John Campbell no fee no win court deal was turned against client. A TOP QC recently appointed to head an Edinburgh Charity £25million scheme redeveloping Princes St Gardens – is at the centre of calls for a tax probe – after newly released files reveal he used the Faculty of Advocates to demand huge fees – on a case he originally agreed to work on a no-win-no-fee basis.
Documents recovered from Faculty Services Ltd reveal John Campbell QC – of Themis Advocates – demanded payments of well over £100,000 – for a land contamination claim – contrary to an earlier agreement Campbell made with his clients where the fee would ONLY be taken from any settlement upon success in the Court of Session case.
However – the £6million claim led by John Campbell QC – ended badly after a series of undeclared conflicts of interest by some of Scotland’s most senior judicial figures, instances where judges were switched from hearing to hearing, denial of legal costs claims & denied appeals.
Campbell then effectively destroyed his own client’s case – by removing most of the financial claims without consultation or permission to do so.
Now – there are now calls for a full investigation by tax authorities of all transactions involving Scottish Advocates – after new evidence indicates fee documents from the Faculty of Advocates were altered – to cover up a series of undeclared cash payments Campbell demanded from his clients.
In one of a series of Faculty Services statements – files reveal John Campbell demanded £75,000 for ‘unspecified’ meetings on the case he had already agreed to work on the no-win-no-fee arrangement in Nolan v Advance Construction Scotland Ltd  CSOH 4 CA132/11.
In another entry on the same statement – the senior Campbell QC – sometimes described as a ‘leading Scots legal figure’ – demands a staggering £9,000 for ONE single consultation.
Campbell also inserts a demand for £33,360 for ‘reviewing productions’ and preparing his fee – even though he had already agreed there would be NO fee if he didn’t win the case.
Another £6,300 is then charged up by Campbell for a further review of papers and ‘preparation of case’.
Given the outcome of the case, and what has since happened to Campbell’s clients as a result of his role as their legal representative – the fee statements appear to contravene the no-win-no-fee deal agreement between John Campbell and his clients.
And – in digital evidence now held by journalists, Campbell states the payments he pocketed from clients despite the no win no fee deal – include work undertaken by his Junior Counsel Craig Murray.
A full report on Craig Murray’s involvement in the case, and his role in writing two versions of evidence to legal regulators can be found here: ADVOCATE PROBE: How legal regulators covered up for top QC – Files show Scots Advocate now working as Barrister in London – authored two versions of SAME letter for Faculty probe of cash scandal QC who failed clients in £6M Court of Session case
It should be noted – despite accounts from Campbell and the Faculty of Advocates demanding hundreds of thousands of pounds from Mr Campbell’s clients – on a case Campbell himself destroyed in court – both John Campbell QC and Craig Murray have now DELETED all references to the Nolan v Advance Construction (Scotland) Ltd case from their online biographies documenting their respective legal careers.
A study of additional statements from Faculty Services Ltd currently being undertaken by a law accountant – highlights references in the newly released files to ‘undated’ sums, and credit notes for payments which were in fact – never made.
In one credit note from Faculty Services Ltd – the sum of £5000 – without any date reference is stated as paid.
However, a solicitor dealing directly with the case DENIED the undated £5,000 amount had been paid to Faculty Services Ltd – and a review of the accounts confirm NO such payment was ever made.
The undated £5K credit note listed in the documents – and other unexplained entries – appear to have been created by Faculty Services Ltd with a deliberate intention to conceal tens of thousands of pounds in undeclared cash payments Campbell demanded from his clients.
The fee statements & accounts from Faculty Services Ltd now raise serious questions of how far up the involvement of figures in the Faculty of Advocates in this case stretches – after an earlier investigation established Campbell was pocketing large payments he personally insisted on collecting in cash filled envelopes from his clients in £5,000 bundles.
Written evidence recovered from files held by legal regulators revealed Campbell himself sent emails to his clients – demanding large payments in cash to pay himself and junior counsel Craig Murray.
An email from John Campbell to his clients revealed Campbell demanded £5,000 in cash – while he was on the way to a meeting at Airdrie Sheriff Court followed by a dinner with the Law Society of Scotland.
