Robert Leiper Graham was sentenced to eleven years for attack on Law Society’s Chief Accountant Leslie Cumming. ROBERT GRAHAM (46), the ‘hitman’ who was convicted in mid November 2011 by a majority jury verdict after being extradited from Australia to face trial for carrying out an attack on Leslie Cumming the now retired Chief Accountant of the Law Society of Scotland, was sentenced to ELEVEN YEARS earlier this week on Thursday at the High Court in Edinburgh for his part in what was alleged to have been an attempted murder bid rather than ‘a wounding’ (as key legal insiders suspect) to warn Mr Cumming off investigating ‘crooked lawyers’.
The mysterious attack on Leslie Cumming in 2006, was the subject of private briefings given by the Law Society’s most senior officials, seeking to blame the attack on critics of the legal profession yet only one single newspaper ran the Law Society’s claims after it had become clear the attack was most likely organised by a crooked colleague of Mr Cumming connected to or from within the legal profession itself.
Reported on BBC News and in the Daily Record newspaper, Judge John Morris QC, passing sentence in Edinburgh, told Graham: “You have been convicted by a jury of a pre-meditated and sustained murderous attack on a member of the public going about his lawful business, and you did that apparently for financial gain.” He continued : “In these circumstances I’m sure you’ll appreciate a substantial custodial sentence is appropriate.” Judge Morris also recommended deportation for Graham after he had served his sentence.
While Graham has never admitted who paid him to carry out the attack, it is widely accepted Police are well aware of the identity of the villain(s), reported to be connected to Scotland’s legal world. However as of yet, no steps have been taken to arrest anyone else in connection with the 2006 attack, casting doubt on the ability of Lothian & Borders Police to get the individuals behind the crime, whose identity & position some say “may be causing fear & alarm in legal circles for the opening of a larger can of worms if additional arrests are ever made.”
TRIAL OF LAW SOCIETY ACCOUNTANT’S ATTACKER :
During the trial, Graham denied attempting to murder the Law Society accountant, claiming he did not assault Mr Cumming, rather he intervened in the attack, (allegedly carried out by another party) to stop Mr Cumming getting “a bigger hiding”. Graham also told the court he was born in Ireland as Paul Francis McGhee before emigrating to New Zealand at the age of nine but in Britain he called himself Robert Graham. The court also heard from a witness that Graham had confessed to a colleague that he had “done a judge in” and was paid £10,000 by a guy in a BMW to give him “a good working over”.
The witness who told the court of the alleged boast by Graham, scaffolder Nicholas Wells said he started work at Wembley Stadium in January 2006 and Graham joined a few weeks later. In a statement to police, he said: “He told me around this time he had done a judge in in Edinburgh, having jumped out some bushes at him. I can recall him telling me the guy from the BMW paid him £10,000 to do the job and told him to give the guy a good working over.” Mr Wells told the court he had been approached by the police at a site he was working on in Edinburgh in 2009. Asked if he had told them the truth, Wells replied: “As I remember it at the time.” He added: “I was taking a lot of drugs at the time. I was taking a lot of sleeping tablets … it is hard to remember it all clearly now.”
The court heard that during the assault, Mr Cumming grasped the balaclava worn by the attacker in an attempt to pull it off while further DNA evidence was recovered from the Barbour jacket Mr Cumming was wearing at the time of the attack. Additional DNA material was taken from Mr Cumming before doctors treated his wounds, and the DNA was linked back to Graham in tests.
At the conclusion of the trial, John Logue, Area Procurator Fiscal for Lothian & Borders, said: “In 2006 Robert Graham targeted and tried to kill Leslie Cumming because he was paid to do so. Today, almost six years later, he has been found guilty of this vicious and cowardly attack after being extradited from Australia.”
Mr Logue continued : “He was brought to justice by the perseverance and diligence of officers in Lothian and Borders Police who tracked him down, assisted by Interpol and authorities in New Zealand and Australia. I hope that today’s successful prosecution will secure the confidence of the Scottish public that those who try to evade justice will be pursued and brought before the courts.”
Commenting after the majority verdict convicted Robert Graham of the attack on Mr Cumming, the Solicitor General for Scotland, Lesley Thomson QC, said : “He uses the name Robert Leiper Graham in this country and Paul Francis McGhee in New Zealand. The Crown is not in a position to say he is either of these people at this stage.” Ms Thomson also said when Graham left New Zealand in 1999 there was an outstanding warrant out for him and that a notice had been served on him in a move to deport him from Britain.
Leslie Cumming, former Law Society of Scotland’s Chief Accountant. At the end of the trial, Mr Cumming commented : “The police perseverance and professionalism and the Crown Office input have been vital in securing the result. It’s important to me that I got that closure and I just want to thank the members of the team who were involved in this complicated case for their efforts on my behalf. The actual event was horrific and bloody and having to explain to the court in such detail as we could recall at this time was traumatic for my wife and me. I hope now the trial is complete and the result is known that this nightmare has ended for us and we can get back to normal life.”
