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COURT ON AUDIO, M’LORD: Clients should be given SAME DAY access to Court of Session audio recordings – as ongoing probe reveals QC’s admissions in case linked to Lord Malcolm, Lord Carloway & concealed judicial conflicts of interest

Court recordings should be available same day to clients. AN ONGOING media investigation into hearings in Scotland’s top court – the Court of Session – has received evidence which casts doubt on the integrity of witnesses and  counsel’s actions – which could be remedied if unedited digital audio recordings were required to be provided to clients involved in cases – upon the conclusion of a hearing.

Audio recordings of hearings in a £6million land case Nolan v Advance Construction (Scotland) provided by a court source – and a study of their content have led to calls for clients who already pay tens of thousands of pounds for their claims to be hard by the Court of Session – to be given unrestricted access to audio records of proceedings in court – without obstruction or prohibitive cost being used to block access to proceedings in their case.

In the case which features in the released audio –  extraordinary exchanges between counsel, witnesses and the judge – Lord Woolman – can be clearly heard and further exchanges were counsel take an unrealistic, if combative approach with local planning officials in attempts to conceal or contradict legislation relating to the dumping of toxic, hazardous waste from the court.

In the cassette tapes of the Court of Session hearings – obtained by journalists from court sources – the audio recordings of interactions between witnesses, John Campbell QC, and the current Dean of the Faculty of Advocates – Roddy Dunlop QC – has since led to a separate investigation which has discovered one of the chief witnesses in Nolan v Advance held compromising interests linked to the defenders – which were concealed from the court and the judge – Lord Woolman.

In one exchange, Dunlop questions a North Lanarkshire Council planning officer – Mr Fraser Miller – on the conditions and legislation which are required for the removal of hazardous material including asbestos. From the recordings and what happened in court, it becomes clear the planning officer says planning permission would be required to remove the asbestos from the site, and the same permission would be required fo the asbestos to be dumped on the site.

As the case proceeds over a number of days in August 2013 before Lord Woolman – Dunlop’s client – Advance Construction (Scotland) Ltd – are ultimately forced to admit to Lord Woolman they were responsible for illegally dumping the toxic material on Mr Nolan’s property.

The audio tapes of the Nolan v Advance hearings go on to reveal many discrepancies between the accounts of what John Campbell QC said to his own client, and what actually transpired in court – including the as yet unexplained reasons why Campbell QC removed much of his own client’s financial claims – and critically the claim for legal expenses – without receiving any instruction to do so.

While it is important to note this case was initially won by Mr Nolan – the pursuer –  the failure of counsel to return to court for legal expenses against the defender led to financial loss & disaster after counsel for the pursuer turned on his own client by inexplicably stripping out much of the financial claim – an act which Lord Woolman said he had never seen in such a case.

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

Readers may be familiar with Nolan v Advance – one of the most extraordinary cases in recent times – which has since led to the discovery of carefully concealed interests of Court of Session judge Lord Malcolm (Colin Campbell QC) and Scotland’s current top judge – Lord Carloway (Colin Sutherland).

During a consultation between journalists currently engaged in the probe and court sources, further issues in the Nolan v Advance case have now come to light including a source which identified a comment between counsel to the effect of an unreferenced instruction with some degree of motivation – which states “you have got to four o’clock to get this sorted”.

And now – further audio recordings have been provided to journalists which lay down in crystal clear terms an extraordinary attitude on payment of fees on the part of the pursuer’s legal team – which included John Campbell QC, advocate Craig Murray and solicitor Gregor McPhail.

The legal team for Mr Nolan had previously signed up to a no win no fee agreement – which Campbell admits to in the recordings.

However, and without hesitation Campbell then appears to turn against the fee deal and demands his team all be paid – this coming after further material and already published emails revealed John Campbell demanded, and insisted on collecting  in person – cash sums of up to five thousand pounds at a time from his client Mr Nolan.

In one exchange – Campbell QC says “As fond as I am of you, none of us are doing this for love and neither is Craig [Murray]”

Campbell is then challenged over his already agreed position of working on the case via a no win no fee deal

John Campbell agrees he was working on a no win no fee deal but then replies: “That is correct, hmmm but we just have to see whether that actually holds up because hmm you know…”

A number of further recordings are now being studied where it is acknowledged by counsel Lord Woolman states he is  concerned about counsel’s lack of provision to the judge of evidence given by certain witnesses for the pursuer, Mr Nolan.

In an additional audio provided to journalists, John Campbell QC – who now heads the Edinburgh based Quaich Project – clearly admits responsibility for key failures in his presentation of evidence to the court.

Journalists and technical experts are now considering the content of the court recordings for futher publication and potential inclusion in reports to the Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee of events in the Nolan v Advance case which identify a pattern of deliberate and concealed conflicts of interest by judges in the Court of Session.

And – in another court case where recordings have also come to light, it is also very clear what happens in court is very loosely transcribed to parties when there are requests by court participants for transcripts – some costing clients tens of thousands of pounds over hearing after hearing.

In a further case presented to the media team looking into Court of Session audio recordings – a court source has come forward with claims that a transcribing firm who were given court recordings as part of an order for transcripts – were told in a phone call to go easy on certain dates across hearings in one major case – and pay less emphasis to one side’s counsel in their provision of a final transcript ordered by the other side’s legal team.

A legal insider who has been given access to some of the audio material handed over to journalists now believes clients should be given unfettered access to recordings of their cases in court.

He said: “Clients pay a lot of money for their legal representatives to take a case through to the Court of Session and should be provided with audio recordings of each day’s proceedings at the end of that day”

He added: “The equipment to record court hearings has been installed for some time, and this should be properly used to ensure clients on both sides of the court have access to these recordings, without any attempt by court staff or the sitting judge to use unsatisfactory excuses or prohibitive costs as a reason for withholding audio access to those who are paying for the hearings.”

Currently, clients can request a copy of recordings from the Court of Session to be transcribed by an external private company, however – seldom if ever do the actual audio recordings pass into the hands of clients or either side’s legal team.

Clients must pay for the transcribing of the court recordings in what can run into bills of tens of thousands of pounds, however – there are notes of many cases where court staff, and the judge have blocked a client’s request to obtain transcripts of proceedings – and even when the court has agreed to transcription in some cases – clients and legal teams have identified multiple omissions in transcripts which suggest a motivated approach was taken to omit particular evidence from print.

For the media, a different approach to recording and broadcasting from the Court of Session & High Court of Justiciary currently exists in the following format:

Protocol on Recording and Broadcasting of Proceedings in the High Court of Justiciary and the Court of Session, and the Use of Live Text Based Communications from Court

Broadcast: Except where the context otherwise requires, for the purposes of the Protocol,
“broadcast” means the transmission to members of the public of a video and/or audio recording; or live streaming. For the purposes of the Protocol, a recording refers to a video and/or audio recording. Broadcast may be for live streaming, news broadcast or documentary production. Individual sections within the Protocol identify the extent to which broadcasting may be permitted for a particular type of case.

Guiding Principle: The guiding principle is that broadcast of court proceedings is in the interests of open justice and for the information and education of the public.

Judicial Control: Subject to the guiding principle, whether a hearing should be recorded must remain under judicial control. The court may rule that, in any given case, recording a hearing would not be in the interests of justice.

Fair and Accurate Reporting: A report or presentation of proceedings that includes a broadcast of a hearing must be fair and accurate, having regard to the overall content of the report or presentation and the context in which the broadcast is presented. It must not be used for: the purposes of a party political broadcast; advertisement or promotion (except where such advertisement or promotion relates to a report or presentation that includes the broadcast); light entertainment; comedy or satirical purposes.

For the purposes of the Protocol, a media party means a journalist registered with the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service (SCTS), or a party who can provide sufficient, appropriate evidence of relevant journalistic or documentary work. Any media party wishing to record a hearing is required to submit an application using one of the prescribed forms

Applications must be submitted to Judicial Communications for consideration by the Broadcast Working Group well in advance of the date of commencement of proceedings.

On receipt of an application, the Broadcast Working Group must notify the residing/chairing judge and ask him, or her, to provide to the Broadcast Working Group any comment or response which he, or she, may have on the application within an agreed time. Once the Broadcast Working Group has considered any such comment or response, it must make a recommendation to the Lord Justice General (or Lord Justice Clerk) as to whether the application ought to be approved. The final decision lies with the Lord Justice General or, in the absence of the Lord Justice General, with the Lord Justice Clerk. Approval may permit recording to take place in accordance with sections 2 to 5, or in accordance with any additional conditions as may be specified.

A decision on the application must be intimated to the media party within an agreed time. In the event of an application being refused, in whole or part, written reasons must be provided by the Broadcast Working Group.

In the event of an application being refused, in whole or part, the media party may submit an amended application taking into account the reasons for refusal.

If permission to record is granted, the Broadcast Working Group must appoint an SCTS staff member as a liaison officer. That officer is the point of contact between the media party and the court for all purposes connected with the recording.

If permission to record proceedings is granted, the presiding/chairing judge retains responsibility for ensuring that: the grant of permission remains appropriate; the recording is carried out on the terms approved by the Broadcast Working Group; and the recording is carried out in a way which does not disrupt court business. If, at any stage in the proceedings, the judge forms the view that to proceed with the recording would constitute a threat to the administration of justice, or that such a risk is present, or that the media party has breached the Protocol or any condition imposed, the presiding/chairing judge may withdraw the permission. If the presiding/chairing judge is considering withdrawing permission, an opportunity should be afforded to the media party to make representations to the judge before a final decision is reached.

Despite the progress of technology in the world outside of Scotland’s creaky Victorian courts and justice system, recording and broadcasting of what goes on in Scotland’s courts has not yet had the full impact on increasing transparency and accountability in the justice system which the same application of audio and video technology have had in courts in other jurisdictions.

Currently, the media must rely on a ‘judge-led’ review chaired by Lady Dorrian – who was appointed to chair it by Lord Brian Gill, Scotland’s former Lord President and Lord Justice General who famously liked to go after the media and block access to courts and documents during his short three year term as Lord President in which he continually held the media, and transparency in disdain.

Report of the Review of Policy on Recording and Broadcasting of Proceedings in Court, and Use of Live Text-Based Communications

A judge-led group which was appointed by the Lord President to review the current policy on the recording and broadcasting of proceedings and the use of live text-based communications from Scottish courts has published its report.

The review group, chaired by Lady Dorrian, has made a series of recommendations following a public consultation exercise, to which 17 individuals and organisations responded.

The review, which examined the existing practice in Scotland and other jurisdictions, was carried out in the context of a complete acceptance of the importance of the principle of open justice, recognising however that any steps taken in support of this principle must not pose any risk to the administration of justice.

In summary, the report recommends the following:

  • Filming of civil and criminal appeals, and legal debates in civil first instance proceedings, such as judicial review or procedure roll hearings, should be allowed for live transmission. Subsequent news broadcasting and documentary film-making should be allowed subject to clear and comprehensive guidelines.
  • The court should allow criminal trials to be filmed for documentary purposes in certain circumstances, subject to the safeguards referred to in the report. Cases involving children, sexual offences and vulnerable witnesses should not be filmed.
  • No live transmission or filming for subsequent news broadcast should be allowed for criminal first instance business or for civil proceedings involving witnesses.
  • For subsequent news broadcasts, the delivery of sentencing remarks of the judge should be permissible, with filming focused only on the sentencing judge.
  • Filming of criminal trials for live transmission should not be allowed.
  • In civil cases at first instance, filming for documentary purposes only should be allowed, but should exclude certain groups such as family cases and those involving asylum seekers.
  • A structured approach to considering applications to film.
  • All filming should be subject to robust, clear and comprehensive guidelines.
  • Journalists who register in advance with the Scottish Court Service should be permitted the use of live text-based communications such as Twitter from court, subject to guidelines which will be issued in due course.

The Lord President, Lord Gill said: I am grateful to Lady Dorrian and her group for having carried out this exercise so thoroughly. These well-considered recommendations have the support of the judges. I accept all of the recommendations. They are entirely appropriate in the contemporary world. My office will now prepare guidance on the implementation of Lady Dorrian’s report.”

On 18 October 2012, the Lord President, Lord Gill, appointed a judicially led media review group, whose remit was to review policy on the recording and broadcasting of proceedings in court. This was later extended to include consideration of the use of live, text-based communications (LTBC) from court.