The email from Campbell states: “A little better information about timing. I am due in Airdrie at 4.30. The meeting is in the Sheriff Court, which closes at 6.30. The Law Society is taking me and a colleague for dinner, but I have no idera where. There isn’t a huge number of restaurants in Airdrie, but we’ll find somewhere. This means I won’t be at Bonkle Road until about 8. Is that OK?”
“I have asked JC [John Carruthers] for a breakdown of the £5000. I will explain to you how a spec case works. I have checked; both John and I are willing to take on a spec case for Donal, but only if he signs up to it. There will be two conditions; one is that you keep the Edinburgh agent fed and watered, and the second is the size of the uplift at the end of the day, as I explained to you.”
A Sunday Mail investigation into the case established John Campbell sent multiple emails to clients – in some cases, demanding cash “in any form except beads” to pay for legal services.
An additional email from John Campbell QC to his client stated: “I’m writing to confirm that we agreed at our meeting on Friday that we will meet in Dalkeith on TUESDAY morning, when you will give me £5000 towards the fees of your legal team” … “Please let me know if it’s OK to meet at the Mulsanne Garage, which is at 137 High Street, and what time would suit you?”
Campbell then collected the cash in envelopes – in locations such as restaurants, a garage specialising in servicing Bentley cars, and on land at Branchal in Wishaw.
John Campbell has refused to make any statement to the media on the written evidence published in the media of his demands for undeclared cash payments from clients.
Commenting on Campbell’s emails and some of the Faculty Services fee statements, a Criminal Defence solicitor who did not wish to be named – claimed the practice of QCs and Advocates demanding fee top ups in cash is widespread and needs to be looked at.
In one case quoted by a legal source, a senior member of the Faculty of Advocates who recently appeared in the news – is alleged to have demanded a six figure sum in cash from an accused person to ensure a non-custodial sentence in a criminal prosecution.
The legal source who provided the information said “Given the seniority of the accused’s legal representation it is difficult to believe others in court were not involved in the cash for freedom deal.”
In another case of a similar nature, an accused person refused to pay a similar sum of cash demanded by a high profile QC who also guaranteed a non-custodial sentence. The accused person went on to receive a custodial sentence after being found guilty at a criminal trial.
The rules on how payments to Advocates and Queens Counsel are collected from clients by Faculty Services Ltd – the fees collection arm of the Faculty of Advocates which is currently chaired by Geoff Clarke QC – are very clear.
Section 9.9 of the Faculty of Advocates Code of Conduct states: “Counsel should not under any circumstances whatever discuss or negotiate fees with or receive fees directly from the lay client.”
Further rules from the Code of Conduct state clearly that fees to QCs and Advocates acting as counsel can only be collected by solicitors, and then paid over to clerks and Faculty Services.
“Normally Counsel’s fees are negotiated between the clerk and the solicitor. All fees should be paid to Counsel’s clerk.”
Additional guidance designed to cover over any direct payments ‘collected’ by Advocates states: “If any fee happens to be paid direct to Counsel, Counsel must account for it forthwith to his or her clerk.”
CASE BROKE ALL JUDICIAL CONFLICT OF INTEREST RULES:
Nolan v Advance Construction Scotland Ltd  CSOH 4 CA132/11 is the same case which exposed serious conflicts of interest in Scotland’s judiciary – notably where Lord Malcolm (Colin Campbell QC) failed to disclose on multiple occasions – the fact Lord Malcolm’s son – Ewen Campell – represented the defenders in the same court.
The investigation into the Lord Malcolm case of serious failures to declare conflicts of interest, is reported in further detail here: CONFLICT OF INTEREST: Papers lodged at Holyrood judicial interests register probe reveal Court of Session judge heard case eight times – where his son acted as solicitor for the defenders.
It is also worth noting the Nolan v Advance (Scotland) Ltd case drew in a series of sheriffs and judges – from not easily explained hearings at Hamilton Sheriff Court involving Sheriff Millar, Peter Watson & Levy & Mcrae – and Lord Malcolm’s son – Ewen Campbell – to Court of Session judges including Lord Brodie, Lord Menzies, Lord Woolman, Lord Bracadale (and a concealed recusal) and Lord Hodge – who later prevented the case being appealed to the UK Supreme Court without declaring he had already ruled on the case while in Edinburgh on multiple occasions.
