Scottish Crime & Drug Enforcement Agency have chased crooked lawyers for two years yet no names, no prosecutions. THE Director General of the Scottish Crime & Drug Enforcement Agency (SCDEA), Deputy Chief Constable Gordon Meldrum has been forced to admit to the media this week he cannot identify a so-far unnamed, mysterious group of crooked lawyers & crooked accountants who allegedly work for Scotland’s top crime gangs & bosses, because two self regulators, the Law Society of Scotland who regulate solicitors & the Institute of Chartered Accountants for Scotland (ICAS) who regulate Scottish accountants, are still investigating the allegations & complaints.
Since 2009, the SCDEA have claimed around 241 “specialists”, such as crooked lawyers and accountants, were linked to the organised crime groups operating in Scotland. To-date, not one crooked lawyer or accountant has been charged with criminal offences relating to the now yearly claims made by the Police organisations. However, this year, the figure has now apparently risen to 291 such individuals, as the SCDEA’s recently released crime map lists 360 gangs, 200 of them based in Strathclyde Region, and 4472 members, including the specialists.
In a report published in the Herald newspaper on Monday 6 June, the SCDEA’s director general, Deputy Chief Constable Gordon Meldrum, is reported as claiming 12 of the specialists “taken out” were key players acting as lynchpins for the top 20% of Scotland’s 360 organised crime groups.
Mr Meldrum is quoted : “We found out that these 12 undoubtedly operated on behalf of a number of gangs. By taking out one of the specialists, you can impact on, say, eight groups because they all draw a particular type of advice from one of the individuals. We know for a fact that a number of specialists sit as nexus points in a number of groups. We have got to a position where we have undertaken investigations in to all of them and we have undertaken some kind of action against all of them.”
The Herald went onto report “Mr Meldrum is unable to name any of the 12, because of ongoing proceedings against them involving the Crown Office, the Law Society of Scotland and the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland.”
Secret investigations or simple cover-up ? Law Society of Scotland ‘are investigating’ claims of lawyers working for gangsters yet none have yet been identified. Today, it can be revealed the cases before the Law Society of Scotland have been held up over the concerns of the legal profession that the rot involving the so-far unnamed crooked lawyers allegedly working for gangland kingpins goes a lot further than the Law Society would like made public. Some within the Law Society are concerned the numbers of crooked lawyers eager represent gangs has risen, due to falling profits of law firms in what is one of the worst business periods for decades for Scotland’s law firms used to bringing in vast profits for their partners.
A legal insider speaking this afternoon on the two year old scandal said it was unusual that solicitors accused of involvement with criminal gangs were able to remain anonymous and at large, while also endangering the reputation of the Scottish legal profession as a whole. He also questioned why no arrests had taken place.
He said : “We have reached a dangerous state of affairs where one of Scotland’s top Police organisations have alleged criminal activity on the part of members of the Scottish legal profession yet not one single member of the legal profession has yet been identified in public, along with any of the allegations they face.”
He continued : “These individuals are still at large which, in the light of the SCDEA’s claims must be a threat to the reputation of Scotland’s legal services industry. If the Police have the evidence against them, then why have these solicitors or advocates not been charged with criminal offences and why has it been left to their own regulatory bodies to deal with the cases which now seem to be developing a life of their own.”
A justice campaigner pointed out innocent clients may end up being caught up in the long running saga if no action is taken. He said : “If these alleged crooked lawyers or accountants have been using innocent clients to front their criminal activities, the Law Society, Police and accountants regulators should have taken action a long time ago otherwise innocent people are going to be dragged into this mess.”
A Government insider commenting on the long running saga of gangland crooked lawyers said today he feared a rerun of the Niels Lockhart-Scottish Legal Aid Board scandal, where serious complaints of Legal Aid irregularities made by the Scottish Legal Aid Board (SLAB) against solicitor Mr Lockhart were negotiated away by the Legal Defence Union and the Law Society of Scotland and the case closed without any charges after the Law Society took FOUR YEARS to investigate complaints made by SLAB against Mr Lockhart.
I reported on the Lockhart case in an earlier articles HERE, and exposed the involvement of the Legal Defence Union in the case, which the Law Society closed without a result, here : One law for lawyers : Secret Report reveals Legal Aid Board, Law Society & Legal Defence Union ‘cosy relationship’ in Lockhart case
The insider said : “I fear the SCDEA may well end up with egg on their face if organisations such as the Legal Defence Union take the upper hand in representing the interests of members of the legal profession who are being investigated by the Law Society of Scotland over allegations of criminal behaviour. I think any ordinary person would be justified in asking why are the Law Society involved in this anyway, given the consideration of accusations of crime is clearly a subject the Law Society tend to avoid in complaints handling.”
Asked to confirm whether the Legal Defence Union had been involved in previous Law Society investigations where allegations of criminality against solicitors had been made, the official said : “I believe so. Put it this way, if there are no announcements from the Law Society it has struck off a handful of lawyers acting for gangsters as a result of the SCDEA’s claims, it wont be the first time a solicitor accused of criminal activity has been let off.”
Scots accountants regulator ICAS equally useless in regulation, did nothing over accountant Norman Howitt filing false statements with Police to cover up embezzlement and attempt to swindle. The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland (ICAS) are as poor at regulating crooked accountants as the Law Society are at regulating crooked lawyers. In my own experience, a Borders Accountant, Norman Howitt now of the JRW Group accountants, filed a false statement with Lothian & Borders Police to cover up his actions in taking money from my late father’s estate to his business accounts, possession of my late mother’s pension and an attempt to take control over her entire assets. Even though the Police were satisfied Mr Howitt’s statement was false, without foundation, and they received evidence of his actings in my late father’s estate, nothing was done. ICAS and its investigator, Dr TM McMorrow, initially found Mr Howitt to blame yet refused to act or punish the crooked accountant, who remains in practice as an accountant in the Scottish Borders to this day.
An individual familiar with the practices of ICAS regulation said : “As for ICAS, don’t expect much from them. They are a law unto themselves like the rest of the financial regulators unless there is a bit of PR in it for their end to claim they finally did something.”
No one at the SCDEA was available for comment. The Crown Office have not issued any statement on any charges or investigations concerning these mysterious crooked lawyers & accountants so far not publicly identified by the Scottish Crime & Drug Enforcement Agency.
If any readers have worries their solicitors or accountants may be involved in criminal activities,they should contact Scottish Law Reporter at firstname.lastname@example.org with their suspicions.