Guidance on the conditions under which cameras could be allowed in court was previously contained in a practice note issued by Lord President Hope in 1992. These conditions were revised by Lord President Hamilton in 2012. The revised conditions allowed filming to take place without the consent of all parties involved. The production company and broadcaster had to provide an undertaking to the presiding judge that the final broadcast would not identify those who had not consented to the filming.

The passage of time since guidance was issued, together with the development of social media, the use of instant text-based communication and the broadcasting of proceedings before the UK Supreme Court have all contributed towards a need to review this matter. When filming for documentary purposes has taken place in Scotland, the guidelines have had to be complemented by detailed negotiations as to the precise terms in each case. In appointing this review group, the Lord President considered that a more structured approach was desirable, not least in the interests of consistency.

The review was chaired by Lady Dorrian. The other members were: Lord Bracadale, Lord Woolman, Sheriff Principal Stephen, and Sheriff Drummond. The group was supported by: Christopher Nicholson, Deputy Legal Secretary to the Lord President; Elizabeth Cutting, Head of Judicial Communications; Steven D’Arcy, Head of Strategy and Governance, Judicial Office for Scotland.

 

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ADVANCE, QC: From Big Invoice to Cash Register – New Dean of Faculty of Advocates stood silent in court while Lord Malcolm concealed his son was on same legal team representing asbestos dumping construction company who lost case – then used law firm linked to top judge to hunt down couple for legal fees

Lord Carloway & Lord Malcolm welcome new Dean R.Dunlop TO WATCH and listen to members of the Faculty of Advocates who strut around Scotland’s courts as if they have a starring role in a grand pantomime or musical overseen by a figure dressed in fiery red and white robes – you may be forgiven for thinking you just entered the world of fantasy and cosplay.

However – what you are actually witnessing is Scotland’s ‘Victorian’ justice system – where lies spoken in court by a figure in a black gown & wig can become an accepted ‘truth’, prosecutors can intimidate defence counsel by adding the dead to witness lists, deals can be done in-chambers to avoid the press & public in open court, and evidence can be lost down the back of a filing cabinet.

And, if you are looking for shameless, outright dishonesty – try the time where Scotland’s top prosecutor James Wolffe QC – himself a former Dean of the Faculty of Advocates –  was being sued in the Rangers admin case of wrongful arrest.

The stakes in that case were so high that Scotland’s ‘world leading’ courts system then neatly engineered a scenario so that Sarah Wolffe QC – the wife of that same top prosecutor James Wolffe QC – could hear and rule on the £9 million claim against her husband and Scotland’s Chief Constable.

You all know the story – A real howler: WOLFFE COURT: Lord Advocate James Wolffe and his judge wife at centre of £9million damages claim – Questions remain why Lady Wolffe avoided recusal during emergency judge swap on court case against her own husband

It gets better: ‘World famous’ (really, not) Scots QCs taking millions in publicly funded legal aid – can literally dream up an entirely false line of defence (commonly known as a lie) – for their child murdering clients and get away with trolling it out to a sceptical judge, jury and entire court room – and then bill the Scottish Legal Aid Board (Taxpayer) for their time spent doing so.

Going further up the tree – Scotland’s top prosecutor – the Lord Advocate – on an instruction to cover up for top cops with shady pasts – can ram-raid a Tribunal hearing and intimidate Tribunal judges into blocking claims of corruption and evidence tampering in the most senior ranks of Police Scotland – from becoming public.

Want to see examples of what most in the real world call corruption and money laundering? – try case after case where Advocates and QCs quietly demand with menaces – sums of cash in envelopes from their criminal or civil case clients. The ‘whisper’ goes like this – Pay up – or the desired court outcome will not be achieved.

And, don’t forget the ranks of slick, overcharging QCs who represent newspapers and the media – you know the type – all smooth talking on telly in between demanding appearance fees for doing so, hair gel to deflect from the botox injections, slick suits, a brown envelope on the way to the court, and a seat on a local rugby club along with a property grabbing, grubby, dishonest local high street solicitor who happens to sit on several Tribunals where he and his brethren live out their squalid existence extorting millions more from taxpayers.

Yet, for those in the know – behind the backs of their very own fee paying media clients, the same QCs with media scorecards find a quiet corner in the Court of Session to contact a colleague to get a message to opposing counsel on what and what not to say – to prolong the case for fees, or do the dirty on the case before them, for a favour on another.

You do for us today, we do for you tomorrow. And, tell you what mate – there is an opening in the Faculty for the son of that judge –  even though he only worked as a trainee lawyer for a few weeks.

But of course, these same legal legends in their own minds jealously guard their profession and self-created reputations – even on social media – where a critical article – or realistic tweet on the legal world can draw the ire of a grubby QC who actually lives on defending the worst filth in society and makes the taxpayer pay him staggering amounts of legal aid millions for doing so.

If anyone dares to question these weird legal people with double lives and multiple personas who market themselves as more valuable to society than doctors and nurses – in their legalistic, legal aid funded view of the world – that critic, person, politician or even a journalist – is not fit to live.

It’s all good though – as they say – because when such public exchanges take place – inevitably someone in an office comes forward with a bundle of papers to show the same high and mighty advocate or QC was actually knocked back by the Legal Aid Board for submitting false claims for public cash – so let’s call that attempted fraud, for the purposes of reality.

To complete the picture of what is in actuality – the Faculty of Fantasy – remember those envelopes full of cash – collected in person by a ‘leading light’ or ‘top’ Advocate or QC – of the same Faculty of Advocates whose members are money laundering and tax dodging all the way to the bank.

Take it from people who write of reality in the justice system – when you enter the eerie world of Scotland’s legal mafia and fall prey to that business known as the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service – you are witnessing a cash grabbing, case fiddling, double dealing world of avarice and greed, rather than the work of robbed figures who would have you believe they are the saviours of humanity, or anyone’s Human Rights.

Clients – mean nothing. Cash collecting and Big Invoice are king. Take them to task and they will see you suffer. And, they do exactly that.

The last Dean of the Faculty of Advocates – Gordon Jackson QC – stood down on 30 June after being filmed talking about the Alex Salmond trial in a train.

The video footage published by the Sunday Times revealed remarks Mr Jackson made about his client Alex Salmond – and his accusers.

In a statement published by the Faculty of Advocates on their Twitter feed, Mr Jackson said in April: “I have intimated my decision to resign as dean of the Faculty of Advocates, with effect from 30 June, at the latest.”

“It would not, however, be appropriate for me to remain as Dean at a time when the Faculty was considering disciplinary proceedings regarding my conduct.”

“Accordingly, if, before that date, the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission remits the recent complaint for consideration by the Faculty’s Complaints Committee, I will stand down as Dean immediately. I do not intend to make any further comment.”

Since that announcement in April, Gordon Jackson has been less conspicuous on twitter – with much of the Faculty’s usual posturing on all things, law, legal and ‘other’ taken up by Roddy Dunlop QC – who was handed Jackson’s job in a lower than usual fanfare of the Court of waffling Session earlier this week.

Albeit  Dunlop only gained the position by default – he was the only candidate to put forward his name for the role – after Gordon Jackson ended his own run as dean in a blaze of careless comments in a train, filmed for posterity.

Dunlop – who – earlier this year gained the position of Vice Dean after Angela Grahame resigned her role – was welcomed in as Dean of the Faculty by Lord Carloway (Colin Sutherland), Lord Malcolm (Colin Campbell QC) and Lord Woolman.

However – the three judges who welcomed Mr Dunlop into the poisoned position of dean – have their own story to tell.

Two of those judges – Carloway & Malcolm – concealed conflicts of interest to a case which Dunlop lost, but was then used to go after the people who won it for the legal fees generated by Dunlop and his colleagues – including Lord Malcolm’s son. This case is currently at the heart of an ongoing media investigation and ticks all the right boxes for dishonesty, greed and conflict of interest.

The probe has so far linked Dunlop’s client (Advance Construction Scotland Ltd) to an ex-sheriff Peter Watson who resigned from the judiciary after he was suspended to protect public confidence in the judiciary

Then, there was the law firm – Levy and MCrae – who escaped a £28m writ over a £400m collapsed hedge fund.

The judge – Lord Malcolm – who concealed the fact his own son was linked to the same case he heard eight times

And, Scotland’s top judge himself – Lord Carloway – who concealed from MSPs that the law firm where his son worked was employed by Dunlop’s client to go after, and seize the properties of the party who actually won the case which Dunlop lost – courtesy of a ruling by the third judge – Lord Woolman.

Only in Scotland’s justice system will you ever find such a gang loaded with conflict of interests who use their seemingly unquestionable status in society to welcome another to their safe-house.

The investigation which reported on Lord Malcolm’s failure to declare serious 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.

When Lord Malcolm’s son bailed out of the court case – but only after the secret his own father was hearing the same case in the same court – came to light – Ewen Campbell ended up in the same Advocate stables as the new Dean of Faculty – Roderick William Dunlop QC of Axiom Advocates.

Nicely done – as some may say.

A recent development in the ongoing media probe of this case saw publication of a witness statement from Advocate Ewen Campbell – Lord Malcolm’s son –  which directly contradicts evidence given by  Lord Carloway – to the Public Petitions Committee and MSP Alex Neil in a hearing on 29 June 2017.

A further development saw a court-sourced witness statement of solicitor and ex-Sheriff Peter Black Watson to the Court of Session – which confirmed Watson employed the son of Lord Malcolm in the case to represent the client – Advance Construction Scotland Ltd – which ended up being heard by Lord Malcolm – who concealed his link to his son during multiple court hearings.

Lord Carloway’s son – Alexander Sutherland – then bailed out of a law firm linked to the same case heard by Lord Malcolm – after the Judicial Office were asked for comment on why his father – Scotland’s current top judge concealed this conflict of interest from evidence in the Scottish Parliament.

Carloway’s son – Alexander Sutherland then spectacularly ended up in the Faculty of Advocates – after only a few months working as a trainee solicitor.

Everything happens for a reason, right?

An earlier investigation revealed Lord Carloway failed to declare his son was linked to the same case: JUDGE OF CONFLICT: Top judge who attacked MSPs over judicial interests probe – failed to declare relative’s role at law firm targeting MSP’s constituents’ home & farm in £6M court case linked to Lord Malcolm conflict of interest scandal

A full report on the publication of evidence contradicting Lord Carloway’s testimony at the Scottish Parliament can be found here: DISHONESTY, LORD: Files reveal Lord Carloway misled Holyrood Committee on involvement of judges’ relative in Court of Session claim – witness statement exposes direct role of Ewen Campbell in £6M land case heard by his father – judge & privy councillor Lord Malcolm

Another turn of luck in the ongoing investigation of the Nolan v Advance case – was the discovery of methods employed by QCs and Advocates to get round signed up fee agreements – by demanding substantial sums in cash payments – which the QC or Advocate then insists on collecting in person from their clients.

But – trawling the court files and fee notes took on an even darker tone when evidence emerged that the Faculty of Advocates itself were attempting to issue fee note credits to cover undeclared payments of cash collected by QCs – when the Faculty feared discovery, and the worrying prospect of an investigation by UK tax authorities.

In one such document – a study of a statement from Faculty Services Ltd in the Nolan v Advance  – noted references 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.

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

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 idea 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?”

If you were wondering why Mr Dunlop’s name keeps cropping up in Nolan v Advance – well – it was Roddy Dunlop’s legal fees – and others – which prompted Levy and Mcrae & Begbies Traynor to use Lord Carloway’s son’s law firm to evict the pursuer out of his house to pay for it all.

You can read all about what happened next, here: FIRE SALE: AIB face sequestration probe as files reveal Trustee was paid £20K by vulture fund to sell home & firebombed farm five days after targeted attack on couple at centre of land case linked to top Scots judges, an ex-Sheriff, an asbestos dumping building company & law firm Levy and Mcrae

If you want to know why Lord Carloway decided to keep quiet about his own link to this case, read more here: JUDGE OF CONFLICT: Top judge who attacked MSPs over judicial interests probe – failed to declare relative’s role at law firm targeting MSP’s constituents’ home & farm in £6M court case linked to Lord Malcolm conflict of interest scandal

THE GANG’S ALL HERE: New Dean welcomed by judges who concealed conflicts of interest in same case

THE newly-elected Dean of Faculty, Roddy Dunlop, QC, has been introduced formally to the Court of Session in a short ceremony.

