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Part-time Sheriffs beat full-time colleagues & senior judges in expenses claims as Scots judiciary finally publish judicial expenses online

13 Dec

Lord HamiltonScotland’s Lord President, Lord Hamilton now publishes his & judicial colleagues expenses online. EXPENSES CLAIMS of Scotland’s Court of Session judges, Sheriffs & Part-Time or Temporary Sheriffs have now been published on the Judiciary of Scotland’s website, after Freedom of Information requests earlier this year first revealed on Diary of Injustice, the true, if at times, staggering expenses claims of members of Scotland’s judiciary where Scotland’s 34 Court of Session judges were revealed to have claimed £78,988 in expenses on top of their already huge salaries ranging from a mere £172,753.00 for ‘outer house judges’ to the Lord President’s staggering £214,165.00, making a a collective annual salary of just over £6.1 million for the 34 Senators of the College of Justice as they are known, to keep the painfully slow wheels of Scots justice rolling & the Court of Session in business.

Travel & Subsistence expenses claimed by Judges Court of Session & High Court 1 April - 30 September 2010Quarterly figures now published by the judiciary itself reveal the extent of judges expenses claims. Figures now published by the Judiciary of Scotland website reveal the highs & lows in expenses claims of Scotland’s Court of Session judges, with Lord Kinclaven making the highest claim for travel & subsistence in the last available financial quarter at £3,656.40, closely followed by Lord Uist who claimed £3,011.72, Lord Woolman who claimed £2,217.78, Lord Pentland who claimed £1941.38 and Lady Clark of Calton who claimed £1,613.25, although all these judges are assigned ‘circuit duties’, meaning they sit in various courts throughout Scotland. The Lord President, Lord Hamilton himself claimed £259.90 while Lord Gill, the Lord Justice Clerk claimed £118.60. Several Court of Session judges claimed nothing at all in travel & subsistence, leaving the total expenses claimed by the 34 Court of Session judges at £15,945.99 from 1st April to 30 September 2010, full details available here : Senators of the Court of Session (pdf)

Edinburgh Sheriff CourtFull time Sheriffs expenses claims finally revealed. Among the Sheriffs, examples of expenses claims range from £4,503.50 for Sheriff R Anderson QC (who sits at ‘remote’ courts), £4,633.02 for Sheriff DO Sutherland, £3,719.01 for Sheriff AD Miller (floating Sheriff & formerly a part time Sheriff), £4,433.30 for Sheriff A Berry (floating Sheriff), and £3,411.51 for Sheriff Principal Sir ST Young Bt QC, to Sheriff MGR Edington, who claimed nothing, Sheriff Edington being one of the few, fine honest lawyers during his time in legal practice I’ve known, also not forgetting Sheriff Principal R A Dunlop QC, who claimed £752.60. The now Sheriff Dunlop was my Senior Advocate for my negligence case against crooked Borders lawyer Andrew Penman of Stormonth Darling Solicitors, Kelso. However, Alistair Dunlop QC as he was then was made a Sheriff the next week and conveniently taken away from my legal team, such is the fairness in the Scottish justice system no other Advocate could be found to take the case.

Many other Sheriffs claimed little or nothing at all, the full details of their expenses claims, which total £7,760.99 for the period 1st April to 30 September 2010 can be found here : Sheriffs Principal and Sheriffs (pdf)

Shamed Lawyer in Tennis Racket - Michael G Robson (Sunday Mail 21 october 2007)Part-Time Sheriff who was involved in years-long tennis-playing crooked lawyer case, claimed £2,350.55 in expenses this year. A very much higher set of expenses claims are made by the Part-Time Sheriffs, who beat full time Sheriffs & the Court of Session judges by a long way with examples of claims ranging from £6,738.80 for Sheriff G Fleetwood, £5,048.25 for Sheriff DW Hall, £7,624.97 for Sheriff PGL Hammond, £4,252.35 for Sheriff EG Savage, £4,124.30 for Sheriff D McCaffrey, £4,854.98 for Sheriff V Johnston to £2,350.55 for Sheriff PA Reid who ‘prosecuted’ the tennis playing crooked lawyer Michael G Robson on behalf of the Law Society and decided to leave out my testimony for fear of giving me a fair hearing. You can read more about the Michael Robson case, here : Revelations in Court of Session appeal show Law Society & Fiscal deliberately failed to take witness affidavit and excluded crucial evidence

