advocate then insists on collecting in person from their clients.

But – trawling the court files and fee notes took on an even darker tone when evidence emerged that the Faculty of Advocates itself were attempting to issue fee note credits to cover undeclared payments of cash collected by QCs – when the Faculty feared discovery, and the worrying prospect of an investigation by UK tax authorities.

In one such document – a study of a statement from Faculty Services Ltd in the Nolan v Advance  – noted references to ‘undated’ sums, and credit notes for payments which were in fact – never made.

In one credit note from Faculty Services Ltd – the sum of £5000 – without any date reference is stated as paid.

However, a solicitor dealing directly with the case DENIED the undated £5,000 amount had been paid to Faculty Services Ltd – and a review of the accounts confirm NO such payment was ever made.

The undated £5K credit note listed in the documents – and other unexplained entries – appear to have been created by Faculty Services Ltd with a deliberate intention to conceal tens of thousands of pounds in undeclared cash payments Campbell demanded from his clients.

The fee statements & accounts from Faculty Services Ltd now raise serious questions of how far up the involvement of figures in the Faculty of Advocates in this case stretches – after an earlier investigation established Campbell was pocketing large payments he personally insisted on collecting in cash filled envelopes from his clients in £5,000 bundles.

Written evidence recovered from files held by legal regulators revealed Campbell himself sent emails to his clients – demanding large payments in cash to pay himself and junior counsel Craig Murray.

A full report on Craig Murray’s involvement in the case, and his role in writing two versions of evidence to legal regulators can be found here: ADVOCATE PROBE: How legal regulators covered up for top QC – Files show Scots Advocate now working as Barrister in London – authored two versions of SAME letter for Faculty probe of cash scandal QC who failed clients in £6M Court of Session case

An email from John Campbell to his clients revealed Campbell demanded £5,000 in cash – while he was on the way to a meeting at Airdrie Sheriff Court followed by a dinner with the Law Society of Scotland.

The email from Campbell states: “A little better information about timing. I am due in Airdrie at 4.30. The meeting is in the Sheriff Court, which closes at 6.30. The Law Society is taking me and a colleague for dinner, but I have no idea where. There isn’t a huge number of restaurants in Airdrie, but we’ll find somewhere. This means I won’t be at Bonkle Road until about 8. Is that OK?”

“I have asked JC [John Carruthers] for a breakdown of the £5000. I will explain to you how a spec case works. I have checked; both John and I are willing to take on a spec case for Donal, but only if he signs up to it. There will be two conditions; one is that you keep the Edinburgh agent fed and watered, and the second is the size of the uplift at the end of the day, as I explained to you.”

A Sunday Mail investigation into the case established John Campbell sent multiple emails to clients – in some cases, demanding cash “in any form except beads” to pay for legal services.

An additional email from John Campbell QC to his client stated: “I’m writing to confirm that we agreed at our meeting on Friday that we will meet in Dalkeith on TUESDAY morning, when you will give me £5000 towards the fees of your legal team” … “Please let me know if it’s OK to meet at the Mulsanne Garage, which is at 137 High Street, and what time would suit you?”

If you were wondering why Mr Dunlop’s name keeps cropping up in Nolan v Advance – well – it was Roddy Dunlop’s legal fees – and others – which prompted Levy and Mcrae & Begbies Traynor to use Lord Carloway’s son’s law firm to evict the pursuer out of his house to pay for it all.

You can read all about what happened next, here: FIRE SALE: AIB face sequestration probe as files reveal Trustee was paid £20K by vulture fund to sell home & firebombed farm five days after targeted attack on couple at centre of land case linked to top Scots judges, an ex-Sheriff, an asbestos dumping building company & law firm Levy and Mcrae

If you want to know why Lord Carloway decided to keep quiet about his own link to this case, read more here: JUDGE OF CONFLICT: Top judge who attacked MSPs over judicial interests probe – failed to declare relative’s role at law firm targeting MSP’s constituents’ home & farm in £6M court case linked to Lord Malcolm conflict of interest scandal

THE GANG’S ALL HERE: New Dean welcomed by judges who concealed conflicts of interest in same case

THE newly-elected Dean of Faculty, Roddy Dunlop, QC, has been introduced formally to the Court of Session in a short ceremony.

Mr Dunlop was presented to the Lord President, Lord Carloway, sitting with Lords Malcolm and Woolman, in the First Division courtroom.

Lord Carloway said it was not only his duty but his particular pleasure to congratulate Mr Dunlop on the high honour conferred on him by the Faculty.

Lord Carloway said: “It is an honour which is amply justified by your professional attainments and your personal character,” added the Lord President.

“It is a mark of my own age that I can not only say ‘kent his faither’ – whom I am pleased to see is present today – but even ‘kent his grandfaither’, whom I remember as an agent practising in Glasgow High Court.

“These are difficult times for the Court, the Bar, the wider profession and the public. We have learned a lot in the past four months, and will learn even more over the next four. There are many issues which need to be resolved if the courts are to continue to deliver justice for the people of Scotland. They will require discussion and careful consideration, but at the end of the day difficult decisions about the future will have to be made.

“The Court is confident that you will maintain the high traditions of the office of Dean. I can assure you that any representations which you make to the Court on behalf of the Faculty will always receive our closest attention.”

Mr Dunlop was the sole nomination to succeed Gordon Jackson, QC, who stepped down after four years in office.

Mr Dunlop said: “It is a huge honour to have been appointed Dean of Faculty. This high office extends back to the very origins of the College of Justice in the 16th Century. It has been held by many of the foremost legal minds in Scottish history, and I am humbled, and a little awed, to find myself in their company.

“I take office at an extremely challenging time for Faculty, and for the legal profession as a whole. I will endeavour to meet these challenges in a way that respects the efforts of those who have gone before me.”

Admitted to Faculty in 1998, Mr Dunlop took Silk in 2010. He has a broad-based, mainly civil practice, but with a keen interest in media law, he has been regularly instructed in the criminal courts in contempt matters.

Mr Dunlop served as Treasurer of Faculty from April 2017 until February this year when he was elected as Vice-Dean of Faculty. An election for a new Vice-Dean will follow.

Further material sourced from the Court of Session, including digital evidence & recordings from Neal transcribing machines in relation to proceedings in court where Dunlop and his opposite number John Campbell QC ‘sparred’ during hearings of Nolan v Advance – will be published in further articles.



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