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Category Archives: crooked accountants

PASS THE CROWN : As one Lord Advocate exits, another is set to take charge of Scotland’s ‘institutionally corrupt’ Crown Office & Procurator Fiscal Service

Crown Office set to have new Lord Advocate SCOTLAND’S Crown Office & Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) – based in Edinburgh – would not be out of place in a Pirates of the Caribbean movie. Seriously.

Remember the opening sketch from At World’s End – where the line of accused sing while walking to the gallows – as various repeals of statutes, rights & laws are ordered suspended.

If one were to loiter around gatherings of prosecution robes in Sheriff courts up and down the land, one would quickly discover this is how some view justice and how to score a conviction, guilty or not.

Headlines and PR please. Who cares about due process and the quality of evidence – that is the stuff of entertainment, drama and fiction.

Thank goodness then, for criminal defence solicitors … well, at least the dutiful, attentive & hard working ones.

Evasion, introducing dodgy evidence into a trial – lets just call it lying, telling plod to read from an empty note book, dead people on witness lists, private briefings against judges who signed a petition to retain key parts of Scots Law such as corroboration.

The Crown has done it all. Ask any solicitor – well, a decent one. Even the judiciary know it. Not too difficult to spot.

Incompetence, corruption, links to gangsters, stage managed media, interference in investigations and subtle threats to anyone who stands in their way of a quick verdict.

What £110 million a year – the cost of the Crown Office – buys you. Really.

The truth is, standards have slipped at Scotland’s Crown Office. And we all know it.

Some may say, were there ever any real standards at the Crown Office? Well – there is an unpalatable answer to that one.

But let us not forget, we are here today to sit upon the ground and tell sad stories of the end of one Lord Advocates career in office … and the beginnings of another.

Among the massed ranks of gangsters, corrupt public officials, legal aid thieving lawyers, the occasional declare-dodging judge waddling along with gemstones, krugerrands, loads-a-property and offshore trusts jingling in their back pockets, there are a platoon of prosecutors who are tasked with keeping the lid on all of it.

That lid – needs a boss.

You know – someone to keep Edinburgh’s version of Al Capone’s Hotel Lexington in fancy red carpets and baseball bats.

And so we come to the role of Lord Advocate. The boss of it all.

The current Lord Advocate, Frank Mulholland, announced back in March he plans to step down in May.

Mr Mulholland previously served as Solicitor General and succeeded Dame Elish Angiolini QC as Lord Advocate in 2011.

Speaking of his intention to quit, the Lord Advocate said: “It has been a real privilege to serve as Lord Advocate, leading Scotland’s prosecution service and providing independent legal advice to the Scottish Government . However, after nine years as a Law Officer – the last five as Lord Advocate – I have decided it is the right time to step down and do other things.

“In recent years the Crown has embedded specialisms in the way it does its job. Our expertise in handling offences including rape, domestic abuse, Serious Organised Crime, Counter Terrorism and Cold Cases has helped us become one of the most effective prosecution services in the world and given victims greater confidence to report crimes.”

He added: “It’s been an honour to do this job working with so many dedicated and talented people to deliver justice in some of the most demanding and challenging of cases.

He was duly praised by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who said: “Frank Mulholland has fulfilled the challenging roles as head of Scotland’s prosecution service and as the Scottish Government’s principal legal adviser, with dedication, energy, integrity and intellect.

“He has played a central role in many innovations to our justice system, including leading Scotland’s first successful ‘double jeopardy’ murder prosecution and agreeing a historic communiqué with the heads of prosecution services from across the UK and Ireland to work together to tackle the cross-border crime of human trafficking.

“It is clear that he has worked to bring about change to ensure that the system makes a real difference to people’s lives, and his dedication to the law and his compassion for others has been behind that drive.

“Frank has made a substantial contribution to the law and Scottish society. I’m confident that he will continue to do so and I want to take this opportunity to thank him for his service and wish him well for the future.”

Nothing about the decision to refuse to prosecute anyone over the deaths of six members of the public in Glasgow Bin Lorry deaths case – and countless other deaths in similar situations.

Nothing about inaction in a three year probe of a £400 million collapsed Hedge Fund with links to the judiciary who just happened to represent Scotland’s top politicians and former Lord Advocate.

Nothing about shredding statistics so the Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee could not investigate claims in the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act 2012.

Nothing about significant numbers of collapsed cases involving notorious Scottish crime clans – this after being fed yearly Crown Office press releases on crime gangs & professional advisers, none of whom are ever caught.

Nothing about slipping £500K of bonuses to Crown Office prosecutors for a job not well done.

Nothing about the real reasons for the introduction of Double Jeopardy – because Prosecutors were – and are – just not up to the job.

Nothing about the Crown Office role in the plot to remove Corroboration from Scots Law. And what a plot that was.

Nothing about Prosecutors very own crime gang – where Crown Office Prosecutors teamed up with criminals, leaked case files, used drugs & much more.

Oh, and nothing about Prosecutors escaping jail for some of the worst imaginable crimes on the go.

Of course – as we all know – fond farewells are often fond – and written by candle light with a teary eye.

Perhaps not always fair to blame the boss, right? It’s the institution.

Some would say that. Even a clear thinking Scottish Minister, at least privately.

Institutionally corrupt, institutionally racist .. the Crown Office has been branded many things over the years, and rightly so with the evidence before our very eyes.

So, if the institution is to function as it should, a change is needed, much more than a simple elevation of another part of the problem to higher office.

Step up – the next overseas jet set junket, expenses claiming, bonus paying, investigation meddling & truth bending Lord Advocate.

For previous articles on the Crown Office, read more here: Scotland’s Crown Office – in Crown detail

In completely unrelated news:

Currently, there is a dirty cash probe into the financial affairs of the Lord Advocate’s brother.

Previously, it has also been reported a relative of the current Solicitor General was convicted of criminal offences involving violence against women.

The same Solicitor General represented the Crown during the Fatal Accident Inquiry into the Glasgow Bin Lorry deaths – where a decision was taken not to prosecute anyone over the “preventable deaths”.

