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COPY MINISTER: ‘Copied’ content from ex Minister sent by Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf to Holyrood MSPs – Public must rely on judges judging judges for transparency, Scottish Government will not create register of judges’ interests

Judges should judge judges – Minister. SCOTLAND’S Justice Secretary – Humza Yousaf – has told Holyrood’s Justice Committee that judges should be allowed to judge themselves, and the public must rely on judicial oaths & ethics – written and approved by the judiciary – instead of transparency in courts.

The Justice Secretary’s letter of 3 April to Holyrood MSPs, which was released only late last week – also states the Scottish Government willnot create a register of judicial interests in response to the widely supported Petition PE1458: Register of Interests for members of Scotland’s judiciary.

However, it has emerged Humza Yousaf’s letter of April 2019 – is almost a duplicate of a letter sent in April 2014 by Kenny MacAskill during his time as Justice Secretary.

The recent letter from Mr Yousaf to Margaret Mitchel MSP – Convener of the Justice Committee, effectively re-states the Scottish Government’s refusal to create a register of judges’ interests.

Mr Yousaf also claims in his letter that “no further evidence has been provided to the Justice Committee that strengthens the arguments already put forward in favour of the introduction of the register.”

However, recent submissions to the Justice Committee including accounts of serving Scottish judges swearing dual oaths for high earning judicial posts in Qatar, Abu Dhabi and other Gulf States point to substantial new evidence submitted to MSPs, backing up the need for a full register of judicial interests.

Clerks to the Justice Committee were quizzed on the content of Mr Yousaf’s claims in relation to no new evidence.

In response, a Justice Committee clerk told the petitioner: “Your submission was publicly available to the Scottish Government to refer to, before the Cabinet Secretary provided the letter dated 3 April”

It has also emerged the Lord President – Lord Carloway, and others including the Law Society of Scotland, Faculty of Advocates, Crown Office and others have refused to engage with the Justice Committee’s call for views on creating a register of judges’ interests.

A clerk for the Justice Committee informed the petitioner: “Before the Committee last considered your petition on 5 February, clerks approached those who have previously given evidence to the Public Petitions Committee to ask if they had anything to add to their previous submissions.”

“We approached the Lord President, the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, the Law Society of Scotland, the Faculty of Advocates, the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service and the Judicial Complaints Reviewer. Only the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service responded, stating that they had nothing to add”

Mr Yousaf’s letter of 3 April 2019 to the Justice Committee reads as follows:

Thank you for your letter of 20 February seeking my views on the above petition and whether it remains the Scottish Government’s position that a register should not be introduced.

I have given consideration to the matter and I don’t think it is necessary to establish a register of interests. I share the views of both of my predecessors that there are sufficient safeguards in place to ensure the impartiality of the judiciary.

These safeguards are the judicial oath, the statement of principles of judicial ethics and the various rules made under the Judiciary and Courts (Scotland) Act 2008 which concern complaints about the judiciary and judicial conduct.

I note that no further evidence has been provided to the Justice Committee that strengthens the arguments already put forward in favour of the introduction of the register.

However, the “the various rules made under the Judiciary and Courts (Scotland) Act 2008 which concern complaints about the judiciary and judicial conduct” – which include the post of Judicial Complaints Reviewer – remain unchanged since Scotland’s first JCR – Moi Ali gave evidence to the Public Petitions  Committee during 2013.

And, during her time as Judicial Complaints Reviewer – Moi Ali requested increated powers from the Scottish Government – to give the office of JCR a more formidable and independent oversight role on complaints against judges – only to be turned down by the then Justice Secretary – Kenny MacAskill.

The request by Moi Ali to increase powers of the Judicial Complaints Reviewer ws reported here: Scottish Government urged to give more powers to Judicial Complaints Reviewer as MSPs hear lack of judicial scrutiny undermines public confidence in justice system

An earlier letter of 22 April 2014 from Kenny MacAskill – who was Justice Secretary from 17 May 2007 until ‘stepping down’ sacked from the post on 21 November 2014 – to David Stewart MSP – then Convener of the Public Petitions Committee reads as follows:

Thank you for your letter of 6 March 2014 regarding the above Public Petition. I apologise for the delay in responding.

You ask whether the Scottish Government will review its position on whether members of the judiciary ought to register their interests. I note the evidence the Committee has gathered on this issue and, in particular, the arguments presented by the Judicial Complaints Reviewer (JCR) that a register of interests would increase transparency and public trust in the judiciary.

The JCR considers that there is merit in a register of interests for members of the judiciary. I do not think it necessary to establish such a register. I continue to be of the view that there are already sufficient safeguards in place to ensure the impartiality of the judiciary.

These have been set out in previous correspondence and comprise the judicial oath, the Statement of Principles of Judicial Ethics and the rules made under the 2008 Act. I do not consider that the case has been made that these existing safeguards are not effective.

It is of note, that after being kicked from the post of Justice Secretary – Kenny MacAskill ended up on the same Public Petitions Committee which was considering the petition calling for a register of judicial interests.

And, during a hearing of the Petitions Committee on 1 December 2015 – MacAskill – by now devoid of Ministerial rank – suggested calling the new Lord President – who was yet to be publicly identified at the time due to the appointments process – but was known to be Lord Carloway (Colin Sutherland)

The post of Lord President – with a salary of £220K per year – became vacant after Lord Brian Gill unexpectedly walked out of the top judicial post in May 2015 – giving only 30 days notice he intended to quit.

The 1 December 2015 hearing was reported in more detail here : EVIDENCE, M’LORD: Scotland’s next top judge to be asked to give evidence in Scottish Parliament’s probe on secretive world of undeclared judicial wealth, interests & judges’ links to big business

Video footage of Mr MacAskill at the Public Petitions Committee in that meeting can be found here:

Petition PE1458 Register of Interests for Judges Public Petitions Committee Holyrood 1 Dec 2015

Judiciary (Register of Interests) (PE1458) 1 December 2015

The Convener: Our next petition is PE1458, by Peter Cherbi, on the creation of a register of interests for members of Scotland’s judiciary. Members have a note on the committee’s previous consideration of the petition and the submissions from the petitioner.

Do members have any comments?

Kenny MacAskill: We have heard from the previous Lord President and I think that we should hear from the new Lord President, whoever he is likely to be—I do not think that there is a “she” on the shortlist. That appointment is likely to be made in the next week or so, so there is still time for him to appear before us.

The Convener: In that case, we will write to the new Lord President, as we said that we would.

Decision: The Committee agreed to write to the new Lord President once appointed.

PETITION – A REGISTER OF JUDGES’ INTERESTS

The Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee are currently investigating calls for a probe of Judicial Recusals, as part of their work on considering Petition PE1458: Register of Interests for members of Scotland’s judiciary.

The proposal, first debated at the Scottish Parliament’s Public Petitions Committee in January 2013 – calls for the creation of a publicly available register of judicial interests – containing information on judges’ backgrounds, figures relating to personal wealth, undeclared earnings, business & family connections inside & outside of the legal profession, membership of organisations, property and land, offshore investments, hospitality, details on recusals and other information routinely lodged in registers of interest across all walks of public life in the UK and around the world.

Previous articles on the lack of transparency within Scotland’s judiciary, investigations including reports from the media, and video footage of debates at the Scottish Parliament’s Public Petitions Committee and Justice Committee work in  relation to creating a Register of Judges’ Interests – can be found here : A Register of Interests for Scotland’s Judiciary.

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JUDICIAL REGISTER: Justice Committee investigate approach to judges’ interests in other countries – MSPs say ‘Recusals register not comprehensive enough’ ‘Openness & transparency do not contradict independence of the judiciary’

Justice Committee continues probe on Judges’ interests. A SEVEN YEAR probe by two committees of the Scottish Parliament – on cross party supported proposal to create a Register of Judges’ Interests – has called for views on how other jurisdictions tackle both judicial recusals and methods of declarations of judicial interests.

During discussions between members of Holyrood’s Justice Committee on Petition PE1458: Register of Interests for members of Scotland’s judiciary, MSPs expressed the view that openness and transaprency – which the register of judges’ interests petition seeks to create – does  not contradict the independence of the judiciary.

Daniel Johnson MSP stated: “As was the case when we considered the petition previously, I think that there are reasons to examine it. In everything that I say, I bear in mind our duty to uphold the independence of the judiciary, but I do not believe that openness and transparency contradict that.”

Another Justice Committee MSP also expressed views on the completeness of the current Register of Recusals – a register of conflicts of interest which was created by ex Lord President Brian Gill during April 2014 – in response to the petition.

John Finnie MSP said: “I fully endorse Daniel Johnson’s view, and particularly the comment about independence. However, there is an obvious tension here. There is a public expectation—it is not unreasonable, in my view—that there should be no conflicts of interest. Our papers refer to the recusal register, but that does not seem comprehensive enough to me.”

While no reference was made to new evidence submitted to the Justice Committee, documenting work by serving Scottish judges in the Gulf States, a full submission by the petitioner to the Committee can be read in the previous report on Justice Committee work on the petition, here: MSPs urged to take forward SEVEN year petition to create a Register of Judges’ Interests as Holyrood Justice Committee handed evidence of Scottish Judges serving in Gulf states regimes known to abuse Human Rights

The lengthy Scottish Parliament probe on judicial interests has generated over sixty two submissions of evidence, at least twenty one Committee hearings, a private meeting and fifteen speeches by MSPs during a full Holyrood debate and has since been taken over by Holyrood’s Justice Committee after a recommendation to take the issue forward from the Public Petitions Committee in March 2018.

The proposal, first debated at the Scottish Parliament’s Public Petitions Committee in January 2013 – calls for the creation of a publicly available register of judicial interests – containing information on judges’ backgrounds, figures relating to personal wealth, undeclared earnings, business & family connections inside & outside of the legal profession, membership of organisations, property and land, offshore investments, hospitality, details on recusals and other information routinely lodged in registers of interest across all walks of public life in the UK and around the world.

The move to create a register of judicial interests enjoys cross party support, backing in the media, and crucial support from two of Scotland’s Judicial Complaints Reviewers – including Moi Ali

Moi Ali – who served as Scotland’s first Judicial Complaints Reviewer (JCR) – appeared before the Public Petitions Committee in a hard hitting evidence session during September 2013,and gave full sypport to the proposals calling for the creation of a register of judicial interests.– reported here: Judicial Complaints Reviewer tells MSPs judges should register their interests like others in public life.

Petition PE1458 Register of Interests for Judges Scottish Parliament Justice Committee 5 Feb 2019

Judiciary (Register of Interests) (PE1458)

The Convener (Margaret Mitchell Central Scotland Scottish Conservatives) :  Agenda item 4 is consideration of two petitions. I refer members to paper 4, which is a note by the clerk, and paper 5, which is a private paper. Paragraph 5 of paper 4 provides the options that are available to the committee when it considers petitions.

The first petition that the committee will consider is PE1458, by Peter Cherbi, on a register of interests for members of Scotland’s judiciary. The petition calls on the Scottish Parliament

“to urge the Scottish Government to create a Register of Pecuniary Interests of Judges Bill (as is currently being considered in New Zealand’s Parliament) or amend present legislation to require all members of the Judiciary in Scotland to submit their interests & hospitality received to a publicly available Register of Interests.”

This is the committee’s third consideration of the petition. I refer members to annex A of paper 4, which details the response that was received from the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service. The committee is asked to consider what, if any, further action it wishes to undertake in relation to the petition. The options available include: keeping the petition open; keeping it open and taking additional action, such as writing to the cabinet secretary and/or others; or closing the petition. I seek members’ views.

Daniel Johnson (Edinburgh Southern) (Lab): As was the case when we considered the petition previously, I think that there are reasons to examine it. In everything that I say, I bear in mind our duty to uphold the independence of the judiciary, but I do not believe that openness and transparency contradict that. The Public Petitions Committee took evidence on the issue, but that was some time ago—I believe that it was in 2013—so I wonder whether the committee might want to pull together information regarding how other countries approach the issue. Given that we have a new Cabinet Secretary for Justice, we could perhaps also request his views on the matter.

John Finnie (Highlands and Islands) (Green): I fully endorse Daniel Johnson’s view, and particularly the comment about independence. However, there is an obvious tension here. There is a public expectation—it is not unreasonable, in my view—that there should be no conflicts of interest. Our papers refer to the recusal register, but that does not seem comprehensive enough to me. I agree with the proposal that we should find out about the approach in other countries, particularly New Zealand, as that would be helpful.

Rona Mackay (Strathkelvin and Bearsden) (SNP): I totally agree with Daniel Johnson and John Finnie. More information would be helpful. It is an important issue, and transparency has to be key.

Daniel Johnson: For information, I point out that the bill on the issue that was before the New Zealand Parliament was either withdrawn or defeated, but I understand that a register exists in other jurisdictions. I think that Norway has been mentioned.

The Convener (Margaret Mitchell): Clearly, there are huge issues at stake, and a fine balance has to be struck. I would like to know a little more about how the recusal code or policy works. When a conflict of interest is declared, how much detail is recorded and is it in the public domain? It would be good to look at that.

I get the impression from members that they would like to at least explore legislation in other countries. Norway has been mentioned. New Zealand did not proceed with the proposals, but it would perhaps be good to look at what was said there. As Daniel Johnson rightly points out, we have a new cabinet secretary, so it would be good to seek his views.

Are members content to progress by doing those three things?

Members indicated agreement.

The Justice Committee hearing on Petition PE1458 was also reported in the National newspaper here:

Seventh year of register or judges interests petition

By Martin Hannan Journalist  07 Feb 2019

The committee will also seek the views of Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf

FOR nearly one third of the entire lifetime of the Scottish Parliament, MSPs have been discussing the petition put forward by law journalist and campaigner Peter Cherbi calling for a register of judges’ interests.

Now in its seventh year of consideration, the petition calls on the Scottish Parliament “to urge the Scottish Government to create a Register of Pecuniary Interests of Judges Bill … or amend present legislation to require all members of the Judiciary in Scotland to submit their interests and hospitality received to a publicly available Register of Interests.”

In the latest development, Holyrood’s Justice Committee has decided to call for more evidence after the Petitions Committee referred the case to them. John Finnie, Highland MSP for the Greens, said: “There is a public expectation – it is not unreasonable, in my view – that there should be no conflicts of interest.”

The committee will also seek the views of Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf.

As a result of the petition, the Scottish judiciary now keep a register of recusals, when a judge or sheriff steps aside from a case.

Cherbi commented: “It does somehow feel like the six years of work from the Public Petitions Committee (PPC) should be put to better use, and work should now begin on creating the register rather than repeating the evidence exercise.

“Seven years is a long time for a petition on transparency, especially one calling for a register of judicial interests to the equivalent or higher standard of the same register which MSPs are required to adhere to.

“I feel we must now move on and take the good work of MSPs on the PPC to bring this register into existence,” he added.

