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New brooms or new stooges ? MacAskill appoints 4 more board members at £212 a day each for 5 years to anti-client Scottish Legal Complaints Commission

25 Nov

slcc openingJustice Secretary Kenny MacAskill swells the anti-client law quango SLCC’s board. KENNY MACASKILL, Scotland’s Justice Secretary has today appointed two lawyers George Clark and Ian Leitch & two non-lawyers Ian Gibson and Samantha Jones to positions giving a daily remuneration of £212 each plus expenses & other benefits lasting FIVE YEARS to swell the already burgeoning board of the anti-consumer Scottish Legal Complaints Commission (SLCC), the scandal ridden law complaints quango created in 2007 as an ‘independent’ offshoot to the Law Society of Scotland whose pitiful, often corrupt performance as the self regulator of Scotland’s legal profession saw case after case where lawyers covered up for each other after solicitors financially ruined their clients by virtue of fraud, theft or negligence, or in other cases, had been accused of stealing MILLIONS OF POUNDS of taxpayer funded legal aid and escaped any criminal prosecution.

Margaret Scanlan - Called to the Bars - Sunday Mail  15 March 2009 emailRevelations in Called to the Bars saw more consumer hate at the SLCC than consumer protection. Since the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission took over as the ‘single gateway’ for complaints against Scotland’s growing numbers of crooked lawyers, it has spent more time insulting clients than chasing after crooked lawyers. In last year’s annual report by the Scottish Solicitors Discipline Tribunal (SSDT), itself a lawyer organised quango with little oversight, the SSDT’s Chairman revealed there have been no recommendations made under the legislation which created the SLCC to prosecute ANY crooked lawyer as a result of complaints made by clients, a story reported by Diary of Injustice in an earlier article here : Law complaints quango Scottish Legal Complaints Commission ‘a failure’ as Discipline Tribunal reveals no prosecutions of crooked lawyers in two years

The SLCC’s poor record on recommending prosecutions is amazingly even worse than the rare prosecutions of crooked lawyers before the SSDT which are carefully stage managed by the Law Society of Scotland’s own complaints regime to give an appearance of effective regulation when in fact there is none.

It was also revealed in last year’s annual report the SLCC had, again, as it has done in each year since 2008, sent most complaints back to the Law Society of Scotland for investigation, and had only ever upheld one single complaint against an unnamed crooked lawyer, reported by Diary of Injustice in January of this year, here : ‘One complaint upheld’, 928 more sent back to Law Society & £1.8million spare cash : Scottish Legal Complaints Commission’s 2010 annual report

This is the third round of appointments to the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission in 2011, where in the first case, the Justice Secretary was forced to give a lawyer only job to one of the Scottish Government’s own lawyers because no one else wanted it, reported in an earlier article by Diary of Injustice here : Poisoned Chalice : MacAskill forced to parachute Government’s own lawyer onto Scottish Legal Complaints Commission after Advocates shun job offer

Later in March of 2011, a second round of appointments were made to the SLCC by Kenny MacAskill, reported in an article here : One more ex-cop for anti-client Scottish Legal Complaints Commission as Justice Secretary hands out five year quango jobs at £212 per day

The new intake of board members to the lavish expenses claiming domain of the SLCC’s Board will join its ranks already populated by quangocrats with several job each, lawyers & former senior Police officers who between them already soak up mammoth personal expenses of over £150K a year in remuneration claims. The SLCC is funded by a levy on all Scottish solicitors which is ultimately recouped from client fees which, excluding the usual fraud, overcharging & false accounting have rocketed in recent years to support failed projects such as the SLCC.

All four appointments made today by Kenny MacAskill will be for five years and will run from January 1, 2012 to December 31, 2016. All four of appointments are part-time and attract a remuneration of £212 for a time commitment of up to six days per month, announced in a Scottish Government Press Release : Appointments to Scottish Legal Complaints Commission

Mr Clark is a property and private lawyer. A practising solicitor since 1974 and a partner in Morton Fraser LLP for 31 years. He was also chairman of Edinburgh Solicitors Property Centre Ltd for 13 years and a non-executive director of the Scottish Rugby Union. He is currently working as a consultant with Morton Fraser and is the Senior Independent Director of Scottish Building Society and is also chairman of its Nomination and Remuneration Committee. Mr Clark brings professional standing and strategic development skills to the Board along with a broad range of experience in conveyancing and working in the public and private sector.

Mr Clark is a member and chair of Private Rented Housing Panel with a remuneration of £315 a day.

Mr Leitch has a local government and parliamentary legal background. He recently took early retirement from his post as Assistant Clerk/Chief Executive of the Scottish Parliament. Previously he was Director of Resources and Governance at the Parliament. In local government he served as a Depute Chief Executive and council solicitor to a unitary authority. Mr Leitch also served as a Justice of the Peace for a number of years. Mr Leitch brings strong performance management skills as well as a background in public law and civic engagement experience.

Mr Leitch does not hold any other ministerial public appointment.

Mr Gibson has wide experience in public, private and voluntary sectors. He was Regional Director of the Scottish Ambulance Service for four years and the Director of Macmillan Cancer Relief Scotland and Northern Ireland for nine years. As a board member of the Care Commission he sat on the Complaints Review Committee. He is currently a consultant for Lloyds TSB Foundation of Scotland, the independent chair of the Highland Adult Protection Committee and a board member and vice chair of NHS Highland. Mr Gibson brings strategic and performance development skills to the Board along with extensive experience from the public, voluntary and private sector.

Mr Gibson is a member and vice chair of NHS Highland with a remuneration of £10,785 per annum.

Dr Jones has a degree in Law from the London School of Economics and a Doctorate in Social-Legal Studies from the University of Oxford. Between 1992 and 2000, she worked at the Ministry of Defence and Northern Ireland Office. From 2000 until 2010, she worked at the Scottish Parliament, initially as Clerk to the Standards Committee and latterly as Programme Manager of the Parliament’s HR Change Programme and Corporate Change Programme. She is now currently a self employed Landscape Photographer who has her own business on the Isle of Mull. Dr Jones is also a consultant and her most recent project was the Aros Hall Feasibility project which is jointly funded by the Scottish Government, the BIG Lottery and LEADER. Dr Jones is also Chair of Mull Theatre Ltd and a Volunteer Crew Member on the Tobermory RNLI Lifeboat. Dr Jones brings good customer focus skills to the board along with experience of strategic and organisational improvement.

Dr Jones does not hold any other ministerial public appointment.

The SLCC was established by virtue of the Legal Profession and Legal aid (Scotland) Act 2007. Its main functions are to resolve complaints alleging inadequate professional service or negligence by legal practitioners, to refer complaints which allege professional misconduct or unsatisfactory professional conduct to the relevant professional body and to promote good practice in complaints handling. It has achieved none of these aims and has left consumers of legal services in Scotland in an even worse position than they were before in dealing with complaints against ‘crooked lawyers’.

A legal insider commenting on the latest appointments to the SLCC said he “did not expect the law quango to improve from its traditionally mediocre performance on complaints”, and branded the SLCC “.. an expensive white elephant with plush offices its work level does not justify”.

Speaking to Diary of Injustice this afternoon, a client with a complaint which has been bounced back & forth between the SLCC & Law Society of Scotland several times simply described the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission as “thoroughly prejudiced against clients” and “a rubber stamp for crooked lawyers”.

No comment has been issued by anyone from the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission at time of publication.

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