The Crown team’s failure subsequently forced the families of victims to attempt a private prosecution after the justice system and Crown Office, let them down.

And mystery now surrounds how one former high ranking law officer was rejected for a judicial position after intense lobbying for the candidate by a dodgy member of the judiciary linked to top politicians – raised several judicial wigs & brows.

Mulholland joins judicial bench:

In an update to this published article, the Scottish Government announced on May 11 2016 that retiring Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland has been appointed as a judge.

Among five senators appointed to the College of Justice, Frank Mulholland QC, Sheriff John Beckett QC, Ailsa Carmichael QC, Alistair Clark QC, and Andrew Stewart QC will sit as judges in the Court of Session and the High Court of Justiciary.

Their appointments take effect on dates to be agreed by the Lord President. Four of the appointments are to fill existing vacancies.

The fifth judicial appointment, to be taken up by Frank Mulholland QC, will take effect following the retirement of a senator later in the year.

The appointment of Mulholland to a judicial position comes after the recent appointment of Lord Carloway to the top post of Lord President – head of the Scottish judiciary.

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Scottish Law Commission criticised as Draft Bankruptcy Act for Scotland fails to protect weakest victims of debt & insolvency from AIB’s multi million pound sequestration racket

Scottish Law CommissionMissed opportunity to protect vulnerable Scots from draconian Bankruptcy powers. A REPORT presented by the Scottish Law Commission (SLC) on the Consolidation of Bankruptcy Legislation in Scotland has been branded by critics as a missed opportunity to curb & control the multi million pound sequestration racket in Scotland which sees private firms of accountants gain millions of pounds in little talked about public contracts to go after people who have little or no ability to pay back their debts.

Rather than address the most pressing & critical problems involving sequestrations & bankruptcies in Scotland, which in several cases have seen agents acting for the Accountant in Bankruptcy freezing state disability payments to the long term sick & disabled, the Scottish Law Commission has chosen to fiddle with definitions & semantics of legislation in order to ‘consolidate’ legislation which is currently working as a license for private accountants to print money at the taxpayers expense.

In its official figures published on 24 April 2013, the Accountant in Bankruptcy reported that for the fourth quarter of the financial year 2012-13 there were 3,472 personal insolvencies in Scotland, generating millions of pounds of private contracts handed out to select private firms of accountants.

Diary of Injustice has previously reported on how lavish multi million pound contracts are handed out to accountancy firms by the AIB, here : £8 MILLION of YOUR MONEY spent on ‘BULLY BOY’ agents as papers to MSP reveal Accountant in Bankruptcy secretly seize benefits of disabled, trashing lives of Scots on the brink

Most of the law recommended for consolidation is already contained in the Bankruptcy (Scotland) Act 1985. The 1985 Act has been heavily amended in recent years, most notably by the Bankruptcy and Diligence etc. (Scotland) Act 2007. Many of the provisions of the 1985 Act are excessively long and the structure of the Act has become difficult to follow with the result that the Act has lost coherence.

The Report makes a number of recommendations for amendments to the Bankruptcy (Scotland) Act 1985. The changes relate to matters of technical detail and are intended to remove anomalies, treat like cases in the same way or to omit provisions that no longer serve any purpose.

Annexed to the Report are –

A Bankruptcy (Scotland) Bill to consolidate the legislation;

Tables of Destinations and Derivations relating to the provisions;

A draft Order which we envisage would be made under section 104 of the Scotland Act 1998

and which would give effect to certain provisions of the Bill in other parts of the UK.

The Commission has worked closely with the Accountant in Bankruptcy in producing the Report.

Commenting on the Scottish Law Commission’s report, Lady Clark of Calton, the Chairman of the Commission said : “It is important that the law on bankruptcy should be stated in a clear and accessible form. The existing statutory provisions dealing with bankruptcy are cumbersome and difficult to use. We hope that consolidating the legislation will make it easier and more efficient for practitioners and others to provide advice to people faced with personal bankruptcy”.

Rosemary Winter-Scott, Chief Executive of Accountant in Bankruptcy who has previously refused to answer questions on why her organisation has frozen access to benefits payments to the disabled for up to seven months at a time, said : “We welcome the Scottish Law Commission’s Report on the Consolidation of Bankruptcy Legislation in Scotland. Bankruptcy legislation in Scotland has been heavily amended over the years and the consolidation will ensure that the legislation is more accessible for practitioners and those affected by it. A Bankruptcy Bill is due to be introduced in the Scottish Parliament this summer. We expect the Consolidation Bill to follow after that Bill has completed the parliamentary process. This will bring bankruptcy legislation in Scotland into the 21st century.”

However, a spokesperson for one of Scotland’s consumer organisations told Diary of Injustice she was dismayed the Scottish Law Commission had not taken the opportunity to look deeper into how the Accountant in Bankruptcy has effectively misused its powers to force debt ridden victims into complicated long term repayment deals which are clearly unaffordable and not required in terms of law.

She said : “The Scottish Law Commission is well aware of substantial problems with the application of bankruptcy legislation in Scotland and this would have been a good opportunity to suggest amendments to ensure the weakest in society are protected from actions undertaken by the AIB against persons who are in receipt of disability benefits, actions which are clearly unacceptable in a civilised society.”

More can be read on the Scottish Law Commission’s report on Bankruptcy legislation HERE

With the prospect of new legislation being put before the Scottish Parliament, anyone who has been sequestrated or made bankrupt in Scotland and who has experienced difficulties with the Accountant in Bankruptcy and their agents, are encouraged to write to their MSPs and make submissions to the Scottish Parliament.

If you have encountered problems with the Accountant in Bankruptcy or their agents, Diary of Injustice would also like to hear from you via scottishlawreporters@gmail.com

 

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AVOID THE BIG R.I.P-OFF : Make sure you choose someone capable & honest as your Executors instead of a THIEF or a CROOKED LAWYER

Avoiding crooks after death : Law Society of Scotland solicitors make the worst Executors possible. NOVEMBER, the month of writing wills according to the Law Society of Scotland, whose members are engaged in their annual campaign to persuade their clients and the vast uninformed swathes of the general public to write a will, and, name a lawyer as their executor to ensure a ‘perfect execution of your last wishes’.