A full report on Lord Hodge, his undeclared conflicts of interest and his role in denying an appeal to the UK Supreme Court can be found here: CONFLICT OF JUSTICE: Deputy President of UK Supreme Court Lord Hodge blocked appeal to UKSC on damages case he previously heard 16 times – where fellow judge Lord Malcolm failed to declare his own son represented defenders in same court
An earlier investigation of this case revealed that when Lord Woolman stated in court papers that Mr Nolan had a case, John Campbell QC removed – without instruction – most of his client’s own case including over £4million and a claim for legal costs – after he had discussions with the current vice dean of the Faculty of Advocates – Roddy Dunlop QC.
A full report on how John Campbell QC reduced his own client’s financial claim almost to zero and without any instruction or consultation – can be found here: CASHBACK QC: Legal regulator’s files reveal senior QC reduced claim without instructions, withheld key evidence & witnesses including Cabinet Secretary from Court of Session case
Roderick William Dunlop QC of Axiom Advocates along with Lord Malcolm’s son who is now at the same Advocates Stables as Dunlop – Ewen Campbell of Axiom Advocates – and Peter Watson – now formerly of Glasgow based Levy & Mcrae – represented Advance Construction (Scotland) Ltd.
At the time – Peter Watson was a member of Scotland’s judiciary – and held various positions and directorships in relation to a hedge fund run by Greg King.
However – Peter Watson’s involvement in the collapsed £400million Heather Capital Hedge fund was beginning to trickle out into the media – and in 2015 after questions were put to Scotland’s top judge by the Scottish Sun newspaper – Lord Brian Gill suspended Peter Watson from sitting as a judge “to maintain public confidence in the judiciary”.
A full report on Watson’s suspension from the judicial bench can be found here: CAPITAL JUDGE: As top judge suspends sheriff over £28m law firm writ alleging links to £400m Heather Capital collapse, what now for Lord Gill’s battle against a register of interests & transparency for Scotland’s judiciary
Watson’s suspension as a judge lasted for over three years – a record term of suspension of a member of Scotland’s judiciary and ended with Watson’s resignation in 2019, reported in further detail here: SHERIFF WALKS: Scottish Courts confirm lawyer & part-time Sheriff Peter Watson – who was named in £28M Heather Capital writ linked to collapsed £400M hedge fund – resigned from the judiciary in 2018
JOHN CAMPBELL QC & THE EDINBURGH CHARITY PROJECT:
Recently, and in a blaze of public relations, John Campbell QC was appointed as Chairman of The Ross Development Trust – a charity created to lead a redesign of West Princes Street Gardens in Edinburgh.
However, Campbell’s appointment as Chairman of the project comes amid a scandal where big businesses, vested interests and wealthy donors were promised access to high-profile celebrities, international publicity at VIP events tickets for high-profile concerts, exclusive drinks parties and dinners under a secret fundraising drive by the Quaich Project – which Campbell now chairs.
Leaked details published last month by the media suggest corporate backers will be able to advertise their brands all across the redeveloped Princes Street gardens and the new amphitheatre which will replace the current Ross Bandstand.
Campbell’s reaction to the publication was an aggressive response, attacking critics of the public-private partnership project for “scaremongering” over “completely untrue” claims that it would lead to over-commercialisation and privatisation of the gardens.
It was reported in the media that John Campbell insisted there was “absolutely no evidence” to support claims that Princes Street gardens would be turned into a “private playground” reserved for wealthy donors and for commercial companies – yet the documents detailing the funding drive & secret promise of sponsorship to big business and vested interests – are now widely circulating in the public domain after being leaked to the press.
Eerily – the plan to redevelop Princes Street Gardens – dubbed the ‘Quaich project’- is developing a similar theme to how parts of the Court of Session ended up in the ownership of the Faculty of Advocates, after legal figures targeted the Laigh Hall complex, claiming ownership of the hall via a series of dubious titles and a lobbying campaign to take possession of the court buildings.
The Laigh Hall scandal resulted in a secretive deal after a bitter campaign by the Faculty of Advocates to usurp possession of parts of the Court of Session building for their ownership, adding it to their asset portfolio under a trust chaired by Court of Session judge Lord Brailsford.
The Scottish Government eventually caved in and ‘gifted’ parts of the Court of Session to the Faculty of Advocates – even though the building belonged to the City of Edinburgh Council.
