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INTERESTS AMISS, M’LORD: Property, paid work, links to big business & professions not included in judges’ declarations on Courts & Tribunals Service Board register

07 Oct

Declarations in register reveal few details on judiciary. THE LATEST declarations by a select few powerful judges who control the running of Scotland’s Courts – is more revealing in what is missing from the limited disclosures in the latest annual report of Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service (SCTS).

Ruling over our courts in their ermine robes – in some cases decades longer than any Prime Minister could hope to remain in office – the handful of judicial declarations after years on the bench and millions in taxpayers cash – are even in some cases even less than newly minted msps cobble together in their first few weeks at Holyrood.

This year, Scotland’s current top judge, the Lord President & Lord Justice General – Lord Carloway – (real name Colin Sutherland), has but one declaration (Trustee, Scottish Arts Club) – dwarfing the vast listing of directorships & positions of his predecessor – Lord Brian Gill.

Lord Carloway (62) was appointed to the Court of Session since 2000. Sixteen years later, and now in the top job – his salary is currently listed in the UK Government guidance on judicial salaries as of 1 April 2016 as £222,862.00.

Another judicial member of the SCTS Board – Lady Smith (61) was appointed to the Court of Session in 2001. Fifteen years later, her salary as a judge of the inner house of the Court of Session is listed by the UK Government as £204, 695.00.

Admittedly, Lady Smith has a few more declarations than her boss. Rt. Hon. Lady Smith:  Chair and Trustee – Royal Scottish National Orchestra Foundation, President and Trustee – Friends of the Music of St Giles Cathedral, Honorary Bencher – Gray’s Inn

Lord Brian Gill (74) – appointed to the Court of Session in 1994, ‘retired’ from his judicial tenure in Scotland as Lord President 21 years later in June 2015 – on a salary of £220,665.00.

Rt. Hon. Lord Gill: (from 1 April to 31 May 2015) Director of Scottish Redundant Churches Trust, a company limited by guarantee registered in Scotland (SC162884), Director of the Royal School of Church Music, a company limited by guarantee registered in England (Reg’d No 250031), President of the Royal Society for Home Relief to Incurable, Edinburgh, Trustee of the Columba Trust: a trust for the benefit of the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland, Trustee of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland Endowment Trust: a trust for the benefit of RCS and its students, Trustee of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland Trust: a trust for the benefit of the RCS and its students, Trustee of the Royal School of Church Music: a registered charity for the promotion of church music in the Christian Churches (Reg No 312828) Vice President of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, Chairman of Council, Royal School of Church Music

Lord Gill’s roll of directorships fill out a page on their own, yet you get the feeling his name was only included in the 2016 version of the register to leave in some detail , mainly because if Brian Gill’s long list of interests were missing – as they should be, given Lord Gill left the role before the September 2015-16 period covered by the register – there would be little to read of the rest.

Far from being retired, Gill is still a judge, only now based at the UK Supreme Court in London, and is scheduled to hear a tax case appeal involving Volkswagen Financial Services (UK) Ltd (Respondent) v Commissioners for Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (Appellant) in November.

Compared to registers of interest which apply to other public servants including elected politicians, the three Court of Session senators, three sheriffs and a Justice of the Peace declare – as the Judicial Office for Scotland will tell you – only what is required in terms of the rules – rules written and approved by, themselves.

A bit like you writing the rules of your own tax return or register of interest.

Think on, for a moment. If you wrote the rules, what would you pay in tax or declare as interests in a register? Right. Now you understand.

Comparing these ‘declarations’ with judges long legal careers and glowing biographies complete with not one hint of hardship, scandal, financial loss or deviation from a perfect business record – there is little trace of the millions of pounds of public cash paid in judicial salaries over the years.

And this is one of the blanks in the life of the judiciary which raises questions on what judges are so hostile about declaring in a fully published register of interests.

Put it this way – If you were paid around £200,000 public cash (and not forgetting pension perks) for ten or fifteen years, picked up work along the way and positions on powerful quangos, you could imagine picking up a few interests, properties, and so on over the years. Life would indeed, be a jolly.