However, the ‘perfect execution of your last wishes’ when a client takes the idiotic decision to make their solicitor as their Executor, is very far from perfect for those you leave behind, as the normal pattern which follows is the solicitor acting as your Executor empties your bank accounts & sells your possessions to line their own pockets.

Choose someone better qualified to be your Executor is a claim often bandied about by the legal profession, who, lets face it are there to sell themselves and their services, not do you a favour just for the hell of ensuring what you leave after death is passed onto those you want to leave it to. The list of reasons why you should appoint a professional will be long, incredulous, corrosive, divisive, and in some respects, just plain full of lies to get you to sign up to a dodgy will written in a lawyer’s office, witnessed & signed by one of their own colleagues or secretaries, naming themselves as your Executor. Don’t do it. Whatever you do, do NOT choose a solicitor as your Executor.

I am not going to sit here and give you examples of how some dead rich celebrity who thought they were being clever by appointing people close to them along with a ‘professional’ as executors will help you avoid a rip off, because well, it doesn’t help. In fact, appointing one of your intended beneficiaries or say, a loved one, along with a solicitor or other professional to act as two Executors of your will, can do even more harm when both begin to battle with each other when, for instance, it is discovered the lawyer decides to help themselves to your money instead of passing it on to your family, The result of such a dual appointment often ends in a negative value of your remaining estate after your oh-so-trustworthy solicitor turns into a shark, intentionally burning up all your remaining assets to fight the other Executor for control of your remaining estate.

Speaking not just as a journalist but also as a victim of the sheer greed of the legal profession & the Law Society of Scotland, simply put, don’t appoint a lawyer as your executor. Those you leave behind as beneficiaries will regret it, and I can assure you they will be treated to the horrific Andrew Penman & Norman Howitt experience which happened to my family. You can read all about this here : The Andrew Penman Crooked Lawyer Experience & The Norman Howitt Crooked Accountant Experience

Some basic tips about who to appoint as your Executor and what to say in your will to limit anything which you do not want to happen.

For an Executor, choose someone you feel your family and beneficiaries will trust, or at least they like. In most cases a will is divided up between partners & children or relatives, so choose your remaining partner and one of the children as Executors. If you choose two Executors, at least there are checks & balances on both. Choose someone who will not side with one against the other, or use their position for their own ends to generate huge fees (as a lawyer usually does) for their own work as your Executor.

Now the question of fees.

Within your will, you can easily set financial limits on who should be paid how much to wind up your estate or carry out work as your Executor. This is a good idea to put it down in writing how much, if anything your Executors should be paid. If for instance, your Executors are also beneficiaries, it may well be they do not require payment because they are going to receive the bequest you made them in your will.

At some point, unfortunately, your Executors may require the services of a solicitor or a bank for certain documents regarding your finances but these services should not be strung out for months & years just because a lawyer wants to fatten up his wallet.

To avoid a rip-off if your Executors need to use a solicitor or bank, a good idea is to set strict limits on how much should be paid out of your estate for any legal fees, so you limit how much a lawyer can plunder from your finances. After all, you don’t want to leave your money to your solicitor do you, you want to leave it to y our family, right ?

Now, where to store your will.

Obviously you should make several copies of your will. Your Executors should be given copies, or at least told where they can obtain a copy of your will, if, for instance you choose to store it in a safe deposit box at a Bank or with someone who can be trusted.

Often another ruse of the legal profession is to claim they will store your will for free. However, this is simply, a lie. Your solicitor will charge you on a yearly basis for storing your will, property titles and other documents. If they don’t you can be sure they will charge for all those years of ‘free storage’ when they come to administer your will, by inflating their fees exponentially.

A case last year which was drawn to my attention of a will, stored for free for ten years, turned out to be not so free when the solicitor charged the estate a whopping TEN THOUSAND POUNDS for ten years of storage. As there was nothing written into the will to say it had been stored for free by the solicitor, the family fought the fee demand but were forced to pay, after an expensive court action. As you see therefore, lawyers have an answer to everything when it comes to money.

Being an Executor is too difficult, it must be done by a lawyer – says the lawyer !

Don’t listen to the legal profession about the winding up of an estate being incredibly complicated and the position of an Executor being so frightening it can only be performed by a solicitor. This is all nonsense. There are many people out there each year who manage to navigate the maze of winding up an estate without the need to use a lawyer. Its much cheaper, it usually ends up settled more amicably, honestly and without the five, ten or fifteen years of fuss a lawyer may make of it, just to keep sending in bills for work he never did.

Earlier this year I reported on how the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) had exponged the myth that writing a will meant it was required to appoint a solicitor as an Executor, in an article here : Where There’s A Will There’s A Crook : OFT say choose your will writing service wisely, consider costs, avoid making a solicitor your executor

Here’s what the OFT had to say back in February 2011 :

  • Consumers making a will should not be led to believe that appointing a professional executor is essential or the norm.
  • Consumers should not be encouraged to appoint a professional executor unless it is clearly in their best interests.
  • Providers should be satisfied, before the will is drafted, that the consumer has the information necessary to make an informed choice. The consumer should understand the options around executor appointments and be aware of the likely basis of charging for the professional executor service.
The OFT reminded consumers there is no requirement in law to appoint a professional executor, although, according to a survey published by the OFT last year, some 43 per cent chose to appoint (usually through ignorance) the same professional will-writer or solicitor who wrote their will.

While the costs for preparing a will can be relatively modest, the costs for a professional executor to administer an estate can be high and vary considerably. For an average estate, consumers can pay between £3,000 and £9,000. Failing to shop around for executor services could be costing UK consumers around £40 million a year, according to OFT estimates.