Previously, on the Register of Judicial Interests Petition –

A video report of the Public Petitions Committee backing for the petition can be viewed online here: Petition PE 1458 Register of Judicial Interests Public Petitions Committee 22 March 2018

A full report containing video footage of every hearing, speech, and evidence sessions at the Scottish Parliament on Petition PE1458 can be found here: Scottish Parliament debates, speeches & evidence sessions on widely supported judicial transparency petition calling for a Register of Interests for Scotland’s judiciary.

MSP at Holyrood have previously heard over sixty two submissions of evidence, during twenty one Committee hearings, and a private meeting between two MSPs and a top judge, and two private meetings since early December 2017 to decide a way forward on their six year investigation.

Cross party support for the Petition at the Scottish Parliament saw fifteen speeches by MSPs during a full Holyrood debate spanning from 2012 to 2018.

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

Scotland’s second Judicial Complaints Reviewer Gillian Thompson OBE also supported  the petition and the creation of a register of judicial interests during an evidence session at Holyrood in June 2015.

Video footage and a full report on Lord Brian Gill giving evidence to the Scottish Parliament in November 2015 can be found here: JUDGE ANOTHER DAY: Sparks fly as top judge demands MSPs close investigation on judges’ secret wealth & interests – Petitions Committee Chief brands Lord Gill’s evidence as “passive aggression”

Video footage and a full report on Lord Carloway (Colin Sutherland) giving widely criticised evidence to the Scottish Parliament in July 2017 can be found here: REGISTER TO JUDGE: Lord Carloway criticised after he blasts Parliament probe on judicial transparency – Top judge says register of judges’ interests should only be created if judiciary discover scandal or corruption within their own ranks

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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JUDICIAL REGISTER – MSPs urged to take forward SEVEN year petition to create a Register of Judges’ Interests as Holyrood Justice Committee handed evidence of Scottish Judges serving in Gulf states regimes known to abuse Human Rights

MSPs to consider judicial interests call. A PETITION calling for the creation of a Register of Judges’ Interests in Scotland – which is now in it’s SEVENTH year is to be considered by the Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee on Tuesday 5 February 2019.

The latest consideration of Petition PE1458: Register of Interests for members of Scotland’s judiciary comes after members of the Justice Committee initially heard the petition in late September 2018 – with several MSPs supporting the view the petition should be taken forward.

During the Committee’s meeting, John Finnie MSP of the Scottish Greens said: “Future generations will be surprised that we do not have such a register already.”

Daniel Johnson MSP (Scottish Labour) said: “We all need to be mindful that we have a legal duty to uphold the independence of the judiciary, but transparency enhances independence. I very much support the comments that colleagues have made. We should take the petition forward.”

The lengthy Scottish Parliament probe on judicial interests has generated over sixty two submissions of evidence, at least twenty one Committee hearings, a private meeting and fifteen speeches by MSPs during a full Holyrood debate and has since been taken over by Holyrood’s Justice Committee after a recommendation to take the issue forward from the Public Petitions Committee in March 2018.

The proposal, first debated at the Scottish Parliament’s Public Petitions Committee in January 2013 – calls for the creation of a publicly available register of judicial interests – containing information on judges’ backgrounds, figures relating to personal wealth, undeclared earnings, business & family connections inside & outside of the legal profession, membership of organisations, property and land, offshore investments, hospitality, details on recusals and other information routinely lodged in registers of interest across all walks of public life in the UK and around the world.

The move to create a register of judicial interests enjoys cross party support, backing in the media, and crucial support from two of Scotland’s Judicial Complaints Reviewers – including Moi Ali

Moi Ali – who served as Scotland’s first Judicial Complaints Reviewer (JCR) – appeared before the Public Petitions Committee in a hard hitting evidence session during September 2013,and gave full sypport to the proposals calling for the creation of a register of judicial interests.– reported here: Judicial Complaints Reviewer tells MSPs judges should register their interests like others in public life.

Video footage of the Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee’s first consideration of the judciial register petition in September 2018 can be viewed here:

Register of Judicial Interests – Justice Committee Scottish Parliament 25 September 2018

Official Report: Judiciary (Register of Interests) (PE1458)

Margaret Mitchell MSP (Scottish Conservatives) (Convener) : Under item 4, the committee will consider two petitions. I refer members to paper 4, which is a note by the clerk, and paper 5, which is a private paper. The committee is asked to consider and agree what action, if any, it wishes to take in relation to each petition. Possible options are outlined in paragraph 5 of paper 4. I remind members that if they wish to keep a petition open, they should indicate how they would like the committee to take it forward. If they wish to close a petition, they should give reasons. We will consider each petition in the order in which they appear on the agenda.

This is the first time that the committee has considered PE1458. The petition calls on the Scottish Parliament to urge the Scottish Government to introduce a register of pecuniary interests of judges bill, or amend existing legislation, to require all members of the judiciary in Scotland to submit their interests and hospitality received to a publicly available register of interests. Do members have any comments or questions?

John Finnie (Scottish Green Party):  I seem to have mislaid the paper, but from memory there were a number of recommendations around requiring further information. I would support that approach. Future generations will be surprised that we do not have such a register already. We need to be best informed, so I suggest that we get that additional information and consider the petition again.

Rona Mackay (Scottish National Party) :  I agree with my colleague, John Finnie. The Public Petitions Committee believes that a register is not unworkable and recommended it. As John Finnie said, we need to explore the petition further and get as much information as we can so that we can take it forward.

Daniel Johnson (Scottish Labour) : We all need to be mindful that we have a legal duty to uphold the independence of the judiciary, but transparency enhances independence. I very much support the comments that colleagues have made. We should take the petition forward. It makes an awful lot of sense to do exploratory work.

The Convener: Is it the committee’s wish, therefore, that we keep the petition open and seek further information?

Members indicated agreement.

Since the Justice Committee considered the petition last September, there have been explosive revelations in the media in relation to Scottish and UK judges serving in Gulf States regimes and dictatorships, where the same judges are required to swear additional judicial oaths on top of the judicial oaths already sworn in Scotland and the UK.

An exclusive investigation by Investigative Journalist Russell Findlay revealed Scottish judges were serving in Abu Dhabi & UAE courts while serious Human Rights abuses were taking place against British citizens in the same countries.

The report reveals TOP judges are accused of selling the reputation of Scottish justice by working for Middle East countries with toxic human rights records.

Two judges are on the payroll of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) where domestic violence against women is legal and where regime critics are tortured and jailed without trial.

The most senior is Lord Hope of Craighead — Scotland’s former top judge, a member of the House of Lords and ex-deputy president of the UK Supreme Court.

Our investigation found that Lord McGhie has been registered to sit in the UAE for the past two years while he was also dispensing justice at the Court of Session in Edinburgh.

The investigation also reveals how Scottish and UK judges are lured to the UAE, Abu Dhabi, and Qatar with big money salaries are available here: JUDGES FOR SALE: Special investigation into top lawmen being lured with big money jobs in Qatar and the UAE and here: Scottish judges slammed for being on payroll of oppressive regimes abroad

Two weeks ago, the petitioner was contacted and requested to provide a submission for the Justice Committee’s consideration of the petition.

The submission to the Justice Committee took the following form:

Submission re Petition PE1458 – A Register of Interests for Members of Scotland’s Judiciary

In response to the Justice Committee’s initial consideration of this petition, I agree with the decision by members to seek further and additional information to take the petition forward and create a Register of Judicial Interests for members of Scotland’s Judiciary.

I would also like to submit further developments since members last considered the petition, where reports in the media have revealed senior members of Scotland’s judiciary serving in overseas courts, particularly in the Gulf States such as UAE, Abu Dhabi, Qatar, and others.

It should be of interest to members that in the case of Lord McGhie, who is currently listed on the Judiciary of Scotland’s website as Chairman of the Scottish Land Court and President of the Lands Tribunal for Scotland, the biography of Lord McGhie’s interests does not mention the fact he also serves on the Abu Dhabi Global Market Courts.

Of note, the ADGM Court does list Lord McGhie’s service in Scotland as a member of the judiciary, however the Judiciary of Scotland omit all details of Lord McGhie’s overseas judicial service, as can be noted from the two separate judicial biographies forwarded to the Justice Committee,

An investigation by the Sunday Mail newspaper revealed Lord McGhie has been registered to sit in the UAE for the past two years while he was also dispensing justice at the Court of Session in Edinburgh – yet given there is clearly no mention of his service abroad, and the fact Lord McGhie will be subject to a judicial oath in the UAE as well as adhere to his judicial oath in Scotland, clearly a register of Judicial Interests would require information such as this to be published, while currently, the Judicial Office for Scotland does not publish such information.

It would be useful for the Justice Committee to make enquiries as to the two separate judicial oaths and terms of service which Lord McGhie is subject to, here in Scotland, and in the United Arab Emirates, as clearly, such information should be present in a publicly available Register of Judicial Interests.

The dual service of Scottish judges in overseas jurisdictions, including the Gulf States should be further examined, in the light of the published reports and significant public interest in the cases of lawyer David Haigh, where a Scottish Sheriff accepted Mr Haigh’s account of Human Rights abuses, and torture in Dubai, and the case of Matthew Hedges – held for five months without explanation, then charged with, and found guilty on allegations of espionage.

In recent enquiries with the Judicial Office for Scotland, I have noted there are no recusals by Justices of the Peace since the guidance on recusals was extended to JPs as of January 2018.

However, since Tribunal members interests were added to the recusals register, recusals jumped from around 20 a year to 49 in the past year.

The lack of recusals for Justices of the Peace, who number around 450 and comprise the highest proportion in terms of numbers of Scotland’s judiciary, are worthy of scrutiny, particularly as the Scottish Justices Association have expressed negative sentiments towards reform and transparency in the past, notably in the case of media reports in relation to overseas trips by Justices of the Peace, which are covered in a Sunday Herald investigation forwarded with this submission.

As part of the further information which the Justice Committee may wish to seek on judicial conflicts of interest, I would suggest making enquiries to the Judicial Office on how the guidance on recusals is being implemented, and how far down the line it goes, for instance, in selection and subsequent training of judicial office holders prior to their service on the bench and how such guidance plays a role in every day court proceedings.

The Register of Recusals is available for inspection online http://www.scotland-judiciary.org.uk/68/0/Judicial-Recusals

I also suggest members study the Norway model of a register of judicial interests https://www.domstol.no/en/The-Courts-of-Justice/The-ordinary-courts-of-Norway/Dommeres-sidegjoremal/ and how such a model, with enhancements could be created for Scotland’s judiciary.

From the report of the Justice Committee’s initial consideration of the petition, I agree with the support expressed by members for progressing the petition from Rona Mackay, Daniel Johnson, and John Finnie MSP who stated “Future generations will be surprised that we do not have such a register already.”

The Scottish Parliament, by way of the Public Petitions Committee, MSPs during the full debate in October 2014 and now the Justice Committee have amassed a level of information and submissions on this petition which should go forward in the public interest to create a Registrar of Judicial Interests – and apply the same level of transparency for members of the judiciary, which already exists for all other branches of the Executive and those in public life.

However, the above submission was initially rejected, by a Scottish Parliament clerk – who claimed there was no existing biography for Lord McGhie on the Judiciary of Scotland’s website, and that Lord McGhie was in-fact retired.

The clerk was challenged on his claims after journalists confirmed the existence of the biography for Lord McGhie remained on the Judicial Office website – and that Lord McGhie had in-fact sat as recently as 2018 on cases in the Court of Session, sitting alongside Lady Paton and Lord Drummond Young.

Journalist Peter Cherbi tweeted out the sequence of his findings on twitter, here: Twitter – Content of Judicial Service Bio of Lord McGhie questioned

The clerk, who has since been identified as Seán Wixted – did not reply to the petitioner’s information confirming the existence of the biography of Lord McGhie, nor was any response given as to why court opinions also show Lord McGhie sitting in court, despite the clerk’s claim the judge was retired.

A revised submission to the Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee contained the following substitute paragraphs:

It would be useful for the Justice Committee to make enquiries in relation to members of Scotland’s judiciary who serve in overseas jurisdictions and details in relation to the two separate judicial oaths and terms of service which judges swear to, in jurisdictions such as the United Arab Emirates and here in Scotland, as clearly, such information should be present in a publicly available Register of Judicial Interests.

The dual service of Scottish judges in overseas jurisdictions, including the Gulf States should be further examined, in the light recent media coverage of the dual service of Scottish judges and significant public interest in such cases.

and added the following suggestion MSPs experienced in the petition should be asked for evidence:

Lastly, and noting the recommendations listed in papers for members consideration of this petition on Tuesday 5 February 2019, I would like to request the Justice Committee invite members of the Public Petitions Committee to give evidence to the Justice Committee on this petition, given the PPC’s six years of experience, dedication and exceptional work on this petition, which has accumulated significant evidence, testimony and backing from all sections of the community in favour of creating a Register of Judicial Interests for members of Scotland’s judiciary.

It was further noted in emails provided to the media the petitioner was not allowed to inform MSPs of the clerk’s demand the submission was edited at the request of the Committee’s own clerk, Mr Wixted.

Previously, on the Register of Judicial Interests Petition –

A video report of the Public Petitions Committee backing for the petition can be viewed online here: Petition PE 1458 Register of Judicial Interests Public Petitions Committee 22 March 2018

A full report containing video footage of every hearing, speech, and evidence sessions at the Scottish Parliament on Petition PE1458 can be found here: Scottish Parliament debates, speeches & evidence sessions on widely supported judicial transparency petition calling for a Register of Interests for Scotland’s judiciary.

MSP at Holyrood have previously heard over sixty two submissions of evidence, during twenty one Committee hearings, and a private meeting between two MSPs and a top judge, and two private meetings since early December 2017 to decide a way forward on their six year investigation.

Cross party support for the Petition at the Scottish Parliament saw fifteen speeches by MSPs during a full Holyrood debate spanning from 2012 to 2018.

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

Scotland’s second Judicial Complaints Reviewer Gillian Thompson OBE also supported  the petition and the creation of a register of judicial interests during an evidence session at Holyrood in June 2015.

Video footage and a full report on Lord Brian Gill giving evidence to the Scottish Parliament in November 2015 can be found here: JUDGE ANOTHER DAY: Sparks fly as top judge demands MSPs close investigation on judges’ secret wealth & interests – Petitions Committee Chief brands Lord Gill’s evidence as “passive aggression”

Video footage and a full report on Lord Carloway (Colin Sutherland) giving widely criticised evidence to the Scottish Parliament in July 2017 can be found here: REGISTER TO JUDGE: Lord Carloway criticised after he blasts Parliament probe on judicial transparency – Top judge says register of judges’ interests should only be created if judiciary discover scandal or corruption within their own ranks

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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THE UNRECUSED: Mystery as 450 Justices of the Peace fail to register one single recusal in a full year after conflict of interest rules change for Scotland’s secretive army of lay magistrates

Justices of the Peace listed no recusals in court. CONCERNS are being expressed that Justices of the Peace are unwilling to declare conflicts of interest in court proceedings – after it emerged NOT ONE of Scotland’s Four Hundred and Fifty Justices of the Peace recused themselves from court proceedings in the past year – according to

The revelation comes after the Judicial Office for Scotland was quizzed on the lack of any registered recusal by a Justice of the Peace in the published Register of Recusals available on the Judiciary of Scotland website here: Judicial Recusals – Judiciary of Scotland.