There is, for example no trace of declarations which appear in registers required by other public sector workers – such as hospitality, paid outside work and other earnings, jobs, consultancies, speeches, connections, you name it they do it, and of course, the big one – property.

Lord Gill owned a plush £1.7m Victorian mansion in Edinburgh, yet not once in any version of the register from 2012 to now, did said mansion or at least a property value ever appear.

The same is true for all the other judges who have come and gone on the now renamed SCTS Board register.

Property? forget it. This paltry register for a few judges is not the place for transparency.

The lack of detail in someone’s life in terms of interests, and assets – is, perhaps as any HMRC investigator or clued up person may come to realise .. inconsistent with the subject’s receipt of significant sums over the course of time.

Reality Check. £40 million in public cash (along with any unlisted extras in that ever so dodgy Scottish budget) is lavished on Scotland’s judiciary every year.

£220K a year for just one judge – for years, well connected, investments, art, properties as grand as a Prince and more international travel junkets than James Bond.

Yet when the judiciary are asked questions about their interests, and to explain why their position is judges should not declare their interests like everyone else – every response ends with a carefully constructed threat, given out in a public arena, with no shame.

From shares in bribes companies Sheriffs to private banks & hedge funds, and big wigs with big wings, little trace exists of the enormous sums of public cash and where it goes.

This seems a little unfair – for a collection of people who, at the swish of a pen, can change your life as you know it, public life as we know it, strike down legislation from our parliaments, or shut off your child’s life support – or even yours – if you have no one to speak for you.

Thus, the case is easy to present why those with the most power, must feel the full weight of transparency even more than the rest of us. Not rocket science, is it – M’Lud.

Compare – if you will –  the judiciary’s £40 million or more a year and every year – to msps who may find themselves ordered to pay back hotel expenses.

Unpleasant for some, isn’t it –  while a judge pitches up, demands a £5K bag of public cash to fly off to some mystery law conference at the other side of the world, everyone else must account for the last penny, and declare all their interests or face the possibly of an appearance in front of a judge who does not adhere to such indignities as transparency.

Easy therefore to understand, why the judiciary should be required to register their interests in full, like everyone else – rather than the scant declarations in the latest Register of Interests published by the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service Board:

Rt. Hon. Lord Gill: (from 1 April to 31 May 2015) Director of Scottish Redundant Churches Trust, a company limited by guarantee registered in Scotland (SC162884), Director of the Royal School of Church Music, a company limited by guarantee registered in England (Reg’d No 250031), President of the Royal Society for Home Relief to Incurable, Edinburgh, Trustee of the Columba Trust: a trust for the benefit of the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland, Trustee of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland Endowment Trust: a trust for the benefit of RCS and its students, Trustee of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland Trust: a trust for the benefit of the RCS and its students, Trustee of the Royal School of Church Music: a registered charity for the promotion of church music in the Christian Churches (Reg No 312828) Vice President of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, Chairman of Council, Royal School of Church Music

Rt. Hon. Lord Carloway: Trustee, Scottish Arts Club

Rt. Hon. Lady Smith:  Chair and Trustee – Royal Scottish National Orchestra Foundation, President and Trustee – Friends of the Music of St Giles Cathedral, Honorary Bencher – Gray’s Inn

Sheriff Principal Duncan Murray: Commissioner, Northern Lighthouse Board, Trustee Kibble Education and Care Centre

Sheriff Iona McDonald: Deputy Lieutenant for Ayrshire and Arran, Partner in property rental firm

Sheriff A Grant McCulloch: Chair West Fife Education Trust, Chair Relationship Scotland – Couple Counselling Fife, Committee Member Cammo Residents Association, Chair – Discipline Committee ICAS

Johan Findlay JP OBE Honorary Sheriff Justice of the Peace

Dr Joseph Morrow QC: Lord Lyon King of Arms, Member of Judicial Council, Trustee, Munday Trust, Dundee Trustee, Kidney Trust, Dundee Trustee, Tealing Community Hall Legal Assessor, South Episcopal Church President, Society of Messengers at Arms President, Scottish Genealogical Society Patron, Scottish Family History Society

