Legal establishment quango Judicial Appointments Board claims jobs for Scottish judges are controlled by lawyers ‘old boys network’

19 Oct

JAB logoScotland’s Judicial Appointments Board – full of old boys itself. With much fanfare yet little surprise, Scotland’s Judicial Appointments Board, the Ministerial appointed ‘quango’ which helps appoint Scotland’s judges and sheriffs, has published research which ironically claims that jobs for judges are influenced and controlled by the legal profession’s old boys network.

The research, which started after a Sunday Herald investigation found that most of Scotland’s judges have identical backgrounds (approaching clone status) found about 67% of members of Scotland’s legal profession, of whom only around 19% replied (a total of 2319 responses received), that “being in the right social network” influenced which members of the legal profession went on to become a sheriff or a judge after a few nods & winks from those already in the judiciary.

Lord HamiltonScotland’s Lord President, Lord Hamilton. Lord Hamilton, who recently stated to the Scottish Parliament he should be able to tap someone on the shoulder and make them a sheriff, commented on the research, saying : “It is of the first importance that individuals appointed to judicial office are of the highest calibre. Selection for appointment must be solely on merit but it is essential that applications should be encouraged from the widest range of persons eligible. I welcome the Board’s decision to instruct this survey and look forward to having the opportunity to examine its results.”

Lord Hamilton speaks on judicial appointments ..

richard keen qcThe Dean, Richard Keen QC. Richard Keen, the Dean of the Faculty of Advocates, who is still busy challenging the right of asbestos sufferers to claim compensation from insurance companies, commented on the JAB’s jobs for boys survey : “The Faculty of Advocates welcomes any measure to ensure a judicial process that secures the appointment of those best qualified and equipped to discharge judicial functions. It is particularly important that we have a process which provides for appointments throughout the system without regard to gender, ethnic background, marital status, sexual orientation, political affiliation, religion or disability.”

Ian SmartLaw Society of Scotland President, Ian Smart. The Law Society of Scotland were also quick to get their oar in, with a statement from Ian Smart, who said : “Following the publication of the Gill Report, we are potentially entering a completely new era in the field of judicial appointments. Against that background particularly, this is important research indicating the willingness of JABS to continuously improve and modernise the recruitment process and to encourage applications from candidates from all strands of the legal profession. It will be interesting to monitor future developments in judicial appointments as a result.”

You can download & read the research at the following links :

Volume 1: Link opens in new windowMain Report Volume 2: Link opens in new windowTabular Report Link opens in new windowComparison paper on the “Three Surveys ….. Same Answers?”, and for comparison, the Judicial Appointments Commission (for England and Wales) and the Northern Ireland Judicial Appointments Commission have undertaken similar research within their jurisdictions. For further information on their research work, please visit: JAC’s Link opens in new windowBarriers to Applications for Judicial Appointment Research” NIJAC’s Link opens in new windowResearch into Barriers and Disincentives to Judicial Office

However, the Judicial Appointments Board’s desire to get the message out on ‘jobs for the boys’ in Scotland’s courts, necessitates a closer inspection of the JAB itself ….

MacAskill tight lippedJustice Secretary Kenny MacAskill appoints JAB members on the ‘recommendation’ of Scotland’s Lord President Lord Hamilton. Unsurprisingly, while the Judicial Appointments Board’s research, carried out by an external consultancy at cost to the taxpayer claimed old boys networks controlled judicial appointments, the JAB failed to mention that some of its own members, all Ministerial appointees are themselves well known in legal circles for being part of old boys networks which have helped cover up some of the worst scandals to hit Scotland’s legal profession for decades.

Martin McAllister 2000Martin McAllister played a key part in huge Law Society claims cover up scandal which toppled Douglas Mill from his post. One fine example of old boys network appointments to the Judicial Appointments Board itself, would be that of the case of JAB member Martin McAllister, whose name featured heavily in the ‘Law Society of Scotland secret memo claims scandal’ where secret memos, sent to Mr McAllister (who was at the time President of the Law Society) by his [then] Chief Executive colleague Douglas Mill, exposed a policy of concerted and deliberate actions aimed at controlling and curtailing claims & complaints made against ‘crooked lawyers’ by members of the public.