In response to media enquiries the Judicial Office admitted it had not been informed of any recusal motion by any of Scotland’s Justices of the Peace.

The Judicial Office said: “We have received no notification of a JP recusing themselves from a case since the guidance came into force, which was in January 2018”

In response to further enquries for information relationg to any refusals of Justices of the Peace to recuse, the Judicial Office stated: “We are to be informed if a formal motion for recusal is granted or refused, or if the Judicial Office holder decides at their own accord to recuse.  Nothing has yet been reported to us.”

The worrying admission from Scotland’s top judges of their lower ranking colleagues failure to declare any conflicts of interest – comes after a solicitor suggested Justices of the Peace are unwilling or are refusing to declare what are known to be numerous conflicts of interest.

The statistics of not one single recusal by Justices of the Peace – who vastly outnumber Sheriffs, Judges of the High Court and Court of Session – have raised eyebrows in legal circles – after the steep increase in published judicial recusals from around 20 a year to 49 resulted after a change in recusal guidance last year – which saw requirements placed on tribunal members to register conflicts of interest.

Further enqiuries to legal sources have established there is some reticence on the part of Justices of the Peace to comply with the new guidance on recusals.

Speaking on condition of anonymity – a solicitor who has represented clients in relation to cases with troubling outcomes – heard by a Justice of the Peace with a known history of failing to address issues in the JP court – commented that he felt Justices of the Peace were not respecting requirements to list or declare their conflicts of interest.

The solicitor added that – particularly if someone is unrepresented before a JP court, there is little incentive for court clerks or the Justice of the Peace themselves to recuse themselves – given there is currently no fully published Register of Judicial Interests in Scotland.

Guidance requiring Justices of the Peace to declare conflicts of interest and recuse themselves from court hearings came into force in 2018 after calls for JPs to be brought into line with rules of recusals which apply to the remainder of Scotland’s judiciary.

This guidance was created after reports on Diary of Injustice here: DECLARE YOUR JUSTICE: Judicial Office consults with Lord Carloway on including Justices of the Peace in Register of Judicial Recusals – as questions surface over Lord Gill’s omission of 500 JPs from judicial transparency probe.

A report in the Scottish National newspaper in 2017 also featured the calls for JPs to register recusals, which can be viewed here: Campaigner calls on Scotland’s top judge to extend register of recusals.

The remainder of Scotland’s judiciary – currently headed by Lord Carloway (Colin Sutherland) – have been required from April 2014 to recuse themselves from court hearings in which a potential conflict of interest may emerge, the Register of Recusals.

However, and curiously – the numerically superior force of Justices of the Peace were excluded from the Register of Recusals, created by Lord Brian Gill in April 2014 as a response to a probe by the Scottish Parliament into a petition calling for a fully published Register of Judicial Interests:

There has never been an explanation offered by Lord Gill, or his successor Lord Carloway – for the exclusion of Justices of the Peace from the Register of Recusals when it was created five years ago after the then Lord President Brian Gill, attempted to thwart what became a six year Parliamentary probe by the Public Petitions Committee into Judicial Interests – Petition PE1458: Register of Interests for members of Scotland’s judiciary.

The proposal, first debated at the Scottish Parliament’s Public Petitions Committee in January 2013 – calls for the creation of a publicly available register of judicial interests – containing information on judges’ backgrounds, figures relating to personal wealth, undeclared earnings, business & family connections inside & outside of the legal profession, membership of organisations, property and land, offshore investments, hospitality, details on recusals and other information routinely lodged in registers of interest across all walks of public life in the UK and around the world.

The move to create a register of judicial interests enjoys cross party support from a full debate at Holryood in October 2014.

The petition has generated over sixty two submissions of evidence, twenty one Committee hearings, a private meeting and fifteen speeches by MSPs during a full Holyrood debate.

The investigation by MSPs of the proposal to create a Register of Judicial Interests – now in it’s seventh year – has since been taken over by the Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee – and is due to be heard again on 5 February 2019.

Justices of the Peace resited scrutiny of junkets – demanded cull of whistleblowers:

It has also emerged that bitter divisions within the Scottish Justices Association – which saw ‘hysteria’ by senior figures in the Justice of the Peace courts against the Sunday Herald – after the paperreported on numerous publicly funded junkets for Justices of the Peace to New Zealand  and around the world – have similarly been expressed in private against the  new requirements of Justices of the Peace to reveal their conflicts of interest.

The Sunday Herald reported on the junkets for Justices of the Peace here: Justices of the Peace group under fire for latest ‘junket’

A further article in the Sunday Herald in relation to troubles at the Scottish Justices Association – after the Sunday Herald exposed the JP junkets – is reprinted below:

Mole-hunts and mass culls … justices of the peace accused of ‘borderline hysteria’ after junket exposé

By TOM GORDON Sunday Herald 1 November 2015

THE Scottish Justices Association has been accused of “borderline hysteria” after proposing a mass cull of potential whistleblowers after being repeatedly criticised for overseas junkets.

The taxpayer-funded justice quango, which represents the country’s 400 justices of the peace, is considering axing its entire board as part of an extreme mole-hunt.

The idea was proposed after the Sunday Herald revealed SJA chair John Lawless was going on a five-day, £3,500 conference trip to New Zealand in September.

The Glasgow and Strathkelvin JP had previously been to conferences in Malaysia and Uganda in 2011 and 2012 at a total cost of £3,800.

When the Sunday Herald enquired about his latest jaunt, outgoing SJA secretary Keith Parkes sent a furious email to the organisation’s executive committee.

“The leak to the press should be considered a very serious breach of judicial ethics,” he said, recommending an immediate report to a senior judge.”

Parkes, who sits as a JP in Perth, suggested a complete clear-out of the SJA hierarchy.

“I consider that … the whole of the SJA executive committee should resign with immediate effect with new elections … where no current members would be allowed to stand.”

Parkes is expected to raise the matter at the SJA’s annual general meeting later this month.

Last year, the Sunday Herald revealed how Parkes, a former RAF pilot, sparked a row inside the SJA by going on a £3,000, five-day justice conference to Zambia.

Even some of his fellow SJA board members denounced the Commonwealth Magistrates’ and Judges’ Association (CMJA) event as a “junket” and a “gross misuse of public funds”.

Held at the opulent Zambezi Sun Hotel next to Victoria Falls, the conference’s entire last day was set aside for sightseeing.

This year’s CMJA conference in the New Zealand capital Wellington, which Lawless attended, included two evening receptions, a “gala dinner”, and another full day’s sightseeing.

Although SJA bosses attending conferences are expected to write reports to enlighten their fellow JPs about the discussions, these have often been minimal in the past.

In 2008, two JPs at a CMJA conference in South Africa costing £4,227 produced “rather short reports that concentrated on their personal impressions of Nelson Mandela rather than what had been said at the conference”, according to a leak – one report was just 250 words long.

Lawless’s reports on his Malaysia and Uganda trips ran to 700 and 600 words respectively.

The SJA, which has a budget of around £18,000 a year, is entirely funded by the public purse.

Independent MSP John Wilson, who has previously queried the SJA’s spending priorities, said the idea of replacing the entire executive was “borderline hysteria”.

“This is a complete over-reaction,” he said. “It’s just because they’ve been named and shamed. The issue is not moles. It’s junkets when the court service is underfunded and overworked.” Lawless declined to comment.The issue is not moles. It’s junkets when the court service is underfunded and overworked;

_________________________________

BACKGROUND – JUSTICES OF THE PEACE:

Justices of the peace are lay magistrates who sit with a legally qualified adviser to deal with summary criminal cases.

There are around 450 justices, who are drawn from all walks of life.

Justices sit either alone or on a treble bench and deal with many driving offences such as speeding, careless driving, tachograph offences and driving without insurance.

They also deal with less serious assault, breach of the peace, theft and other less serious crimes. Their powers of punishment are limited to 60 days’ imprisonment or a fine of up to £2,500 or both and to disqualify drivers on a discretionary basis.

The office of Justice of the Peace dates back to 1609, originally involving administrative, policing and judicial functions. The current justice of the peace courts were created in 2007 to replace district courts, which were operated by local authorities.

The Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service is now responsible for the administration of Justice of the Peace courts, which are organised by sheriffdom rather than local authority area. Throughout their history, justices have remained lay people, dispensing criminal justice on a local basis.

Justices are appointed by Scottish Ministers for five-year periods on the recommendation of Justice of the Peace Advisory Committees.Portree.

 

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JUDICIAL REGISTER: ‘Judges should register their interests’ says former Judicial Investigator – as Holyrood Justice Committee set to consider SIX YEARS of work, evidence and backing from MSPs & Public Petitions Committee

Scottish Parliament probe judicial interests & register proposal. A SIX YEAR Scottish Parliament probe into Petition PE1458: Register of Interests for members of Scotland’s judiciary which generated over sixty two submissions of evidence, twenty one Committee hearings, a private meeting and fifteen speeches by MSPs during a full Holyrood debate – is set to be looked at by Holyrood’s Justice Committee, tomorrow – Tuesday 25 September.

The proposal, first debated at the Scottish Parliament’s Public Petitions Committee in January 2013 – calls for the creation of a publicly available register of judicial interests – containing information on judges’ backgrounds, figures relating to personal wealth, undeclared earnings, business & family connections inside & outside of the legal profession, membership of organisations, property and land, offshore investments, hospitality, details on recusals and other information routinely lodged in registers of interest across all walks of public life in the UK and around the world.

The move to create a register of judicial interests enjoys cross party support from a full debate at Holryood in October 2014.

Now, members of the Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee are set to look at the proposals, already backed by many MSPs and the Public Petitions Committee.

Recommendations for action by Justice Committee members – listed in papers for Tuesday’s meeting include the following options:

5. Once a petition has been referred to a subject Committee it is for the Committee to decide how, or if, it wishes to take the petition forward. Among options open to the Committee are to: Keep the petition open and write to the Scottish Government or other stakeholders seeking their views on what the petition is calling for, or views on further information to have emerged over the course of considering the petition; Keep the petition open and take oral evidence from the petitioner, from relevant stakeholders or from the Scottish Government; Keep the petition open and await the outcome of a specific piece of work, such as a consultation or piece of legislation before deciding what to do next; Close the petition on the grounds that the Scottish Government has made its position clear, or that the Scottish Government has made some or all of the changes requested by the petition, or that the Committee, after due consideration, has decided it does not support the petition;

The Committee may wish to consider what action, if any, it would like to take in  relation to the petition. Possible options are set out at paragraph 5 above. If this is an issue that the Committee would like to explore further, it may wish to consider writing to those listed at paragraph 9 to ask whether they had anything to add to their earlier contributions. It could also seek more information on the Norwegian model, and then obtain an updated briefing from SPICe.

Included also in the Committee papers are submissions from the Petitioner, and Moi Ali – Scotland’s first Judicial Complaints Reviewer – who gave evidence to the Public Petitions Committee in September 2013, supporting the petition’s calls for the creation of a register of judicial interests.

The submission from Moi Ali reads as follows:

This brief submission to the Justice Committee relates to its consideration of a proposal to implement a register of interests for the judiciary. I am writing as an ordinary citizen, but my submission is informed by my experience as Scotland’s first Judicial Complaints Reviewer (JCR).

In that previous role I gave evidence to the Petitions Committee in support of a register of interests.

Although now writing in a private capacity, I have served on public boards for nearly two decades and as a Board Member I have (rightly) been required to complete a register of interests for each role, to provide assurance to the public that my dealings are not motivated by money, family connections or friendships.

The Justice Committee members who will take the decision on a register of interests, as MSPs must publish their interests too.

It is time that the judiciary joined the rest of those in public life in taking this small, simple step to improve transparency and accountability, thereby enhancing their own reputation in the process.

I have long campaigned for greater transparency in public life, yet in my role as JCR I occasionally found the judiciary to be needlessly secretive.

I am not suggesting that there was anything to hide, but a failure to be transparent inevitably left the public with whom I dealt feeling suspicious.

I will not rehearse the arguments in favour of a register of interests: they are well known.

However, I would emphasise that although opposed by the judiciary, it is in their own interests as well as the public interest that there be a register of interests.

I would like to conclude by reiterating my respect for the judiciary and the essential work that they undertake. Judicial independence is vital to a democracy, but with independence goes accountability. A register of interests is a mechanism for enhancing accountability. Ms Moi Ali 18 September 2018

In March of this year, after lengthy deliberations & evidence,  the Scottish Parliament’s Public Petitions Committee backed the petition calling for the creation of a register of interests, and concluded the proposal to increase judicial transparency – should become law.

On Thursday, 22 March 2018, the Public Petitions Committee of the Scottish Parliament held it’s 25th hearing on Petition PE1458: Register of Interests for members of Scotland’s judiciary.

Members of the Committee concluded that such a register should be introduced into law – and cast aside arguments put forward by two top judges that such a register was “unworkable

Petitions Committee Convener Johann Lamont MSP (Scottish Labour) said: “In the course of our consideration of the petition, positive developments have occurred—most notably the introduction and further development of a register of judicial recusals. The register brings welcome transparency to instances where a judge may decide, or be requested, to decline to hear a particular case. “

“The committee particularly welcomes the recent agreement of the Lord President to expand the information that is captured in the register. However, the core action that was requested by the petition was the establishment of a register of financial interests.”

“We have given much thought to this request, hearing views both for and against such a register. Having taken those arguments into account, the committee has concluded that a register of financial interests is not unworkable, and it is the view of this committee that such a register should be introduced.”

Deputy Convener Angus MacDonald MSP (Scottish National Party) added: “This is another long-running petition, having been live since December 2012—for as long as I have been on the committee. It was originally based on a similar move in New Zealand, which was subsequently withdrawn.”

“Along with a wide range of back benchers from across the political spectrum, I spoke in favour of the introduction of a register of interests during a debate in the chamber in the previous session. It is clear to me that we need to ensure transparency and openness in public life as well as ensuring that people can have confidence in those holding public office. I believe that a register of interests along the lines of the system operating in Norway, which I have looked at, is the way to go. However, I am aware that the committee as a whole has not taken a view on that.”

“The petition has already secured a result, which you have referred to, with the introduction of a register of recusals, which was brought into effect in April 2014, directly as a result of this petition. You also referred to the fact that the current Lord President, Lord Carloway, has agreed to extend the scope of the register of recusals.”

“I would be keen for the Scottish Government and the Judicial Office for Scotland to do some further work on the introduction on the introduction of a register of financial interests. However, as you have suggested as possibly being the way forward, in the first instance we should refer the petition to the Justice Committee to allow it to move the issue forward.”

The Petitions Committee have since written to the Justice Secretary Michael Matheson, and Lord Carloway.

When responses are received, MSPs will consider further action.