You can read my earlier coverage about wills here : You and Your Will

An article I wrote in 2009 covered extensive examples of fraud committed by lawyers & Executors against wills : Consumer warning on wills : Don’t make your lawyer your executor as soaring cases of ‘will fraud’ show Law Society closes ranks on complaints

Over the six years of this blog, some readers have come to me asking me to be their Executor. I have refused. It is simply not feasible for me to be an Executor to a hundred wills.

However, in one case recently, the two Executors of a will of a friend came to me for help, as they could not reach an agreement on a particular transaction. I was happy to talk to both, at no cost. There is no cost because I have already been through this experience. After our talk, the two Executors resolved their differences and the property involved in the transaction was sold for a higher value than the suspiciously lower value presented to them by a solicitor. The family received what had been left to them without further worry.

Lets call it, free mediation, backed up by the possibility if the two Executors had not resolved their difficulties, headlines would have ensured they did, as my primary concern was of course for the remaining family as beneficiaries who had been put in the unenviable position where one Executor had been poisoned by a crooked lawyer out to buy up what he hoped would be a cheap house. It felt good to protect another family from a lawyer led rip-off and it doesn’t cost anything to prevent a fraud, really. It was a service, and a duty, to a friend. I would encourage others to do the same.

Incidentally, some people might wonder why the not-so-merry month of November is designated as a good month by the legal profession to run will writing campaigns. Well simply, as one solicitor told me, its because old people tend to die off in the winter, or there are more fatal accidents during the winter. Lovely people aren’t they .. the legal profession who come up with all this kind of stuff. If you take my advice you will steer clear of them when writing up your will. They are not in it for you, they are in it for themselves, and when it all goes wrong, the Law Society of Scotland and the equally prejudiced complainer-hating Scottish Legal Complaints Commission (SLCC) will be of no use to you at all.

Where there's a will there's a crook - Sunday Mail November 28 2010One of the most important things you need to remember is, where there is a will, there is a crooked lawyer from the Law Society of Scotland. So, when you come to write your will, don’t appoint a THIEF or a CROOKED LAWYER (or as someone recently asked me A BANK) as your sole Executor. Those who you leave behind don’t need to live through yet another horror story after having to get through your death. A free guide from Citizens Advice Scotland on Will writing is HERE although I must admit there is a lot of rubbish in the guide such as naming solicitors & banks as executors which is just a complete no-no in the 21st Century. Just make sure you miss out any of the parts which suggest you need to appoint a solicitor to do this or that, at horrendous cost to your estate and your remaining family.

If you want to discuss with others, issues about wills and problems in writing wills or problems with Executors, I would encourage you to visit the Consumer Action Group forums and participate. If there is an issue or a problem with a will in Scotland involving crooked Executors or crooked lawyers which you feel should be published, please contact me via scottishlawreporters@gmail.com

 

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Law Society SCDEA ‘info sharing deal’ on mob lawyers wont affect 99% of Scotland’s crooked solicitors who rip-off, steal millions from clients each year

Scdea_logoSCDEA signs ‘info sharing’ agreement with Law Society over crooked lawyers involved only in crime gangs. AFTER MANY YEARS of chasing ‘crooked lawyers’ linked to Scotland’s criminal underworld apparently without gaining one single conviction, the Scottish Crime & Drug Enforcement Agency (SCDEA) has signed an ‘information sharing’ agreement with the Law Society of Scotland which allegedly grants the Police access to information on lawyers otherwise not shared by the Law Society such as breaches of professional rules, standards or criminal activity. The deal is two-way, with the Law Society expecting Police to inform the notoriously corrupt regulator of information relating to information they gather on rogue lawyers.

However, while Police will supposedly get an “in” to the murky world of Law Society investigations into their own members, the remainder of solicitors clients, both corporate and the ordinary consumer or man on the street, will not be provided with any information on how crooked their lawyer really is or who among the criminal fraternity they are associated with.

If for instance, it turns out an unassuming High Street solicitor or accountant in, say Edinburgh, or even better still, the sleepy Scottish Borders, has been quietly laundering cash & property for Scottish crime & drug lords or even a former-gang-member-turned-informer-now-back-into-crime, other clients of this particular solicitor or accountant will not be told of their lawyer’s dealings & profiteering from the legal underworld. Hardly seems fair now, does it.

A copy of the Law Society-SCDEA information sharing deal can be downloaded at an external link, here : Information Sharing Protocol between Law Society of Scotland & Scottish Crime & Drug Enforcement Agency (pdf) and it is worth noting the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission (SLCC),who are now supposed to be the single gateway for complaints about the legal profession in Scotland, is not covered in the agreement.

Philip YellandShare thee not : Law Society of Scotland’s Regulation Chief Philip Yelland not one to share info on colleagues. Since at least 2009, the SCDEA has been issuing annual reports alleging it’s officers are investigating at least 291 “professionals” employed by Scotland’s crime gangs to organise their highly profitable criminal empires. These “professionals”, who are known to receive large amounts of money for their advice & work, apparently include lawyers, accountants, property agents and surveillance experts, all furthering the ends of crime. However no recorded prosecutions have appeared in the SCDEA’s annual announcements and this year’s latest take on the story, published in June, revealed the SCDEA had been chasing crooked lawyers attached to Scottish mobsters for at least two years, apparently without any success, because the Law Society of Scotland’s regulation department, under the command of Philip Yelland and the notoriously crooked Institute of Chartered Accountants for Scotland (ICAS) were “still investigating” the cases.

In a report published in the Herald newspaper on Monday 6 June, the SCDEA’s director general, Deputy Chief Constable Gordon Meldrum, is reported to have claimed 12 of the specialists “taken out” were key players acting as lynchpins for the top 20% of Scotland’s 360 organised crime groups.

The Herald went onto report “Mr Meldrum is unable to name any of the 12, because of ongoing proceedings against them involving the Crown Office, the Law Society of Scotland and the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland.”

