Justice Secretary MacAskill fails to gag Appointments Chief over quango jobs for lawyers sleaze

22 Oct

SLCC squarePapers just released show the Scottish Government’s Justice Department, acting on the authority of its Minister, Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill attempted to impose a blanket of secrecy and lies to protect the legal profession over their release of inaccurate details of lawyers and their regulatory or service histories, who the Justice Secretary personally appointed to the ‘independent’ but now discredited Scottish Legal Complaints Commission.

Scottish Government attempted to gag independent Appointments Commissioner over lawyers service details :

Scottish Government blocks release of SLCC disclosure Page 1Scottish Government blocks release of SLCC disclosure Page 2

Amazingly, not only did the Scottish Government attempt to gag the Commissioner over disclosing the truth about the lawyer appointments, the Government also demanded that OCPAS swap their disclosure of the actual material for an entirely false statement which was to read as follows :

MacAskill tight lippedKenny MacAskill’s Justice Dept ordered OCPAS issue the public a misleading statement : “It is in our view that in this case the information in its present form should not be released without the consent of the individuals concerned. However, a general statement that no appointees had findings of professional misconduct recorded against them would be acceptable”

It is of little surprise the Scottish Government’s Justice Department were so desperate to gag the Office of the Commissioner for Public Appointments in Scotland (OCPAS) over the release of documents, which now conclusively prove there were no proper disclosures from the legal profession over Kenny MacAskill’s sleaze appointments of lawyers and former Law Society Committee members to the ‘independent’ but now discredited Scottish Legal Complaints Commission.

The Office of the Commissioner for Public Appointments in Scotland thankfully refused to be drawn into the Scottish Government’s web of secrecy, and promptly released the documents, which I covered in an earlier report here: Legal Complaints Commission discredited after revelations Law Society lied during ‘stage managed’ appointments process

All this may cause some to wonder why the Justice Secretary is so determined to protect the Law Society of Scotland and his own appointees to the discredited legal complaints commission.

Kenny MacAskill – I will always defend lawyers …

Well .. there isn’t much need to wonder, because not only does the release of the Law Society documents make the Justice Secretary look at best, misleading, the released documents now also contradict responses given by the First Minister, Alex Salmond, who was asked in January to conduct a full investigation into the appointments to the SLCC after revelations of sleaze.

Scottish Government lied over SLCC appointmentsFirst Minister’s letter now contradicted by Law Society disclosure “.. we must abide by the OCPAS Code of Practice which ensures that selection is based on merit and individuals selected will be those who have demonstrated that they best match the skills, knowledge and personal qualities requiredfor the appointment in question.Candidates were also probed on probity and potential conflicts of interest.As you may be aware from the recruitment literature shortlisted lawyer candidates were subject to checks on their disciplinary records”

however, from my earlier report here :

Philip YellandPhilip Yelland only gave limited information on the lawyer applicants : “I should point out to you that in terms of upheld complaints the only issues which it seems to be would be relevant would be if there were findings of professional misconduct against any of the individuals. Service complaints run against firms rather than individuals.”

So, clearly the First Minister was misinformed by the Law Society and his Justice Secretary over the state of the checks on the appointees disciplinary records, because there were none – only the Law Society’s say so, which has now been revealed to be inaccurate in its content.

It does stretch the bounds of credibility Mr Salmond wasn’t able to find out for himself what really happened .. and make no mistake – what really happened was that the legal profession, along with elements of the Justice Department of the Scottish Government stitched up what was to be an ‘independent’ complaints commission which has now been turned into just another rubber stamp quango for ‘crooked lawyers’, as many of you are attesting to yourselves in comments and emails.

Inquiry into police chief who promoted his lover - the ScotsmanScottish Government feared stories of impropriety on MacAskill’s jobs for lawyers and ex-cops on law complaints quango appointments : “Chief Superintendent Douglas Watson is facing an internal inquiry after he walked out on his wife to be with an officer he hand-picked for a specialist squad.Watson, the former head of CID, was picked by Chief Constable Paddy Tomkins to head up the Capital Project, which will completely change the way Edinburgh is policed and create a single 1,000-officer super-division….”

Apparently OCPAS were denied access to material relating to the internal investigations into SLCC appointee and former Police Chief & Law Society Committee member Douglas Watson, nor were details of those investigations made public, raising questions on why the Justice Department covered it up.