Video footage and a transcript of the Public Petitions Committee hearing follows:

Petition PE 1458 Register of Judicial Interests Public Petitions Committee 22 March 2018

Judiciary (Register of Interests) (PE1458):

The Convener:  The next petition, PE1458, calls for the introduction of a register of interests for members of Scotland’s judiciary. As members will recall, we have previously agreed to write to the Lord President and the Cabinet Secretary for Justice, and have considered a draft letter at previous meetings. The petition has received much consideration since it was lodged in 2012. I express my gratitude to the petitioner for raising the issue and to all those who have engaged in discussions on the issues that are raised in the petition, including the Lord President, Lord Carloway, and his predecessor, Lord Gill.

In the course of our consideration of the petition, positive developments have occurred—most notably the introduction and further development of a register of judicial recusals. The register brings welcome transparency to instances where a judge may decide, or be requested, to decline to hear a particular case. The committee particularly welcomes the recent agreement of the Lord President to expand the information that is captured in the register. However, the core action that was requested by the petition was the establishment of a register of financial interests. We have given much thought to this request, hearing views both for and against such a register. Having taken those arguments into account, the committee has concluded that a register of financial interests is not unworkable, and it is the view of this committee that such a register should be introduced.

In reaching that view, the committee is very clear that it does not consider there to be a basis for any suggestion of corruption in respect of Scotland’s judiciary or of inappropriate influences on judicial decision making. Rather, it is the view that we have reached, based on the principles of transparency and openness in public life. While that is the view of this committee, we also understand that the Lord President and the Scottish Government have indicated they do not support the introduction of a register.

Would it be appropriate for us to invite the Justice Committee to consider the petition in light of our recommendation? Would members be content to write to the Lord President and the Scottish Government setting out our view and to refer the petition to the Justice Committee for its consideration? Do members have any comments?

Angus MacDonald (Falkirk East) (SNP): This is another long-running petition, having been live since December 2012—for as long as I have been on the committee. It was originally based on a similar move in New Zealand, which was subsequently withdrawn. Along with a wide range of back benchers from across the political spectrum, I spoke in favour of the introduction of a register of interests during a debate in the chamber in the previous session. It is clear to me that we need to ensure transparency and openness in public life as well as ensuring that people can have confidence in those holding public office. I believe that a register of interests along the lines of the system operating in Norway, which I have looked at, is the way to go. However, I am aware that the committee as a whole has not taken a view on that.

The petition has already secured a result, which you have referred to, with the introduction of a register of recusals, which was brought into effect in April 2014, directly as a result of this petition. You also referred to the fact that the current Lord President, Lord Carloway, has agreed to extend the scope of the register of recusals.

I would be keen for the Scottish Government and the Judicial Office for Scotland to do some further work on the introduction on the introduction of a register of financial interests. However, as you have suggested as possibly being the way forward, in the first instance we should refer the petition to the Justice Committee to allow it to move the issue forward.

Rona Mackay: I broadly agree with what my colleague has said. That is a natural way forward for the petition. I do not think that we can take it any further, given the history that we have just heard. I think that it is sensible to send it to the Justice Committee for its consideration.

The Convener:  Do we agree to write to the Lord President and the Scottish Government setting out our view and to refer the petition to the Justice Committee for its consideration?

Members indicated agreement.

Decision: PE1458 by Peter Cherbi on Register of Interests for members of Scotland’s judiciary. The Committee agreed to write to the Lord President and the Scottish Government setting out its view that a register of interests should be introduced and to refer the petition to the Justice Committee, under Rule 15.6.2 of Standing Orders, for its consideration.

The judicial interests petition – filed at Holyrood in October 2012 and first debated at the Scottish Parliament’s Public Petitions Committee in January 2013 – calls for the creation of a publicly available register of judicial interests – containing information on judges’ backgrounds, figures relating to personal wealth, undeclared earnings, business & family connections inside & outside of the legal profession, membership of organisations, property and land, offshore investments, hospitality, details on recusals and other information routinely lodged in registers of interest across all walks of public life in the UK and around the world.

A full report containing video footage of every hearing, speech, and evidence sessions at the Scottish Parliament on Petition PE1458 can be found here: Scottish Parliament debates, speeches & evidence sessions on widely supported judicial transparency petition calling for a Register of Interests for Scotland’s judiciary.

MSP at Holyrood have previously heard over sixty two submissions of evidence, during twenty one Committee hearings, and a private meeting between two MSPs and a top judge, and two private meetings since early December 2017 to decide a way forward on their six year investigation.

Cross party support for the Petition at the Scottish Parliament saw fifteen speeches by MSPs during a full Holyrood debate spanning from 2012 to 2018.

The move to create a register of judicial interests enjoys cross party support, is widely supported in the media and  in public debate as a result of media coverage.

The petition secured early support of Scotland’s Judicial Complaints Reviewer Moi Ali, and her successor – Gillian Thompson.

Moi Ali – who served as Scotland’s first Judicial Complaints Reviewer (JCR) – appeared before the Public Petitions Committee of the Scottish Parliament in a hard hitting evidence session during September of 2013, giving early backing to the proposals calling for the creation of a register of judicial interests.– reported here: Judicial Complaints Reviewer tells MSPs judges should register their interests like others in public life.

Scotland’s second Judicial Complaints Reviewer Gillian Thompson OBE also supported  the petition and the creation of a register of judicial interests during an evidence session at Holyrood in June 2015.

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

Video footage and a full report on Lord Brian Gill giving evidence to the Scottish Parliament in November 2015 can be found here: JUDGE ANOTHER DAY: Sparks fly as top judge demands MSPs close investigation on judges’ secret wealth & interests – Petitions Committee Chief brands Lord Gill’s evidence as “passive aggression”

Video footage and a full report on Lord Carloway (Colin Sutherland) giving widely criticised evidence to the Scottish Parliament in July 2017 can be found here: REGISTER TO JUDGE: Lord Carloway criticised after he blasts Parliament probe on judicial transparency – Top judge says register of judges’ interests should only be created if judiciary discover scandal or corruption within their own ranks

The letters sent by the Public Petitions Committee to Lord President Lord Carloway, and Justice Secretary Michael Matheson recommend the creation of a register of judicial interests:

Dear Lord Carloway,

Petition PE1458: Register of Interests for members of Scotland’s judiciary

Calling on the Scottish Parliament to urge the Scottish Government to create a Register of Pecuniary Interests of Judges Bill (as is currently being considered in New Zealand’s Parliament) or amend present legislation to require all members of the Judiciary in Scotland to submit their interests & hospitality received to a publicly available Register of Interests.

As you may be aware, the above petition was lodged in December 2012 and has been considered by the current Public Petitions Committee and its Session 4 predecessor. Over this period MSPs have taken on board the arguments for and against a register of interests and the nature of the interests that might be covered in such a register. This letter sets out the conclusions that the Public Petitions Committee has reached on the petition.

In setting out these conclusions, I would emphasise that the Committee absolutely recognises that an independent and well-functioning judiciary is, and must be, an essential part of our system of government.

I also make clear that the Committee’s consideration of the petition, and the views set out in this letter, reflect our viewpoint that there is no basis for any suggestion of corruption in respect of Scotland’s judiciary or of inappropriate influences on judicial decision making.

The Committee has reached its views based on the wider contemporary picture of transparency and openness in public life wherein preventing the perception of any undue influence is important in ensuring confidence in those holding public office.

Register of recusals

One of the welcome developments in the course of this petition has been the introduction of a register of recusals. The Committee notes that this register was brought into effect in April 2014 directly as a result of the petition and a meeting between the then Lord President, Lord Gill, and representatives of the Session 4 Public Petitions Committee. In recent discussions with the Committee, and the petitioner, you agreed to extend the scope of the register of recusals. As a result, the register will now ensure transparency about recusal across courts and tribunals in Scotland. The Committee very much welcomes these measures.

In doing so, we note that this addresses one of the arguments made against a register of financial interests – that it would not capture those instances where consideration of any potential conflict in a case was based on a social or personal connection that may not be known about prior to a case coming to court.

The Committee agrees that the practicalities are such that it would not be possible or proportionate to require advance registration of personal connection with parties that may at some point be relevant within a particular case. However, we do consider that public transparency of such connections is vital and the register of recusals is the tool that strikes an appropriate balance in this regard.

We would also observe that the value of collating information about recusals is that it enables analysis to be undertaken of the way the recusal systems operates and for this analysis to inform ongoing thinking about the administration of justice through the Scottish courts.

Register of financial interests

Turning now to the core question of a register of interests, the Committee’s most recent consideration of the petition focussed on seeking to understand and explore some of the arguments put forward against the introduction of such a register.

These arguments have included—

• a risk of online fraud due to retribution from dissatisfied litigants (which, it was argued, may have an inhibitory effect on the administration of justice if judges start to decline roles on public bodies such as the board of the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service) and,

• the possibility of the existence of a register of interests having a damaging effect on recruitment.

Members do, of course, have an understanding of the practical operation of a register of interests given the duties that apply to elected members. However, in considering the arguments put forward, we have not considered the role of judges as analogous to the role of elected members or had in mind any particular model for a register of interests that might be appropriate for judges.

Instead, our consideration has been based on an understanding of the expectations that apply to all holders of public office, whether elected or unelected, in relation to disclosure of financial interests. As we noted above, such disclosures not only allow for demonstration that decision-making is not influenced by personal interests but also prevent the perception of the influence of interests on decision-making.

Having considered these arguments and the thinking behind them, the Committee has not been convinced that a register of interests is an unworkable idea and it is the view of the Committee that such a register should be introduced.

Recognising that the Scottish Government and the Judicial Office for Scotland have indicated that they do not support the introduction of a register, the Committee today agreed to refer the petition to the Justice Committee, inviting that Committee to consider the petition further, in light of our recommendation.

Yours sincerely: Johann Lamont MSP Convener

The National reported on the success of the six year petition calling for a register of judicial interests, in the following articles:

Judges register backed by MSPs to become law

Martin Hannan Journalist 23 March 2018

IT’S taken nearly six years and 25 hearings but as The National predicted yesterday, a register of interests for all Scottish judges is set to become law.

The petition for a register by legal issues campaigner Peter Cherbi will now go the Justice Committee at Holyrood with a recommendation that the register becomes law.

The current and previous Lord Presidents, Lord Carloway and Lord Gill respectively, both strongly opposed the register which they feel will make it difficult for judges to be recruited.

Committee chair Johann Lamont said: “The committee has concluded that a register of financial interests is not unworkable and it is the view of the committee that such a register should be introduced.”

She said the committee’s view had been reached with regard to “the principles of openness and transparency in public life”.

Having achieved his success after years of work, Peter Cherbi told The National: “I am delighted to hear the Public Petitions Committee support the creation of a register of interests for judges, and applaud their work on this petition.

“From filing the petition in 2012, being a part of the process to submit evidence, report on hearings, and observing witness evidence, I am very impressed that Holyrood followed this through from committee, to a full debate in the main chamber in October 2014, where the petition gathered overwhelming cross party support, to now, with the decision to recommend the creation of a register of judicial interests.

“Key evidence from Judicial Complaints Reviewer Moi Ali in September 2013 was, I believe, the turning point and a key moment where the proposal for register of judicial interests gathered steam.

“MSPs were able to hear for themselves from someone within the justice framework how a register of interests for judges would not only benefit transparency, but also bring back much needed public trust and respect to the justice system and our courts.

“My sincere thanks to MSPs Angus MacDonald, David Torrance, current Convener Johann Lamont, ex-convener David Stewart, Jackson Carlaw, particularly Alex Neil who asked key questions several times in the process, former MSPs Chic Brodie and John Wilson and all members of the Public Petitions Committee past and present who have given their considerable time, effort and input into this petition, have taken the time to study the evidence, and arrive at the conclusion transparency in the judiciary is a good thing, and not as Lord Carloway and Lord Gill claimed ‘unworkable’.”

This is a good day for the Scottish Parliament and for transparency.

The Sunday Mail print edition reported on the Petitions Committee backing for legislation to require judges to declare their interest, and also featured a report on Alex Neil MSP – who supports the judicial transparency proposals and is prepared to bring in a Members Bill to create a register of judges’ interests:

BATTLE TO BRING IN JUDGES’ REGISTER

Sunday Mail 25 March 2018

Ex-minister Alex Neil will defy Nicola Sturgeon with a bill forcing Scotland’s judges to declare their interests.

Holyrood’s petitions committee have asked the Government to legislate for a register which may include details of financial, professional and personal connections of judges, sheriffs and justices of the peace.

Sturgeon is expected to reject the committee’s recommendation. But Neil believes there is enough cross-party support to raise his own bill, in a rare act of SNP backbench rebellion.

He said: “If no bill is brought forward by the Government, I would intend to do so myself, as there is significant support from other MSPs.”

Former health secretary Neil backs the register after representing constituent Donal Nolan, who took Advance Construction to court over a land dispute.

It later emerged that judge Lord Malcolm sat on the case despite his lawyer son Ewen Campell acting for the construction firm.

Neil said: “If the committee decide to recommend a bill, it is absolutely necessary as I have seen from cases such as Nolan v Advance Construction where there were undeclared interests.”

The Scottish Sun print edition also reported on the Petition Committee’s backing for a register of judicial interests and Alex Neil MSP’s plan for a Member’s Bill:

JUDGE LIST IS BACKED

Scottish Sun 23 March 2018

MSPs defied Nicola Sturgeon yesterday by calling for judges to list their financial ties.

Holyrood’s cross-party Public Petitions Committee backed a register of interests for the judiciary.

Its convener Johann Lamont said the move was based on “principles of transparency and openness in public life”.

Top judge Lord Carloway claimed the register would hit recruitment and the Government has said it was “not needed”.

Last night Nats MSP Alex Neil warned if plans for the list are not backed he is “prepared to do it as a Member’s Bill”.

A further report in The National newspaper:

MSPs to call for judges’ register in Scotland after years-long campaign

Martin Hannan Journalist 22 March 2018

AFTER nearly six years and 25 sittings of evidence and debate on the petition to create a register of judges’ interests, The National has learned that the Holyrood Petitions Committee is set to recommend legislation to the Scottish Government.

The petition lodged by legal issues campaigner Peter Cherbi in 2012 called for a Register of Pecuniary Interests Bill and when it meets later today, the Petitions Committee will have a draft letter before it suggesting the Scottish Government brings in such a register.

Cherbi’s petition has been strongly supported by MSPs such as Alex Neil and equally strongly opposed by members of the judiciary led by the current and former Lord Presidents, Lords Carloway and Gill respectively, who said it could be harmful to judges and their recruitment.

Cherbi said last night: “Everyone apart from the judiciary, and apparently those with a desire on becoming a judge, gets the idea that judges should declare their interests in a register, just like everyone else in public positions.

“For the judiciary to have stalled this transparency proposal on their reasoning that judges should be given a pass from transparency just because they are judges does not fit in with modern life or expectations by the public of openness in government and the justice system.

“Two top judges have given evidence. Both adopted overwhelmingly aggressive positions to the idea that the same transparency which exists across public life, and which they are charged with enforcing in our courts, should be applied to them.

“Yet amidst their inferences that justice would shut down, judges could not be hired, and the world would stop turning, neither Lord Carloway nor Lord Gill could make a convincing case against creating a register of judicial interests.

