Justice Secretary ‘hush hush’ on criminal records of lawyers as Crown Office claims its too costly to keep details on legal profession’s crooks

11 Jun

COPFSScotland’s Crown Office & Procurator Fiscal Service ‘too busy to collect details’ of crooked lawyers. Despite the blaze of publicity sought by both the Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill and the Scottish Crime & Drug Enforcement Agency on their joint announcement that over 4000 hardened criminals are roaming Scotland who for now cannot be caught, the Crown Office have revealed an extraordinary gaffe in their own procedures, where apparently there is no information routinely recorded of the previous or present occupations of accused or convicted persons – particularly when it comes to solicitors.

Scotland's Got CrookedDiary of Injustice reported SCDEA’s announcement that 250 crooked lawyers & 3000 criminals were on the loose. The Crown Office’s policy on identifying the occupations of criminals compares unfavourably with the Scottish Crime & Drug Enforcement Agency’s own investigation methods, who, as I reported on earlier, revealed that around 367 serious crime groups are active in Scotland involving 4,066 people, assisted by over 250 crooked lawyers, accountants and other “specialists” who are giving the criminals professional help.

Crown Office on prosecutions of solicitorsCrown Office admit they don’t gather statistics on how many crooked lawyers are prosecuted. In response to Freedom of Information queries to the Crown Office on the disclosure of statistics engathered relating to charges or prosecutions against members of the legal profession in Scotland, which includes paralegals, solicitors, and anyone working in a solicitor’s office, it was disclosed that “The COPFS database has no information routinely recorded indentifying the present (or previous) occupation of accused persons reported for prosecution. We do not extract any information regarding cases in which the accused person is (or was) a solicitor, so do not hold any statistical information which would answer your question.”

Ian Donnelly - Lawyer begs for sex with mum & girl of 11 - Daily RecordSolicitor Ian Donnelly convicted of sex offences but if the Crown Office have their way no one will ever find out Donnelly is a lawyer. The Crown Office indicated their database “is an operational database (not a statistical one) which is used to manage the processing of reports submitted to the Procurators Fiscal. The database is designed to meet the Service’s business needs in relation to the processing of individual cases and information within it is structured accordingly. While some aggregate statistical information is extracted from the database, this can often be a complex and time -consuming process.” It appears to be that its too time consuming an issue for the Crown Office to keep statistics on crooked lawyers, but not too time consuming that they cant hand over figures for other criminals & crimes for Kenny MacAskill to make sweeping announcements on …

You can read another article on some of the Scottish legal profession’s leading lights being charged with criminal offences here : Legal Aid Board ‘brought into disrepute’ by Legal Services Chief’s criminal charges over rent boy scandal

Criminal Records of LawyersDiary of Injustice reported earlier, the public in England & Wales can find out statistics on criminal records of lawyers but not in Scotland. The apparent lack of an initiative by Scotland’s Crown Office to engather statistics on crooked members of the Scots legal profession has today been condemned by a legal insider as “little more than pandering to Scotland’s legal establishment who do not wish to see recordable statistics made available to the public on the criminal records of members of Scotland’s legal profession.”. However as I reported last month, the public in England & Wales do get a bit more information on the criminal antics of the legal profession in the rest of the UK : Criminal records of lawyers : Scots public kept in dark over convictions while England & Wales get ‘right to know’

Lawyer accused of flashing at boy, 13 -  Daily Record April 13 2006Ever wondered why charges are dropped against lawyers and not against others ? – the Crown Office are the last people to tell. A Scottish Government source today admitted there was no appetite to divulge the statistics of prosecutions against members of the legal profession because of ‘Ministerial policies.’ He said : “As you know, it is not Ministerial policy to upset the legal fraternity, and it has been that way for a number of years even before the current administration took office in 2007. If statistics were collected on prosecutions against members of the legal profession, the public might start to wonder why so many criminal cases, some involving serious charges, are disproportionately dropped against lawyers, while there would be no question of not pursuing similarly serious charges to a conviction against ordinary members of the public.”

He went on : “However, I fail to see how the Justice Secretary can claim to be tough on crime when he wont even allow the country’s prosecution authorities to collect detailed statistics on the likes of prosecutions against members of the legal profession while on the other hand, being able to make grandiose announcements there are literally thousands of criminals and crime gangs roaming Scotland aided & abetted by many in the legal profession, who for varying reasons cannot be caught or identified.”

MacAskill tight lippedKenny MacAskill has politicised media releases on justice but remains hush hush on crooked lawyers identities. Coincidentally at the weekend, the former head of the SCDEA Graeme Pearson, appearing in the Sunday Mail newspaper, criticised the SCDEA’s ‘mapping investigation’ announcement as “more a political event than a policing event.” criticisms which many agree with, after recent Press releases & media events held by varying public bodies such as the Scottish Legal Aid Board, and Government funded consumer organisations have been in effect taken over for political means by the Justice Department, leading to as one serving Chief Executive yesterday claiming “Our Press Conferences & Press Releases are now little more than political theatre to promote the SNP rather than giving an impartial account of justice issues affecting Scotland”.

There is of course, little need to wonder why the Crown Office refuses to keep statistics on the numbers of crooked lawyers prosecuted or sent to jail in Scotland …

The lack of statistics at the Crown Office is simply down to the influence of the legal profession who do not want the public being able to access such detailed information, and, perish the thought we should not be told who exactly are the SCDEA’s least recommended solicitors & legal firms who made it to their recent investigation of all things crooked in Scotland, which has now been used mainly for political show by the Justice Secretary, rather than making the determined effort to lock up those who are allegedly the crooks among us …

The Justice Secretary was asked for comment two weeks ago on his attitude & policy towards criminal prosecutions & criminal records of solicitors in Scotland .. so far, he has not replied …

Its a small thing though, if you consider it, taking a note of someone’s employment, considering that anyone who is charged with a criminal offence, is usually asked what they do, if of course, its not already on some file or Police record somewhere (which it must be, because the SCDEA say so) … so why deny even the most simplest of tasks, to ensure the public know more about their legal representatives ?

Why must we not be able to know more about our legal representatives in Scotland ? Why the big hush hush Mr MacAskill ? Have you spent too much time defending your colleagues in the legal profession you now cannot see the wood for the trees ?


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