Ensuring establishment support for another 4 years as Justice Secretary ? AMONG the multitude of justice related quango appointments quietly announced in the past week by Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill, are the reappointments for five more years of former Law Society President Martin McAllister and former Permanent Secretary for the Scottish Government (Chief of the civil service in Scotland), Sir Muir Russell to the quango which recommends the appointments to Scotland’s judiciary, the Judicial Appointments Board, with salaries of £290 per day plus expenses for a meagre time commitment of 20 to 30 days per year.
Martin McAllister, former Law Society President. Martin McAllister, who was implicated in the memogate scandal involving the Law Society of Scotland, Marsh and Douglas Mill over ‘claims fixing’ allegations made by Cabinet Secretary for Finance John Swinney, retains his well paid Judicial Appointments Board position on top of yet another publicly funded quango position as part-time Convenor of the Mental Health Tribunal for Scotland with a whopping recession busting payment of £430 per day plus expenses.
My earlier report on Mr McAllister’s controversial initial appointment to the Judicial Appointments Board, including details of the Law Society’s secret memos implicating his involvement in a scandal which went onto claim the resignation in January 2008 of Douglas Mill the then Chief Executive of the Law Society of Scotland, is here : Justice Secretary MacAskill denies knowledge of ‘claims fixing’ memos identifying former law chief sent to Judicial Appointments.
When asked about Mr McAllister’s past for my earlier report, the Justice Secretary’s spokesperson claimed there was no information of any matter involving Mr McAllister and his role in claims against the Master Policy during his time as Law Society President : Mr MacAskill’s spokesperson said at the time : “Mr McAllister was appointed through fair and open competition by an independent panel. We are not aware of any formal complaint about Mr McAllister’s role in relation to claims and complaints during his time as President of the Law Society of Scotland, and no evidence has been presented to us which would raise any questions over the decision of the selection panel.”
John Swinney, Cabinet Secretary for Finance & Sustainable Growth. However, the Scottish Government Finance Chief, John Swinney when in opposition during the summer of 2006 at the Scottish Parliament’s Justice 2 Committee, questioned the then Law Society Chief Executive Douglas Mill over contents of his own memos, which referred to Martin McAllister. Mr Swinney said : “I am interested in what the witnesses have just said about the Law Society having nothing to do with the arrangements for handling negligence claims. I have in front of me a memorandum in connection with the case of one of my constituents. It was issued by Mr Mill on 5 July 2001.”
“Mr Mill’s memo was written to the then president of the Law Society, Mr McAllister. It refers to the broker of the master policy. Mr Mill suggests that it would be good if he and the others involved all got together and had a “summit meeting” to discuss how to dispose of my constituent’s “several valid claims”. Mr Mill and I have discussed the matter at length over the years, but I find that a rather strange memo if it is to sit comfortably with the statement that the president has just made.
“The memo of 5 July encourages “a summit meeting on the up-to-date position”to be held to look at “both the complaints and the claims aspects.” That rather suggests that the Law Society has been involved. The claim remains unresolved to date and yet the memo is dated 5 July 2001.”
Clearly Mr Swinney’s evidence to the Justice 2 Committee during 2006, which can be viewed in video footage on InjusticeTV HERE, raises serious questions over the honesty of the Scottish Government’s claim not to have known of Mr McAllister’s past involvement in the Marsh memo scandal.
In the case of the reappointment of Sir Muir Russell to the Judicial Appointments Board, the former head of the civil service in Scotland, is now better known for his chairing of the Climategate inquiry into into allegations that leading academics at the University of East Anglia manipulated data on global warming. The ‘results’ of that ‘inquiry’ can be found HERE.
The Herald newspaper revealed in a report “Holyrood fiasco peer’s £40k for chairing Climategate review” by Paul Hutcheon that Sir Muir Russell walked away with nearly £6000 a month (totalling £40,000) for leading the Climategate probe which unsurprisingly cleared scientists at the University of East Anglia of data manipulation.