“Prosecutors, police, court staff, even the legal aid board – all key parts of the justice system have registers of interest. Therefore there can be no exclusion from transparency for the most powerful members of the justice system – the judiciary itself.

“Who would have thought judges would have been so fearful of transparency and disclosing their own interests, that it would have taken six years for the Scottish Parliament to reach this stage of recommending legislation? Time now to take openness forward for our judiciary, which will ultimately help regain a measure of public confidence in the courts.

“This is a win win for Scotland. We as a team, petitioners, the media, Judicial Complaints Reviewers, those in our courts and even the legal profession who back this move – changed the judiciary’s expectations of openness and requirements of transparency.”

The video timeline of debate at the Scottish Parliament’s Public Petitions Committee from 2012 to 2018 on Petition PE1458:

Petition PE1458 Register of Interests for Scottish Judiciary Scottish Parliament 8 January 2013

The Committee decided to call for submissions on the petition from the Lord President, the Law Society of Scotland, Faculty of Advocates and Crown Office.

Petition PE1458 Register of Judges Interests 5 March 2013 Scottish Parliament

Petition PE1458 by Peter Cherbi calling on the Scottish Parliament to legislate to create a Register of Interests for Scotland’s judiciary was heard today 5 March 2013. The Committee decided to call for further evidence and also to invite the Lord President Lord Gill and others along to speak to MSPs and be questioned on the matter.

Petition 1458 Register of Interests for Scotland’s Judiciary Scottish Parliament 16 April 2013

 

A petition calling for a register of interests for Scotland’s judiciary has again been debated at the Scottish Parliament, where upon the Lord President Lord Gill’s refusal to attend the Petitions Committee to give evidence, the Petitions Committee decided to repeat its invitation to Lord Gill to attend, and also agreed to seek the views of the Judicial Appointments Board and the Judicial Complaints Reviewer.

Petition 1458 Register of Interests for Scottish Judiciary 25 June 2013 Scottish Parliament

Members of the PPC decided to invite Moi Ali, the Judicial Complaints Reviewer to give evidence and also to contact Dr Kennedy Graham MP of the New Zealand Parliament. Dr Graham currently has a bill before MPs in New Zealand calling for a Register of Pecuniary Interests of Judges. During the debate it was noted Lord Gill has refused to attend the Scottish Parliament to discuss the petition and judge’s interests, but has attended the Justice Committee to discuss court closures in Scotland.

Evidence from Judicial Complaints Reviewer Moi Ali on Petition PE1458 Register of Interests for Scotland’s Judiciary Scottish Parliament

Moi Ali, Scotland’s Judicial Complaints Reviewer gives evidence to MSPs at the Scottish Parliament regarding Public Petition PE1458 calling for a Register of Interests for Scotland’s Judiciary.

Petition 1458 Register of Judicial Interests Public Petitions Committee 28th January 2014

Following a private meeting between Scotland’s top judge, the Lord President Lord Brian Gill, and the Convener & Deputy Convener of the Public Petitions Committee of the Scottish Parliament,the Committee agreed today, 28 January 2014 to defer consideration of Petition PE1458 by Peter Cherbi calling on the Scottish Parliament to create a register of judicial interests, pending receipt of a letter from the Lord President.

The Convener, David Stewart MSP and Deputy Convener, Chic Brodie MSP reported back to members on what had been said at the private meeting with Scotland’s top judge who refused to attend the Scottish Parliament to be questioned on his deep seated opposition to the proposal to requie Scottish judges to declare all their interests, hidden wealth, family & business links and other matters which may impact on cases being heard before judges in Scottish courts.

Committee Member John Wilson MSP requested details of the private meeting with the judge be put on the official record of the Committee, and Jackson Carlaw MSP drew attention to the fact had it not been for the Petitions Committee asking tough questions there would not even be any letters forthcoming from Lord Gill.

The petition will be heard once a letter has been received from Scotland’s top judge, who appears to be set against any attendance to face questions on why judges should not be required to register their interests, unlike all other public officials, politicians, Government Ministers and others.

Petition 1458 Register of Judicial Interests Scottish Parliament 4 March 2014

The Committee agreed to seek time in the chamber for a debate on the petition. The Committee also agreed to write to the Lord President and the Scottish Government.

Petition PE1458 Register of Interests for Scotland’s Judiciary Scottish Parliament Public Petitions Committee

The Committee agreed to continue the petition, and is seeking a debate in the main chamber of the Scottish Parliament. The Committee also agreed to write to the Lord President and the Scottish Government for more detailed responses.

The next fifteen video clips are from the debate held at the Scottish Parliament on Thursday 09 October 2014, in which MSPs, Scottish Government ministers and members of the Public Petitions Committee spoke in the debate. The full text of the speeches of each MSP can be found here: DEBATING THE JUDGES: Cross party support for proposal seeking a register of interests for members of Scotland’s Judiciary as Scottish Parliament holds first ever debate on judicial accountability & transparency

David Stewart MSP opening speech Register of Judicial Interests Petition PE1458 Scottish Parliament

David Stewart: The committee’s motivation in giving consideration to the issue and in seeking time in the chamber to debate it is a point of principle and comes from the starting point of there being an assumption of openness and transparency in all areas of public life in order to shine a light, if you like, into every corner of Scottish society.

Roseanna Cunningham MSP opening speech Register of Judicial Interests Petition PE1458 Scottish Parliament

Roseanna Cunningham: The setting up of a register of judicial interests would be a matter for the Lord President, as head of the judiciary in Scotland. The Lord President takes the view that a register of pecuniary interests for the judiciary is not needed. Furthermore, a judge has a greater duty of disclosure than a register of financial interests could address.

Graeme Pearson MSP opening speech Register of Judicial Interests Petition PE1458 Scottish Parliament

Graeme Pearson: Until the petition was discussed, there was no knowledge of recusals in the public domain. I welcome the fact that, as of April this year, the Lord President has introduced a register of recusals. It is fair to say that without the petition and the work of the Public Petitions Committee, such a register would probably not have been considered.

Jackson Carlaw MSP opening speech Register of Judicial Interests Petition PE1458 Scottish Parliament

Jackson Carlaw: It is perhaps difficult to take on the judiciary, because judicial independence is always mentioned. As I said, that is a cornerstone of democracy, but because there has been no separation of accountability and independence, it is easy for the judiciary to say, ‘We are independent, so don’t interfere in that.’ Unless independence and accountability are separated, legislation will continue to include no requirement for more openness and transparency.”

Angus MacDonald MSP Register of Judicial Interests Petition PE1458 Scottish Parliament 9 Oct 2014

Angus MacDonald: If we as elected members have to register and declare our interests, I see no reason why members of Scotland’s judiciary should not be subject to a full and publicly available register of judicial interests.

Anne McTaggart MSP Register of Judicial Interests debate – Petition PE1458 Scottish Parliament 9 Oct 2014

Anne McTaggart: In Scotland, claims continue to emerge of trials that have been unfair as a result of religious, ethnic or national bias. As long as those claims continue to exist, it is the Parliament’s job to promote fair government. In conclusion, I declare my support for the petition and encourage support from all the other MSPs.

David Torrance MSP speech Register of Judicial Interests debate Petition PE1458 Scottish Parliament 9 Oct

David Torrance: Although I understand that conflicts of interest are on occasion declared in open court prior to taking on a case, the introduction of a register of interests would provide a more consistent and sound basis on which to move forward.

Neil Findlay MSP speech Register of Judicial Interests Petition PE1458 Scottish Parliament 9 Oct 2014

Neil Findlay: We need to do much more to make our society less secretive and less closed, and I think that the register that we are discussing is just one step towards that end. I, for one, give it my full support and urge other MSPs to do the same.

Joan McAlpine MSP speech Register of Judicial Interests debate Petition PE1458 Scottish Parliament 9 Oct 2014

Joan McAlpine: I gently suggest to the Lord President, in whose gift it is to set up a register, as we cannot legislate for it in the Parliament, that he should be mindful of the need for the judiciary to move with the times, along with every other public institution, in order to retain the confidence of the public.

John Wilson MSP speech Register of Judicial Interests Petition PE1458 Scottish Parliament 9 Oct 2014

John Wilson: A register of interests for judges is an area in which we could move forward and build more confidence in the system that we have in place.

Stewart Stevenson MSP speech Register of Judicial Interests debate Petition PE1458 Scottish Parliament 9 October 2014

Stewart Stevenson: I encourage Lord Gill and his successors to think about recalibrating their relationship with Parliament.

Jackson Carlaw MSP closing speech Register of Judicial Interests Petition PE1458 Scottish Parliament 9 October 2014

Jackson Carlaw: Mind you, I would point out that we, too, swear an oath, but we nonetheless still subscribe to a register.

Elaine Murray MSP Register of Judicial Interests Petition PE1458 Scottish Parliament 9 October 2014

Elaine Murray: “Given the position of power held by the judiciary, it is essential not only that they have absolute integrity–but crucially, that they are seen to have absolute integrity.” Therefore, the issue is not that anyone doubts the judiciary’s integrity, but that the public need to see that integrity.

Roseanna Cunningham MSP closing speech Register of Judicial Interests debate Petition PE1458 Scottish Parliament 9 October 2014

Roseanna Cunningham: A number of members referred to the register of interests of MSPs. However, the situation is different, because we are directly accountable to the electorate.

Chic Brodie MSP closing speech Register of Judicial Interests debate Petition PE1458 Scottish Parliament 9 October 2014

Chic Brodie: There is concern that a register would have unintended consequences—a phrase that has been used often in the debate—for the judiciary’s freedom and privacy and its freedom from harassment from the media or dissatisfied litigants. Those are concerns, but they are no less so for others in public life, including MPs and MSPs, who may be attacked publicly for non-declaration of interests. Although it is argued that the establishment of a register may have the unintended consequence of eroding public confidence in the judiciary, it might equally be argued that its absence might have the same effect.

The debate at the Scottish Parliament now returns to deliberations of the Public Petitions Committee on Petition PE1458 – A Register of Interests for members of Scotland’s Judiciary:

Register of interests for judiciary Petition PE1458 Scottish Parliament 28 October 2014

Paul Wheelhouse Register of Judicial Interests Petitions Committee Scottish Parliament 9 Dec2014

Minister for Community Safety Paul Wheelhouse gives evidence to the Public Petitions Committee on their investigation of proposals to create a register of judicial interests as called for in Petition PE1458. Mr Wheelhouse on behalf of the Scottish Government opposes the creation of a register which will inform the public about what judges have, their interests, links to big business, banks, shares in corporations and tax avoidance scams.

Petition 1458 Register of interests for Scotland’s Judiciary Scottish Parliament 12th May 2015

The Scottish Parliament’s Public Petitions Committee discussed Petition PE1458 on Tuesday 12 May 2015. The Committee agreed to call Gillian Thompson OBE – Scotland’s current Judicial Complaints Reviewer to give evidence on the creation of a register of judicial interests.

Evidence of Gillian Thompson Judicial Complaints Reviewer Register of Interests for Judges Petition PE1458 Scottish Parliament 23 June 2015

The Scottish Parliament’s Public Petitions Committee discussed Petition PE1458 on Tuesday 23 June 2015. The Committee took evidence from Gillian Thompson OBE – Scotland’s current Judicial Complaints Reviewer who gave evidence in support of the creation of a register of judicial interests.

Lord Brian Gill evidence to Public Petitions Committee Scottish Parliament 10 Nov 2015

Lord Brian Gill, former Lord President and Lord Justice General of Scotland gives evidence to the Scottish Parliament’s Public Petitions Committee on Petition PE1458 calling for a register of interests for judges.Gill refused two earlier invitations to appear before the Public Petitions Committee in 2013 and was dubbed “Lord No No.”. Several times during the debate the 73 year old ‘retired’ Lord Gill called on the panel of MSPs to show faith in the UK judiciary and scrap the petition along with calls for greater transparency of judges interests.

Petition PE1458 Register of Interests for Judges Public Petitions Committee Holyrood 1 Dec 2015

Petitions Committee member Kenny MacAskill MSP calls for the committee to invite the new Lord President upon their appointment to appear to give evidence. Convener Michael McMahon MSP agrees to write to the new Lord President.

Petition PE1458 Register of judicial interests Scottish Parliament 23rd February 2016

The Committee decided Lord Carloway is to be called to give evidence, MSPs will also contact Professor Alan Paterson of the University of Strathclyde for evidence.

Petition PE1458 Public Petitions Committee Scottish Parliament 29 Sept 2016

The Petitions Committee decided to call Lord President Lord Carloway to give evidence, and also hear from Professor Alan Paterson of the University of Strathclyde.

Petition PE1458 Register of Interests for judges Public Petitions Committee 22 Dec 2016

MSP Angus MacDonald (SNP) moves to call Professor Alan Paterson to give evidence to the committee and for msps to consider evidence from the Professor then to contact the Lord President, Lord Carloway.

Professor Alan Paterson Petitions Committee PE1458 19th Jan 2017

Professor Alan Paterson evidence to Public Petitions Committee on creating a register of interests for members of Scotland’s judiciary.

PE 1458 Public Petitions Committee Scottish Parliament 30th March 2017

Members of the Scottish Parliament’s Public Petitions Committee decide to invite Lord President Lord Carloway to provide evidence before the Committee at a future date, and to invite Alex Neil MSP to appear before the Committee at the same meeting. The decision was taken after Lord Carloway offered concessions on the recusal register of Scotland’s judiciary – created as a result of this petition.

Lord Carloway Register of Judges interests Petitions Committee Scottish Parliament 29 June 2017

Lord Carloway gives evidence to the Public Petitions Committee on a proposal to create a register of judicial interests for members of Scotland’s judiciary. The proposal has been investigated by the Scottish Parliament for five years, there is wide support for the register, from cross party msps to the media to both Judicial Complaints Reviewers.

The Petition will next be heard on Thursday 7 December 2017 where the Public Petitions Committee will be asked to consider taking evidence from Baroness Hale, President of the UK Supreme Court, and to seek further evidence on the operation of Norway’s Register of Judicial Interests.

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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DEPUTY CASH CONSTABLE: Top Cop who asked for her expenses in cash – fails to impress Holyrood Justice Committee with lack of answers over delays to dealing with Durham Constabulary probe of Police Scotland illegal spying scandal

DCC Rose Fitzpatrick could not explain delays over report. A DEPUTY Chief Constable of Police Scotland – who asked for her relocation expenses to be paid by cash – has failed to explain to MSPs why emails between senior officers took three months to release to a probe on activities surrounding an illegal Police spying operation connected to the unsolved murder of Emma Caldwell.

And, it emerged at a hearing on Thursday at the Scottish Parliament’s Justice sub-Committee on Policing – that Police Scotland witnesses were unable to explain why contact details for retired officers who were of relevance to the probe being carried out by Durham Constabulary – were withheld for at least two months..

Evidence from Deputy Chief Constable Rose Fitzpatrick during Thursday’s session at Holyrood was braded unbelievable and “absolutely staggering” by MSPs on the justice committee.

Margaret Mitchell MSP (Scottish Conservative) who is convener of the full Justice Committee – was unable to secure a reasonable explanation from the witnesses as to why information was not handed over to Durham Constabulary during the investigation.