Mr Dunlop was presented to the Lord President, Lord Carloway, sitting with Lords Malcolm and Woolman, in the First Division courtroom.

Lord Carloway said it was not only his duty but his particular pleasure to congratulate Mr Dunlop on the high honour conferred on him by the Faculty.

Lord Carloway said: “It is an honour which is amply justified by your professional attainments and your personal character,” added the Lord President.

“It is a mark of my own age that I can not only say ‘kent his faither’ – whom I am pleased to see is present today – but even ‘kent his grandfaither’, whom I remember as an agent practising in Glasgow High Court.

“These are difficult times for the Court, the Bar, the wider profession and the public. We have learned a lot in the past four months, and will learn even more over the next four. There are many issues which need to be resolved if the courts are to continue to deliver justice for the people of Scotland. They will require discussion and careful consideration, but at the end of the day difficult decisions about the future will have to be made.

“The Court is confident that you will maintain the high traditions of the office of Dean. I can assure you that any representations which you make to the Court on behalf of the Faculty will always receive our closest attention.”

Mr Dunlop was the sole nomination to succeed Gordon Jackson, QC, who stepped down after four years in office.

Mr Dunlop said: “It is a huge honour to have been appointed Dean of Faculty. This high office extends back to the very origins of the College of Justice in the 16th Century. It has been held by many of the foremost legal minds in Scottish history, and I am humbled, and a little awed, to find myself in their company.

“I take office at an extremely challenging time for Faculty, and for the legal profession as a whole. I will endeavour to meet these challenges in a way that respects the efforts of those who have gone before me.”

Admitted to Faculty in 1998, Mr Dunlop took Silk in 2010. He has a broad-based, mainly civil practice, but with a keen interest in media law, he has been regularly instructed in the criminal courts in contempt matters.

Mr Dunlop served as Treasurer of Faculty from April 2017 until February this year when he was elected as Vice-Dean of Faculty. An election for a new Vice-Dean will follow.

Further material sourced from the Court of Session, including digital evidence & recordings from Neal transcribing machines in relation to proceedings in court where Dunlop and his opposite number John Campbell QC ‘sparred’ during hearings of Nolan v Advance – will be published in further articles.

 

 

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FIRE SALE: AIB face sequestration probe as files reveal Trustee was paid £20K by vulture fund to sell home & firebombed farm five days after targeted attack on couple at centre of land case linked to top Scots judges, an ex-Sheriff, an asbestos dumping building company & law firm Levy and Mcrae

Richard Dennis, Kenneth Pattullo face probe. AN ONGOING probe of a case linked to Scotland’s top judge Lord Carloway – has revealed a Trustee acting in a sequestration of a couple who won a court action – relied on his appointment on the basis of a typo in a court document – to go on to strip the couple of all their assets.

And – files now reveal Kenneth Pattullo was paid £20,000 by offshore vulture fund Promontoria – to sell off a firebombed farm and home belonging to a couple who initially won the Court of Session case then lost out when their counsel – John Campbell QC deliberately removed most of their claim after Lord Woolman said Mr Nolan had a case against the building company – Advance Construction Scotland Ltd .

In documents now disclosed to journalists, Nicola Donnelly – a senior manager at Begbies Traynor in Glasgow – admitted in an email to the couple that Promontoria – a vulture fund which bought loans & mortgages from banks including the Clydesdale – paid Trustee Kenneth Pattullo £20,000 – to sell properties belonging to Melanie Collins, and Donal Nolan – which were once valued in the millions – for the sum of £655K.

Records from the very unusual sequestrations of both Ms Collins & Mr Nolan – show their properties were seized by Mr Pattullo of Begbies Traynor on behalf of Advance Construction (Scotland) Ltd – after the building company lost a Court of Session action raised by Mr Nolan in which Advance Construction admitted dumping toxic waste on land owned by the retired National Hunt jockey.

However, after Begbies Traynor had retained the properties on their books for four years – during which time the Clydesdale Bank sold their interest in the properties to Promontoria – the titles suddenly changed hands only a few days after PoliceScotland were called in to investigate a targeted firebombing of Mr Nolan’s farm – which saw four horses die after being torched with petrol by unknown persons.

The couple say Police Scotland believe the targeted arson attack is connected to events related to the court case and the ‘extremely motivated’ bankruptcy which then followed.

Records of land titles obtained from Registers of Scotland reveal Morningside Farm – the target of the firebombing – was sold by Kenneth Pattullo to an Andrew Kenneth Hill of Carluke, Lanarkshire on 22 May 2019 for a purchase price of £380,000 – some five days after the targeted arson attack.

Meanwhile the home of the couple – a house with land – in Newmains, Wishaw, was sold by Mr Pattullo to a “SIPS Homes Scotland Ltd” on 20 May 2019 with a purchase price listed as £255,000

Companies House reports that SIPS Homes Scotland Ltd was created on 4 March 2019 with a registered office at Crossway, Donibistle Industrial Estate, Dalgety Bay, Fife, United Kingdom, KY11 9JE – and has three directors – Mark William Dalziel, Caroline Ann Hynds and Patrick Leaonard Hynds.

A section of land at Branchal, Wishaw – belonging to the retired jockey was sold by Mr Pattullo to the same “SIPS Homes Scotland Ltd” for £20,000 on 4 June 2019.

Begbies Traynor were asked to confirm if Mr Pattullo was in charge of the properties as Trustee – during the events of the targeted arson attack, but they refused to comment.

Susan Reid of Harrogate based Appeal PR – who claim to handle all Public Relations for Begbies Traynor in Scotland stated: “Sorry to be unhelpful, but unfortunately Begbies Traynor is unable to give any information about personal insolvency cases. However, the information is a matter of public record, so you should be able to find it from official sources.”

The sequestrations of both Mr Nolan and his partner – Melanie Collins – after they had effectively won the Court of Session claim against Advance Construction (Scotland) Ltd – came about after John Campbell QC stripped out most of their financial claims for damage & legal expeses – after Court of Session judge Lord Woolman told the couple they had a case against the building company for loss of the use of the use of their property.

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

Commenting on Campbell’s move – the judge said he had never seen this happen in a case previously – and a probe of events has established John Campbell had not sought permission or consultation with his client to strip out the financial damages and legal expenses claims.

Mr Nolan and his partner Ms Collins were then targeted by Advance’s lawyers Levy & Mcrae – who then turned around Advance’s loss in court – and the building company’s admission of dumping toxic waste on Mr Nolan’s land – to go after the couple for hundreds of thousands of pounds in legal expenses.

Levy and Mcrae then petitioned the court for sequestration of Ms Collins on 30 March 2015 – and Mr James Robb (now at Brechin Tindall Oatts solicitors) sought sequestration of Ms Collins and the appointment of the Accountant in Bankruptcy as Trustee in her estate.

The interlocutor from Hamilton Sheriff court dated 30 March 2015 reads as follows:

The sheriff, having heard parties’ solicitors, on the opposed motion of the Petitioner, having
considered the foregoing petition, together with the productions, and being satisfied that the
petition has been presented in accordance with the Bankruptcy (Scotland) Act 1985, and that:
* proper citation has been made to the debtor
* the requirements of the Bankruptcy (Scotland) Act 1985 relating to apparent insolvency have been fulfilled.

Sequestrates the estate now belonging or which shall hereafter belong to the debtor Ms Melanie Collins before the date of the debtor’s discharge and Declares the same to belong to the debtor’s creditors for the purposes of the said Act;
Finds the respondent liable to the petitioner in the expenses as taxed, Allows an accountant thereof to be given in and Remits same, when lodged, to the auditor of court to tax and to report;
and Appoints Accountant in Bankruptcy, 1 Pennyburn Road,Kilwinning KA136SA
to be trustee; the whole estate of said Ms Melanie Collins at 07 January 2015 is vested in and now belongs to said trustee, for the benefit of the said debtors creditors

According to financial experts, the appointment of the AIB as trustee in a sequestration is a normal move – and leads to the AIB handing the case to one of their agents – which in this case – was given to auditors KPMG.

However, after KPMG took on the sequestration, and began their work – lawyers acting for Advance approached Sheriff T Millar of Hamilton Sheriff Court – and claimed there had been a typo (administrative error) in their original petition appointing the Accountant in Bankruptcy as Trustee for Ms Collins.

In a closed hearing at Hamilton Sheriff Court on 2 April 2015 – Levy and Mcrae asked Sheriff Millar to swap out the AIB & auditors KPMG for their own preferred Trustee – Kenneth Pattullo of Begbies Traynor.

The interlocutor for the hearing before Sheriff Millar reads as follows:

The Sheriff, having seen and considered the letter of 2nd April 2015 from Levy and McRae Solicitors and it having been noted that an administrative error has been made on the interlocutor of 30th March 2015 in that the Accountant in Bankruptcy was appointed as trustee in error; Allows amendment of said interlocutor by appointing Kenneth Pattulo of Begbies Traynor (CentralLLP), FinlayHouse,10-14 West Nile Street, Glasgow, G12PP as Trustee in the Sequestration of Melanie Collins in place of the Accountant in Bankruptcy

However – according to both financial and legal experts – there was no error whatsoever in the original application to appoint the Accountant in Bankruptcy in the sequestration of Mr Nolan’s partner – Ms Collins.

And – a legal expert has said the court did not actually have the power to amend an error in a petition, rather the court could only ammend an error if the Sheriff had erred in his original decision to appoint the Accountant in Bankruptcy – which is standard practice in sequestrations,

When asked for more information on what happened in this case, and why Levy and Mcrae were able to force s Sheriff to swap the Accountant in Bankruptcy as Trustee for their own choice of Trustee – Mr Pattullo – Hamilton Sheriff Court have consistently refused to provide substantive explanations to these events and a number of addition, unusual rulings related to the sequestration of Ms Collins.

Now, Ms Collins has been told she should approach the court to recall her sequestration, on the basis the court had no power to alter the original Trustee – the Accountant in Bankruptcy – to that of Levy and Mcrae’s preference – Mr Pattullo.

However, in what has now become a battle to secure legal representation to recall the sequestration – multiple law firms have initially worked on the case, confirmed the events at Hamilton Sheriff Court are in error and should be addressed – but later the same law firms have mysteriously withdrawn from acting for Ms Collins after receiving ‘briefings’ or ‘communications’ from those with a vested interest in the case – including Begbies Traynor – the Trustees appointed by Levy and Mcrae.

In the latest attempt to recall the sequestration, Ms Collins approached solicitor Alan Cox of law firm Barton and Hendry in Cumbernauld.

Notes of a meeting between Mr Cox and Ms Collins reveal the solicitor took on the work, and wrote to Begbies Traynor.

However, in an email – dated 15 August 2019 – from Nicola Donnelly – a senior insolvency manager at Begbies Traynor to solicitor Alan Cox of Barton and Hendry – Ms Donnelly told Alan Cox in no uncertain terms that no matter who his clients approached for help – including elected politicians – there would be no change in how events would unfold – which have since led to the sale of all the couple’s properties.

In the email to Alan Cox, Nicola Donnelly states: “I would comment that your clients have instructed previous solicitors [as you are aware] and made complaints to the AiB and their MSP previously as they dispute the validity of the sequestrations. The position obviously will remain the same irrespective of how many different organisations are contacted to act on their behalf.”

Nicola Donnelly also added in her email to Mr Cox: “Eviction actions and forced asset sales are steps taken by a trustee as a last resort. Unfortunately, your clients continued lack of cooperation resulted in the trustee having no other option other than to initiate eviction actions.”

However, an ongoing media investigation has now established the eviction actions referred to by Nicola Donnelly – were undertaken by Addleshaw Goddard – a law firm where Alexander Sutherland – the son of Scotland’s top judge – Lord Carloway was based – but Carloway – real name Colin Sutherland – concealed this conflict of interest in his evidence to the Public Petitions Committee during which he faced questions from Mr Nolan’s MSP – Alex Neil.

After solicitor Alan Cox was contacted by Begbies Traynor – like all other solicitors engaged by the couple to attempt a recall sequestration – Mr Cox later said he could no longer assist in the case.

It should be noted, after Ms Collins was sequestrated in April 2015 – her partner – Mr Nolan – was then targeted by Levy and Mcrae on behalf of Advance Construction (Scotland) Ltd in an action at Hamilton Sheriff Court on 1 September 2015.