Since the June announcement by the SCDEA, which I reported on here : Two years later, Police Chief refuses to name crooked lawyers & accountants in SCDEA ‘swoop’ because Law Society & ICAS ‘are still investigating’, several insiders have told Diary of Injustice the Law Society & ICAS delays “were making a fool out of attempts to bring their members linked to organised crime, to justice”.

NO CASE TO ANSWER Sunday Mail 17 July 2011CRIME IS OK FOR SOME : Police & Crown Office refused to charge legal aid thief lawyers plundering millions from taxpayers. It has also emerged that while the Law Society of Scotland and the Scottish Crime & Drug Enforcement Agency are today eager for a bit of publicity, other elements of the legal profession linked back to the Law Society, such as the Legal Defence Union, have been ACTIVELY INTERVENING in criminal cases against solicitors and brokering deals with the Scottish Legal Board & Crown Office, deals which allowed up to FOURTEEN crooked lawyers to escape prosecution for LEGAL AID FRAUD, which I revealed in an earlier article published here : FOURTEEN lawyers accused of multi-million pound legal aid fraud escape justice as Scotland’s Crown Office fail to prosecute all cases in 5 years

The fact FOURTEEN crooked lawyers were not prosecuted for stealing MILLIONS OF POUNDS of taxpayers money after the Crown Office REFUSED to prosecute any of them, claiming there was insufficient evidence in each case, makes a mockery of the criminal justice system, the Police, regulation of the legal profession, and attempts to protect public money from fraudsters in the legal establishment.

It is worth noting not one single Police Chief or Scottish Government Minister has criticised any of the Crown Office FOURTEEN REFUSALS to prosecute legal aid fraudster lawyers.

Commenting in the agreement between the SCDEA and the Law Society, Deputy Chief Constable Gordon Meldrum, Director General of the SCDEA said in a Press Release published by the Law Society of Scotland : “We know that serious organised crime groups use the services of specialists, including lawyers, to support their criminal enterprises. Their role is crucial to the ongoing operation of criminal enterprises by providing the means necessary to launder money, acquire property and make other financial investments. Without this expert advice, crime groups would find it very difficult to operate.”

Mr Meldrum continued : “The vast majority of professionals are law abiding citizens, but there are a small number of unscrupulous lawyers, as well as professionals in other sectors, who are operating on behalf of organised crime. Some professionals may find themselves drawn into the criminal underworld through lack of awareness, or they may be subject to threats and blackmail by criminals. Their involvement can lead to reputational damage, loss of employment, a criminal record and even a custodial sentence.That’s why our new collaborative agreement with the Law Society of Scotland is so important. We need to know more about who is involved and the nature of their involvement so that we can take steps to disrupt criminal activity.”

Cameron Ritchie, president of the Law Society of Scotland, speaking on the smoke & mirrors agreement with the SCDEA for public consumption, said: “This is an important step for both organisations in ensuring the sharing of relevant information which will assist in the detection and disruption of organised crime in Scotland. It is absolutely vital for maintaining public trust and the reputation of the profession that we take the necessary action to ensure that our members adhere to the high regulatory and ethical standards expected of all Scottish solicitors.”

Law Society of ScotlandMore crooked lawyers than ever, yet Mr Ritchie trumpets the usual spin, claiming the Law Society operates a ‘robust regulatory regime’ Mr Ritchie continued : “We have a robust regulatory regime, including financial compliance systems, and know that the vast majority of our members are completely honest in their business practices and work very hard on behalf of legitimate clients. However those who are unscrupulous, those who are coerced into criminal activity or those who inadvertently serve organised crime, need to be identified and dealt with appropriately. “This initiative will further strengthen our financial compliance regime and we welcome the information sharing protocol as a deterrent to those involved in serious organised crime who would seek to use solicitors, or other professionals, to facilitate their activities.”

However, all eight of Scotland’s Police forces do not appear to want to work together with the public when it comes to clients reporting their solicitor or accountant to the Police for theft, embezzlement or fraud in a growing number of instances where clients are usually given the cold shoulder by Police even when large sums of money or even property are reported stolen by their solicitors or accountants. In fact, in some cases, the Police have been positively hostile, and even threatening against members of the public who report corruption in the legal world.

In a rising, and perhaps ‘profitable’ (as an ongoing investigation appears to be revealing) trend for some Police Officers, it appears members of the Scottish legal profession are using the Police and even serving Sheriffs as a private army to threaten clients or creditors with grievances, as Scottish Law Reporter recently covered, here : Serving Sheriff’s law firm drafted in to defend Desmond Cheyne QC over French home work dispute, allegations builders ‘were threatened’ by Police

Neither the SCDEA or Law Society of Scotland are compliant with Freedom of Information legislation therefore the public will have to rely on less than believable media announcements from both organisations on how well this information scheme fares.

While the agreement between the Law Society & SCDEA is good for a few announcements, and perhaps Ministerial bragging rights at functions & evening dinners, the vast majority of ‘crooked lawyers’ who generate thousands of complaints from clients every year in Scotland will not be affected, nor will clients of crooked Scottish lawyers have any right to be informed of exactly what their lawyers are up to behind closed doors.

Just try reporting your crooked lawyer to your local Police and see how far you get. Nowhere, very fast, with the chance the solicitor will call in a favour and have the Police target you instead.

 

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Emphasis on gifts, less on upheld ‘crooked lawyer’ cases as FOI forces publication of Scottish Legal Complaints Commission ‘Hospitality Register’

SLCCFOI legislation shines a much needed light into murky world of gifts for law complaints regulator. THE use of Freedom of Information legislation and its application to scrutinise the duties & somewhat abysmal performance of the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission (SLCC) has finally forced the notoriously anti-client law complaints quango to publish its register of gifts & hospitality, some three years and several scandals since the SLCC was created in 2008 at huge public expense of TWO MILLION POUNDS to deal with complaints against ‘crooked lawyers’.