The Herald report said : “The inquiry chaired by Sir Russell investigated claims that researchers at East Anglia had distorted statistics on global warming. Hacked e-mails written by university staff led to fears that information on climate change was being manipulated, a row that was played out internationally. The six-month probe concluded with Russell and his team noting the “rigour and honesty” of the scientists. A freedom of information request has revealed that the university paid Russell a £40,000 fee for his chairmanship. He also benefited from £2908 in travel and £976 for accommodation.”
Here follows the announcement from the Scottish Government of Sir Muir Russell & Martin McAllister’s reappointments to the Judicial Appointments Board, for another five years on £290 per day plus expenses, all coming out of public funds :
The Cabinet Secretary for Justice today (22/03/2011) announced the reappointments of Sir Muir Russell as the Chairing Member, and Mr Martin McAllister as a member to the Judicial Appointments Board for Scotland.
Sir Muir Russell was first appointed as Chairing Member of the Judicial Appointments Board for Scotland on October 1, 2008 for a three year period. His background is as a civil servant and he held a number of posts before being appointed Permanent Secretary at the Scottish Office in 1998. He was Principal of the University of Glasgow from 2003 until his retiral in 2009. He is a Vice Chair of Governors of the Glasgow School of Art, the Chairman of the Dunedin Concert Trust, a Member of the Board of the Moredun Research Institute, the Chairman of the Council of the Hannah Research Institute and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.
This reappointment will run for a further three years from October 1, 2011 to September 30, 2014. He is an experienced chair who demonstrates particular strengths in building relationships both internally and with external partners. This post is part-time and attracts a remuneration of £17,500 per annum for a time commitment of 20 to 30 days per year. He has no other public appointments.
Mr McAllister was first appointed as a legal member on September 1, 2008 for a three year period. He is a partner with Taylor and Henderson Solicitors. 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 the University of Strathclyde and a part-time Convenor of the Mental Health Tribunal for Scotland.
As a practicing Solicitor and former President of the Law Society he brings valuable experience of the largest element of the legal profession in Scotland. This reappointment will run for a further three years from September 1, 2011 to August 31, 2014. This post is part-time and attracts a remuneration of £290 per day a for a time commitment of 20 to 30 days per year. Mr McAllister is also a part-time Convenor of the Mental Health Tribunal for Scotland with a remuneration of £430 per day.
The Judicial Appointments Board for Scotland was established by Ministers in 2002, and it became an independent advisory non-departmental public body on June 1, 2009. The Board has statutory responsibilities under the Judiciary and Courts (Scotland) act 2008. The Board’s role is to make recommendations to Ministers for appointment to the office of judge, sheriff principal, sheriff, and part-time sheriff as well as other judicial offices set out in the Act.
These Ministerial public appointments were made in accordance with the Commissioner for Public Appointments in Scotland’s Code of Practice.
All appointments are made on merit and political activity plays no part in the selection process. However, in accordance with the original Nolan recommendations, there is a requirement for appointees’ political activity within the last five years (if there is any to be declared) to be made public. There is no political activity to be declared.
BACKGROUND to the Judicial Appointments Board:
The role of the Judicial Appointments Board is to recommend to the Scottish Ministers individuals for appointment to judicial offices within the Board’s remit and to provide advice to Scottish Ministers in connection with such appointments. The Board is responsible for recommending individuals suitable for appointment to the following judicial offices Judge of the Court of Session, Chair of the Scottish Land Court, Sheriff Principal, Sheriff, Part-time Sheriff, Temporary judges.
The JAB’s website claims : “The selection of individuals for recommendation must be made solely on merit and an individual may only be selected for recommendation if he or she is of good character. Only the judicial and legal members of the Board may assess the applicants’ knowledge of the law or their skill and competence in the interpretation and application of the law. Decisions about an applicant’s suitability to be recommended for appointment are made by the whole Board.”
Ironically, a research report carried out by the Judicial Appointments Board claimed that jobs for Scottish judges were controlled by an old boys network , probably the same old boys network which ensures who gets jobs on the Judicial Appointments Board itself.