In the action to sequestrate Mr Nolan – Levy and Mcrae hired Mr Gavin Walker QC – currently of Axiom Advocates – to attend Hamilton Sheriff Court with instructions to seek the appointment of Mr Pattullo to seize the assets of Mr Nolan – despite the fact he had won the Court of Session claim against Advance Construction for dumping toxic waste on his land.

The couple are now seeking new legal representatives to take on their request to recall the sequestration of Ms Collins, and the Accountant in Bankruptcy has been asked to launch an independent investigation of events in the sequestrations of Ms Collins and her partner, Mr Nolan.

The following questions on this case were put to the Accountant in Bankruptcy (AIB) and it’s boss – Richard Dennis:

Does the Accountant in Bankruptcy have any comment on these targeted incidents of a criminal nature on Ms Collins & Mr Nolan and their farm – which led to the death of four horses and the couple being placed in a state of alarm and fear for their life?

Does the Accountant in Bankruptcy have any comment on the transfer of the titles and sale of the Morningside Farm property, and the fact these titles changed hands to persons of interest – during or only after the targeted fire attack?

Does the Accountant in Bankruptcy have any comment on the sale of this land and the main home & land at Bonkle to SIPS Homes (Scotland) Ltd, and how this sale came about?

Does the Accountant in Bankruptcy have any comment on why Mr Pattullo and Begbies Traynor have not interacted with the couple and their legal agents on various and numerous occasions?

Does the Accountant in Bankruptcy have any comment on the transactions in relation to the securities held by the Clydesdale Bank – during the sequestration of Mr Nolan & Ms Collins, and when the security was transferred during the sequestration from Clydesdale to Promontoria?

Can you clarify what are the AIB & Mr Dennis’ responsibilities and liabilities – regarding the actions of trustees, agents administering sequestrations, companies & individuals employed by, and acting on their behalf.

Cam you also clarify what are the AIB & Mr Dennis’ responsibilities and liabilities regarding any investigation process into the activities of trustees acting in sequestrations.

Can the AIB confirm if Mr Kenneth Pattullo and Begbies Traynor were the trustee in the sequestration of Mr Donal Nolan, and also the sequestration of his partner Ms Melanie Collins – during the dates of 17/18 May 2019 – these dates correspond to targeted fire attacks (currently under investigation by Police Scotland) which were made on Mr Nolan’s farm at Morningside, Wishaw.

Richard Dennis – the Accountant in Bankruptcy – has refused to issue any comment on the above questions put to his office.

CASE BROKE ALL JUDICIAL CONFLICT OF INTEREST RULES:

Nolan v Advance Construction Scotland Ltd [2014] 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.

Since the sequestration of Mr Nolan and his partner took place after the conclusion of their court case – the couple have been the victim – of what some view as revenge for daring to take on a company with public contracts who illegally dumped hazardous waste on their land, where this same company was and is represented by law firms directly linked to senior figures in Scotland’s judiciary.

Mr Nolan and his partner have been evicted from their own home, lost their farm and land.

And – a deliberate, targeted fire attack on Mr Nolan’s stables at a farm in 2019 which resulted in the death of several horses –  is still under investigation by Police Scotland.

Sources believe the deliberate arson attack on the couple’s Morningside Farm which featured in news reports of the tragic discovery of burned bodies of dead horses – is linked to the couple’s sequestration and setbacks in 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 recent development in the ongoing media probe of this case saw publication of a witness statement from Advocate Ewen Campbell – Lord Malcolm’s son –  which directly contradicts evidence given by  Lord Carloway – to the Public Petitions Committee and MSP Alex Neil in a hearing on 29 June 2017.

A further development saw a court-sourced witness statement of solicitor and ex-Sheriff Peter Black Watson to the Court of Session – which confirmed Watson employed the son of Lord Malcolm in the case to represent the client – Advance Construction Scotland Ltd – which ended up being heard by Lord Malcolm – who concealed his link to his son during multiple court hearings.

During the evidence session – Lord Carloway faced questions from Mr Neil on the Court of Session case – where judge & Privy Councillor Lord Malcolm (real name Colin Campbell QC) – heard a land contamination case – up to EIGHT TIMES while his own son represented the defenders – Advance Construction Scotland Ltd in the same court room.

In response to questions from the MSP, Lord Carloway (real name Colin Sutherland) furiously claimed that Lord Malcolm’s son DID NOT have any “active involvement with the case whatsoever.”

However – the witness statement dated May 2013 – signed by Ewen Campbell – covering the time Campbell worked for Glasgow law firm Levy & Mcrae – contains a written admission Mr Campbell confirming he did in-fact represented the construction company, alongside lawyer Peter Black Watson – who was at the time a Sheriff and partner at the same law firm.

A full report on the publication of evidence contradicting Lord Carloway’s testimony at the Scottish Parliament can be found here: DISHONESTY, LORD: Files reveal Lord Carloway misled Holyrood Committee on involvement of judges’ relative in Court of Session claim – witness statement exposes direct role of Ewen Campbell in £6M land case heard by his father – judge & privy councillor Lord Malcolm

Further material sourced from the Court of Session, including digital evidence in relation to the ongoing media probe of Nolan v Advance – will be published in upcoming articles.

 

 

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ADVANCE, SHERIFF: Lord Carloway’s evidence to Holyrood faces probe – Statement of ex- sheriff suspended for Heather Capital writ confirms Lord Malcolm’s son worked on Court of Session judicial conflict of interest case linked to top judge

Ex-Sheriff Watson statement confirms judges’ son on conflict case. COURT PAPERS obtained in an ongoing probe of claims made by Scotland’s top judge at Holyrood – now reveal Peter Watson – a judicial colleague of Lord Carloway – ran the case for a construction company at the centre of a land contamination scandal linked to Court of Session judges who concealed conflicts of interest in court.

The court-sourced witness statement of solicitor and ex-Sheriff Peter Black Watson to the Court of Session – confirms Watson employed the son of Lord Malcolm in the case to represent the client – Advance Construction Scotland Ltd – which ended up being heard by Lord Malcolm – who concealed his link to his son during multiple court hearings.

The new material is a further blow to Lord Carloway – who demanded MSPs on the Scottish Parliament’s Public Petitions Committee accept his version of events in that there was no active involvement of Lord Malcolm’s son in the case whatsoever – a claim also contradiced by a witness statement from Lord Malcolm’s son: Ewen Campbell – Witness Statement – Nolan v Advance Construction

In the opening lines of Watson’s witness statement – ex Sheriff Peter Watson states: “I have been instructed by Advance Construction (Scotland) Limited (“Advance”) in relation to Mr Nolan’s action against the company. I have been running this case and acting on behalf of Advance since. I was approached by Advance in relation to defending an action raised against them by the Pursuer in this case Mr.Donal Nolan and accepted those instructions.”

Critical to the ongoing probe of Lord Carloway – Watson goes on to confirm he asked Lord Malcolm’s son – Ewen Campbell – to work alongside him in representing Advance Construction.

Watson states: ”Throughout these proceedings, I have been assisted by Mr. Ewen Malcolm Campbell and latterly, Mr. James Anthony Robb. During their involvement, both Mr Campbell and Mr Robb were also enrolled solicitors employed by the firm.”

Curiously, at no point in Mr Watson’s witness statement to the Court of Session does he refer to himself as a Sheriff and member of Scotland’s judiciary. Instead, Mr Watson refers to himself as “Professor Peter Black Watson”.

However, the admission by Watson that he employed Lord Malcolm’s son on a case in which Lord Carloway claimed Ewen Campbell had no active involvement – raises more questions of the Lord President’s evidence to the Scottish Parliament’s Public Petitions Committee at a crucial hearing during their six year probe of judicial interests and the creation of a register of judges’ declarations of interests.

At the time of the case – Nolan v Advance Construction Scotland Ltd [2014] CSOH 4 CA132/11 – Peter Watson was a Sheriff on the judicial bench alongside Lord Carloway (Colin Sutherland) – and Lord Malcolm (Colin Campbell QC).

Working alongside Peter Watson on the same case was Roderick William Dunlop QC of Axiom Advocates, and Ewen Campbell of Axiom Advocates – who was employed by Levy and Mcrae during the events of Nolan v Advance.

Lord Malcolm’s son later left Levy and Mcrae to join the current Vice Dean of the Faculty of Advocates Roddy Dunlop QC in Axiom Advocates.

Watson was later suspended for a record three years plus over his links to a £28M writ involving the £400M Heather Capital Hedge Fund collapse in an order issued by former Lord President Brian Gill in February 2015

An earlier investigation of this case revealed when Lord Woolman (who heard the proof after the case was passed to him by Lord Malcolm) – 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 the couple’s legal representative in court – 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

In an earlier article – DOJ revealed Lord Carloway had made false and misleading claims to the Public Petitions Committee and a guest MSP – Alex Neil – during a hearing where Lord Justice General Lord Carloway – as he prefers to be known – demanded an end to calls for judicial transparency. The report is featured here: DISHONESTY, LORD: Files reveal Lord Carloway misled Holyrood Committee on involvement of judges’ relative in Court of Session claim – witness statement exposes direct role of Ewen Campbell in £6M land case heard by his father – judge & privy councillor Lord Malcolm

During the evidence session – Lord Carloway faced questions from Mr Neil on the Court of Session case – where judge & Privy Councillor Lord Malcolm (real name Colin Campbell QC) – heard a land contamination case – up to EIGHT TIMES while his own son represented the defenders – Advance Construction Scotland Ltd in the same court room.

In response to questions from the MSP, Lord Carloway (real name Colin Sutherland) furiously claimed that Lord Malcolm’s son DID NOT have any “active involvement with the case whatsoever.”

However – a witness statement dated May 2013 – signed by Ewen Campbell – covering the time Campbell worked for Glasgow law firm Levy and Mcrae contains a written admission Mr Campbell confirming he did in-fact represented the construction company, alongside lawyer Peter Black Watson – who was at the time a Sheriff and partner at the same law firm.

During the hearing, Alex Neil – MSP for Airdrie & Shotts – asked Lord Carloway: “If, in any case—without referring to a specific case—a close relative of a judge is participating in the case, rightly or wrongly, the perception is that there may be a degree of prejudice.”

Mr Neil said there were concerns the reputation of the judiciary should be protected and added: “I would argue that, certainly in at least one case recently, which we have referred to briefly, the perception is that there may have been unfairness and prejudice in the way in which the matter was conducted, particularly as the judge concerned was involved in the case not once but on a number of occasions.”

In response – a clearly flustered Lord Carloway claimed no such events had taken place.

Carloway took a strong line against the questions, and replied to the MSP stating: “I disagree entirely with your analysis of that particular case and I repeat what I said earlier. The case that you refer to did not involve the judge’s son having any active involvement with the case whatsoever.”

However – on page one of the released witness statement of Ewen Campbell – Mr Campbell confirms he did work for the defenders – Advance Construction.

Ewen Campbell states: “In September 2011 I was asked by Professor Peter Watson (witness) to assist in a new case in which we were to act for Advance Construction (Scotland) Limited (“Advance”).”

Ewen Campbell goes on to admit he worked on the case for nearly a year: “I assisted with this case until Friday 15th June 2012. At this point I ceased assisting Professor Watson as I was informed by Senior Counsel that I was a potential witness in the matter.”

The released witness statement of Ewen Campbell – the contents of which call into question the honesty of Lord Carloway’s evidence to MSPs, can be found here: Ewen Campbell – Witness Statement – Nolan v Advance Construction

Within the statement, Lord Malcolm’s son – who Carloway told MSPs had no involvement in the case – goes on at length to document numerous on-site visits he undertook at the behest of Carloway’s then judicial colleague – ex Sheriff Peter Watson, and on behalf of the client – Advance Construction (Scotland) Ltd.

In just one example, Ewen Campbell states: “At approximately 4 p.m. I left Levy and McRae’s offices and attended at Branchal Road. I was driven by Ian Butler, a colleague at Levy Sc McRae. On arrival at the site I observed that a number of vehicles were at the gate of the site. Mr Butler and I therefore parked our vehicle just round the comer from the entrance of the site.”

Ewen Campbell is later forced to account for allegations a Grangemouth based firm – IKM Consulting Ltd – employed by Levy and Mcrae as their ‘experts’ in the case – dumped contaminated materials at a site owned by the pursuer – Mr Nolan.