While a steady stream of gifts & hospitality flowed into the SLCC, the organisation’s latest annual report for 2010-2011 revealed in three years,it had only upheld one single complaint while sending most others back to the Law Society of Scotland. Earlier this year, the SLCC announced yet another cut in the complaints levy, effectively gifting a whopping ONE MILLION POUNDS back to the legal profession after the quango revealed it had at one point, a £1.8 million cash surplus in its bank accounts.

An SLCC insider speaking to Diary of Injustice said the organisation had decided to throw in the towel and publish its Hospitality registers after receiving several Freedom of Information requests from the media & individuals over the past three years which asked questions on undisclosed links & Hospitality between law firms and the SLCC’s Board members & staff. The SLCC on the other hand, claimed the move was a result of its commitment “to the principles of openness and transparency”, however legal observers view this as a victory for Freedom of Information legislation in Scotland.

The move was confirmed by the SLCC’s response to a Freedom of Information request earlier this week in which the SLCC indicated its hospitality registers would now be published on its website at the following link : SLCC Gifts & Hospitality Registers with updates to be applied quarterly.

2010_11 staff gifts and hospitality register redacted_Page1The Hospitality Club : More gifts than complaints findings at Scotland’s law complaints quango. The SLCC’s registers of gifts & hospitality contains items such as invitations to dinners, drinks parties, lectures events and other gifts offered by several personalities from Scotland’s legal world including past Law Society Presidents Ian Smart & Jamie Millar, law firms such as Pagan Osborne, Shepherd & Wedderburn, Anderson Strathern, Beveridge & Kellas SSC, auditors KPMG & Deloitte, consumer organisations Consumer Focus Scotland & Which?, the Law Society of Scotland, Faculty of Advocates, the Institute of Chartered Accountants Scotland, the Medical Protection Society, the Administrative Justice & Tribunals Council Scottish Committee (AJTC), Scottish Government & others. While some members of staff are identified, others apparently are not, leaving a degree of suspicion over who attended some of the events such as law lectures at the Balmoral Hotel in Edinburgh.

A full summary of the SLCC’s Hospitality Register from 2008 to the publication date of this article can be viewed online here : Scottish Legal Complaints Commission hospitality & gifts 2008-early 2011

A legal insider commenting on the register this morning said : “Perhaps the SLCC should focus on some of the duties the public expected it to be getting on with now such as monitoring the Master Policy & Guarantee Fund  rather than going to dinners & parties with members of the legal profession.”

The insider also noted some of the law firms mentioned in the SLCC’s now published hospitality register had been identified in serious complaints made by clients against their provision of legal services, and one firm of auditors appearing in the hospitality register has been identified in a long running scandal currently dragging on in the Court of Session which has also been brought to the attention of the SLCC by way of a complaint involving a law firm which the Law Society of Scotland have apparently purposely delayed consideration of for several years.

SLCC resisted Freedom of Information requests to reveal secret payoff for SLCC Chief Executive Eileen Masterman (pictured in foreground). While this is a small victory for Freedom of Information & a small degree of openness in the world of regulation of the legal profession, readers may wish to note the SLCC has stubbornly refused to disclose what is rumoured to be a massive payout to former SLCC Chief Executive Eileen Masterman, who remained in her £1350 a week position at the law complaints quango’s lavish Edinburgh offices for just over six months before quitting allegedly on grounds of ‘ill health’.

More about the SLCC’s refusal to hand over any details of the secret Masterman Payoff, which was secretly passed by the Scottish Government, can be found here : HUSH & MONEY : Former SLCC law complaints Chief Executive Eileen Masterman received secret Scottish Government approved payoff in deal with lawyers

Diary of Injustice revealed how members of the public had been shut out of the SLCC’s latest research into the Law Society of Scotland’s notoriously corrupt Master Policy, when heavily censored documents were released by the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission in response to Freedom of Information requests for details of the latest Master Policy research project.

The censored documents released by the SLCC revealed Marsh UK, a subsidiary of the Marsh McLennan Companies, the US insurers convicted of criminal charges several years ago, had been entrusted to hand out questionnaires to selected individuals it would be hoped would give the Master Policy a more favourable write up than those in the Manchester University of Law School’s 2009 report, which liked the Master Policy to : Suicides, illness, broken families and ruined clients reveal true cost of Law Society’s Master Policy which ‘allows solicitors to sleep at night’

 

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Hacking your life ? The Law Society of Scotland & its insurers are experts. Memos & more proved information sharing, surveillance, hacking of Scots public goes right to the top

Douglas Mill 4Strong questions and a lack of custard pies in 2006 ensured Law Society Chief Executive fell on his information gathering memos. IN a favourable comparison to yesterday’s Westminster Culture Committee session in which hardly anything new was gained from the questioning of Rupert & James Murdoch & Rebekah Brooks on a what did they know and when did they know it theme regarding the News of the World “phone hacking” scandal, readers may wish to take note us Scots visited this same topic in 2006, where, albeit accidentally, the ‘dark art’ of information sharing & hacking into the lives of the public was revealed during questioning the Law Society of Scotland’s then Chief Executive, Douglas Mill by the now Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Finance, John Swinney.

Hacking for some seems to, suspiciously, focus only on hacking phones, yet as we all know, hacking into your own life can mean a lot more. Legislation such as  the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act, with our own Scottish version (RIPSA) has effectively promoted an uncontrolled culture of hacking throughout the UK so should we be surprised certain sections of the media felt left out and did their own hacking ? No.

Things like, hacking your medical records, hacking your financial details, hacking your mail, hacking your email, hacking into your home, hacking into your legal aid, hacking into your relationship with your own lawyer, hacking into your family life, and all done pretty much without so much as a whimper from anyone willing to stop it. We have seen it all before, yet nothing has ever been done until now. Did the same happen in Scotland ? Yes, although in the case of Scotland, you can be assured there will never be a Westminster style inquiry into it, ever.

As documents came to light at the Scottish Parliament in 2006 which touched on the subject of the legal profession hacking into the lives of clients, no one thought to ask the appearing Law Society officials exactly what methods they had used when intervening in the lives of members of the public to block their access to justice.

