Investigation of Hamilton Citizens Advice Bureau in-court adviser Gilbert Anderson branded a whitewash. AN INVESTIGATION into a taxpayer funded in-court adviser working at Hamilton Citizens Advice Bureau has been branded a whitewash after a trustee of Hamilton CAB claimed there was no evidence to link ex-Marine turned legal helper Gilbert S Anderson to complaints that he was sending people with desperate legal problems to a now notorious struck off solicitor John G O’Donnell, who was posing as a colleague at now defunct Glasgow law firm Davidson Fraser.
Even though documents proved Gilbert S Anderson, of Hamilton Citizens Advice Bureau had an association with the same law firm in which serial crooked lawyer John G O’Donnell was secretly working as a lawyer, and Anderson had handwritten messages bragging about cash fees which could be made from people he sent to O’Donnell at the Glasgow law firm, CAB chiefs told elderly widow Elizabeth Campbell nothing would be done about Anderson, even though his actions have ruined Mrs Campbell’s legal interests and now forced her to sell her home.
Diary of Injustice earlier reported how elderly widow Elizabeth Campbell, who went to Hamilton CAB for help and was sent to John O’Donnell by Gilbert Anderson, was ensnared by Gilbert Anderson, documented evidence showing the two were in cahoots to rip off vulnerable people needing the services of Scotland’s Citizens Advice centres.
Letterhead of crooked law firm showed Anderson’s name as an associate yet Hamilton CAB claim otherwise. Mrs Campbell wrote in her complaint how Anderson hoped John O’Donnell (posing as Colin Davidson) would be able to lift a large fee from the vulnerable widow : “On the Client Record Sheet produced by Mr Anderson (which I found in Davidson Fraser’s file) it clearly states on two separate occasions that he would endeavour to recommend a Legal Aid Solicitor to me. Also, on the back of this Client Record Sheet is a handwritten note “possibly in my mind a cash for Colin £3000”. I have enclosed a copy of this Record – the original is with Elaine Motion who is acting the the Law Society.”
After it became clear there were problems with O’Donnell’s dual identity, Mrs Campbell told Hamilton CAB their Mr Anderson refused to tell her what was going on.
Mrs Campbell told Hamilton CAB Chiefs : “I asked Gilbert Anderson about why people kept calling Colin Davidson “John” and voiced my other concerns about his identity and he said there was a reason for this which he was not prepared to divulge to me. I have now discovered that the Solicitor to whom Gilbert Anderson sent me, was not in fact Colin Davidson, but a struck-off solicitor, John O’Donnell, who between them conspired to deceive clients – John O’Donnell lost his licence because he had over 20 cases of negligence proved against him and the insurance had to pay out hundreds of thousands of pounds. The real Colin Davidson (whom I never met) has since died, and John O’Donnell has disappeared.”
The in-house investigation into Anderson’s activities was carried out by a trustee of Hamilton CAB, a Mr Neil Kennedy, who found against Mrs Campbell’s complaint on every point. Mr Kennedy even claimed that “Mr Anderson was in no way involved with Mr Davidson or Davidson Fraser” a fact already proved by letter heads and Anderson’s claim of £3,000 fees to go to Davidson Fraser for legal work to be provided to Mrs Campbell. Mr Kennedy also claimed the Law Society of Scotland said they had no record of an association between Anderson & the law firm Davidson Fraser.
Report into Gilbert Anderson branded ‘a whitewash’. Mr Kennedy said in his letter to Mrs Campbell, which can be viewed online HERE : Although our caseworker may have given you our standard list of local solicitors, regarding your case there was no reference to this as you point out in your letter, simply as a result of the fact that you did not expect to obtain Legal Aid for this, and that Davidson Fraser was, so far as we understand, not part of the Legal Aid scheme at that time. You will understand that Hamilton CAB as part of the CAB movement cannot and does not endorse or recommend one firm of solicitors in preference to another, however that does not prevent our professional staff assisting you with an intelligent choice as to a solicitor who has the experience to deal with the particular aspects of your case. This is what we believe that Mr Anderson was seeking to do in his dealings with you and the referral to Davidson Fraser was made on that basis, particularly as he had already referred another case to them and that was progressed and concluded successfully to the client’s satisfaction.
From our interview you exhibited a very clear and able understanding of the process which Mr Anderson undertook to find a solicitor who would be able to deal with your problems. Whilst you have explained in detail your experience of dealing with Davidson Fraser after the referral took place, we have no responsibility for the conduct of independent professional solicitors and therefore cannot comment on these aspects, however the Law Society of Scotland may be able to assist further in this regard as this aspect of regulation falls within their remit.
We have therefore on grounds of remit not duplicated that investigation into your dealings with Davidson Fraser; however we have considered whether some of the statement which you have made in that regard were known by Mr Anderson or Hamilton CAB at the time that the referral was made. In this category are the aspects of mistaken identity, Mr Davidson’s alleged alcoholism, etc, which may have been relevant in making the judgment to recommend Davidson Fraser to you. Our conclusion is that we had no knowledge of the alleged impersonation, and Mr Anderson was aware of a medical problem which Mr Davidson had experienced in the past which may be exacerbated by alcohol but which did not impair his abilities or judgment. We have no evidence to contradict that view.