Frequently during answers to members of the Committee, the Deputy Chief Constable referred to legal advice on what could or could not proceed, yet DCC Fitzpatrick remained vague throughout each response.

At one point Ms Mitchell said she “remains unconvinced at answers given today”.

Ms Mitchell later dismissed an explanation by deputy chief constable Rose Fitzpatrick regarding what the police had learned from their failings.

MSPs also criticised Police Scotland’s “overly secretive approach” to investigations into their illegal spying activities against journalists, sources & Police officers.

Reports subsequently generated by these investigations – the published – yet heavily redacted report by Durham Constabulary, and the so-far unpublished Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) report on misconduct were branded as attempts to conceal information which had already been published in other areas.

Deputy Chief Constable Fitzpatrick admitted during her evidence that Police Scotland had failed four officers at the centre of the illegal spying probe, but then she went on to defend her colleague’s handling of the independent investigation carried out by Durham Constabulary’s Chief Constable – Michael Barton.

During an appearance at the Justice sub-Committee on Policing in February, Chief Constable Michael Barton told the committee he had originally been asked to carry out an investigation into the Counter Corruption Unit (CCU) following a ruling of the Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT).

However, it emerged in Mr Barton’s evidence the investigation was later downgraded to an inquiry.

Struggling to give acceptable responses without continually referring to legal advice, DCC Fitzpatrick admitted there had been a “significant difference of professional view” between herself and the Durham Constabulary Chief Constable on how to proceed with the probe – but that a resolution had been found after Police Scotland obtained legal advice.

A full report on the Durham Chief Constable Michael Barton’s evidence to the Justice sub-Committee on Policing can be read here: FAIR COP: Police Scotland officers fabricated intelligence in order to spy on journalists & sources in CCU spying scandal – evidence from Durham Constabulary’s Chief Constable to Holyrood Justice Committee

The 80 minutes of ‘evidence’ from Police Scotland witnesses – which included – Duncan Campbell, Interim Head of Legal Services, and Superintendent Andy McDowall, Professional Standards Department, Police Scotland. was widely criticised in the media and by cross party politicians.

The full evidence session with DCC Rose Fitzpatrick & other witnesses at the Scottish Parliament’s Justice sub-Committee on Policing can be viewed here:

DCC Rose Fitzpatrick evidence to Justice Sub committee on Policing – Holyrood 15 March 2018

Full written transcript of the hearing :

Counter-corruption Unit (Durham Constabulary Reports)

The Convener: Agenda item 2 is an evidence session on Durham Constabulary’s report on Police Scotland’s counter-corruption unit. I refer members to paper 1, which is a note by the clerk, and paper 2, which is a private briefing. I welcome Deputy Chief Constable Rose Fitzpatrick; Duncan Campbell, interim head of legal services with Police Scotland; and Superintendent Andy McDowall from the professional standards department of Police Scotland. Thank you for the written submissions. We will go straight to questions.

Daniel Johnson (Edinburgh Southern) (Lab): I begin with the central contention, which is the status of the work that was undertaken by Durham Constabulary. The first paragraph of the letter that Police Scotland wrote to Durham Constabulary on 28 July 2016 asks Durham Constabulary to agree to undertake “an independent investigation relative to the non-criminal complaint allegations identified by IOCCO.”

We have a more recent letter from the Investigatory Powers Tribunal, which sets out its query about the nature of that work. The tribunal said that you had not, in accordance with its order, referred the matter to the Durham force for investigation and asks for your response. I understand that you provided a response. However, given the language of your initial letter and the understanding of the Investigatory Powers Tribunal, it is understandable that Durham Constabulary is confused, and perhaps upset, about the ambiguity relating to the nature of the investigation and indeed whether it was an investigation. What would you say to that summary and analysis of those understandings and the communications that there have been on the matter?

Deputy Chief Constable Rose Fitzpatrick CBE QPM (Police Scotland): The first thing that I would say is that I am very grateful to Durham Constabulary for its thorough and professional report, which was produced for us under its terms of reference. The letter that you refer to asked Durham Constabulary to undertake an independent investigation “relative to the non-criminal complaint allegations”, and that was set out in the terms of reference. It should not be a surprise that, in something as important and complex as this, at particular times we should all want to ensure that we were operating in accordance with the terms of reference and, particularly importantly, that we were operating effectively under the law in Scotland.

When the chief constable of Police Scotland first asked me to become, in effect, the decision maker in this matter—that was in January 2017, and he formally appointed me to the role in February 2017—I engaged straight away with Mr Barton to discuss the complaints investigation and to establish whether progress was being made and whether there were any issues that I could assist with. When he made it clear that there were some issues for him around the terms of reference and in particular the regulations under which he was conducting his investigation, which are the Police Service of Scotland (Conduct) Regulations 2014, I of course listened carefully to that.

It is not unusual in complex matters for there to be a difference of professional view about the best way of progressing, but we were clear that he and Durham Constabulary had been asked to undertake an independent investigation only into the non-criminal complaint allegations and that our conduct regulations require other stages to take place should there require to be an investigation into the conduct of individual officers.

As the sub-committee will be aware, we had a number of discussions about that. Mr Barton helpfully came up to discuss that with me in person on 30 January 2017. I listened carefully to what he said and I felt that it was my responsibility to take legal advice. The committee will have seen the senior counsel’s opinion that we received. That made it clear that, because we were operating under the 2014 conduct regulations, we needed to go through the process that is set out in those regulations. In effect, we needed to carry out an assessment in order for me to make a decision on whether there should be a conduct investigation and, if so, who should be appointed to undertake it.

Both of those investigations were conducted independently. Durham Constabulary’s investigation was clearly independent of us and its conclusions were arrived at independently, and then there was the separate conduct investigation, which was undertaken by the Police Service of Northern Ireland, and again its conclusions were arrived at independently.

Daniel Johnson: You raised the matter of the regulations, about which we had a considerable degree of discussion when Chief Constable Barton was in front of us. I refer to the Official Report of that meeting and the discussion on the preliminary assessment. I understand the importance of that, given the different way in which complaints are made in Scotland compared to the process in the rest of the United Kingdom, but the evidence about the preliminary assessment was somewhat worrying. Darren Ellis said:

“I was initially told that a preliminary assessment had been completed. I was then told that one had not been completed. Then I was told that one had been completed and lost, and, after that, I was again told that one had not been completed. Over six to eight weeks, I tried to identify the starting point and what Police Scotland considered to be the views of the four complainants and the IPT, because an assessment of that would dictate the play. I do not believe that that work was ever done”.—[Official Report, Justice Sub-Committee on Policing, 22 February 2018; c 18.]

Further to that, in responding to Chief Constable Barton about whether or not they knew even at that point, Darren Ellis said, “We do not know.” Given the importance of that preliminary assessment, which you acknowledge, is that not a deeply worrying state of affairs and a worrying report, in relation to the lack of clarity and the prospect that such an assessment had not been carried out? What would you say to that?

Deputy Chief Constable Fitzpatrick: I would say that a preliminary assessment is a very important part of the process that leads from a complaints investigation and determines whether there will be a conduct investigation thereafter. As you rightly say, Durham Constabulary was asked to do the work in July and August 2016. I believe that Mr Ellis and his team were appointed to progress the work further in November 2016 or certainly late in 2016. When they had completed their report and provided it to us in May 2017, that triggered, under regulation 10 of the conduct regulations, what is known as a preliminary assessment.

I considered the conclusions of the complaints inquiry and the result of the investigation, which had identified that there were a number of officers whose conduct, if proven, might amount to misconduct, and I agreed with that assessment. I agreed with those conclusions in my preliminary assessment and my decision was that a number of the officers should be the subject of a conduct inquiry to determine whether, on the basis of the evidence that that inquiry would look at, they should subsequently face misconduct proceedings, for example. That was the point at which the regulations provide for the preliminary assessment to be carried out, as the bridge between the complaints allegations and any subsequent misconduct investigation.

Daniel Johnson: Just to recap, we had confusion and perhaps disagreement about the status of the work that Durham Constabulary was carrying out; we had a difference of opinion about the interpretation of the regulations, as we have heard from Mr Barton; and we had, at best, a lack of clarity in Durham Constabulary about whether a preliminary assessment, which we all agree is a very important step in the process, existed. It strikes me that those are three fundamental and important issues on which there was a fundamental difference of understanding between Police Scotland and Durham Constabulary over what we can all agree is a serious and important matter. Does that not speak to a very worrying situation? How would you explain that and what lessons have you taken from that situation?

Deputy Chief Constable Fitzpatrick: It clearly is a really important issue for all of us. We have been clear that our failings in 2015, which were the subject of the report of the Interception of Communications Commissioner’s Office and the IPT judgment and order, were severe. We were also clear that our responsibility was to provide Durham Constabulary with all the support that it needed to conduct its independent complaints investigation.

When I took up the responsibility of being the decision maker towards the end of January 2017, I met with Mr Barton. We spoke on many occasions about a number of issues around the progress of his investigation and, as I said, he raised the issue of the terms of reference. We were all very conscious of our responsibilities to ensure that the process was undertaken under the conduct regulations. From my point of view, I had a responsibility to ensure that, if Mr Barton required any issues to be resolved or if he needed any material, we could resolve those along the way. I hope that you will see from the exchange of letters that we were able to do that as we went.

The issues were very complex and important. I did not find it surprising that Mr Barton and Durham Constabulary should want to progress in the way that they thought fit. I was certainly conscious of my responsibility to ensure that we were progressing clearly in line with the conduct regulations. When the moment came to determine the issue about Durham Constabulary being able to move from a complaints investigation straight into a conduct investigation, I felt clearly that I had a responsibility to take proper legal advice about that, and you will see that we took senior counsel’s opinion.

We then agreed to progress on the basis of the original terms of reference and under the 2014 conduct regulations. The letter that we received with Mr Barton’s report on 12 May acknowledges that point. He said:

“My team found your colleagues to be helpful and professional, and for that I thank you—please pass on my thanks to them. My report is not as prompt as I would have liked—there were necessary delays taking legal clarifications on the status of my enquiry. I’m glad to say that was ultimately resolved”.

He went on to say: “I have, I trust helpfully, referred further to this issue in the ‘Lessons learned’ chapter”, which is a chapter in his final investigation report.

I think that we all acknowledged that there was a professional difference of view on the issue. Ultimately, we resolved that and agreed to proceed on the basis of the terms of reference and the interpretation by senior counsel of the conduct regulations as they operate in Scotland.

Daniel Johnson: Frankly, I am struggling to reconcile what you are telling me with what Chief Constable Barton said. From the way that you have just put it, it sounds as if you left things in a very amicable way in which all parties understood one another. However, in his evidence, Chief Constable Barton characterised Police Scotland, and in particular the legal department, as acting in an “overly legalistic” and “risk averse” way. The conclusion that one would draw from that is that procedure was getting in the way of looking after the wronged police officers. If everything was so amicable and nothing was wrong, why did Chief Constable Barton give the evidence that he gave to this committee?

Deputy Chief Constable Fitzpatrick: I have reflected the fact that we had a significant difference of professional view, which was resolved by the taking of legal advice and an agreement that we proceed on the basis of the original terms of reference that Durham Constabulary was given and the two sets of legal advice that we had received from senior counsel. Mr Barton’s letter of 12 May reflected that. I have spoken about and read from his letter the point about the lessons learned part of his report.

The committee will be aware that we have been keen to ensure that all of the lessons are learned from each of the individual independent reports that we have had, from the IOCCO report and the IPT judgment and order through to Her Majesty’s inspectorate of constabulary in Scotland’s 39 recommendations in its assurance review of the CCU, right through to the Northumbria Police, Durham Constabulary and PSNI reports. There has been learning for us in all of those that sits alongside the actual findings of the investigations.

A huge amount of work has already gone on, certainly on the 39 recommendations from the HMICS review. We are clear that, where there are things to be learned about the processes, such as those with Durham Constabulary, we will take those on. I do not for a moment suggest that, in our many conversations and exchanges of letters, Mr Barton did not raise points with me where he felt that we could provide something to him or perhaps provide a little more support to his team. As soon as I became aware of those issues, we resolved them as we went along. As I say, it was a complex matter that went on for a long time, so I am not surprised that, given that all of us were determined to proceed in the right way, there were differences of opinion. As I believe you can see from Mr Barton’s final letter to us, ultimately, they were resolved by the way that we agreed to proceed.

The Convener: Deputy chief constable, you are the disciplinary authority for Police Scotland. On receipt of the IOCCO report, could you have decided that there would be no conduct proceedings?

Deputy Chief Constable Fitzpatrick: I suppose that, technically, that would have been the case. I was not the disciplinary authority then. In fact, I was asked by the chief constable to be the disciplinary authority in this particular case only in early 2017. I know that the IOCCO determination, which was received in November 2015, was followed by complaints from four complainers in, I believe, March 2016. Those complaints were referred to the Crown Office. At that point, therefore, we had complaints that we were bound to ensure were investigated. My understanding is that, when the complaints were received, they were referred to the Crown Office to establish whether there was any criminality in the allegations. It was determined that there was no criminality, but at that point I understand that it was agreed with the complainers that the complaints would be pended until the IPT hearing, which took place in July, followed by the IPT judgment and order in August. It was at that point that the complaints were referred to Durham Constabulary, which was asked to conduct its independent complaints investigation.

The Convener: What was the status of the individuals who were interviewed in the investigation or inquiry that you asked Durham Constabulary to do? Were they witnesses, suspects or accused?

Deputy Chief Constable Fitzpatrick: Under a complaints investigation, there would have been complainers—there were four complainers in this case—and witnesses, in relation to establishing the substance of the complaints and the recommendations relating to the complaints. There are issues around conduct investigations. Such investigations are clearly defined in the conduct regulations, which put in place particular processes and procedures and, in some cases, safeguards in relation to officers who may become what we call subject officers—in other words, officers who are subject to a conduct investigation.

The Convener: The legal opinion talks about that and the position of challenge, were that to happen. Conversely, given the direction that you had given Durham Constabulary, was there the potential for anyone who was interviewed to have been compromised if they were subsequently to become a subject officer or an accused?

Deputy Chief Constable Fitzpatrick: That was never raised with us by Durham Constabulary. There will always be cases in which, before a determination is made, people may be spoken to, but it then becomes clear subsequently that perhaps they need to become a subject officer—that is, their conduct needs to be investigated because it is considered that there may be a possibility of misconduct or gross misconduct. It is the preliminary assessment that makes that decision. In this case, as a result of its investigation, Durham Constabulary identified a number of officers in relation to whom, in its view, a decision needed to be taken as to whether their conduct needed to be investigated. That was the preliminary assessment point that led to the conduct investigation.

The Convener: Just for completeness, did Durham Constabulary interview the people whom it subsequently said could be subject to disciplinary proceedings?

Deputy Chief Constable Fitzpatrick: I do not believe that it did.

The Convener: What, if anything, should this committee read into the fact that ex-DCC Richardson did not co-operate with the Durham Constabulary inquiry?