A full report on what happened to the Laigh Hall – which now hosts many exclusive events for lawyers & their businesses, and the transfer of ownership to the Faculty of Advocates can be found here: WOLFFE HALL: Edinburgh Council racks up £53K legal bill in failed bid to recover ownership of Parliament House – as papers reveal Faculty of Advocates “occupied” Laigh Hall for 150 years without recorded title deeds
Campbell is also a Trustee of the Scottish Historic Buildings Trust, and of Planning Aid Scotland, and an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS)
Former Cabinet Minister Alex Neil MSP (SNP Airdrie and Shotts) – who is backing his constituents in their quest to obtain justice, has now called for a full probe into the allegations against Campbell.
The Sunday Mail reported on the development & political backing in an investigation, here: MSP brands legal watchdog a ‘toothless waste of time’ after top QC avoids censure over cash payments
The Sunday Mail’s original Investigation and report on John Campbell QC and his cash demands from clients can be found here:
By Craig McDonald Sunday Mail 2 APR 2017
A couple claim one of Scotland’s leading QCs breached strict guidelines and asked for legal fees to be paid direct to him in cash.
Melanie Collins and partner Donal Nolan said they made the unusual payment after John Campbell told them he needed “£5000 from you in any form”.
Melanie said she and a friend met Campbell, who once represented Donald Trump’s Scottish business, in a restaurant in Dalkeith where she handed over the sum in banknotes.
She said she paid the QC – one of Scotland’s top planning law experts – three further sums of £5000 in cash at other meetings.
The method of payment is a breach of strict guidelines issued by the Faculty of Advocates – the professional body all advocates and QCs belong to.
The couple’s MSP last week called for a probe into the payments.
Campbell wrote in an email to Melanie on October 10, 2012: “Tomorrow, I am looking forward to a serious talk with you and John but I need to collect £5000 from you in any form.”
The man referred to is solicitor advocate John Carruthers, who assisted in the case.
Four days later, Melanie received another email from Campbell which said: “I’m writing to confirm that we agreed at our meeting on Friday that we will meet at Dalkeith on Tuesday morning when you will give me £5000 towards the fees of your legal team.”
Melanie, 62, a former land developer, of Bonkle, Lanarkshire, said: “I and a friend met with Mr Campbell at a restaurant in Dalkeith where I gave him an envelope containing £5000.
“There were three other occasions when I paid him £5000 cash in envelopes.
“One was at the Dakota hotel in Lanarkshire, one was at my home in Bonkle and one was a site in Cambusnethan in Wishaw relating to the court case. Looking back it might seem odd – but I had never had any dealings with a QC before and just assumed this was the way they worked.
“I paid two further cheques, one to Mr Campbell and one to a law firm, of £5000 and £4000. The total was £29,000.”
The payments related to a civil case Donal initially planned against a construction firm in 2011. The case was heard at the Court of Session in 2013.
Melanie said: “We won the case but were awarded £20,000. Our total legal fees were in the hundreds of thousands.”
She reported the cash payments claims to the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission in 2014.
The SLCC said at the time: “The complaint has been considered carefully by the SLCC. It has been decided … will not be investigated as it has not been made within time limits, for the reasons set out in the attached determination.”
The couple’s MSP, Alex Neil, the SNP member for Airdrie and Shotts, said: “All these allegations have to be investigated.
“If there has been malpractice at any stage this has to be dealt with by the appropriate authorities. Donal and Melanie’s problem up until now is that they’ve not been listened to when they have made the complaints.”
The SLCC could not be contacted for comment.
The Faculty of Advocates’ guide to conduct states: “Counsel should not under any circumstances whatever discuss or negotiate fees with or receive fees directly from the lay client.”
Their disciplinary tribunal can hand out fines of up to £15,000. A member can also be suspended or expelled from the faculty.
The Faculty of Advocates refused to comment last week.
Campbell, 67, said: “I have no comment to make.”
JOHN CAMPBELL QC BIOGRAPHY:
During the span of his legal representation provided in Nolan v Advance Construction (Scotland) Ltd, John Campell was based at the former Hasties Stables of Advocates, which rebranded themselves earlier this year as Themis Advocates.
