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SILENT RUNNING : Six weeks of ‘Victorian’ silence from Scotland’s top judge after MSPs request Lord Gill to reconsider refusal to attend Holyrood to answer questions on register of judicial interests

27 May

Larger on the Orient Express : Lord Gill stonewalls Scottish Parliament over judge’s vast secret financial interests. ALMOST SIX WEEKS since Scotland’s top judge, Lord President Lord Brian Gill was asked by MSPs from the Scottish Parliament’s Public Petitions Committee to reconsider his bitter opposition to attending Holyrood to answer questions on a proposal to create a register of judicial interests, the Lord President has apparently yet to find time between international travel commitments to give a written response to Scotland’s elected Parliament.

The second invitation from the Scottish Parliament to Scotland’s most senior judge to attend Holyrood was issued after Lord Gill earlier refused to attend the Petitions Committee to discuss issues raised in Petition PE1458, reported here : Scotland’s top judge Lord Gill refuses to attend Scottish Parliament to face questions over opposition to register of judicial interests

Petition PE1458: Register of Interests for members of Scotland’s judiciary which was debated again at the Public Petitions Committee on Tuesday 16 April 2013, calls for the Scottish Parliament to urge the Scottish Government to create a Register of Pecuniary Interests of Judges Bill (as is currently being considered in New Zealand’s Parliament) or to amend present legislation to require all members of the Judiciary in Scotland to submit their interests & hospitality received to a publicly available Register of Interests.

Diary of Injustice previously reported in mid April that the Scottish Parliament’s Petitions Committee issued a statement on Friday 19 April, reporting that Lord Gill had been asked to reconsider his decision not to appear in front of the Scottish Parliament’s Public Petitions Committee in a letter issued by Convener David Stewart MSP on behalf of the Committee. The invitation asks Lord Gill to reconsider his decision not to attend the committee to discuss petition PE1458, which calls for legislation to be put in place to require all members of the judiciary in Scotland to submit their interests and hospitality received to a publicly available register of interests.

Committee Convener David Stewart MSP said: “As a Scottish Parliament committee, our job is to fully examine the petitions before us and explore the issues involved.Only by doing this can we ensure that we exhausted every possible avenue in taking a petition forward. To do this without hearing from the Lord President in person would be difficult. That is why we are disappointed that Lord Gill has felt unable to attend a committee meeting to discuss these issues fully. We have written to Lord Gill asking him to reconsider his decision in the hope that our committee can have a full and frank discussion of the issues.”

MSPs letter to Lord Gill requesting he attend Scottish Parliament. The text of the letter sent by Convener of the Petitions Committee, David Stewart MSP to Lord Gill states : “Notwithstanding your response, the Committee still feels it would assist its consideration of this petition and aide its understanding of the issues raised were you able to make yourself available.  The Committee can see benefit in being able to explore with you orally the written evidence provided. By way of example, we note that to your knowledge no situation has arisen, within your tenure as Lord President, where a judge has failed to recuse him or herself. Would a central record be kept of any such instances and if so, are you able to provide any information on the numbers involved? I and the other members of the Committee would be most grateful if you were able to reconsider the invitation from the Committee to attend in person.”

Diary of Injustice reported on an earlier meeting of the Petitions Committee on 5th March 2013 where MSPs initially invited Lord Gill to attend Holyrood, here : SILENCE IN COURT : Scotland’s top judge Lord Gill summoned to Parliament over ‘vested interests’ attempt to block Register of Judicial Interests petition and video footage of that earlier meeting is also available online here : Petition PE1458 Register of Judges Interests 5 March 2013 Scottish Parliament.

All previous reports from Diary of Injustice and further information on the drive to create a register of interests for Scotland’s judiciary can be viewed here : A Register of Interests for Scotland’s Judiciary

JUDGES ABOVE THE LAW – PETITION SEEKS TRANSPARENCY IN COURT WITH REGISTER OF JUDICIAL INTERESTS BACKGROUND :

Courts Judges Scotland montagePetition PE01458: Register of Interests for members of Scotland’s judiciary calls for the Scottish Parliament to urge the Scottish Government to create a Register of Pecuniary Interests of Judges Bill (as is currently being considered in New Zealand’s Parliament) or amend present legislation to require all members of the Judiciary in Scotland to submit their interests & hospitality received to a publicly available Register of Interests. Diary of Injustice has featured coverage of the petition in earlier reports, Register of Interests for Judges.

The petition also features references to debate in the Parliament of New Zealand who are considering legislation to create a register of interests for the judiciary. It is time for Scotland to move in the same direction and create a similar register of interests for the judiciary of Scotland and all its members, increasing the transparency of the judiciary and ensuring public confidence in their actions & decisions.

The full details of the New Zealand Register of Pecuniary Interests of Judges Bill, should be looked at for a model of similar legislation in Scotland, can be viewed online here  Register of Pecuniary Interests of Judges Bill.

The New Zealand Law Commission’s discussion paper on a register of judicial interests which recommends further inclusion of court staff in a register of interests, can be downloaded here : NZLC IP21 – Towards a New Courts Act: A Register of Judges pecuniary interests? (pdf)

In comparison to New Zealand’s effort to ensure transparency in the judiciary, Scotland’s judges and the Scotish Government have, unsurprisingly backed away from any similar measures, even concealing criminal charges and convictions of Scottish judges, where in one case a Scottish judge was charged with fiddling benefits claims, exposed in a Diary of Injustice investigation into Judge’s financial fiddles, here : CAREER CROOKED : Investigation reveals Scottish judges are CONVICTED CRIMINALS, Drunk Drivers,Tax Dodgers & alleged BENEFITS CHEATS

The on-going investigation by Diary of Injustice into members of Scotland’s judiciary has already revealed a series of judges appear to be involved in OFFSHORE TAX AVOIDANCE schemes, associations with convicted criminals & organised crime, prostitution rackets, accepting hospitality & payments from well known corrupt solicitors representing dodgy law firms while others on the bench are engaging in questionable investments & duties which appear to be in conflict with their positions as members of the judiciary. More on these findings can be read in an earlier article here : Offshore trusts, property holdings, insurance syndicates, hospitality from dodgy lawyers, yet no plans for a register of interests for Scottish judges

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