Despite Lord Carloway’s abrupt statement that Lord Malcolm’s son did not have “any active involvement with the case whatsoever” – Ewen Campbell goes on to say in his witness statement he personally talked to a legal representative of the pursuer – and talked the solicitor down from his client’s initial allegation IKM Consulting Ltd dumped contaminated material during their on-site activities for Levy and Mcrae & Advance Construction (Scotland) Ltd.

Ewen Campbell states: “I contacted [solicitor] regarding this who detailed that his clients had originally stated to him that IKM had dumped contaminated materials on the site but after further questioning reduced the allegation to having dumped soil like materials on site.”

Bizarrely, Lord Malcolm’s son adds within his statement he did not instruct IKM Consulting Ltd to dump any materials during their on-site activities under his supervision.

Campbell also admits to accepting additional instructions to work on the case in which Carloway claimed he played no active role in.

Ewen Campbell further stated: “Before I ceased assisting Professor Peter Watson in relation to this case, I was instructed on a number of occasions to prepare and send letters and emails to those acting on behalf of Mr Nolan.”

It should be noted that despite Ewen Campbell’s ‘account’ of events around the IKM Consulting incident – Advance Construction were subsequently forced to admit in the Court of Session before Lord Woolman that they had in-fact illegally dumped contaminated materials on Mr Nolan’s land.

The video footage and transcript of Alex Neil’s questions to Lord Carloway can be found here:

Alex Neil questions to Lord Carloway Register of Judges interests Scottish Parliament 29 June 2017

Alex Neil (Airdrie and Shotts) (SNP): I apologise for being slightly late. I had to go to the Public Audit and Post-legislative Scrutiny Committee. I apologise in advance if I cover ground that has already been covered.

Lord Carloway, as an issue of principle, do you think that it should be left only to a judge to decide whether they are going to recuse themselves, or should you or the keeper of the rolls be able to insist on recusal if you believe that there is a potential conflict of interest?

Lord Carloway: The short answer is that I do not believe that there is any problem with the current system, which is that the judge, who knows what his connection is to the case or the parties to it, should make the initial decision. That decision is made in open court, when the parties are present, and it is subject to review on appeal. In other words, if somebody is dissatisfied with that decision and if the litigant eventually loses the case, the decision will come before three judges who will review whether it was correct. If it was incorrect, the decision on the case would fall.

Alex Neil: The person bringing the case to court may not be aware of any conflict of interest that the judge may have and may never find out that there was one, but the judge may well have been influenced by a particular interest. Surely that is not right. If there is any potential conflict of interest, surely there should be a declaration or commitment by the judge, making an explicit statement that there is no conflict of interest. People may not have the resources to appeal, for example. Is the system not balanced against people who come to court for justice?

Lord Carloway: No, it is not. I go back to something that I mentioned earlier, which is very important. Scotland does not have a corrupt judiciary. The matter has been examined by independent persons, notably the GRECO anti-corruption body that operates under the auspices of the Council of Europe, which examined the UK judiciary, including the Scottish judiciary. It was clear that, fortunately, we, as distinct from many other countries, do not suffer from corruption in the judiciary. For that reason, it did not consider that a register of interests was necessary. If one introduces such a measure, one has to be satisfied that it is necessary and also that it is proportionate. If one analyses its proportionality, one has to look at what exactly we are guarding against. If the situation were to be that there was corruption in the Scottish judiciary—which we would discover at some point or another—of course we would have to consider measures to prevent that, one of which might be a register of certain interests. Until such time as it is demonstrated that there is corruption in the Scottish judiciary, I am entirely satisfied that there is no requirement for a register of interests and that it would be positively detrimental to the administration of justice, particularly in relation to the recruitment of judges and especially at the higher level of the judiciary.

Alex Neil: I want to draw a parallel with the register of interests that members of the Scottish Parliament have to sign and regularly update. That came about not because of any allegations or belief that the system was corrupt or that members of the Scottish Parliament are corrupt. In the 18 years that we have been here, I have not heard one allegation of corruption. The register is there not because of allegations of corruption but to ensure that there is no prejudice. If I participate in a debate and I have an interest that I have not declared, I will be open to an allegation not of corruption but of prejudice. Because there is a register of interests and because I have to declare interests in a debate or in a committee meeting such as this one, there is a transparency to ensure that I do not act in a prejudicial fashion.

To go back to the case that Mr MacDonald cited as I came in—the case of Advance Construction and Donal Nolan, in which Lord Malcolm’s son was involved as a lawyer for one of the parties—the issue there was not an allegation of corruption but one of possible prejudice or perception of prejudice. That is a very good example of why either a register of interests or a more robust system of recusal—or perhaps both—might serve the judiciary very well.

Lord Carloway: I am satisfied that Lord Malcolm’s actions were entirely honourable and that he acted in accordance with the code of judicial ethics. I am not sure what is—

Alex Neil: Have you investigated it?

Lord Carloway: I am aware of the background to it.

Alex Neil: No, but have you investigated it?

Lord Carloway: I have read the papers that it involves.

Alex Neil: With all due respect, Melanie Collins and Donal Nolan have written to you on numerous occasions, and at no time have you replied to them, let alone met them, so you have not heard the other side of the case.

Lord Carloway: I am sorry, but I am not aware of letters to me by those particular persons.

Alex Neil: Your office—

The Convener: Alex, let us be careful that we do not get into anything specific on that.

Alex Neil: Yes—absolutely. My point is about how Lord Carloway can reach that conclusion if he has not heard the other side.

Lord Carloway: I have read documents emanating from the persons that you have mentioned. As far as I am aware, they were not addressed to me, but I could be wrong about that. The position is that I am aware of the circumstances of the case. I am satisfied that Lord Malcolm’s conduct was entirely correct in the circumstances. That is part of the problem that you have perhaps highlighted. That case has nothing to do with a register of pecuniary interests. The suggestion is that we should start registering what our relatives are doing, where they are working and matters of that sort, which I suspect would go way beyond even what is expected of politicians.

Alex Neil: No—we have to register what close relatives do.

Lord Carloway: Can I deal with the difference between MSPs and the judiciary, which I think I dealt with earlier this morning? It is quite a different function. A politician is by nature someone who is not independent in the sense that the public expect the judiciary to be. That is not a criticism; it is a reality. As a generality, judges do not deal with the type of issues that politicians deal with. Politicians have executive power. They are dealing with major economic interests of one sort or another. As a generality, judges are not dealing with that type of thing. They are dealing with issues that are usually between private individuals but can be between private individuals and Government or others. Judges are not dealing with the type of issues that politicians are dealing with such as planning inquiries and so on at a local level or major economic development in society as a whole.

The need for independence in the judiciary is different from the kind of independence that a politician requires, because with a politician it is primarily, as Alex Neil has pointed out, about issues of a pecuniary nature. Those are not the issues that arise in most of the recusal cases with which we are concerned. What we are concerned with as judges is that we appear to be independent of all connection with the case. It is not a question of having a pecuniary interest.

If one looks at the register of recusals in the past year, I do not think that any of them were to do with pecuniary interest at all. They were to do with social connections with people—whether someone is a friend; whether a party to the litigation is a friend of a friend; and matters of that sort. Those are the types of situations that are raised by people in the practical reality of litigation and those are the issues that are being dealt with. Unless you are suggesting a register of one’s friends—and presumably, therefore, one’s enemies—the real issue with recusal in the judicial system would not be addressed.

The Convener: Last question, please, Mr Neil.

Alex Neil: If I can just finally draw the parallel between our register and what has been talked about in terms of either recusal or financial interest, MSPs—as individuals and collectively—do not have executive power per se unless they are ministers, but what is very important is the perception of fairness and the perception that justice is being carried out.

If, in any case—without referring to a specific case—a close relative of a judge is participating in the case, rightly or wrongly, the perception is that there may be a degree of prejudice. It might be very unfair, but the point is to try to ensure that the excellent reputation of the judiciary down the years in Scotland is retained. That reputation is not just for not being corrupt, which we all accept—we are not accusing anybody of corruption. The perception of fairness and the perception of not being prejudiced are also extremely important. I would argue that, certainly in at least one case recently, which we have referred to briefly, the perception is that there may have been unfairness and prejudice in the way in which the matter was conducted, particularly as the judge concerned was involved in the case not once but on a number of occasions.

Lord Carloway: I disagree entirely with your analysis of that particular case and I repeat what I said earlier. The case that you refer to did not involve the judge’s son having any active involvement with the case whatsoever. We have very clear rules in our statement of principles of judicial ethics on how to deal with such matters and it is made very clear in that statement that if a relative is the advocate in the case before one, the modern approach is that the judge should not hear the case, or one could put it another way round—the relative should not be presenting the case. Whichever way it happens to be put, the situation that we had 20 or 30 years ago, when it was commonplace for the relatives of judges of one sort or another to be advocating the case, no longer exists.

That practice no longer exists not because it was thought that there was any actual problem with the decision making but, as you say, because of a perception of unfairness. There is a clear judicial rule about that and I am not aware of any case in which it has been breached. I myself have been in a situation in which my son was involved in a firm that was litigating before me. In such a case, the judge would be expected to declare it and the parties would then decide whether to take the point. However, if they took the point and the relative just happened to be a member of the same firm operating in a different department, I would not encourage the judge to recuse himself.

The Convener: There are no final questions, so I thank you very much for your evidence. It has been helpful to clarify many of the issues that you presented to us in written evidence and to have an opportunity to explore some of the issues around prejudice, for instance.

ADVANCE SHERIFF AT COURT: Ex-Sheriff Peter Watson resigned from judicial bench in 2018

Peter Black Watson a former partner in Glasgow based law firm Levy and Mcrae – who was named in a £28million writ linked to the collapse of bust hedge fund Heather Capital – resigned his commission as a part time Sheriff on 10 October 2018.

The information was released by the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service in response to a Freedom of Information request in 2019 – SCTS – Sheriff Watson resignation

The SCTS stated: “I can advise that Mr Peter Watson resigned his commission as a part-time sheriff on 10 October 2018. Mr Watson did not hear any cases between the lifting of the suspension on 12 July 2018 and his resignation. Mr Watson has not submitted any claims for expenses, nor attended any events, nor carried out any judicial functions, since the suspension was lifted.”

Watson’s resignation came less than three months after Lord Carloway had lifted Mr Watson’s record suspension from judicial office of over three years – imposted by Lord Brian Gill in February 2015

Mr Watson was suspended from the Judiciary of Scotland on February 16, 2015 – after the then Lord President, Lord Brian Gill, was informed by a journalist of the claims in the case against Levy and McRae, and specifically against Watson, over Heather Capital’s collapse in 2010.

The move came after allegations surfaced in a £28million writ naming part time Sheriff Peter Black Watson – and his former law firm Levy and Mcrae, and a number of individuals under investigation in connection with the collapsed Heather Capital hedge fund.

In response to queries from the media in February 2015 on the contents of the writ – the Judicial Office subsequently issued a statement confirming Lord Brian Gill  had suspended Sheriff Peter Black Watson (61) on 16 February 2015.

The suspension came after Gill demanded sight of the writ.

Responding to the Lord President’s request, Watson then offered to step aside temporarily – while the litigation concluded – however a Judicial Office spokesperson said “The Lord President concluded that in the circumstances a voluntary de-rostering was not appropriate and that suspension was necessary in order to maintain public confidence in the judiciary.”

A statement from the Judicial Office for Scotland read as follows: Sheriff Peter Watson was suspended from the office of part-time sheriff on 16 February 2015, in terms of section 34 of the Judiciary and Courts (Scotland) Act 2008.

“On Friday 13 February the Judicial Office was made aware of the existence of a summons containing certain allegations against a number of individuals including part-time sheriff Peter Watson.

The Lord President’s Private Office immediately contacted Mr Watson and he offered not to sit as a part-time sheriff on a voluntary basis, pending the outcome of those proceedings.

Mr Watson e-mailed a copy of the summons to the Lord President’s Private Office on Saturday 14 February.

On Monday 16 February the Lord President considered the matter.

Having been shown the summons, the Lord President concluded that in the circumstances a voluntary de-rostering was not appropriate and that suspension was necessary in order to maintain public confidence in the judiciary.

Mr Watson was therefore duly suspended from office on Monday 16 February 2015.”