By today’s standards, not pursuing such a line of questioning when faced with documentary proof those before you had personally intervened in the lives of members of the public, gathered information which could not have been obtained in many cases, legally, had applied that information to blocking legal representation or interfering in court cases, or had knowledge that the Police had been used to thwart investigations, would in itself be suspicious. This is exactly what happened, and nothing more was said, nothing more was done.

Targeting clients : John Swinney asked stern questions of Law Society Chief Mill in 2006 which exposed lawyers using information to undermine members of the public. (Click image to view video)

John SwinneyCabinet Finance Chief John Swinney (then in opposition in 2006) knew how to ask some questions, yet he should be asking more. You can read more about the content of Mr Mill’s memos to the Law Society of Scotland President & the disgraced insurance firm Marsh, who were convicted of criminal offences in the United States, here : Law Society boss Mill lied to Swinney, Parliament as secret memos reveal policy of intervention & obstruction on claims, complaints. The memos between the Law Society & employees of an insurance firm portrayed an information sharing agenda on members of the public which existed in order to undermine any court actions or access to justice for those victimised by the legal profession. Clearly a degree of spying against members of the public was being practised by the Law Society and its insurers, and clearly the legal profession had undermined an earlier Scottish Parliamentary inquiry, yet no searching questions were asked.

In one of the memos, sent from Alistair Sim, the Director of Marsh UK to Mr Mill, Sim suggested collecting information on clients while in another memo, Mill refers to a proposed Scottish Parliament Justice Committee 1 inquiry into regulation of the legal profession in Scotland, which was held in 2002-2003 under the Convenership of the Christine Grahame MSP, who is again, coincidentally of course, the Convener of the Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee.

It was clear from the content of the memos Law Society officials & Marsh employees were involved in an attempt to undermine the 2003-2003 Justice Committee hearings and prevent anyone attending who might have exposed the hacking culture at the Law Society of Scotland and its insurers which was going on in the name of protecting the legal profession’s Master Policy, a massive multi million pound client compensation scheme. which oddly enough, hardly ever pays out.

During the 2002-2003 inquiry, not one single member of the public was allowed to testify before the Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee after the Law Society of Scotland demanded members of the public be banned from speaking at Committee hearings. The 2002-2003 inquiry under Christine Grahame did not discuss the memos made available to John Swinney, and Ms Grahame’s team subsequently went onto conclude regulation of the legal profession should remain as it was, under the control of the Law Society of Scotland.

It took a second inquiry into regulation of solicitors, held in 2006 by the Scottish Parliament’s Justice 2 Committee, initially chaired by Annabel Goldie (who resigned due to a conflict of interest) subsequently replaced by David Davidson, which brought the Law Society’s meddling in cases & client’s lives to the fore.

During the 2006 enquiry,  members of the public were allowed to testify before the Justice 2 Committee and subsequent to Mr Swinney’s encounter with Douglas Mill over the secret memos, Mill was forced to resign, albeit only after video footage of the incident was posted to video sharing website You Tube. Yet amid all this, no searching questions were asked by MSPs as to exactly what methods the Law Society of Scotland and its insurers employed to intervene in the lives of members of the public.

As readers will now be well aware, the creation of the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission has done nothing to clean up the corruption in the world of regulation of the legal profession, in fact, probably worsening it. My previous coverage of the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission, itself branded a “Front Company for the Law Society of Scotland”, can be found here : Scottish Legal Complaints Commission : The story so far

Readers can find out more for themselves in my previous coverage of just how the Law Society of Scotland and agents acting for its Master Policy insurers hack into the lives of clients, here : Spies, Lies, Hacking & Facebook : Law Society Master Policy snooped on ‘difficult clients’ to undermine damages claims, complaints about lawyers & here : Suicides, ill health, financial ruin : Will SLCC’s latest Master Policy report deliver solution to Law Society ‘pro-crooked lawyer’ insurance scheme ?

421Who headed the hacking ? Law Society’s now former Chief Executive Douglas Mill & Philip Yelland, head of Client Relations. Regular readers will be well aware I was significantly targeted by both Douglas Mill who personally blocked my legal aid, and the Law Society of Scotland’s Director of Regulation, Philip Yelland, who personally intervened with my solicitor at the time and ordered him not to take my instructions. Correspondence which revealed the actions of Mill & Yelland against me, can be viewed HERE & HERE. I can assure you all, these people and agents working for their “Master Policy” made my family life and my access to justice, a living hell. Almost, a death sentence, all in the name of protecting crooked Borders solicitor Andrew Penman of Stormonth Darling Solicitors, Kelso. The Andrew Penman scandal was heavily reported in the Scotsman newspaper during the 1990s.

Indeed, I have not forgotten that during the time of the Scotsman’s coverage, disruptive relationships between the legal & accounting profession who were intent on preventing further media reporting on Mr Penman, and, officers of Lothian & Borders Police came to the fore in several incidents, one of which involved the compromising of a costly & lengthy CID surveillance operation. Details of this scandal may well soon be appearing in a newspaper near you.

In my experience investigating & reporting on the legal profession for five years, and campaigning for legal reforms since the 1990s, information sharing, hacking, operating a policy to undermine critics by any means necessary, including the use of surveillance, and relationships involving the Police, goes right to the very top of any organisation which is very much involved in undermining the public good for its own ends.

 

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Crime Spin : Two years later, Police Chief refuses to name crooked lawyers & accountants in SCDEA ‘swoop’ because Law Society & accountants regulator ICAS ‘are still investigating’

Scdea_logoScottish Crime & Drug Enforcement Agency have chased crooked lawyers for two years yet no names, no prosecutions. THE Director General of the Scottish Crime & Drug Enforcement Agency (SCDEA), Deputy Chief Constable Gordon Meldrum has been forced to admit to the media this week he cannot identify a so-far unnamed, mysterious group of crooked lawyers & crooked accountants who allegedly work for Scotland’s top crime gangs & bosses, because two self regulators, the Law Society of Scotland who regulate solicitors & the Institute of Chartered Accountants for Scotland (ICAS) who regulate Scottish accountants, are still investigating the allegations & complaints.