Deputy Chief Constable Fitzpatrick: I really cannot say, I am afraid. The inquiry was independent and I had no role; the organisation would have provided details of retired officers to Durham Constabulary.

The Convener: Nonetheless, in this instance you are the disciplinary authority and Mr Richardson had been the disciplinary authority. Would you not have anticipated full co-operation from your predecessor?

Deputy Chief Constable Fitzpatrick: Durham Constabulary was conducting two parallel non-criminal complaints investigations, one on our behalf and the other on behalf of the Scottish Police Authority. Any issues concerning senior officers would have been part of the senior officer complaints investigation, which came under the auspices of the SPA.

The Convener: Nonetheless, Mr Richardson could have been a witness or, if he was a serving officer, subject to investigation. Do you have no view on his unwillingness to co-operate?

Deputy Chief Constable Fitzpatrick: I am simply saying that, if approaches were made to him, I am not aware of what the conversation was. I am really not in a position to comment.

Stewart Stevenson (Banffshire and Buchan Coast) (SNP): I want to be clear on the sequencing. We have Chief Constable Barton submitting his investigation conclusions on 12 May 2017; that is the end of one chapter, it seems to me. The next step, as you have described it, is your role in doing a preliminary assessment as to whether a misconduct inquiry would have to happen. In coming to your preliminary assessment view, what input—separate from its submission of a report—would there have been from Durham Constabulary? Would you simply have gone back to clarify points, or was Durham Constabulary out of the picture, with no role in the preparation of the preliminary assessment beyond the fact that it had submitted a report that you would be drawing on?

Deputy Chief Constable Fitzpatrick: I am very fortunate that I have a conduct expert to my left, but I will try to answer that myself and then hand over to Superintendent McDowall, who will put me right on anything that I may leave out.

Durham Constabulary’s independent complaints investigation was complete and entire in itself. It came to the conclusion that a number of the complaints were upheld, that some were partially upheld and that others were not upheld. It took the view that there was a prima facie case involving a number of officers, which, if proven, might lead to a finding that their conduct was in fact misconduct and in breach of the standards of behaviour that we expect of professional police officers.

My decision making was formed with support—in this case, that support was an assessment of the particular matters that came out. We separate out the complaints issue, we look at the individual officers, and then I make a decision on the basis of what is provided to me—in this case, the Durham Constabulary report—as to whether there is a prima facie case that requires to be investigated. Durham Constabulary spoke about eight officers originally. Looking at the case in detail, I determined that, for seven of those officers, there was a prima facie case, that their conduct, if proven, could amount to gross misconduct, and that, therefore, an independent misconduct investigation should take place. That was based on the Durham Constabulary report.

Stewart Stevenson: In relation to how you came to your conclusion, you used the phrase “with support”, and that is really what I am focused on. What was that support? Where did it come from? Did it involve going back to Durham Constabulary to say, “You have come up with this charge sheet,” and to get further information, so that the preliminary assessment could be as complete and reasonable, in all sorts of ways, as would be necessary? I just want to know whether, after 17 May, Durham Constabulary was no longer part of the decision-making process, or whether it was still advising you.

Deputy Chief Constable Fitzpatrick: I did not go back to Durham Constabulary other than to thank it for its report. I do not know whether any of my colleagues in our conduct world felt that it would have been appropriate or helpful to do that at that stage.

Superintendent Andy McDowall (Police Scotland): Mr Stevenson, there is not much more that I can add to the deputy chief constable’s interpretation of how we formulated that regulation 10 preliminary assessment. The Durham Constabulary report was conclusive, and it was the information contained within that report that allowed us to formulate an assessment so that we could progress matters under the conduct regulations, as required. It was the Durham Constabulary report that the regulation 10 preliminary assessment was based on.

Rona Mackay (Strathkelvin and Bearsden) (SNP): I do not want to labour this too much, but can I ask you a bit more about the terms of reference? I feel that I need clarification, and I am still quite confused by it all. Chief Constable Barton said that it was three to four months into his investigation when he was told it would not be an investigation, that he did not have full investigatory powers and that it would instead be an inquiry. Is that when you took over, Deputy Chief Constable Fitzpatrick—after the preliminary work had been done and you decided to take legal action? I am puzzled as to why the original remit from the chief constable of Police Scotland did not take that approach at the outset.

Deputy Chief Constable Fitzpatrick: As I said earlier, I did not become the decision maker until the end of January 2017—I was appointed officially on 14 February 2017. The terms of reference were set out in a letter to Durham Constabulary from the chief constable of Police Scotland on 4 August 2016. Durham Constabulary began work at that point and I first engaged with Mr Barton in January 2017 when the work had been under way since August.

Rona Mackay: That is what I am trying to determine. Was it after you had sight of that work that you decided that a different procedure needed to take place? Was it at that point that you said, “I need to take legal advice”?

Deputy Chief Constable Fitzpatrick: Those were simply my initial conversations with Mr Barton. I spoke to him at the end of January, we had a meeting on 30 January 2017 and we had an exchange of letters about the terms of reference. Until then, I was not aware that there was an issue or a difference of view about the terms of reference and the extent of his inquiry; of course, as soon as he raised that with me, I had to listen very carefully. Then I determined that I needed to take some legal advice on the application of the conduct regulations in Scotland to the particular circumstance, and that is when I did that.

Rona Mackay: When you were liaising with him, how long was it before you realised that you would need to take advice?

Deputy Chief Constable Fitzpatrick: We had a number of conversations and we had an exchange of letters in February. Then I received senior counsel’s opinion on 21 March 2017. It was sequential: we talked about the terms of reference, we realised that we had a different professional view about the issue and we discussed it. I believe that Mr Barton said that he took legal advice—my recollection is that he mentioned that to me—and we also took legal advice. Importantly, I was very conscious of my responsibility to be open-minded about the views that he had come to, but also to make sure that we were proceeding on a very sound legal basis. If I am very honest, no legal advice was taken at the time in relation to the 2015 issues, when IOCCO and IPT determined that we had acted unlawfully, and I was very keen to make sure that we were operating on a sound legal basis, and hence taking legal advice.

I actually took two different sets of legal advice because, during those conversations and as we were getting the first set of senior counsel’s opinion on the Scotland regulations, Mr Barton made a specific proposal about how he might proceed under the regulations. I asked for that to be put to senior counsel to look at specifically because, again, I wanted to be open-minded about whether that was an appropriate—or, indeed, a better—way to proceed. I took legal advice on that, so that we could go down that road if that was appropriate for all concerned.

However, the second set of senior counsel’s advice, on that very specific point, was that we could not be advised to go down that route—that, in fact, the Scotland regulations would not allow us to do that while keeping within the regulations, which have the force of law. I felt that it was my responsibility to make an informed decision, based on two sets of legal advice that was very specific on those points.

Rona Mackay: I take it that you stand by that decision today, and that you believe that you did the right thing by taking that advice.

Deputy Chief Constable Fitzpatrick: I believe that I did, yes.

Margaret Mitchell (Central Scotland) (Con): Good afternoon. Mr Barton said:

“When I was given the inquiry, it was made clear to me by the chief constable that we were being asked to do an investigation. That means that we can investigate, access all the documents and interview people, so that we can make a recommendation on whether or not there may be misconduct.”—[Official Report, Justice Sub-Committee on Policing, 22 February 2018; c 2.]

As part of that, he said that he wanted to interview senior officers and, before that, he wanted to see a chain of emails from those senior officers. He was not allowed to do that; the reason given for that was legal privilege. Would you like to comment on that, Mr Campbell?

Duncan Campbell (Police Scotland): Good afternoon, Mrs Mitchell. Thank you for the opportunity to comment on that. I was interviewed by Mr Ellis in December 2015 and January 2016, as part of the investigation. I was asked to provide factual information, which I did. That essentially related to my interaction with this committee’s predecessor committee between December 2015 and January 2016. I was also asked to provide a chronology and a copy of information that passed between me and the IPT in the period immediately following the hearing on 22 July.

Mr Ellis also asked me to provide additional information around the factual material. I indicated to him that I took the view that the material that he was looking for was legally privileged and that I would need to get the chief constable’s permission before privilege was waived; that privilege was vested in my client, who was the chief constable. The matter was not immediately pursued further with me. When it was subsequently pressed, I offered the chief constable advice about his entitlement to waive privilege as he saw fit. I also indicated to him that, if he was minded to do that, he might wish to avail himself of independent legal advice on whether to waive privilege. I did not withhold any material that Mr Ellis asked for and which I was in a position to provide to him.

Margaret Mitchell: What aspect of the chain of emails did you think was covered by legal privilege? Was it every single bit of the emails between those senior officers?

Duncan Campbell: I have seen Mr Barton’s evidence in that regard. I am not in a position to comment on emails passing between senior officers. I was only able to comment on material that was held in our own file, which concerned matters that were put to me for advice.

Margaret Mitchell: Should you not have made that distinction? Should you not have said, “On the basis of the emails I hold in my file, my advice is that legal privilege kicks in, but of course you can see any of the emails in a chain of correspondence that the senior officers have had”?

Duncan Campbell: That was not the inquiry that was made of me by Mr Ellis. I do not know whether he made that inquiry of anybody else, but he did not make that inquiry of me.

Margaret Mitchell: He was quite clear that he asked to see the emails that people sent to each other. I think that that was fairly reasonable. Given that the remit was, as Mr Barton said, to

“investigate, access all the documents and interview people, so that we can make a recommendation”,

Mr Ellis had to see everything. Mr Barton also said quite clearly that

“It is legitimate for a senior police officer or a member of the Scottish Police Federation to sit down with their solicitor and to be absolutely sure that those conversations are sacrosanct.—[Official Report, Justice Sub-Committee on Policing, 22 February 2018; c 11.]

That is a given. That is not what we are talking about here.

Deputy Chief Constable Fitzpatrick: I may be able to help. That issue came up with Mr Barton in our discussions in January and February—in fact in February, as I recollect; we also had an exchange of letters about it. I have just noted that, from my letter of 22 February 2017, I was able to confirm to him that we were waiving legal privilege in relation to the briefing documents that he required for his investigation.

Another issue related to access to a telecommunications product. As I said, when in the course of our conversation Mr Barton raised one or two issues with me that he felt that we needed to progress, I was able to resolve them, as far as that was possible. I think that that has a bearing on the point that you were just asking about, Mrs Mitchell.

Margaret Mitchell: It most certainly has. It took three months—the issue goes right to the heart of the criticism that the legal department was risk averse, that it was not open and that it was not transparent. Given the benefit of the analysis that has been made and the fact that the correspondence was subsequently released—albeit three months later—would you care to reflect now as to whether you might do things differently in future?

Duncan Campbell: The correspondence that I sent to Mr Ellis was sent sooner than the date that Deputy Chief Constable Fitzpatrick refers to in terms of the briefing note.

As far as being risk averse is concerned, my role in providing advice to Deputy Chief Constable Fitzpatrick and to colleagues in the professional standards department is to be risk aware, rather than risk averse—in other words, to be aware of the risks that would arise if certain courses of action were followed and to offer advice on that premise.

Margaret Mitchell: Your advice was to not release.

Duncan Campbell: No. With respect, my advice was not against releasing—it was not to not release. My advice to the chief constable was, “It is your privilege and it is for you to determine whether to waive it. It is not for me to waive the privilege on your behalf”.

Margaret Mitchell: So what took three months? If you looked at it and the request was made, I would have thought that you would have passed on that information. Did it take you three months to come to that conclusion? Who made the decision ultimately that the information would be released?

Duncan Campbell: It was not a decision that was taken by me. I initially reflected the situation back to Deputy Chief Constable Livingstone, the day after I had seen Mr Ellis. I explained to him that, in part, a request had been made for access to privileged material. It was suggested to me that that might be quite an unusual request and that I should reflect that back to Mr Ellis, which I did the following day.

Margaret Mitchell: Why did it take three months to release these emails? They were subsequently released.

Deputy Chief Constable Fitzpatrick: As I said, when we had our discussions at the end of January and in February, this was one of the issues that Mr Barton raised with me. I was able to confirm to him that, having had a discussion with the chief constable, we would be happy to provide the briefing documents that he was requesting.

Margaret Mitchell: Perhaps I can put this another way: is there a problem with communication? It took three months, but you have still not told me why. This investigation should have been going smoothly, and these emails should—as it turns out—have been released. They were subsequently released, but why did it take three months to do so?

Deputy Chief Constable Fitzpatrick: I came to the issue at the end of January and the beginning of February. I was appointed as decision maker on 14 February, and I was able to confirm to Mr Barton on 22 February, as a result of his raising the matter with me, that we would be providing him with the material.

Margaret Mitchell: Are you saying that you only came to this late and that, in other words, it was somebody else’s problem?

Deputy Chief Constable Fitzpatrick: I am saying that as soon as I became aware of the matter, I sought to have it resolved, as it was.

Margaret Mitchell: Are there lessons to be learned?

Deputy Chief Constable Fitzpatrick: There are indeed. As I have said, the lessons that are set out in Mr Barton’s report and our discussions with him along the way form the basis of a significant amount of organisational learning for us not only in relation to the original matters of the IPT and IOCCO, but subsequently.

Margaret Mitchell: With respect, we have had such platitudes before. You have come here today, fully aware of the evidence that was given two weeks ago about this gap, and you are seeking to reassure us that things have moved on and that everything was quite amicable at the end. However, that is not the case. No criminality was found, and I am afraid that what we are hearing today merely sounds inept.

I want to ask about data protection and the request for the addresses of the retired officers, which was refused. Whose decision was that, and what was the reason for the refusal?

Deputy Chief Constable Fitzpatrick: Shall I take that?

Duncan Campbell: Yes.

Deputy Chief Constable Fitzpatrick: As we know, every organisation has responsibilities with regard to data, and they are set out in data protection legislation. As retired officers are effectively members of the public, we have a responsibility for their data, including their personal details. Again, Mr Barton raised with me the point that this seemed to be taking some time—

Margaret Mitchell: Can I stop you there? We were told at our previous meeting that

“lawyers in Police Scotland said that we were not allowed to know where those retired officers lived”.—[Official Report, Justice Sub-Committee on Policing, 22 February 2018; c 11.]

We are talking not about a member of the public or somebody with an interest, but about the person in charge of the investigation. As it is really a legal question, I feel that I have to ask Mr Campbell about it.

Duncan Campbell: I first became aware that access to retired officers was an issue when I was shown the letter from Mr Barton dated 7 February, which I think is before you. I was shown the letter either that day or possibly the next. When you look at the Official Report of Mr Barton’s evidence on 22 February, you might form the impression that I or one of my colleagues had already given some advice or instruction that home addresses were not to be released.

I hope that I can reassure you that that was not the case. We had not had any involvement in the matter until receipt of the letter of 7 February. I discussed it with Deputy Chief Constable Fitzpatrick; the next day—I think—we discussed a number of matters, which were reflected in her letter of 13 February and one of which was the way in which we proposed to resolve the issue of access. We wanted to facilitate access, but to ensure that we did so in a lawful and proportionate way.