A fulll report on Mr Watson’s suspension from the judiciary in 2015 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

In 2018, after matters relating to the Heather Capital writ came to a conclusion, it fell to Scotland’s current top judge – Lord Carloway (Colin Sutherland) to consider the ongoing suspension of Watson – reported in further detail here: CAPITAL NUDGE: Scotland’s top judge Lord Carloway to consider status of de-benched Sheriff Peter Watson – suspended for a record THREE YEARS over £28million writ linked to collapsed £400m hedge fund Heather Capital

Later in July 2018. a statement from the Judicial Office for Scotland on the continuing suspension of part-time sheriff Peter Watson stated:

Following the extra judicial settlement of the Heather Capital action in which part-time sheriff Peter Watson was named as one of the defenders, the Lord President has lifted the suspension imposed upon him in terms of section 34 of the Judiciary and Courts (Scotland) Act 2008. Sheriff Watson will resume part-time judicial duties with effect from 12 July 2018.

Sheriff Watson was suspended from the office of part-time sheriff on 16 February 2015, in terms of section 34 of the Judiciary and Courts (Scotland) Act 2008.

Watson’s former law firm –  Levy & McRae, was one of several companies being sued by Heather’s liquidator, Ernst & Young, after the fund’s collapse in 2010.

Watson was also a director of a company called Mathon Ltd – a key part of the Heather empire.

The collapsed hedge fund Heather Capital – run by lawyer Gregory King was the subject of a Police Scotland investigation and a FIVE YEAR probe by the Crown Office.

The Crown Office later admitted there would be no prosecutions in the cases of the four individuals  – lawyers Gregory King & Andrew Sobolewski, accountant Andrew Millar and property expert Scott Carmichael – who were charged by Police Scotland in connection with a Police investigation of events relating to the collapse of Heather Capital.

Peter Watson now has his own law business, PBW Law.

Watson, and his former law firm named in the Heather Capital writ – Levy and Mcrae –  also represent the Scottish Police Federation.

Responding to queries from reporters, a  spokesperson for the Judicial Office said: “The action, in which suspended part time Sheriff Peter Watson was among the defenders, has settled.  An interlocutor to that effect has been issued.  The Lord President will consider what, if any, steps now require to be taken‎.”

Watson subsequently resigned from the judicial bench.

Despite EY’s withdrawal of the £28million claim against Levy and Mcrae & Peter Watson, detailed claims in the Court of Session revealed the following:

[21]      In the Levy Mcrae case:

  • On 4 January 2007, HC transferred £19 million to its client account with LM (Lord Doherty paragraph [5]).

  • On 24 January 2007, HC transferred £9.412 million to its client account with LM (Lord Doherty paragraph [5]).

  • The money was intended to be loaned to a first level SPV Westernbrook Properties Ltd (WBP) for onward lending to second level SPVs (Lord Doherty paragraph [5]).

  • On 9 January 2007, LM transferred £19 million to a Panamanian company (Niblick) owned and controlled by Mr Levene:the money was not therefore transferred to WBP.The transfer was undocumented and without security (Lord Doherty paragraph [5], and Condescendence 6 and 17, pages 20 and 44 of LM reclaiming print).

  • By a memorandum dated 17 March 2007, HC’s auditors KPMG “identified a number of concerns relating to the documentation provided in respect of these loans”.Further work and information was required (Condescendence 5, page 13 of LM reclaiming print).

  • On 29 March 2007, LM transferred £9.142 million to Hassans, solicitors, Gibraltar, under the reference “Rosecliff Limited” (a company controlled by Mr King):the money was not therefore transferred to WBP.The transfer was undocumented and without security (Lord Doherty paragraph [5], and Condescendence 6 and 17, pages 20 and 44 of LM reclaiming print).

  • In April to June 2007, amounts equivalent to the loans thought to have been made to WBP (including accrued interest) were “repaid” to HC via Cannons, solicitors, Glasgow.The directors were unable to ascertain the source of these repayments (Lord Doherty paragraph [7]).

  • Approaches made by HC to Mr Volpe and Triay & Triay, a firm of solicitors in Gibraltar, were met with a total lack of co-operation (Lord Doherty paragraph [8]).

  • At a board meeting on 6 September 2007, “KPMG could not approve HC’s accounts … Santo Volpe had executed certain loans to SPV companies where non‑standard procedures had been followed which meant that inadequate security had been given for some loans … Gregory King stated that the loans to the SPVs had been repaid in full in May 2007” (Condescendence 5, page 13 of LM reclaiming print).

  • By email to a non‑executive director of HC (Mr Bourbon) dated 7 September 2007, Mr McGarry of KPMG referred to the previous day’s board meeting, and expressed concerns about the situation.He asked for further information, namely “all possible evidence regarding the movement of monies out of Heather Capital into these SPVs and onwards to whatever purpose the funds were applied – ie, sight of bank statements, payment/remittance instructions, certified extracts from solicitors clients’ money accounts etc”.(It should be noted that, contrary to HC’s averment in Condescendence 5 at page 13C‑D of LM reclaiming print, the email did not restrict the inquiries requested to “explaining what information was required from Santo Volpe”:the request was much broader.)

  • In October 2007 the non‑executive directors of HC met with the Isle of Man Financial Services Commission (FSC) to discuss “the issues” (Lord Doherty paragraph [8]).A director also disclosed the suspicious activity and Mr Volpe’s obstruction to the Isle of Man Financial Crime Unit (FCU), who said they would investigate (Condescendence 5 page 14 of LM reclaiming print).The auditors KPMG carried out an additional full scope audit.

  • By letter dated 18 October 2007, FSC wrote to the directors of HC setting out further information which they required.

  • By letter dated 26 November 2007 Mr King advised the HC board that “some sort of fraud had been deliberately introduced with invalid land registry details on a number of the loans”.He stated that he had applied pressure to Mr Volpe and Mr Cannon, whereupon there had been “full repayment of the loans with relevant interest” which meant that “investors were secure”.

  • On 17 December 2007, KPMG signed the accounts and added a completion note using language such as “The risk of fraud increased to high as a result of the documentation issues surrounding the SPVs, where some form of fraud appeared to have been attempted”.In their audit report opinion, they stated “We have been unable to verify where funds advanced to the SPVs were invested.In addition, we were supplied with false documentation in relation to the SPVs which appears to have been a deliberate attempt to mislead us.Given these loans were repaid in the period, we consider that the effect of this is not so material and pervasive that we are unable to form an opinion on the financial statements [opting instead for express qualifications that loan and security documentation could not be validated] … There is uncertainty as to where the monies lent to the [SPVs] were then subsequently invested … Investigations continue to determine what party (or parties) were involved in and were accountable for these events, and whether any action should be taken against them …” (Lord Doherty paragraph [9]).

  • By letter to HC dated 4 January 2008, KPMG gave serious warnings about their inability to validate loan and security documentation, and lack of evidence as to the purpose for which the money advanced to SPVs was applied.In their words:

“ … Our report is designed to … avoid weaknesses that could lead to material loss or misstatement.  However, it is your obligation to take the actions needed to remedy those weaknesses and should you fail to do so we shall not be held responsible if loss or misstatement occurs as a result … [Having explained the disappearance of the funds and the apparent repayments, on which legal advice had been received, KPMG warned] … these matters are extremely serious … an attempted fraud appears to have been perpetrated … We would recommend that the Board continue their investigation into this matter and formally document their decision as to whether or not to inform the criminal justice authorities …”

A full copy of a court opinion detailing these and other claims with regards to a further case against Burness Paull LLB  – which coincidently also collapsed earlier last year – can be viewed here: Court of Session allows proof against Levy & Mcrae and Burness Paull LLP in Heather Capital case as liquidators attempt to recover cash from collapsed £280m hedge fund.

In the motion of abandonment filed by EY & Heather Capital, heard in the Court of Session on 28 February before Lord Glennie, Lady Paton & Lady Clark of Calton, Lord Glennie’s opinion sums up matters in relation to issues in the Heather Capital case, which linked claims of financial wrongdoing directly to Scotland’s judiciary – who, ultimately heard and ruled on the case.

The Scottish Sun reported on the serving of the £28million civil writ which named lawyer Peter Black Watson – back in February 2015, here:

WRIT HITS THE FAN

FIRM FIRM SLAPPED WITH COURT SUMMONS – Top legal outfit in megabucks lawsuit

Practice is linked to bust hedge fund – Briefs with ties to big business and high-profile clients

By RUSSELL FINDLAY Scottish Sun 15 February 2015

A TOP law firm has been hit with a multi-million pound writ linked to a finance company at the centre of a fraud investigation.

Legal practice Levy & McRae — which acts for footballers, politicians, cops and newspapers — faces the claim over its role in connection with £400million investment scheme Heather Capital.

It’s claimed millions of pounds went missing following the collapse of the hedge fund. And The Scottish Sun told last week how four men — including tycoon Gregory King — have been reported to prosecutors probing the allegations.

King, 46, ran Heather subsidiary Mathon, where Sheriff Peter Watson — a former senior partner at Levy & McRae — was also briefly a director.

The Court of Session summons was served on the firm six months after he left the legal firm.

Watson is one of the country’s most high-profile lawyers and spent 33 years with Levy & McRae before quitting to set up his own business.

The visiting Strathclyde University professor sat on an expert panel created by former First Minister Alex Salmond to look into media regulation in Scotland.

Watson also acted for former Lord Advocate Elish Angiolini after she was harassed by a campaigner who was later jailed.

‘Their clients are a who’s who of Scotland’ And he includes ex-Glasgow City Council chief Steven Purcell among his list of clients, as well as senior police and prison officers.

The legal expert, 61 — chairman of Yorkhill Sick Kids’ Hospital charity — has also acted for former Rangers owner Sir David Murray.

And a Gers supporters’ group closed down its website following legal threats from Watson, who was working for under-fire directors Sandy and James Easdale.

A source said: “Watson and Levy & McRae are very well known and their clients are a who’s who of Scotland.”

Investors from around the world sunk their cash into Gibraltar-based fund Heather Capital, which launched in 2004.

Some of the cash was loaned to Mathon to bankroll developments across Scotland. But many of the Mathon-funded plans did not happen — and some of the cash was not repaid.

Liquidator Paul Duffy of Ernst & Young has been battling to recover investors’ cash since 2010 and is suing Heather’s auditors KPMG for negligence over their role. Isle of Man court documents — acquired by The Scottish Sun — claim Heather was operating a “Ponzi” scheme to dupe investors.

They alleged that as early as December 2006, senior KPMG staff feared that Heather Capital “may have been perpetrating a fraud”.

And in August 2007, KPMG employee Raymond Gawne told a colleague that he was “very uncomfortable” acting for the fund which “may have acted in a criminal manner”.

The claim also alleges that millions of pounds of loans passed through the client account of Glasgow lawyer Frank Cannon who acted for Heather. KPMG senior executive David McGarry sent an email to Gregory King stating: “Frank Cannon has been uncooperative, either in providing some form of explanation for all of the security documentation prepared by his firm, or in agreeing to facilitate access to Cannon’s clients’ money account”. McGarry added he did not accept “that this is due” to Cannon.

Watson declined to comment on the writ and Levy & McRae and Cannon did not respond to our requests for comment.

The Police Scotland report naming Mr King and his associates Andrew Sobolewski, Andrew Millar and Scott Carmichael is now being considered by the Crown Office.

A spokesman for Ernst & Young confirmed: “Heather Capital, via Ernst & Young, has made a claim against Levy & McRae.” And a KPMG spokesman said: “The passages in the plaintiff’s summons provide a selective and misleading picture and are drawn out simply to seek to make what is a wholly unsubstantiated case.

“The allegations are completely unfounded and are being fully contested by KPMG.”

GREGORY KING MARBELLA-based former Glasgow Academy pupil, 46, was a lawyer and taxi firm boss before launching Heather Capital in 2004. Family business dynasty includes nightclub boss cousin Stefan King.

PETER WATSON GREENOCK-born solicitor advocate, 61, carved out a fearsome reputation as a media lawyer during 33 years at Levy & McRae. He also dishes out justice as a part-time sheriff across Scotland.

KING’S £400million hedge fund Heather Capital loaned millions of pounds to Glasgow-based Mathon, of which Watson was briefly a director.