Whilst not commenting on, and therefore not for those purposes doubting your narration of your interaction with Davidson Fraser, we have concluded that there is no evidence to suggest that the procedure leading to your referral to that firm was not properly conducted and concluded. We therefore are unable to uphold your complaint.
On a general note our review of referral procedures indicated that in some instances our documentation of the process was not as complete as we would expect, mainly due to the pressure of case load on our in-Court Advice personnel. We have therefore introduced a regular formal review of this by the Bureau manager to address this issue.
Gilbert Anderson conflict of interest re Davidson Fraser :
Our investigations regarding this point are seriously impaired by the untimely death of Mr Colin Davidson, and you will understand that Mr Anderson vigorously disputes any allegation of “involvement” in the widest sense and consequential conflict of interest in dealings with Davidson Fraser.
Mr Anderson and Mr Davidson had known each other for a number of years and we believe that an informal discussion had taken place regarding Mr Anderson working for Davidson Fraser at some point in the future, however this had led nowhere. On learning that his name was on the Davidson Fraser notepaper Mr Anderson had taken action to remove this, and this was rectified immediately.
We obtained evidence of other correspondence issued by Davidson Fraser within a few days of the letterhead which you provided showing Mr Anderson as an Associate. This correspondence contained no reference to Mr Anderson being connected with the firm.
The Law Society of Scotland has confirmed to us that they have no record of Mr Anderson being associated with Davidson Fraser or Mr Davidson.
Accordingly, in the absence of evidence, we can only conclude that Mr Anderson was in no way involved with Mr Davidson or Davidson Fraser, other than they had know each other professionally from time to time over a number of years. The allegation of conflict of interest is therefore not upheld.
Mr Kennedy ended his letter to Anderson’s victim, Mrs Campbell, by saying : “I know that this decision may disappoint you however we believe that our investigation has been thorough with regard to circumstance and procedure.”
Hamilton CAB was asked to issue a statement on the case. Manager Maureen Chalmers told Diary of Injustice : “Hamilton CAB has concluded its investigation into the complaint raised by Mrs Campbell, and have written to her informing her of the outcome. Hamilton CAB takes all complaints very seriously and has investigated this matter thoroughly in accordance with the procedures laid down by the national CAB movement. We regard it as imperative that local people have complete confidence in the quality and the impartiality of our advice. We have been in communication with Mrs Campbell throughout the process, and would like to thank her for the constructive way in which she co-operated with our investigation. “
However, after the statement was issued to Diary of Injustice, Mr Kennedy, the trustee who wrote the letter to Mrs Campbell detailing the results of the investigation into Mr Anderson sent a hurried email to Hamilton CAB’s Mrs Chalmers stating : “I do not think that it is appropriate to bring the confidential letter between HCAB and Mrs Campbell into the public domain.” Mrs Chalmers then contacted Diary of Injustice and advised us to “note the sensitivity of some of the content.” prior to publication.
A legal insider who read the Hamilton CAB letter on the investigation into Mr Anderson said “The report on Anderson reads more like a self serving Law Society of Scotland investigation into a dodgy lawyer, with an end result of a pat on the back for their colleague.”
Speaking last week to Diary of Injustice, Mrs Campbell says she may now appeal the findings of the Hamilton CAB investigation into Gilbert Anderson.
Clearly, the results of Hamilton CAB’s own investigation into one of its own merits a need for independent complaints procedures to be put in place where taxpayer funded positions such as the one occupied by Mr Anderson can be properly regulated.
Diary of Injustice stands by Mrs Campbell and the terms of her complaint, and will report further updates on the case.
Readers should also note Mrs Campbell gave full permission to Diary of Injustice to publish the letter from Mr Kennedy to Mrs Campbell regarding her complaint against Gilbert Anderson.
Meanwhile, if YOU have had dealings with Hamilton Citizens Advice Bureau, in particular Mr Gilbert Anderson or others and you have encountered difficulties, please contact us via firstname.lastname@example.org
The Sunday Mail also covered the story as follows :
By: Russell Findlay Aug 5, 2012
An elderly client sent to a rogue law firm by the Citizens Advice Bureau has hit out at a “whitewash” probe.
CAB employee Gilbert Anderson sent Elizabeth Campbell, 70, to now-defunct firm Davidson Fraser, where banned brief John O’Donnell advised clients.
But taxpayer-funded lawyer Anderson has been cleared by CAB bosses.
Elizabeth, from East Kilbride, said: “The CAB investigation has been an absolute whitewash.
“I would like to say they’re not going to get away with this – but they are, because there’s no point in wasting more time on an appeal.”
Former Royal Marine Anderson’s name appeared on the letter-headed paper of Davidson Fraser which was fronted by Colin Davidson, who has since died. Anderson said that was a mistake and denied any wrong-doing.
Elizabeth, who suffered from depression after her husband’s death four years ago, has suffered a catalogue of problems with the legal profession.
She was stunned to discover that another controversial lawyer is an adviser for the CAB at Hamilton Sheriff Court.
Paul McConville, 45, failed to pass on tens of thousands of pounds in compensation to the families of dead miners.
In June, he was barred from working for a decade – except under supervision.