Since 2009, the SCDEA have claimed around 241 “specialists”, such as crooked lawyers and accountants, were linked to the organised crime groups operating in Scotland. To-date, not one crooked lawyer or accountant has been charged with criminal offences relating to the now yearly claims made by the Police organisations. However, this year, the figure has now apparently risen to 291 such individuals, as the SCDEA’s recently released crime map lists 360 gangs, 200 of them based in Strathclyde Region, and 4472 members, including the specialists.

In a report published in the Herald newspaper on Monday 6 June, the SCDEA’s director general, Deputy Chief Constable Gordon Meldrum, is reported as claiming 12 of the specialists “taken out” were key players acting as lynchpins for the top 20% of Scotland’s 360 organised crime groups.

Mr Meldrum is quoted : “We found out that these 12 undoubtedly operated on behalf of a number of gangs. By taking out one of the specialists, you can impact on, say, eight groups because they all draw a particular type of advice from one of the individuals. We know for a fact that a number of specialists sit as nexus points in a number of groups. We have got to a position where we have undertaken investigations in to all of them and we have undertaken some kind of action against all of them.”

The Herald went onto report “Mr Meldrum is unable to name any of the 12, because of ongoing proceedings against them involving the Crown Office, the Law Society of Scotland and the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland.”

Law Society of ScotlandSecret investigations or simple cover-up ? Law Society of Scotland ‘are investigating’ claims of lawyers working for gangsters yet none have yet been identified. Today, it can be revealed the cases before the Law Society of Scotland have been held up over the concerns of the legal profession that the rot involving the so-far unnamed crooked lawyers allegedly working for gangland kingpins goes a lot further than the Law Society would like made public. Some within the Law Society are concerned the numbers of crooked lawyers eager represent gangs has risen, due to falling profits of law firms in what is one of the worst business periods for decades for Scotland’s law firms used to bringing in vast profits for their partners.

A legal insider speaking this afternoon on the two year old scandal said it was unusual that solicitors accused of involvement with criminal gangs were able to remain anonymous and at large, while also endangering the reputation of the Scottish legal profession as a whole. He also questioned why no arrests had taken place.

He said : “We have reached a dangerous state of affairs where one of Scotland’s top Police organisations have alleged criminal activity on the part of members of the Scottish legal profession yet not one single member of the legal profession has yet been identified in public, along with any of the allegations they face.”

He continued : “These individuals are still at large which, in the light of the SCDEA’s claims must be a threat to the reputation of Scotland’s legal services industry. If the Police have the evidence against them, then why have these solicitors or advocates not been charged with criminal offences and why has it been left to their own regulatory bodies to deal with the cases which now seem to be developing a life of their own.”

A justice campaigner pointed out innocent clients may end up being caught up in the long running saga if no action is taken. He said : “If these alleged crooked lawyers or accountants have been using innocent clients to front their criminal activities, the Law Society, Police and accountants regulators should have taken action a long time ago otherwise innocent people are going to be dragged into this mess.”

A Government insider commenting on the long running saga of gangland crooked lawyers said today he feared a rerun of the Niels Lockhart-Scottish Legal Aid Board scandal, where serious complaints of Legal Aid irregularities made by the Scottish Legal Aid Board (SLAB) against solicitor Mr Lockhart were negotiated away by the Legal Defence Union and the Law Society of Scotland and the case closed without any charges after the Law Society took FOUR YEARS to investigate complaints made by SLAB against Mr Lockhart.

I reported on the Lockhart case in an earlier articles HERE, and exposed the involvement of the Legal Defence Union in the case, which the Law Society closed without a result, here : One law for lawyers : Secret Report reveals Legal Aid Board, Law Society & Legal Defence Union ‘cosy relationship’ in Lockhart case

The insider said : “I fear the SCDEA may well end up with egg on their face if organisations such as the Legal Defence Union take the upper hand in representing the interests of members of the legal profession who are being investigated by the Law Society of Scotland over allegations of criminal behaviour. I think any ordinary person would be justified in asking why are the Law Society involved in this anyway, given the consideration of accusations of crime is clearly a subject the Law Society tend to avoid in complaints handling.”

Asked to confirm whether the Legal Defence Union had been involved in previous Law Society investigations where allegations of criminality against solicitors had been made, the official said : “I believe so. Put it this way, if there are no announcements from the Law Society it has struck off a handful of lawyers acting for gangsters as a result of the SCDEA’s claims, it wont be the first time a solicitor accused of criminal activity has been let off.”

2366Scots accountants regulator ICAS equally useless in regulation, did nothing over accountant Norman Howitt filing false statements with Police to cover up embezzlement and attempt to swindle. The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland (ICAS) are as poor at regulating crooked accountants as the Law Society are at regulating crooked lawyers. In my own experience, a Borders Accountant, Norman Howitt now of the JRW Group accountants, filed a false statement with Lothian & Borders Police to cover up his actions in taking money from my late father’s estate to his business accounts, possession of my late mother’s pension and an attempt to take control over her entire assets. Even though the Police were satisfied Mr Howitt’s statement was false, without foundation, and they received evidence of his actings in my late father’s estate, nothing was done. ICAS and its investigator, Dr TM McMorrow, initially found Mr Howitt to blame yet refused to act or punish the crooked accountant, who remains in practice as an accountant in the Scottish Borders to this day.

An individual familiar with the practices of ICAS regulation said : “As for ICAS, don’t expect much from them. They are a law unto themselves like the rest of the financial regulators unless there is a bit of PR in it for their end to claim they finally did something.”

No one at the SCDEA was available for comment. The Crown Office have not issued any statement on any charges or investigations concerning these mysterious crooked lawyers & accountants so far not publicly identified by the Scottish Crime & Drug Enforcement Agency.

If any readers have worries their solicitors or accountants may be involved in criminal activities,they should contact Scottish Law Reporter at scottishlawreporter@gmail.com with their suspicions.

 

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