Some Part-Time Sheriffs claimed nothing, although not many. The full details of Part-Time Sheriffs expenses claims, which totalled a whopping £126,399.69 for the same period 1st April to 30 September 2010 can be found here : Part-time judicial office holders (pdf)

Judiciary of Scotland website coverJudiciary for Scotland website published judicial expenses after FOI requests revealed cost of Scottish judiciary. The decision by the Judicial Office to publish expenses claims of Scotland’s judicial office holders comes after my earlier investigations into the expenses claims of Scotland’s judiciary, reported in August : The costs of Scotland’s ‘Victorian’ Justice System : Court of Session judges paid £6.1 million as litigants struggle to obtain hearing dates & here : Justice Delayed ? Not when it comes to expenses claims as high earning Scots judges rake in at least £78K in ‘travel’ claims

The Scottish Government, responding to an initial Freedom of Information request in August of this year from Diary of Injustice on expenses claims by the judiciary stated : ”The total Travel & Subsistence claims from Scotland’s 34 Senators of the College of Justice for the financial year 2009-10 was £78,988 of which, £16,299 was for Inner House judges, and the remaining £62,689 was for Outer House. The Scottish Government said the only other expenses they would record in the accounts are the Wig & Gown allowance, a one-off payment when a new judge is appointed. It transpired no such payments were made during 2009-10”

However, The Scottish Government admitted in FOI responses there were no details held of the individual expenses claims for judges on a central database as the accounts system only recorded the totals charged against headings such as Travel and Subsistence. The new policy of publication of all judicial office holder’s expenses claims in Scotland brings transparency in expenses into line with England & Wales, details of which can be viewed on the English Judiciary’s website, here : Judicial Expenses for England & Wales

Expenses Claims of Scotland's JudiciaryScottish Government FOI release of Judicial Office holder’s expenses claims earlier this year. The figures released by the Scottish Government in September in response to a Freedom of Information request revealed while a Sheriff receives an annual salary of around £128,296 per annum, Scotland’s Sheriffs collectively claimed a further £176,431.37 in expenses in the last financial year 2009/2010, while part time sheriffs who are paid a daily fee of around £575 for each day of service claimed an additional much larger figure of £281,085.07 in expenses. The figures also reveal earlier & current expenses claims of £106,367.09 & £77,259.31 respectively for Scotland’s Court of Session judges (Senators) on salaries ranging from £172,753.00 to the Lord President’s staggering £214,165.00.

Will the increased transparency by way of publishing the judiciary’s expenses claims bring savings to the public purse ? We will just have to wait & see .. and monitor.

However, if anyone from the Judiciary of Scotland website is reading this, I would recommend publishing the expenses claims in normal web available html format as well as in pdf, to ensure taxpayers, constituents & court users can more easily check on how much the judiciary are costing us. Who knows, perhaps one day we may even see performance tables showing, for instance, how long cases take before Sheriffs, along with the decisions handed down etc

More information relating to how the judiciary conducts itself, along with recommendations for more transparency can be found at the following links :

The Report of the Scottish Civil Courts Review by the Lord Justice Clerk, the Rt Hon Lord Gill launched in September 2009 gives recommendations in relation to the provision of civil justice, including the structure, jurisdiction, and procedures of the courts.

The Independent Review of Sheriff and Jury Procedure by Sheriff Principal Bowen, published in June 2010 reviews sheriff and jury practice and procedure in Scotland with the aim of ensuring that the system is fair, efficient, modern and effective.

A Statement of Principles of Judicial Ethics for the Scottish Judiciary published April 2010 offers guidance and a framework of principles for members of the Scottish judiciary. More information and the full Statement can be found here.

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