The rebrand of Hasties Stables after Advocates in the former Hastie Stable announced they were to re-emerge under the new brand of Themis Advocates – on the appointment of new senior clerk Kiera Johnston who will work alongside depute clerks Sara Mauriello and Liz Archibald.
Sitting alongside John D. Campbell QC in Themis Advocates are members of Scotland’s judiciary – including Mungo Bovey QC – who has sat as a part time Sheriff since 2009.
Themis Advocates describe themselves in the following terms: “Themis Advocates is a generalist stable, of which our advocates cover all areas of the law well. Within the stable, solicitors can find counsel able to handle a very broad range of inquiries, both in the range of subject matter and in the nature of the task requiring to be undertaken. We can provide competent advocates at all levels for any item of work. For ease of use we have arranged the Areas of Practice under the headings listed on the left. Click on any one of these headings for a breakdown of specialist topics within that heading.”
Alongside John Campbell QC at Themis Advocates are the following QCs: Mungo Bovey QC ;Andrew Brown QC ; Laura Dunlop QC ; Bruce Erroch QC ; Leo Hofford QC, FCIArb ; Kirsty Hood QC Gavin MacColl QC ; Alan McLean QC, FCIArb ; Brian Napier QC ; Steven Walker QC ; Andrew Webster QC
Juniors at Themis called for over seven years include the following: David F Ballantyne ; Mike Bell Joe Bryce Alan Caskie Maria Clarke Gerry Coll Donald Davidson Andrew Devlin Kenneth Forrest Robert Frazer Kenny Gibson Alasdair Hardman Ewan Hawthorn Graeme Henderson Jeya Irvine David Leighton Catherine MacColl David McLean Fintan McShane John Moir Ross Pilkington Chris Pirie Michael Upton
Juniors at Themis called for under seven years include the following: Tracey Brown Andrew Crawford Michael Dempsey Tim Haddow Chris Jones Ann MacNeill Julie McKinlay Graham Middleton Safeena Rashid Katerina Stein
John Campbell also maintains a role at Trinity Chambers in England, alongside: Toby Hedworth Q.C. John Campbell Q.C. Andrew Stafford Q.C. Francis FitzGibbon Q.C. Nicholas Stonor Q.C. Caroline Goodwin Q.C.
Barristers at Trinity Chambers can be found here: Trinity Chambers – Barristers a-z
The Trinity Chambers website describes their practice in the following terms: Trinity Chambers is proud of its reputation as being one of the leading sets of barristers’ chambers in the North of England, endorsed by the Chambers and Partners and Legal 500 Directories – “Trinity Chambers’ ‘expertise, professionalism and empathy are second to none’”, the “extremely efficient” clerks are “always keen to assist” Legal 500 2019, ‘One of the most renowned sets in the North East for good reason’ Legal 500 2020.
This is a reputation we have won by investing in staff, services and facilities, by implementing a robust administration and clerking structure, and, crucially, by supplying high quality legal advice and advocacy.
Trinity were the first chambers north of London, and only the fourth in the country, to be awarded the General Council of the Bar’s BarMark which is an annual review of all aspects of practice management, client care and regulatory compliance as assessed and reported upon by the British Standards Institution.
We were the first BarMark chambers in the country to be awarded Investors in People. Trinity were among the first six chambers to be awarded the Legal Services Commission’s Quality Mark. Since our establishment in 1954, we have consistently grown so that we now offer a broad spectrum of specialisation, expertise and experience, with consistently high quality across the board.