TOP lawyer and part-time sheriff Watson has acted for a string of high profile celebrity, political, sport and media clients in a glittering legal career:

Watson’s clients included Alex Salmond, Stephen Purcell, Elish Angiolini, Yorkhill Hospital Board, Rangers Chiefs.

and a further development reported by the Scottish Sun on the suspension of Sheriff Peter Watson:

Bench ban for sheriff linked to fraud probe

Lawman, 61, suspended

By RUSSELL FINDLAY 25th February 2015, Scottish Sun

A SHERIFF was suspended after he was linked to a collapsed finance firm at the centre of a massive fraud probe.

Peter Watson, 61, was barred from the bench by judges’ boss Lord President Lord Gill following an inquiry by The Scottish Sun.

Watson, whose past clients include ex-First Minister Alex Salmond, was briefly a director of Mathon, a company run by Glasgow bookie’s son Gregory King, 46.

It received millions in loans from King’s hedge fund Heather Capital which crashed owing a seven-figure sum.

Watson’s suspension came 24 hours after we revealed Heather liquidators Ernst & Young filed a multi-million court demand against his former law firm Levy & McRae.

Lord Gill, 73, can suspend sheriffs and judges if it’s “necessary for the purpose of maintaining public confidence”.

Watson forged a fearsome reputation as a media lawyer over 33 years with Levy & McRae before he left the firm six months ago.

King is one of four men named in a police report which is being considered by the Crown Office.

The Judicial Office for Scotland said last night: “Sheriff Peter Watson was suspended from the office of part-time sheriff on February 16.”

Watson subsequently resigned from the judiciary later in October 2018 – which was confirmed in an FOI response from the Judicial Office in 2019.Earlier reports on the Heather Capital writ, and subsequent collapse of prosecutions in the collapsed £400M hedge fund can be viewed here: The collapsed £400M Hedge Fund with direct links to Scotland’s judiciary

 

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DISHONESTY, LORD: Files reveal Lord Carloway misled Holyrood Committee on involvement of judges’ relative in Court of Session claim – witness statement exposes direct role of Ewen Campbell in £6M land case heard by his father – judge & privy councillor Lord Malcolm

Lord Carloway misled MSPs on judicial probe. DOCUMENTS released to an ongoing probe of claims made by Scotland’s top judge at Holyrood – now reveal Lord Carloway deliberately misled MSPs in evidence relating to the involvement of a relative of a senior Court of Session judge in a £6million court case.

The files – in the form of a witness statement from Advocate Ewen Campbell – who is Lord Malcolm’s son –  directly contradict statements by Lord Carloway – to the Public Petitions Committee and MSP Alex Neil in a hearing on 29 June 2017.

During the evidence session – Lord Carloway faced questions from Mr Neil on the Court of Session case – where judge & Privy Councillor Lord Malcolm (real name Colin Campbell QC) – heard a land contamination case – up to EIGHT TIMES while his own son represented the defenders – Advance Construction Scotland Ltd in the same court room.

In response to questions from the MSP, Lord Carloway (real name Colin Sutherland) furiously claimed that Lord Malcolm’s son DID NOT have any “active involvement with the case whatsoever.”

However – a witness statement dated May 2013 – signed by Ewen Campbell – covering the time Campbell worked for Glasgow law firm Levy & Mcrae – contains a written admission Mr Campbell confirming he did in-fact represented the construction company, alongside lawyer Peter Black Watson – who was at the time a Sheriff and partner at the same law firm.

During the hearing, Alex Neil – MSP for Airdrie & Shotts – asked Lord Carloway: “If, in any case—without referring to a specific case—a close relative of a judge is participating in the case, rightly or wrongly, the perception is that there may be a degree of prejudice.”

Mr Neil said there were concerns the reputation of the judiciary should be protected and added: “I would argue that, certainly in at least one case recently, which we have referred to briefly, the perception is that there may have been unfairness and prejudice in the way in which the matter was conducted, particularly as the judge concerned was involved in the case not once but on a number of occasions.”

In response – a clearly flustered Lord Carloway claimed no such events had taken place.

Carloway took a strong line against the questions, and replied to the MSP stating: “I disagree entirely with your analysis of that particular case and I repeat what I said earlier. The case that you refer to did not involve the judge’s son having any active involvement with the case whatsoever.”

However – on page one of the released witness statement of Ewen Campbell – Mr Campbell confirms he did work for the defenders – Advance Construction.

Ewen Campbell states: “In September 2011 I was asked by Professor Peter Watson (witness) to assist in a new case in which we were to act for Advance Construction (Scotland) Limited (“Advance”).”

Ewen Campbell goes on to admit he worked on the case for nearly a year: “I assisted with this case until Friday 15th June 2012. At this point I ceased assisting Professor Watson as I was informed by Senior Counsel that I was a potential witness in the matter.”

The exchange between Alex Neil and Lord Carloway can be viewed here:

Alex Neil & Lord Carloway on conflict of interest case Scottish Parliament June 29 2017

The released witness statement of Ewen Campbell – the contents of which call into question the honesty of Lord Carloway’s evidence to MSPs, can be found here: Ewen Campbell – Witness Statement – Nolan v Advance Construction

Within the statement, Lord Malcolm’s son – who Carloway told MSPs had no involvement in the case – goes on at length to document numerous on-site visits he undertook at the behest of Carloway’s then judicial colleague – ex Sheriff Peter Watson, and on behalf of the client – Advance Construction (Scotland) Ltd.

In just one example, Ewen Campbell states: “At approximately 4 p.m. I left Levy and McRae’s offices and attended at Branchal Road. I was driven by Ian Butler, a colleague at Levy & McRae. On arrival at the site I observed that a number of vehicles were at the gate of the site. Mr Butler and I therefore parked our vehicle just round the comer from the entrance of the site.”

Ewen Campbell is later forced to account for allegations a Grangemouth based firm – IKM Consulting Ltd – employed by Levy and Mcrae as their ‘experts’ in the case – dumped contaminated materials at a site owned by the pursuer – Mr Nolan.

Despite Lord Carloway’s abrupt statement that Lord Malcolm’s son did not have “any active involvement with the case whatsoever” – Ewen Campbell goes on to say in his witness statement he personally talked to a legal representative of the pursuer – and talked the solicitor down from his client’s initial allegation IKM Consulting Ltd dumped contaminated material during their on-site activities for Levy and Mcrae & Advance Construction (Scotland) Ltd.

Ewen Campbell states: “I contacted [solicitor] regarding this who detailed that his clients had originally stated to him that IKM had dumped contaminated materials on the site but after further questioning reduced the allegation to having dumped soil like materials on site.”

Bizarrely, Lord Malcolm’s son adds within his statement he did not instruct IKM Consulting Ltd to dump any materials during their on-site activities under his supervision.

Campbell also admits to accepting additional instructions to work on the case in which Carloway claimed he played no active role in.

Ewen Campbell further stated: “Before I ceased assisting Professor Peter Watson in relation to this case, I was instructed on a number of occasions to prepare and send letters and emails to those acting on behalf of Mr Nolan.”

It should be noted that despite Ewen Campbell’s ‘account’ of events around the IKM Consulting incident – Advance Construction were subsequently forced to admit in the Court of Session before Lord Woolman that they had in-fact illegally dumped contaminated materials on Mr Nolan’s land.

Melanie Collins, partner of Mr Donal Nolan – who was the pursuer in Nolan v Advance – said: “I found Lord Carloway’s evidence to be entirely dishonest during his responses to out MSP Alex Neil. I was astounded by how he misled Mr Neil and the entire committee on what happened in our case and how we were treated very badly by Lord Malcolm and others.”

Last night, a legal expert who viewed the material and video footage from the Committee hearing, suggested it was difficult to see how Lord Carloway could make such a false statement to the Scottish Parliament and not expect to be asked to explain himself.

Commenting on the new evidence, the legal expert said: “I am concerned Scotland’s top judge feels secure enough in the environment of a Scottish Parliament hearing – and public expectation of transparency – to make such false and egregiously misleading claims.”

He continued: “The written evidence and records of multiple court hearings suggest Lord Carloway is entirely wrong, and is determinedly at odds with the facts of this case, in his account of events to the Public Petitions Committee and Mr Alex Neil.”

Now, Carloway’s account of events to Mr Neil and the Petitions Committee is to be submitted to the Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee alongside a report on conflicts of interest of key stakeholders in Scotland’s justice system.

A full investigation into Ewen Campbells’s father – Lord Malcolm – and his  role in the Nolan v Advance case – including 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.

The further revelations of Lord Carloway’s links to the land contamination case come after an earlier investigation revealed Lord Carloway failed to declare his own son – Alexander Colin Maclean Sutherland – also worked for the merged law firm of Addleshaw Goddard-HBJ Gateley – which was trying to evict a couple at the centre of the case raised by Mr Alex Neil during the Committee hearing in 2017.

Mr Neil was invited to attend Committee hearing to quiz Lord Carloway on what legal experts say is one of the most serious cases of judicial conflict of interest in Scotland’s courts – Nolan v Advance Construction Scotland Ltd [2014] CSOH 4 CA132/11.

In the outburst from the top judge, Lord Carloway said to Mr Neil: “The suggestion is that we should start registering what our relatives are doing, where they are working and matters of that sort, which I suspect would go way beyond even what is expected of politicians.”

Alex Neil replied to Lord Carloway, stating: “No—we have to register what close relatives do.”

Lord Carloway – clearly rattled by questions from Alex Neil and fellow MSPs about another top judge who concealed he heard a case involving his own son – hit out at Mr Neil and members of the Public Petitions Committee in video footage which can be viewed here: Lord Carloway –  Judges should not declare relatives interests   Scottish Parliament 29 June 2017

The terse exchange – one of many in the evidence session – led to material obtained during a probe by journalists which revealed Lord Carloway’s son – Colin Alexander Maclean Sutherland – worked at the time for the merged law firm Addleshaw Goddard & HBJ Gateley – who became key players in the aftermath of Nolan v Advance Construction (Scotland) Ltd.

However – Lord Carloway did not declare this conflict of interest during the Holyrood hearing.

Instead; the top judge went on to attack other Committee members and Mr Neil – over their backing for a cross party supported petition to require judges to declare and register all their interests.

Minutes before the exchange, Carloway had even denied even receiving any communications from the couple at the centre of the case – however records show Carloway’s legal secretary – Roddy Flinn – now himself a Sheriff – sent acknowledgements to the couple on 24 May 2016.

Papers show Addleshaw Goddard & HBJ Gateley were acting on behalf of Kenneth Pattullo of insolvency practitioners Begbies Traynor – who were appointed by Advance Construction’s lawyers – Levy and Mcrae – to seize the home, land, a farm, and all assets of Ms Melanie Collins & retired National Hunt jockey Donal Nolan.

The couple took on Advance Construction (Scotland) Ltd – over a land contamination incident on their land in Wishaw.

The construction company – owned by businessman Seamus Shields was ultimately forced to admit illegal dumping of material in the Court of Session case before judge Lord Woolman.

Roderick William Dunlop QC of Axiom AdvocatesEwen Campbell of Axiom Advocates and Peter Watson – now formerly of Glasgow based Levy & Mcrae – represented Advance Construction (Scotland) Ltd.

It should be noted Peter Watson – who ran the case for Advance Construction (Scotland) Ltd was later suspended for a record three years plus over his links to a £28M writ involving the £400M Heather Capital Hedge Fund collapse – and then resigned in 2019.

An earlier investigation of this case revealed when Lord Woolman (who heard the proof after the case was passed to him by Lord Malcolm) – 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 the couple’s legal representative in court – 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

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 from the judicial bench 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

The full exchange between Lord Carloway (real name Colin Sutherland) and Alex Neil MSP at the Public Petitions Committee can be viewed, with transcript, below:

Alex Neil questions to Lord Carloway Register of Judges interests Scottish Parliament 29 June 2017

Alex Neil (Airdrie and Shotts) (SNP): I apologise for being slightly late. I had to go to the Public Audit and Post-legislative Scrutiny Committee. I apologise in advance if I cover ground that has already been covered.

Lord Carloway, as an issue of principle, do you think that it should be left only to a judge to decide whether they are going to recuse themselves, or should you or the keeper of the rolls be able to insist on recusal if you believe that there is a potential conflict of interest?

Lord Carloway: The short answer is that I do not believe that there is any problem with the current system, which is that the judge, who knows what his connection is to the case or the parties to it, should make the initial decision. That decision is made in open court, when the parties are present, and it is subject to review on appeal. In other words, if somebody is dissatisfied with that decision and if the litigant eventually loses the case, the decision will come before three judges who will review whether it was correct. If it was incorrect, the decision on the case would fall.

