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Holyrood prefers secrecy : Scotland’s new Information Commissioner to be Legal Complaints CEO Rosemary Agnew, rebuked FIVE TIMES for being ANTI-FOI

31 Jan

SLCC & FOISLCC’s Chief Executive Rosemary Agnew is to be the new Scottish Information Commissioner. THE Scottish Parliament has announced today that ROSEMARY AGNEW, the current Chief Executive of the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission (SLCC) is to be appointed on Tuesday 1 February after a ‘formality vote’ by msps as the new Scottish Information Commissioner, replacing the highly successful Kevin Dunion who has served two terms in the role. However, in comparison to the widely  respected Mr Dunion, Ms Agnew, who take up the post in April to be FOI Chief for the next SIX YEARS at £78K a year, is widely viewed to be anti-foi, given her less than glowing record of handling FOI requests at the SLCC, where she was rebuked at least FIVE TIMES by the current Information Commissioner for unfairly using FOI legislation to obstruct the release of data to journalists and members of the public who submitted Freedom of Information requests.

Ms Agnew was made the politicians choice for the post of Information Commissioner after a series of closed to the public recruitment hearings took place by an all women msp selection panel, comprising the following msps : Presiding Officer, Tricia Marwick MSP – Chair, Margaret Burgess MSP, Helen Eadie MSP, Christine Grahame MSP, Alison McInnes MSP, Mary Scanlon MSP, Maureen Watt MSP.

Documents obtained by Diary of Injustice under Freedom of Information legislation after the SLCC was forced to publish its “Gifts & Hospitality Register revealed the Presiding Officer of the Parliament, Tricia Marwick MSP who was also chair of the all women msp panel who made Ms Agnew their choice as Information Commissioner, had offered hospitality to Ms Agnew during the time msps were considering the candidates to replace Mr Dunion. Diary of Injustice reported on these revelations, here : Legal Complaints CEO & ‘front runner’ for Scottish Information Commissioner role received hospitality from msps, law firms & Law Society of Scotland

Ms Agnew was widely tipped for the role, after leaks to the media confirmed msps wanted someone on their side in the job, covered earlier by Diary of Injustice here : SHHH Happens : SLCC Legal Complaints CEO Rosemary Agnew tipped for FOI Commissioner role after 5 FOI ‘rebukes’ & refusals to monitor Master Policy

While the Scottish Parliament’s Press Release on the appointment claims Ms Agnew “…committed to the principles of accountability and transparency …” her term at the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission, firstly as Head of Investigations, and secondly as Chief Executive, replacing the SLCC’s first CEO Eileen Masterman who resigned after a year in the job, saw the SLCC fail to recommend any prosecutions of crooked lawyers, a move even criticised by the Scottish Solicitors Discipline Tribunal.

Ms Agnew in her role as the SLCC’s Chief Executive was also revealed to have taken decisions which led to some clients who had complained about their solicitors facing financial ruin, after she refused repeated requests by members of the public to monitor claims made against the Master Insurance Policy, the Professional Indemnity Insurance scheme operated by the Law Society of Scotland to compensate victims of negligent “Crooked lawyers.”

The Master Policy which Ms Agnew refused to monitor claims against, was linked in an independent report carried out by the SLCC to client suicides covered up by the Law Society of Scotland & the insurers. Diary of Injustice reported on the report into the Master Policy here : Suicides, illness, broken families and ruined clients reveal true cost of Law Society’s Master Policy which ‘allows solicitors to sleep at night’

The Scottish Legal Complaints Commission were asked for comment on the Scottish Parliament’s announcement of its recommendation to appoint current CEO Rosemary Agnew as FOI Commissioner and what impact the loss of a second Chief Executive in three years has on the SLCC. No response has been received from the SLCC.

There is also no word yet on recruitment for a new SLCC Chief Executive, to a position which must be so fantastic, everyone wants out of the job as soon as they are in it.

BACKGROUND : ROSEMARY AGNEW, SLCC CHIEF EXECUTIVE

Rosemary Agnew is the SLCC’s second Chief Executive in three years. Ms Agnew took on the role after a short recruitment phase to replace the SLCC’s first Chief Executive Eileen Masterman who resigned after a bitter exchange with Cabinet Secretary for Finance John Swinney over issues involving meetings the SLCC held in connection with the Master Policy.

Ironically, one of Rosemary Agnew’s key refusals to disclose information to the public was information and discussions surrounding the SECRET SUBSTANTIAL PAY-OFF negotiated by lawyers acting for former SLCC CEO Eileen Masterman and the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission. The secret payoff was also backed by the Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill, and Scottish Ministers also refused to disclose the amount paid to Ms Masterman. Diary of Injustice reported on the secret pay-off scandal in an earlier article here : HUSH & MONEY : Former SLCC law complaints Chief Executive Eileen Masterman received secret Scottish Government approved payoff in deal with lawyers

The Scottish Parliament’s Press Release (below) makes little reference to Ms Agnew’s work at the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission.

NEW SCOTTISH INFORMATION COMMISSIONER TO BE APPROVED BY PARLIAMENT

The Scottish Parliament will tomorrow be asked to approve the nomination of Rosemary Agnew as the new Scottish Information Commissioner.

Mrs Agnew, who is currently the Chief Executive of the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission, is set to replace Kevin Dunion who demits office on 23 February 2012.

Created under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002, the Scottish Information Commissioner is responsible for enforcing and promoting Scotland’s freedom of information legislation.

The appointment will be for a fixed term of six years and attracts a salary of £78,000 per annum. The Parliament will be invited to agree Mrs Agnew’s nomination before the recommendation goes to Her Majesty The Queen for formal appointment. If approved, it is expected that Mrs Agnew will take up post in April.

Biographical Information

Prior to her work with the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission, Mrs Agnew worked for the Local Government Ombudsman for 8 years. Throughout her career she has been committed to the principles of accountability and transparency and has worked with a range of public and private sector organisations to deliver service and procedural improvements.

Text of Motion to be approved by Parliament on 1 February 2012

That the Parliament nominates Rosemary Agnew to Her Majesty The Queen, for appointment as the Scottish Information Commissioner.

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