John SwinneyCabinet Secretary John Swinney exposed Law Society claims fixing scandal involving Martin McAllister. Oddly enough, when Mr MacAskill was asked about Martin McAllister’s part in the claims fixing scandal, the Justice Secretary denied any knowledge of the matter, this despite the fact Mr MacAskill’s Cabinet colleague, the Cabinet Secretary for Finance, John Swinney, exposed McAllister & Mill’s secret memos & deliberate actions against members of the public, during recorded hearings of the Scottish Parliament’s Justice 2 Committee, where Mr Swinney’s confrontation with Douglas Mill over the memos addressed to Martin McAllister, eventually led to Mill’s downfall as Chief Executive of the Law Society of Scotland after 11 years in the job.

Cabinet Secretary John Swinney confronted Douglas Mill over claims fixing memos involving the then Law Society President Martin McAllister.

Douglas Mill Memo to Martin MacAllister 5 July 2001 - stop the MacKenzies from appearing at the Justice CommitteeMemos of a feather flock together as Mill’s secret memos to Martin McAllister proposes ways to kill off claims & complaints against crooked lawyers. You can read my earlier report on Mr McAllister’s controversial appointment to the Judicial Appointments Board, including details of those secret memos here : Justice Secretary MacAskill denies knowledge of ‘claims fixing’ memos identifying former law chief sent to Judicial Appointments and decide for yourselves how the old boys network control even appointments to quangos such as the Judicial Appointments Board who themselves, make the appointments of Scotland’s judges.

For readers interest, here are the current Judicial Appointments Board members (who appear not too short of an old boys network either by the looks of it)

Sir Muir Russell, KCB, DL, FRSE (lay Chairing Member)

Sir Muir Russell became Principal of the University of Glasgow in October 2003. He was born in 1949 and was educated at The High School of Glasgow and Glasgow University, where he took a first class honours degree in Natural Philosophy. Prior to his appointment at the University of Glasgow he was Permanent Secretary to the Scottish Executive. He was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 2000 and holds honorary degrees from the University of Strathclyde and the University of Glasgow. His interests include music, food, wine and occasional golf. Sir Muir was appointed to the Board in October 2008 for three years.

Ms Elspeth MacArthur (lay member)

Elspeth MacArthur’s background is in human resources and she has been Director of Human Resources at the University of Edinburgh for the past nine years. Ms MacArthur is also a member of the Board of Management at the John Wheatley College, which is committed to regeneration and combating social exclusion in the east end of Glasgow. Ms MacArthur was appointed to the Board in July 2007 for three years.

Sandy Mowat CA (lay member)

Sandy Mowat’s background is in business as a Chartered Accountant. He was senior and managing partner of Alexander Sloan, Chartered Accountants until he retired in late 2007. He now practices on his own account and holds a number of non-executive directorships and charity trustee appointments. In April 2008 Mr Mowat was appointed to the Investigation and Enforcement Committee of The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland and in April 2009 was appointed Secretary and Treasurer of The Baird Trust. Mr Mowat was appointed to the Board in January 2008 for three years.

Professor Andrew Coyle CMG (lay member)

Andrew Coyle is Professor of Prison Studies in King’s college, University of London. Between 1997 and 2005 he was founding Director of the International Centre for Prison Studies in King’s College. He is a prisons adviser to several United Nations bodies and to the Council of Europe. He is a member of the Foreign Secretary’s Expert Panel against Torture and of the National Advisory Body on Offender Management. He worked for 25 years at a senior level in the prison services of the United Kingdom. While in the Scottish Prison Service he was Governor of Greenock, Peterhead and Shotts Prisons. Between 1991 and 1997 he was Governor of Brixton Prison in London. He was appointed a Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George in 2003 for his contribution to international penal reform. He is a Fellow of King’s College London. Professor Coyle was appointed to the Board in January 2009 for three years.