Its a pity that our own fellow Scots in the current Scottish Government are going along with this, protecting crooked lawyers and an ever corrupt Scots legal system from reform and genuine change. Is that what ‘Scottish Government’ is all about these days ?, bending over to the professions, promoting injustice, and protecting the dishonest and crooked at any cost ?


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2 responses to “Justice Secretary MacAskill fails to gag Appointments Chief over quango jobs for lawyers sleaze

  1. aweehintohelp

    October 23, 2008 at 11:57 am

    Does that letter (September 2008) amount to misdirection on a point of law?

    Given that the publicly declared intention behind setting up the SLCC was “improving consumer confidence”, it follows that a person applying for a job on the supervisory Board of the Legal Complaints Commission, where consideration was going to be given to the probity of the individual as revealed by their personal / professional history, and to assess the propriety of their motivation (the requisite desire must surely have been to appoint people whose motivation is to protect the consumer’s interest rather than promote the “supplier’s” interest, this was implicit as well – otherwise why change from the Law Society monopoly at all), that person by their act of submitting themselves for consideration for a Board post, must have implicitly accepted that their professional record was to be disclosed to the public in the interests of “improving consumer confidence”.

    The bogus twaddle being peddled by Philip Yelland that service complaints only run against companies (i.e. licensed legal practices) is manifestly false. Anybody who has ever made a complaint to the Law Society of Scotland (4,000 people a year) will have directed their complaint, in the first instance against an individual (the Partner / lawyer that the client specifically had given instruction to and dealt with on a day to day basis) and only within the context of that complaint against an individual’s conduct and service, would the complainant have complained about the licensed practice / Partnership itself.

    Philip Yelland, having been Director of the Client Relations Office of the Law Society of Scotland for many a long year, knew that he was telling an untruth when he made that statement.He managed the complaints handling department of the Law Society. Mr. Yelland therefore has KNOWINGLY attempted to mislead and misdirect OCPAS and the Scottish Government.

    Yelland’s misdirection is merely a further manifestation of the wholesale deceit that has been the key feature of the Law Society of Scotland’s conduct since the Petition to Justice 1 Committee in 2000/01 for a review of self regulation of the Legal Profession, and forming a part of that recognisable pattern of behaviour, has been the dedicated and persistent effort by the Law Society of Scotland’s long term senior staff (I refer also the unlamented departure of former Law Society Chief Executive, Douglas Mill, a habitual peddler of false and misleading statements) to corrupt and co-opt the SLCC from the outset.

    MacAskill as a 20 year member of the Law Society of Scotland, no doubt with one eye on the precarious nature of a political career and the need to keep a door open to the return to his former career, has been a willing lackey and pursuer of Mill and Yelland and co’s scheme to take over the new SLCC and ensure that there is no independent oversight at all. Hence it is no surprise that he instructed his department to shut up / gag OCPAS.

    McAskill – your office is not for the purpose of designing a system which ensures the covering-up of wrong doing by your fellow solicitors, nor the designing of the perfect extortion racket in favour of solicitors – “Pay-up Mr. Client, or we’ll sequestrate you under the Bankruptcy Act” – a safe bit of compulsion – safe because they know that the former client won’t get effective representation against them from ‘one of their own’ – in particular given that there is no “independent body” to ‘discover’ any failure by the subsequent “representatives” in their conduct of the defence of the poor client.
    McAskill – I accuse you of acting against the public’s interest, against the common good. You are acting in breach of the trust of the Scottish people. No decent Scottish citizen would possibly consent to such a disgraceful system. Your assumption that they shall remain ignorant of it, will be shown to be unfounded in time.

    Well done Peter – keep going – the final paragraph explains the importance of your Blog.

  2. petercherbi

    October 23, 2008 at 1:08 pm


    Yes, I think it is … at least it is a deliberate attempt to mislead and misinform the public on an FOI release.

    The statement which the Law & Courts Directorate wanted OCPAS to swap for the actual FOI disclosure attempts to cover up the Law Society’s own misleading information and incomplete disclosure, which until otherwise proven, I think the Justice Department of the Scottish Govt are trying to cover up.

    Mr MacAskill as Justice Secretary and an experienced lawyer will know very well the Law Society’s statement on the SLCC members was incomplete, misleading, and false .. but he chose to do nothing about it. He must therefore take responsibility but in today’s Scottish Government, taking responsibility for something isn’t really on the cards as people have pointed out to me…


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