John Campbell QC Trinity Chambers Biography
John Campbell Q.C. CASES – with no reference to his role in Nolan v Advance Constuction (Scotland) Ltd:
About 200 windfarm and other planning cases at Committee, in writing, on appeal to Inspectors and Reporters, and on Appeal and Judicial Review in Scotland, Cumbria, Northumberland, East Yorkshire, North Wales, West Wales, and Norfolk; Avich & Kilchrenan Community Council – appearance before UN Economic Committee for Europe’s Åarhus Convention Compliance Committee, Geneva, Switzerland; Beauly to Denny OHL Inquiry – major power line inquiry from Beauly (Inverness-shire) to Denny (Stirlingshire); Bilfinger Berger Siemens CAF Joint Venture – training for Edinburgh Trams Mediation; Coastal Regeneration Alliance – Community Right to Buy under Land reform (S) Act 2003 – wrongful refusal to register lawful interest by Scottish Ministers; David Bines v CNES –  Otter control at a fish farm; Gloag v Perth and Kinross Council and The Ramblers Association – right to roam – right to erect a fence with out planning permission; Gordon & Macphail v The Moray Council – Land Tribunal Valuation dispute for loss of use of a spring feeding a malt whisky distillery; Gordons Trustees – landlord’s resistance to an informally created agricultural tenancy; Grantown on Spey Caravan Park – Certificate of Lawful Use and Development against Planning Authority; success and costs awarded; HMA: v Hyslop – farmer carrying shotgun and allegedly threatening ‘lampers’ on his own ground – unanimous acquittal; HMA v Reid – shaken baby death; ICE v Addison – professional body wrongfully expelling Chartered Engineer; Laird v Scottish Borders Council – Planning consent invalidated for ambiguity; Lidl Stores – Nine public inquiries for new stores; Macaskill Stornoway  Lorry noise nuisance case; Mearns Residents Association – flooding – correct interpretation of Council’s obligations to regulate housing permissions; Nairn v Fife Council  Listed Buildings and ransom strip at large Country House; Newton Mearns Residents Association  CSOH – flooding issues, Protective Expenses Order; Packard v Scottish Ministers  – judicial review of windfarm Planning decision – bias and pre-determination by Scottish Ministers alleged; Parry v Highland Council – Contested certificate of lawful use for a fish farm; Pentland-Clark v Maclehose and Others –  10 year long Will dispute; Pirie and another v NEC – unlawful contract termination of TV distributor’s agreements; Q-Park – Access through designated bridge Airspace valuation; RIAS v Mays – unlawful expulsion of architect from membership of professional body – compensation; S and others – prolonged family dispute among four brothers following sale of a waste recovery business; Scott v McTear – auction house denying liability for compensation after burglary; TMSL v Rannoch Club – unlawful contract termination – compensation; Scottish Parliament Inquiry – 2004 – Inquiry into overspend on the Scottish Parliament Building; Trump International v Scottish Ministers UKSC  judicial review of decision about the correct interpretation of a term in Electricity Act 1989;William Grant & Sons, Distillers  – judicial review of Planning Decision; Wilson v Morton Fraser – Solicitors negligence claim, contested valuation of loss of profit
APPOINTMENTS: Member of the Scottish Bar since 1981, QC Scotland since 1998
;Member, Dispute Review Board, Mersey Gateway Crossing 2015-
LECTURES & SEMINARS: Regularly gives talks on Planning law and Arbitration to solicitors, local authority staff, students, clients and others and has written a number of articles on Listed Buildings and Built and Natural Heritage issues
EDUCATION: LLB Edinburgh 1972
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: John Campbell is a Scottish Queen’s Counsel, qualified to practice throughout the UK.
He graduated from Edinburgh University in 1972, and worked as a solicitor in Scotland until 1978. He was appointed as an Assistant Director of Legal Aid in Hong Kong where he worked in a range of public service legal jobs until appointed a Magistrate in 1980. He returned to Scotland in 1981.He passed Advocate that year, was called to Lincolns Inn in 1990, and took silk in 1998. He was a member of 40 King Street Chambers in Manchester throughout the 1990s.
He has worked in Family Law, both claimant and defendant Personal Injury and industrial disease work, and much earlier, in Crime. He has acquired a lot of agricultural experience, particularly for estates, farms and tenants and in landlord and tenant issues, and has worked widely in promoting arbitration and mediation for farmers, and in rent reviews both in Scotland and around the world. He has been a registered Construction Adjudicator and is currently a Member of a DRB.
He has worked in Town and Country Planning since the mid 1990s and has developed that speciality to include Environmental Law and some Construction Law. He is particularly active in Renewable Energy work on behalf of communities, NGOs, third parties, developers and councils.
His practice today is mainly in Planning and Environmental Law, property and land law, and agriculture and energy work, and he has a specialised practice in all kinds of ADR work and its promotion. He has carried out about 200 public inquiries and a number of related judicial reviews. Outside the law, he is Chairman of Scotland’s largest Building Preservation Trust, and of a University Research Advisory Board.
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