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Email ‘smeargate’ at Legal Complaints Commission requires resignations to restore regulator’s public credibility

15 Apr

SLCC squareSLCC members & officials engaged in bitter smear tactics against public groups. While the controversy still rumbles on over the email smear-gate scandal involving former Downing Street Adviser Damien McBride & the Conservative Party, disciplinary action is now been demanded over a similar email smear campaign from within the ‘independent’ Scottish Legal Complaints Commission, where Ministerial appointees engaged in bitter hate fuelled email smear exchanges against consumer groups & campaigners in attempts to exclude them from the commission’s objective of protecting the public against rogue lawyers, while the legal profession was apparently allowed ‘a free hand’ in policy discussions.

Jane IrvineSLCC Chair Jane Irvine to investigate members conduct. Given the ferocity of the email exchanges between SLCC officials & board members, Jane Irvine, the Chair of the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission has been asked to investigate members conduct with a view to raising disciplinary proceedings for the extraordinary poor judgement and unacceptable behaviour by key officials at the ‘independent’ law complaints body. The investigation will focus along the lines of :

(i) Apparent after hours activities by members affected judgment on policy discussions such as the monitoring of the Guarantee Fund,

(ii)The making of defamatory personal opinions made against claimants to the Guarantee Fund which may compromise claims to the Guarantee Fund and impugn the characters of claimants, supporters of such claims, and financial institutions,

(iii)Bitter expressions of discrimination & hostility were expressed by both board members and SLCC officials in emails against consumer campaign groups

MacAskill must clean up SLCCHow the media and I reported the email smear campaign at the SLCC. While there seems no indication the Damien McBride emails spread to others higher up the chain of command, and probably were not known about by the Prime Minister himself, the bitter hate fuelled rants of SLCC board members were spread and copied throughout the organisation, with the Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill himself being made well aware of the anti-consumer culture which has infected the SLCC at all levels, even to the point where his own appointees to the commission embarked on Law Society style anti-client rants to destroy the credibility of financial claims for damages against rogue lawyers.

Smear-gate in Scotland – SLCC officials go better than McBride, attacking public, political groups & law reformers :

Email smear gate SLCC

John SwinneyJohn Swinney championed consumer protection against lawyers, but Kenny MacAskill allowed lawyers rights to ‘run amok’ at new complaints body. The bitter email smears & rants expressed by the SLCC’s board members & officials also appear to have a political connection, as insiders to the organisation now allege the failures within the commission which have allowed such an anti-consumer culture to develop, has now turned the beleaguered complaints regulator into a cesspit of political infighting where the organisation’s failure is being blamed squarely on the current Scottish Government and the Justice Secretary himself.

An SLCC insider concerned the current Scottish Government is allowing the Law Society & its associates too much of a free hand at the legal complaints commission reiterated their stance :”I think it is in everyone’s interests that the new Commission is truly independent but that does not appear to be what is being delivered. I think there were also those that believed the transfer of SLSO staff would offer some sort of guarantee of objectivity and independence, I know that was certainly the intention of ministers and senior civil servants in the previous administration.”

MacAskill tight lippedMacAskill still to act over SLCC email smear scandal. In comparison to the current inaction from Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill over SLCC’s email tantrums, the head of the Civil Service at Westminster, Sir Gus O’Donnell today said in connection with the Damien McBride emails that “strengthened” guidance had been issued to department heads on codes of conduct on Wednesday, and that special advisers caught “disseminating inappropriate material” are to be automatically sacked under new rules.

In that case, the same should apply to the actions of those at the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission, whose actions have badly damaged the law complaints body’s public credibility and have brought the commission into disrepute. Who among the highly paid SLCC members & officials will now do the decent thing and resign over their astoundingly poor conduct ?

If there are no resignations, it is clear that sackings should be the order of the day, to send a clear message to everyone that the legal profession’s traditional bitter resentment of consumer organisations and clients best interests have no place at the SLCC, which was created to clean up the long term cronyism in complaints handling by the Law Society of Scotland, which consistently allowed crooked lawyers to remain in practice while unsuspecting clients fall ever more into the trap of poor legal service and widespread, well organised frauds by dishonest solicitors against the public.

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