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Leslie Cumming ‘hit’ trial : Accused pleads not guilty to attack used by Law Society Chiefs in media effort to silence critics of crooked lawyers

08 Nov

Leslie Cumming, former Law Society Chief Accountant was attacked in January 2006, Law Society blamed critics, others blamed corrupt lawyers who feared investigation. NEARLY SIX YEARS after a ‘murder hit’ was carried out on Leslie Cumming, the now retired Chief Accountant of the Law Society of Scotland, the trial of the man charged over the attack, Robert Graham (46) who was arrested in Australia late last year and extradited back to Scotland earlier in 2011, began yesterday at the High Court in Edinburgh, with the accused pleading not guilty to the ‘frenzied attack’ on Mr Cumming, lodging a special defence claiming the offence was not committed by him but by a third party, whose name he did not know.

The attack in late January 2006, saw Mr Cumming suffer multiple stab wounds during an attack near his home in Murrayfield, Edinburgh. However, just a few hours after the attack, Mr Cumming’s colleagues at the Law Society of Scotland rushed to contact journalists at certain newspapers, to organise an effort to blame the ‘murder hit’ on critics of the legal profession & campaign groups who called for reform of regulation of lawyers in Scotland. According to one newspaper journalist who covered the story at the time, private off-the-record briefings were given by senior Law Society officials to selected journalists where it was made plain that critics of the Law Society “deserved to be blamed for the attack”.

Law Society of Scotland officials used Police, newspapers in attempt to link their critics to attack on Chief Accountant Leslie Cumming. As it became clear the Law Society was not to have its way in media attempts to finger its key critics for a part in the attack on Mr Cumming, information discussed among journalists in the few days after the incident revealed that senior officials of the Law Society had provided claims & statements to Lothian & Borders Police alleging critics, campaigners and even some ruined clients who had complained to the Law Society were behind what was described as a ‘murder hit’ on Mr Cumming.

A journalist had also reported from Police sources that “Law Society officials were putting pressure on the Police to interrogate & charge certain people over the incident”, (the same certain people the Law Society wanted to discredit before a Justice Committee investigation into regulation got off the ground later that year) although none of the individuals whose names were allegedly handed over to Lothian & Borders Police by the Law Society reported being contacted by the Police at any time during the investigation.

Yesterday during the first day of the trial of Robert Graham at the High Court in Edinburgh, who is being prosecuted by the current Solicitor General, Lesley Thomson, (who may be better known to some as the Procurator Fiscal in the abandoned Fatal Accident Inquiry into the death of a patient who was massively overdosed with radiation at the Beatson Oncology Centre in Glasgow ), the court heard from Dr Rachel Miller, the forensic medical examiner who examined Mr Cumming in hospital three days after the attack occurred. Dr Millar told the court : “The pattern and type of injuries were consistent with a sustained, frenzied, vicious attack with a sharp, pointed weapon such as a knife which could have had a serrated edge”.

Dr Miller said she was informed that Mr Cumming fell onto his knees pulling the attacker towards him. The attacker had then walked away. She said Mr Cumming had sustained more than 40 injuries, although some were due to medical treatment and others had been picked up while gardening.

Dr Miller continued, telling the court Mr Cumming had injuries to the face, chest, back, arms and legs and that sutures & staples had been used to close some wounds and a chest drain had been put in. Dr Miller said the pattern and type of injuries sustained by Mr Cumming were “consistent with sustained, frenzied, vicious attack” with a sharp pointed weapon which could have had a serrated edge. At the initial hearing yesterday, the jury were also shown photographs of Mr Cumming’s injuries.

Today the High Court heard from Mr Cumming himself, who told the jury he saw a “circle of pale face coming out of the darkness” as he emerged from his car in Ormidale Terrace, a lane behind his home in Murrayfield. Mr Cumming went onto describe the attack, telling jurors he realised a blade or knife was involved. He remembered being struck on the side of his face and then shortly afterwards realising he had blood running down the side of his neck. Further details on today’s hearing before judge John Morris QC is reported in the Daily Record newspaper HERE.

Followers of the story so far on the attack on Leslie Cumming will now be familiar with a report which appeared in the newspaper Scotland on Sunday on 29 January 2006,a report which appeared in the newspaper Scotland on Sunday (Cash laundering link to law chief stabbing, 29 January 2006)) a few days after the incident occurred, where senior Law Society figures attempted to pin the blame for the attack on this blog, critics of the Law Society’s poor regulation of crooked lawyers and campaign groups.

Without naming the Law Society officials who said it, Scotland on Sunday reported in the article : Senior figures in the Law Society have made it known they feel some of the websites criticising lawyers are tantamount to incitement to violence” while sources close to the Police confirmed separately to this reporter the highest officials at the Law Society were urging the Police and even the Scottish Executive of the time to stamp out online criticism of lawyers.

At the time of the incident, Diary of Injustice had existed for around three weeks after its creation in the first few days of 2006 to support the passage of the Legal Profession & Legal Aid (Scotland) Bill through the Scottish Parliament in what was to become a very bitter, at times venomous fight between the vested interests of lawyers and consumer groups campaigning for independent regulation of corrupt Scottish lawyers. Needless to say as the evidence now shows, the vested interests won and what became the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission was compromised by the Law Society before it began its official duties in October 2008.

Turning back to the attack on Mr Cumming, as the years dragged on without a result on the case, and after several appeals by Lothian & Borders Police to catch the attacker, along with a report on the BBC’s Crimewatch programme, a development eventually led to the arrest of Robert Graham in Australia in early November of last year, reported by Diary of Injustice here : Australian Police arrest suspect in connection with 2006 murder bid on Law Society of Scotland Chief Accountant Leslie Cumming.

Police hunt for clues on the attempted murder of Law Society Chief Accountant Leslie Cumming in January 2006 (click image or HERE to view video)

The trial at the High Court in Edinburgh is expected to last all week. Mr Cumming retired from the Law Society of Scotland after the attack and now runs his own consultancy business, Leslie Cumming Consultancy Services.

 

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