Alex Neil: The person bringing the case to court may not be aware of any conflict of interest that the judge may have and may never find out that there was one, but the judge may well have been influenced by a particular interest. Surely that is not right. If there is any potential conflict of interest, surely there should be a declaration or commitment by the judge, making an explicit statement that there is no conflict of interest. People may not have the resources to appeal, for example. Is the system not balanced against people who come to court for justice?

Lord Carloway: No, it is not. I go back to something that I mentioned earlier, which is very important. Scotland does not have a corrupt judiciary. The matter has been examined by independent persons, notably the GRECO anti-corruption body that operates under the auspices of the Council of Europe, which examined the UK judiciary, including the Scottish judiciary. It was clear that, fortunately, we, as distinct from many other countries, do not suffer from corruption in the judiciary. For that reason, it did not consider that a register of interests was necessary. If one introduces such a measure, one has to be satisfied that it is necessary and also that it is proportionate. If one analyses its proportionality, one has to look at what exactly we are guarding against. If the situation were to be that there was corruption in the Scottish judiciary—which we would discover at some point or another—of course we would have to consider measures to prevent that, one of which might be a register of certain interests. Until such time as it is demonstrated that there is corruption in the Scottish judiciary, I am entirely satisfied that there is no requirement for a register of interests and that it would be positively detrimental to the administration of justice, particularly in relation to the recruitment of judges and especially at the higher level of the judiciary.

Alex Neil: I want to draw a parallel with the register of interests that members of the Scottish Parliament have to sign and regularly update. That came about not because of any allegations or belief that the system was corrupt or that members of the Scottish Parliament are corrupt. In the 18 years that we have been here, I have not heard one allegation of corruption. The register is there not because of allegations of corruption but to ensure that there is no prejudice. If I participate in a debate and I have an interest that I have not declared, I will be open to an allegation not of corruption but of prejudice. Because there is a register of interests and because I have to declare interests in a debate or in a committee meeting such as this one, there is a transparency to ensure that I do not act in a prejudicial fashion.

To go back to the case that Mr MacDonald cited as I came in—the case of Advance Construction and Donal Nolan, in which Lord Malcolm’s son was involved as a lawyer for one of the parties—the issue there was not an allegation of corruption but one of possible prejudice or perception of prejudice. That is a very good example of why either a register of interests or a more robust system of recusal—or perhaps both—might serve the judiciary very well.

Lord Carloway: I am satisfied that Lord Malcolm’s actions were entirely honourable and that he acted in accordance with the code of judicial ethics. I am not sure what is—

Alex Neil: Have you investigated it?

Lord Carloway: I am aware of the background to it.

Alex Neil: No, but have you investigated it?

Lord Carloway: I have read the papers that it involves.

Alex Neil: With all due respect, Melanie Collins and Donal Nolan have written to you on numerous occasions, and at no time have you replied to them, let alone met them, so you have not heard the other side of the case.

Lord Carloway: I am sorry, but I am not aware of letters to me by those particular persons.

Alex Neil: Your office—

The Convener: Alex, let us be careful that we do not get into anything specific on that.

Alex Neil: Yes—absolutely. My point is about how Lord Carloway can reach that conclusion if he has not heard the other side.

Lord Carloway: I have read documents emanating from the persons that you have mentioned. As far as I am aware, they were not addressed to me, but I could be wrong about that. The position is that I am aware of the circumstances of the case. I am satisfied that Lord Malcolm’s conduct was entirely correct in the circumstances. That is part of the problem that you have perhaps highlighted. That case has nothing to do with a register of pecuniary interests. The suggestion is that we should start registering what our relatives are doing, where they are working and matters of that sort, which I suspect would go way beyond even what is expected of politicians.

Alex Neil: No—we have to register what close relatives do.

Lord Carloway: Can I deal with the difference between MSPs and the judiciary, which I think I dealt with earlier this morning? It is quite a different function. A politician is by nature someone who is not independent in the sense that the public expect the judiciary to be. That is not a criticism; it is a reality. As a generality, judges do not deal with the type of issues that politicians deal with. Politicians have executive power. They are dealing with major economic interests of one sort or another. As a generality, judges are not dealing with that type of thing. They are dealing with issues that are usually between private individuals but can be between private individuals and Government or others. Judges are not dealing with the type of issues that politicians are dealing with such as planning inquiries and so on at a local level or major economic development in society as a whole.

The need for independence in the judiciary is different from the kind of independence that a politician requires, because with a politician it is primarily, as Alex Neil has pointed out, about issues of a pecuniary nature. Those are not the issues that arise in most of the recusal cases with which we are concerned. What we are concerned with as judges is that we appear to be independent of all connection with the case. It is not a question of having a pecuniary interest.

If one looks at the register of recusals in the past year, I do not think that any of them were to do with pecuniary interest at all. They were to do with social connections with people—whether someone is a friend; whether a party to the litigation is a friend of a friend; and matters of that sort. Those are the types of situations that are raised by people in the practical reality of litigation and those are the issues that are being dealt with. Unless you are suggesting a register of one’s friends—and presumably, therefore, one’s enemies—the real issue with recusal in the judicial system would not be addressed.

The Convener: Last question, please, Mr Neil.

Alex Neil: If I can just finally draw the parallel between our register and what has been talked about in terms of either recusal or financial interest, MSPs—as individuals and collectively—do not have executive power per se unless they are ministers, but what is very important is the perception of fairness and the perception that justice is being carried out.

If, in any case—without referring to a specific case—a close relative of a judge is participating in the case, rightly or wrongly, the perception is that there may be a degree of prejudice. It might be very unfair, but the point is to try to ensure that the excellent reputation of the judiciary down the years in Scotland is retained. That reputation is not just for not being corrupt, which we all accept—we are not accusing anybody of corruption. The perception of fairness and the perception of not being prejudiced are also extremely important. I would argue that, certainly in at least one case recently, which we have referred to briefly, the perception is that there may have been unfairness and prejudice in the way in which the matter was conducted, particularly as the judge concerned was involved in the case not once but on a number of occasions.

Lord Carloway: I disagree entirely with your analysis of that particular case and I repeat what I said earlier. The case that you refer to did not involve the judge’s son having any active involvement with the case whatsoever. We have very clear rules in our statement of principles of judicial ethics on how to deal with such matters and it is made very clear in that statement that if a relative is the advocate in the case before one, the modern approach is that the judge should not hear the case, or one could put it another way round—the relative should not be presenting the case. Whichever way it happens to be put, the situation that we had 20 or 30 years ago, when it was commonplace for the relatives of judges of one sort or another to be advocating the case, no longer exists.

That practice no longer exists not because it was thought that there was any actual problem with the decision making but, as you say, because of a perception of unfairness. There is a clear judicial rule about that and I am not aware of any case in which it has been breached. I myself have been in a situation in which my son was involved in a firm that was litigating before me. In such a case, the judge would be expected to declare it and the parties would then decide whether to take the point. However, if they took the point and the relative just happened to be a member of the same firm operating in a different department, I would not encourage the judge to recuse himself.

The Convener: There are no final questions, so I thank you very much for your evidence. It has been helpful to clarify many of the issues that you presented to us in written evidence and to have an opportunity to explore some of the issues around prejudice, for instance.

An earlier investigation revealed Lord Carloway failed to declare his son was linked to the same case: JUDGE OF CONFLICT: Top judge who attacked MSPs over judicial interests probe – failed to declare relative’s role at law firm targeting MSP’s constituents’ home & farm in £6M court case linked to Lord Malcolm conflict of interest scandal

A report being compiled for an investigation of judges’ conflicts of interest by Holyrood’s Justice Committee –  has revealed Scotland’s top judge – Lord Carloway –  concealed a critical conflict of interest while giving evidence to the Scottish Parliament on a proposal to create a register of judges’ interests.

Lord Carloway’s failure to declare his own link to a case he initially claimed to know little of – while answering questions from MSP Alex Neil – was made all the more serious after the top judge himself openly attacked Mr Neil and other members of a Holyrood committee –  for daring to suggest judges should declare their relatives interests in a planned register of judges’ interests.

The report on Lord Carloway’s testimony to Holryood’s Public Petitions Committee will reveal that Lord Carloway (real name Colin Sutherland) did NOT declare to MSPs that his own son – Alexander Colin Maclean Sutherland – also worked for the merged law firm of Addleshaw Goddard-HBJ Gateley – which was trying to evict a couple at the centre of the case raised by Mr Alex Neil during the Committee hearing in 2017.

The exchange between Lord Carloway and Alex Neil – one of many in the evidence session – led to material obtained during a probe by journalists which revealed Lord Carloway’s son – Colin Alexander Maclean Sutherland – worked at the time for the merged law firm Addleshaw Goddard & HBJ Gateley – who became key players in the aftermath of Nolan v Advance Construction (Scotland) Ltd.

However – Lord Carloway did not declare this conflict of interest during the Holyrood hearing.

Instead; the top judge went on to attack other Committee members and Mr Neil – over their backing for a cross party supported petition to require judges to declare and register all their interests.

Minutes before the exchange, Carloway had even denied even receiving any communications from the couple at the centre of the case – however records show Carloway’s legal secretary – Roddy Flinn – now himself a Sheriff – sent acknowledgements to the couple on 24 May 2016.

Papers show Addleshaw Goddard & HBJ Gateley were acting on behalf of Kenneth Pattullo of insolvancy practitioners Begbies Traynor – who were appointed by Advance Construction’s lawyers – Levy and Mcrae – to seize the home, land, a farm, and all assets of Ms Melanie Collins & retired National Hunt jockey Donal Nolan.

A recent perusal of Mr Sutherland’s online legal biography at Ampersand Advocates and the Faculty of Advocates – does not mention his time at the merged firm of Addleshaw Goddard-HBJ Gateley in his online legal career:

Alexander Colin MacLean Sutherland BIO:

Year of Call: 2018; Since calling to the Bar in June 2018, Alex has developed a general practice centred on commercial law and public law, including judicial review and planning. He has appeared in the Court of Session, sheriff court and Scottish Solicitors’ Discipline Tribunal. He has also provided Opinions on a wide range of matters, including contractual disputes, insolvency and property.

Before calling to the Bar, Alex trained with a commercial firm in Edinburgh. He completed his LLB at Glasgow University in 2014 and the Diploma in Professional Legal Practice at Edinburgh University in 2015. Before then, he studied German and English Language at Edinburgh University, during which time he spent a year studying in Vienna.

He speaks fluent French and German and is well placed to undertake work involving consideration of documents in those languages.

Selected recent cases: Community Windpower Ltd v Scottish Ministers (ongoing): Inner House, Court of Session; For the appellants. Appeal against a Reporter’s decision. With Ailsa Wilson QC.

Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh v (1) Scottish Solicitors’ Discipline Tribunal and (2) Council of the Law Society of Scotland [2019] CSOH 104; 2020 SLT 1: Outer House, Court of Session; For the petitioner. Judicial review of the first respondent’s decision on expenses.

Saadi v Whiterock Investments Ltd: Outer House, Court of Session; For the defenders. Pursuer seeking reduction of the decree awarding his sequestration.

Ford v The Firm of W&AS Bruce [2020] SC KIR 9: Kirkcaldy Sheriff Court; For the pursuer. Action of damages against a firm of solicitors for failing to advise the pursuer to include a survivorship destination when disponing half of his property to his partner. Debate on prescription.

NCS Office Services (Scotland) Ltd v Emtelle UK Ltd: Glasgow Sheriff Court (Commercial Action); For the defenders. Proof before answer on whether one of the defenders’ employees had authority to enter into a contract with the pursuers on behalf of the defenders.

Law Society of Scotland v WM: Scottish Solicitors’ Discipline Tribunal; For the respondent. Preliminary hearing on whether the complaint should be dismissed due to excessive delay.

However, when Ampersand Advocates welcomed Alexander Sutherland to their stable in 2018 – Mr Sutherlands spell at Addleshaw Goddard did gain a mention, without reference to his father being Scotland’s top judge – here: Ampersand welcomes Alexander Sutherland

HOLYROOD SUPPORT FOR  REGISTER OF JUDGES’ INTERESTS:

Petition PE1458: Register of Interests for members of Scotland’s judiciary – originally lodged at the Scottish Parliament in 2012 – calls for the creation of a publicly available register of judicial interests – containing information on all 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.

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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