Dr Kirsty J Hood QC: Self Employed Advocate Regular ad hoc employment with the University of Edinburgh – delivering seminars on one of the LLB courses, Regular ad hoc employment with the University of Glasgow – delivering lectures/seminars on one of the LLB courses, Contributor of updates to “Scottish Lawyers Factbook” (W Green. Publishers), Clerk of Faculty – Faculty of Advocates (non-remunerated) Member of the Scottish Committee of Franco-British Lawyers Society (non- remunerated)

Simon J D Catto: Member Gateley (Scotland) LLP: Head of Litigation, Member of Cornerstone Exchange LLP, Member of Cornerstone Exchange No2 LLP

Professor R Hugh MacDougall: None Eriska Trust, Cunningham Trust, Cross Trust, St Columba’s Hospice, Visiting Professor University of Edinburgh

Joe Al-Gharabally: Ernst & Young

Anthony McGrath: (from 1 April 2015 to 31 December 2015) Saltire Taverns Ltd, Consultation and mentoring assignment with Cantrell & Cochrane PLC. This includes sitting on the commercial Board of a subsidiary called The Shepton Mallet Cider Mill based in Somerset.

Col. David McIlroy: (from 1 January 2016) Independent Prison Monitor

Eric McQueen: Member of the Scottish Civil Justice Council

In August this year, DOI reported on the shareholdings of members of the same SCTS Board, in an article here: STILL BANKING, M’LORDS: Judicial quango in charge of Scotland’s Courts & Tribunals remains mired in financial links to Banks, investment funds, insurance, property & corporate vested interests

The current Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service Board Register of Shareholdings reveals the following declarations of shareholdings:

Lord President – Rt Hon Lord Carloway: None
Lord Justice Clerk – Rt Hon Lady Dorrian: None
President of Scottish Tribunals – Rt Hon Lady Smith: Artemis Fund Managers, Barclays, Blackrock AM, Brown Advisory, Goldman Sachs, Global Access, Henderson Investment, Ishares PLC, JP Morgan, Lazard Fund Managers, Pimco Global, Vanguard Funds PLC, Fundrock Management CO Gsquaretrix.
Sheriff Principal Duncan L Murray: None
Sheriff Iona McDonald: None
Sheriff A Grant McCulloch: None
Johan Findlay OBE JP: Aviva, Vodaphone, Santander, Unilever, Norwich Union, Legal & General, Fidelity Funds Network, Lloyds Banking Group, Thus Group, HBOS, Trafficmaster, Standard Life.
Dr Joseph Morrow QC: None
Lord President – Rt Hon Lord Gill (note: Lord Gill retired on 31 May 2015 and was succeed by Lord Carloway). :Henderson UK Growth Fund Retail Class Acc, Newton Global Equity Fund, Aviva Investors UK Equity Fund, Scottish Widows UK Growth Sub-Fund, HSBC Balanced Fund (Retail Acc), Royal Mail Plc, TSB Group Plc, Urban and Civil Plc, Vestry Court Ltd.

In an effort to bring greater transparency to Scotland’s judiciary – Petition PE1458: Register of Interests for members of Scotland’s judiciary – first debated at Holyrood’s Public Petitions Committee in January 2013 – calls for the creation of a publicly available register of judicial interests – containing information on judges’ backgrounds, figures relating to personal wealth, undeclared earnings, business & family connections inside & outside of the legal profession, membership of organisations, property and land, offshore investments, hospitality, details on recusals and other information routinely lodged in registers of interest across all walks of public life in the UK and around the world.

A full debate in the Scottish Parliament’s main chamber was held at the Scottish Parliament on 9 October 2014 – ending in a motion calling on the Scottish Government to create a register of judicial interests. The motion was overwhelmingly supported by MSPs from all political parties.

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 can be found here : A Register of Interests for Scotland’s Judiciary

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