Rev John Miller (lay member)

John Miller was born in 1941. After university he was a youth worker at a church in Niddrie, Edinburgh. He became a minister of Castlemilk East Parish in Glasgow in 1971. He and his wife Mary were closely involved in the life of the Castlemilk housing scheme for the next 36 years. From 2001 to 2002 he was Moderator of the Church of Scotland’s General Assembly, representing the Church of Scotland at national and international level. He then returned to parish life. In 2005 the Lord Provost awarded him the Glasgow Loving Cup for his contribution to the City. On retirement in 2007 John and Mary Miller spent 18 months working in Zimbabwe. Reverend Miller was appointed to the Board in March 2009 for three years.

The Honourable Lady Smith (judicial member)

Lady Smith was appointed a Judge of the Supreme Court in 2001. She is a graduate of the University of Edinburgh. She was admitted to the Faculty of Advocates in 1980 and was Standing Junior Counsel to the Countryside Commission. Lady Smith was appointed Queen’s Counsel in 1993. She served as a Temporary Sheriff from 1995 to 1999. Lady Smith was appointed Chair of the Scottish Partnership on Domestic Abuse from 1998 to 2000 and served as Advocate Depute from 2000 until she was appointed a Judge. She has served as a member of the Court of Session Rules Council and is a past Chair of the Advocates Family Law Group and Chair of the Advocates Professional Negligence Law Group. Lady Smith was appointed to the Board from July 2008 for three years.

Sheriff Principal Sir Stephen Young Bt QC (judicial member)

After qualifying as a solicitor he worked in London and Glasgow for three and a half years. He then trained as an advocate and was called to the Bar in 1977. He was appointed as a Sheriff in 1984, serving in Glasgow and Greenock. In 2001 he was appointed Sheriff Principal of Grampian, Highlands and Islands, where he is responsible for the administration of justice in the sheriff courts throughout the North and North East of Scotland and the Western and Northern Isles. Sheriff Principal Young was appointed to the Board in June 2007 for three years.

Sheriff Kenneth Ross (judicial member)

Sheriff Ross was appointed a Sheriff in 1997, serving at Linlithgow until 2000 and since then at Dumfries. He is a graduate of Edinburgh University and qualified as a solicitor in 1973. From 1975 until 1997 he was a partner in the firm of Gillespie, Gifford & Brown, Solicitors, Dumfries. He served on the Council of the Law Society of Scotland from 1987 until 1996, convening the Complaints and Guarantee Fund Committees. He was President of the Law Society of Scotland in 1994/5. He sat as a Temporary Sheriff between 1987 and 1997 and has been a member of the Scottish Legal Aid Board since 2004. Sheriff Ross was appointed to the Board in October 2008 for three years.

Mr Roy Martin QC (legal member)

Mr Martin was admitted to the Bar in Scotland in 1976 and in England and Wales in 1991. He became a Queen’s Counsel in 1988. He was the Dean of the Faculty of Advocates from 2004 to 2007. Mr Martin has served as a Temporary Sheriff, a part-time Chair of Industrial Tribunals, and is currently a Chair of the Police Appeals Tribunal. He is a Governor of Loretto School and a Trustee of the National Library of Scotland. Mr Martin was appointed to the Board in June 2007 for three years.

Martin McAllister (legal member)

Mr McAllister is a partner with Taylor and Henderson Solicitors based in Saltcoats, Ayrshire. He is a former president of The Law Society of Scotland and has convened several of its Committees including Legal Aid, Professional Practice and Professional Conduct. Mr McAllister is currently a part time tutor at Glasgow Graduate School of Law and a part time Convenor of The Mental Health Tribunal for Scotland. Mr McAllister was appointed to the Board from September 2008 for three years.

Surely its now time to make the appointments of Scotland’s judiciary a lot more transparent than this lot could ever manage ? After all, do the courts not serve the public and the interests of justice, rather than so obviously serving themselves ?


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