However, the multi million pound investigation carried out by Lothian & Borders Police and the subsequent conviction of Robert Graham left more questions than answers over why the attack occurred in 2006, who allegedly paid Graham to carry our the attack and why Law Society of Scotland officials and a media outlet were so keen to pin the blame for the attack on critics & campaigners in a year where the Scottish Parliament had begun a major investigation into the Law Society of Scotland and its notoriously prejudiced closed shop handling of the regulation of crooked lawyers.
Over the years, insiders have claimed the Police have a good idea of exactly who ordered the attack on Mr Cumming, some even linking up the incident to other well reported frauds in Scotland which involved millions of pounds, well known crooked solicitors and a banker. However Lothian & Borders Police have said nothing officially on any of these claims.
The answer to the attack may well lie in Leslie Cumming’s role with the Law Society of Scotland, where as its Deputy Chief Executive and Chief Accountant, Mr Cumming was in charge of teams of inspectors who audit the financial accounts of law firms to ensure compliance with the Law Society’s rules (rules to keep accounts, not rules to rip off clients as much as possible and undetected). Mr Cumming was also involved in disciplinary cases, of which there are many, many resulting in no criminal convictions where, for example a solicitor might make off with half a million pounds from a deceased’s client will, and get away with it, and be allowed to carry on working.
It is also noteworthy Mr Cumming in his role as Deputy Chief Executive played number two to the also now former Chief Executive Douglas Mill, who resigned in disgrace after a scandal involving the fiddling of Master Policy insurance claims against crooked lawyers which was exposed by the now Cabinet Secretary for Finance, John Swinney during a meeting of the Justice 2 Committee later the same year Cumming was attacked. The video footage of Mr Swinney’s exposure of Douglas Mill & the Law Society’s Master Policy fraudulent insurance fiddle scheme, can be viewed online HERE.
The conviction of Graham for the assault on Mr Cumming also closes the book on the Law Society’s attempt to fit-up critics & campaigners for the 2006 incident, where it was reported, senior Law Society officials had even provided statements to Police urging them to ‘collar’ persons the Law Society ‘did not get along with’.
Law Society of Scotland officials used Police, newspapers in attempt to link their critics to attack on Chief Accountant Leslie Cumming The Law Society of Scotland has of course, declined to explain why its senior officials gave private briefings to newspaper journalists just after the attack on Mr Cumming in late January of 2006, urging the publication of stories which were intended to pin the blame for the assault on Mr Cumming on critics & law reform campaigners who were seeking an end to self regulation of the legal profession (Cash laundering link to law chief stabbing, 29 January 2006, Scotland on Sunday). However, journalists at the time identified those at the Law Society who were involved in the private briefings & telephone calls to newspapers. Strangely, not one Law Society official was identified in the Scotland on Sunday story despite the highly charged accusations levelled against critics & law reform campaigners published in the paper.
A spokesperson for the Law Society of Scotland said of Mr Cumming at the end of the trial : “He was a dedicated and popular member of staff and the attack was a great shock to his former colleagues. Leslie was determined not to let the attack stop him from living life to the full and he has done that in so many ways.”
Like his former Boss, Douglas Mill who has a consultancy business, Leslie Cumming now runs his own consultancy business, Leslie Cumming Consultancy Services.
The trial of Robert Graham at the High Court in Edinburgh commenced on 7 November 2011 and last for 9 days. It was prosecuted by the Solicitor General for Scotland, Lesley Thomson QC, who was the Procurator Fiscal in the abandoned Fatal Accident Inquiry into the death of a young girl who was massively overdosed with radiation, the Crown Office made the usual claims “lessons will be learned”.
Mr Logue’s claims that those who try to evade justice will be pursued & brought before the courts apparently do not apply to lawyers who swindle millions of pounds from the legal aid budget each year in multiple frauds, as revealed by Diary of Injustice in an earlier report here : FOURTEEN lawyers accused of multi-million pound legal aid fraud escape justice as Scotland’s Crown Office fail to prosecute all cases in 5 years
In a double slap to Mr Logue’s contentions of what happens to those who evade justice, one of the FOURTEEN alleged legal aid fraudster lawyers who escaped prosecution by the Crown Office, was/is married to one of Mr Logue’s own Procurator Fiscal colleagues, reported here : Admissible Evidence ? Crown Office Prosecutor married to lawyer accused of legal aid fraud, both still working, Legal Aid Board ‘convinced of guilt’
Diary of Injustice previous coverage of the attack on Leslie Cumming and the saga of the trial of Mr Graham can be read here : The blame game & who paid for attack on Law Society Chief accountant Leslie Cumming