Top judge Lord Gill steps aside from case due to son’s involvement. SCOTLAND’S top judge, the Lord President Lord Brian Gill has been forced to stand aside from hearing an unidentified case in the Court of Session because “ a relative” – who turned out to be one of Lord Gill’s sons, represented a party involved in the court case.
The move by Lord Gill comes after a deal was reached with MSPs to publish reasons for judges standing aside in cases – reasons which have for the main, remained secret and unrecorded until the Scottish Parliament’s Petitions Committee began an investigation into proposals to create a full register of judicial interests, as called for in Petition PE1458: Register of Interests for members of Scotland’s judiciary.
However, the first ever recoded recusal of the country’s top judge published by the Judiciary of Scotland in the new recusal list available here: Judicial Recusals, vaguely describes Lord Gill’s withdrawal from the case as due to a “Relative of Senator acts for the respondent” – whereas in fact it can now be revealed the “relative” turned out to be the Lord President’s son, Brian Gill QC.
At first, the Judicial Office refused to confirm the identity of Lord Gill’s “relative”.
A spokesperson for the Judicial Office stated: “We cannot provide any comment or further details in addition to what has already been published, but we can confirm that the advocate is one of the Lord President’s sons.”
The identity of Lord Gill’s son, Brian Gill QC – referred to as a “relative” in the official version was later confirmed by the Judicial Office but no details of the case being heard in Scotland’s top court which prompted the recusal were released.
Speaking to Diary of Injustice earlier today, a legal insider said: “Clearly it is of limited value to the public and court users if no one is able to find out the real reason the Lord President himself was forced to step aside from a case, and who exactly that person is and why it prompted a recusal.”
He continued: “When it comes to business links and family relationships of the judiciary impacting on litigation, it is clearly in the public interest the precise relationship of the judge to the individual, law firm, expert witness or otherwise and their identity should be published by the Judicial Office and made a matter of public record.”
In February 2014 the Lord President and Lord Justice General, Lord Gill gave an undertaking to make publicly available information about cases in which a judge or sheriff formally recuses him or herself from hearing a case. MPs were promised the fact of recusal and the reason for it will be published by the Judicial Office as notification of recusal is received.
However,it is noticeable from the current published list of judicial recusals there has not been one single recusal by a member of the judiciary on financial related grounds.
The lack of recusals by judges on financial related matters comes even though a considerable number of cases are in the Scottish courts where matters such as personal investments, creative finances & property ownership of members of the judiciary would certainly prompt cause for concerns if they were made public – some of which have already been highlighted by the media in previous reports.
24 March 2014 Livingston Sheriff Court Sheriff Edington Civil Court report prepared by spouse of a resident sheriff.
8 April 2014 Forfar Sheriff Court Sheriff Veal Criminal Sheriff personally known to a witness.
10 April 2014 Selkirk Sheriff Court Sheriff Paterson Civil Sheriff had previously acted for a client in dispute against Pursuer.
23 April 2014 High Court Lady Wise Criminal Senator had previously acted for a relative of accused.
16 April 2014 Glasgow Sheriff Court Sheriff Cathcart Criminal Sheriff personally known to a witness.
13 May 2014 Haddington Sheriff Court Sheriff Braid Civil Known to pursuer’s family.
14 May 2014 High Court Judge MacIver Criminal (appeal) Conflict of Interest.
20 May 2014 Court of Session Lord Matthews Civil Senator personally known to a witness.
19 June 2014 Dingwall Sheriff Court Sheriff McPartlin Criminal Sheriff presided over a trial involving the accused, where the issue to which the new case relates was spoken to by a witness.
20 June 2014 Elgin Sheriff Court Sheriff Raeburn QC Criminal Accused appeared before Sheriff as a witness in recent trial relating to same incident.
24 June 2014 Glasgow Sheriff Court Sheriff Crozier Criminal Sheriff personally known to proprietor of premises libelled in the charge.
26 June 2014 Court of Session Lord President Civil Relative of Senator acts for the respondent.
With no recusals on financial grounds – due to judges refusing to disclose hidden investments, secret wealth, work for law firms & offshore tax trusts among other interests … the current way the recusal data is presented is worth little to the public or court users and does not promote increased transparency of Scotland’s judiciary.
Previous articles on the lack of transparency within Scotland’s judiciary, investigations by Diary of Injustice including reports from the media, and video footage of debates at the Scottish Parliament’s Public Petitions Committee deliberations on Petition PE1458: Register of Interests for members of Scotland’s judiciary can be found here : A Register of Interests for Scotland’s Judiciary