Margaret Mitchell: You say that you did not give legal advice, but was Mr Barton told by someone else that it was legal advice? If so, that was erroneous, given that two months later he got the information about where the retired police officers lived. How was the matter resolved?

Deputy Chief Constable Fitzpatrick: In my letter to Mr Barton of 13 February, there was an undertaking to resolve it—in fact, by that stage, it was in hand. We were doing what we were required to do in relation to personal information, which was to contact the individuals and ask them whether they were happy for us to provide that information—that is, their contact details—to Durham Constabulary.

Margaret Mitchell: Finally, on professional standards, Mr Barton said that he moved as fast as he could,

“and the only times that we paused were when we asked for preliminary assessments. At any time in our inquiry, the officers in the professional standards department could have done a preliminary assessment. If they had done that, they could have switched the process, even under their arcane rules, into an investigation, and they chose not to do that”.

Mr Barton then makes the main point when he says:

“We gave them ample opportunity on a number of occasions to switch to a full investigation. We were balked in speaking to some people because we were not given the addresses and we were balked because we were not allowed to see what were assessed as being legally privileged documents, although they were not. I just wanted to comment on timeliness.”—[Official Report, Justice Sub-Committee on Policing, 22 February 2018; c 14-5.]

There seems to have been a five-month delay in this process. Do you wish to respond, Mr McDowall?

Superintendent McDowall: I must confess that I am somewhat perplexed as to how we could suddenly jump from a complaints investigation straight into a conduct investigation. We have already discussed the regulation 10 preliminary assessment process, and as the conduct portfolio lead for Police Scotland, I would point out that the regulation 10 process follows on from an appointment of an investigating officer by the deputy chief constable to investigate misconduct matters. Legally in Scotland, we are not allowed to investigate police misconduct unless that process has been undertaken. As I mentioned to Mr Stevenson, the basis on which we formulated the regulation 10 preliminary assessment was the concluded—and conclusive—Durham report. We could not have appointed an investigating officer without having gone through that legal regulatory process.

Margaret Mitchell: I remain unconvinced by these explanations, and I am somewhat concerned that, despite areas being put into in the public domain at the committee’s previous meeting, we still do not have any answers. Perhaps you will reflect on that as we move forward.

Ben Macpherson (Edinburgh Northern and Leith) (SNP): Good afternoon. Going back to the legal opinions, I believe that Deputy Chief Constable Fitzpatrick said that decisions were made on 30 January with regard to the terms of reference. Was that when the decision to seek senior counsel was made?

Deputy Chief Constable Fitzpatrick: I am afraid that I cannot recall exactly when the decision was made.

Ben Macpherson: Would it have been thereabouts?

Deputy Chief Constable Fitzpatrick: My first meeting with Mr Barton was on 30 January and we were talking about those issues at that point.

Ben Macpherson: In following up that meeting, I want to ask two real questions. First, why was senior counsel rather than internal legal advice sought? What was the position in that respect? Secondly, was Mr Barton content and in agreement with the process of seeking senior counsel?

Deputy Chief Constable Fitzpatrick: First of all, I wanted to take the best possible advice to make an informed decision about this. Internal legal advice will, of course, be part of that, but senior counsel’s advice will relate to very specific points, and I think that it is common for most organisations and many police services to seek senior counsel’s advice on particularly important or complex matters. I am not suggesting for a moment that I could not have had in-house advice—in fact, I was receiving that advice where that was appropriate—but it is called “senior counsel” for a reason and I wanted to make sure that we were getting the best possible focus on the matter.

I certainly discussed that with Mr Barton. I made him aware on both occasions—and when he came back with his specific proposal, too—that we were taking advice, and I was very frank in discussing the content of that advice with him. I know that Mr Barton told the committee that he took legal advice himself and ultimately, as our exchange of letters suggests, and as he mentions in his final letter to us after his report was received, we agreed to differ. However, we agreed to proceed on the basis of the legal advice that we as Police Scotland had received.

Ben Macpherson: But there was no objection from him at the time about your instructing senior counsel.

Deputy Chief Constable Fitzpatrick: I do not think so—I do not recollect that at all. We had a number of conversations about the matter. We knew the points on which we differed professionally with regard to our interpretation of the Scottish regulations, and I hope that I was very open with him about what I intended to do.

Ben Macpherson: I ask the question simply because of Mr Barton’s position that Police Scotland was—to use his phrase—“overly legalistic” in the process. I know from having instructed senior counsel in a previous role that it can take longer and that that perhaps led to the time delay. Moreover, it is often the case that different legal opinions are sought from different advocates. Was that ever considered?

Deputy Chief Constable Fitzpatrick: I am trying to think whether I specifically considered that—I do not think so. As you have suggested, I was quite mindful of time; I asked for senior counsel’s view to be taken, but I did not specify which senior counsel it should have been. I am not a lawyer myself. In fact, because the two matters were taken so closely together, it was for the benefit of time that we decided to take opinion on the general point and on the very specific proposal.

Ben Macpherson: Paragraphs 51 and 52 of the first legal opinion, in particular, state the risk in senior counsel’s view of judicial review. Was Mr Barton receptive to that risk and did he understand it?

Deputy Chief Constable Fitzpatrick: He must have been receptive, because we ultimately agreed to proceed on the basis of my decision to follow the legal advice that I had received. I was very clear that this was not some abstract matter and that Police Scotland had already been judicially reviewed on a very similar issue, so this was not about having some abstract discussion of what might happen.

Ben Macpherson: And the decision to take legal opinion and the opinion that was given were not questioned or dismissed by Mr Barton.

Deputy Chief Constable Fitzpatrick: We discussed it, and I did not find Mr Barton to be dismissive at all. I hope that he did not find me dismissive, either. We were two professionals who both appreciated the importance and complexity of this particular issue; we were both very determined to do right by the issue and the people involved, particularly the complainers, and to take things forward in an effective way. We agreed to differ. As I understand it, we both took legal advice and then agreed to proceed on the basis of the legal advice that we had received.

Ben Macpherson: The debate over the interpretation of the 2014 regulations prolonged the investigative process, and it has been stated that that had an adverse effect on the individuals involved. Do you accept that?

Deputy Chief Constable Fitzpatrick: I have accepted that, and I had the opportunity—for which I was grateful—to apologise in person to three of the four complainers on 1 March and in a letter to all four complainers on the same day not only for the failings that occurred in 2015 but for the subsequent impact on them and their families. I am mindful of that, and I know that Mr Barton was very mindful of it. The discussions that we had when I formally took this on in February and March led Mr Barton to conclude his investigation and his report was with us on, I believe, 12 May.

Ben Macpherson: Being mindful of all of that, what steps do you think will need to be taken to avoid any confusion with regard to the application of the 2014 regulations to any future inquiries or investigations that need to be carried out?

Deputy Chief Constable Fitzpatrick: As a result of the discussions that we had, particularly with Mr Barton and the Durham Constabulary investigation team, not only did we get a very thorough, diligent and professional report from them, which enabled us to progress the processes, but, as you will recall, we went on to develop terms of reference for the PSNI to carry out the conduct investigation. I felt that it was important that we were very clear about those, and we both understood exactly the legislative framework that we would be operating under. The PSNI was happy with that. My personal learning was to take my discussions with Mr Barton on the terms of reference and the difference of view that had arisen into the very early discussions with the PSNI to ensure agreement on its terms of reference.

Ben Macpherson: So despite the admitted delay and the potential damage that that could have had, there has been a constructive outcome to this with regard to future investigations.

Deputy Chief Constable Fitzpatrick: Indeed. We have a lot of lessons to learn. As I have said, we had already put that into practice in asking the PSNI to do the work that it has done.

Daniel Johnson: I seek a technical clarification on the nature of this disagreement. My understanding is that, in Scotland, we separate the complaint from the subsequent investigation, and Police Scotland’s contention is that the investigator in the investigation cannot have had any previous involvement in the handling of the complaint, as that would undermine the requirement in the police regulations for the investigating officer to be impartial. Am I correct in understanding the crux of this disagreement?

Deputy Chief Constable Fitzpatrick: I understand, too, that that was the crux of the disagreement. That is what formed the basis of the legal advice. As I think I said in answer to Mr Macpherson, this was not an abstract issue for us; we had previously been judicially reviewed on the point and had had to concede it.

Daniel Johnson: That was helpful. Thank you.

Liam McArthur (Orkney Islands) (LD): A little like other members, I am struggling a bit to reconcile the evidence that we had on 22 February from Chief Constable Barton, which was of the moment and reflecting back on what had happened. At that stage, he still felt moved to make some more serious criticisms than the more reassuring tone that you have sought to strike today. That is probably material for the committee in so far as it tends to suggest that, when it comes to lessons learned, you are more reassured than Chief Constable Barton and his colleagues are. I will leave that hanging there for the moment.

On the basis of the evidence that we have had, a couple of things have leapt out at me. It is staggering that access to retired officers was not identified as a potential issue and resolved, not in terms of each case, but in terms of handling, and agreed with Durham when the investigation was initiated. I cannot understand why that almost came as a surprise and out of left field after Durham had been asked to undertake an investigation. Is it not standard procedure? At some stage, there will undoubtedly—almost inevitably—be a request to make an approach to retired officers. How would Police Scotland respond? I can understand why you might need to seek permission but, for the life of me, I cannot understand why you would not anticipate that arising in the early stages—not just at some point, but in the early stages—of the investigation.

Deputy Chief Constable Fitzpatrick: You have quite rightly identified an area of learning for us in terms of preparation for these things. It is something that we took into our discussions with PSNI about what it would need in order to facilitate its subsequent independent conduct investigation.

Liam McArthur: Again, in passing, some of what Chief Constable Barton was referring to when he talked about an attitude and a lack of transparency was reflected in the level of redaction in the reports that were handed to us. I entirely understand and respect the requirement to redact reports of this nature, but it seemed that the extent of the redaction, including of information that was in the public domain, spoke to an approach that Chief Constable Barton was moved to suggest was overly secretive.

I turn to the issue of the pastoral care. There has never been any disagreement around the fact that the four individuals concerned were gravely wronged, as Chief Constable Barton said. You have said that you were determined to do the right thing by the complainers. As I understand it, the IOCCO reported to Police Scotland in July 2015. Chief Constable Barton then suggested that the first contact that was made by Police Scotland with the four was in February 2016. Having been made aware of IOCCO’s concerns, why on earth did it take Police Scotland seven months—or whatever it was—to approach those affected? DCC Fitzpatrick, I appreciate that this predates your involvement but, again, I find that absolutely staggering.

Deputy Chief Constable Fitzpatrick: I am afraid that I do not know why it took so long. While we are on the subject of learning, having been asked to become the decision maker in this officially on 14 February, although I was in discussions with Mr Barton in late January—and we agreed whole-heartedly on this—I was determined to offer to meet the complainers as soon as possible and to offer them what I described in my letters to them as a whole-hearted and unreserved apology. I touched on this briefly earlier. That apology was not only for the failings in our processes and procedures around the communications data that the IOCCO and IPT had identified in 2015, but for the impact on them and their families at the time of those acts and since then. I was very grateful that three of the complainers agreed to meet me and I completely understood that the fourth did not choose to do so.

Liam McArthur: My understanding is that the apology was welcome and acknowledged for being as fulsome as you suggest but, just to get this clear, you were apologising for what happened and the impact that it had. Was it also an apology for the lack of on-going engagement and seeming concern for the wellbeing of the existing and retired officers throughout this process?

We have heard from colleagues of yours. In a number of evidence sessions, Deputy Chief Constable Designate Livingstone has made great play of the priority he attaches to the wellbeing of officers and of staff. That was glaringly absent throughout the process, and its absence is potentially on-going. I do not know the outcome of the discussions that you have had but I presume that the impact is also on-going. Certainly the complainants do not feel that the matter has been resolved for them, so I assume that Police Scotland is committed to continuing to work through whatever might bring about a resolution, subject to the willingness on the part of the complainants to engage.

Deputy Chief Constable Fitzpatrick: One of the striking things for me—and I think that this is the case for anybody who sits down with someone—when I spoke individually to the three complainers who agreed to meet with me on 1 March 2017, was to listen to them and to hear what the impact on them had been. Of course, I intended to apologise to them, and I did apologise to them directly and individually, but I also heard about the impact on them and on their families.

The work on wellbeing that Mr Livingstone has spoken to the committee about certainly needs to include our processes and procedures for serving officers, whatever their status and whatever the circumstances of our relationship with them in the future.

Liam McArthur: To be clear, that meeting on 1 March is not an end point. Notwithstanding the fact that the apology that was being sought was offered at that stage, is there an on-going commitment to engagement if that is felt to be necessary by those involved?

Deputy Chief Constable Fitzpatrick: Yes. Absolutely, if indeed it is. As you will know, a number of the complainers have retired, but we still have a responsibility to any of them who have not retired.

One of the most significant points of learning for us was probably the fact that there was a very long gap, which you have identified. With Durham Constabulary’s help, I was able to meet the complainers at the beginning of March and that was an important part of what I felt was my responsibility at that time.

The Convener: DCC Fitzpatrick, given the profile and seriousness of the issue, which Police Scotland has acknowledged, a lot of people will be astonished that the outcome is that you have learned things but no one has been culpable in any way. You have a range of disposals. You could reprimand someone or you could caution them. You could send them for additional training. There has been none of that. Where are the individuals who have been involved in this?

Concern has been expressed to this committee that, although these people have been acquitted—and I readily accept that—they are now in more promoted posts. The reason I raise that is because there are genuine concerns about reputational damage and the signal that that sends out. Can you comment on why, after all this, no one even gets spoken to?

Deputy Chief Constable Fitzpatrick: That is not quite the case.

The Convener: What disposals were used then, please?

Deputy Chief Constable Fitzpatrick: Seven officers were the subject of the PSNI’s independent conduct inquiry. The PSNI investigation report found that a number of allegations were proven, on the balance of probabilities, but there was no evidence of wilful acts of misconduct. It also described how, although there was no evidence of wilful actions, there was clearly recklessness, and that chimed entirely with the IOCCO and IPT findings that we had been reckless as an organisation. The PSNI found that some of those individuals had been reckless in their own individual behaviour and it also identified failures in leadership systems and processes.

Of the seven officers, four were subject to what we call improvement action, which is a disposal aimed at focusing on why they had behaved in that way and them taking action to make sure that it did not occur again. The PSNI also determined that three individuals were peripheral—that is my word—to these issues, and no further action was taken. For four of the individuals, therefore, action plans were put in place to make sure that their future actions are not likely to lead to adverse outcomes.

The Convener: How many of the seven have subsequently been promoted?

Deputy Chief Constable Fitzpatrick: I am afraid I do not have that information, convener. I am happy to provide it to the committee if it would help.

Liam McArthur: Just following up on that, earlier we discussed the lack of access to officers who are now retired. I presume that any improvement actions cannot be applied to those that have retired. Did the PSNI report shed any light on that?

You have talked about reckless behaviour and a lack of leadership. One would assume that something more than improvement actions would be required in the event of reckless actions, so did the PSNI have anything to say about the behaviour and involvement of retired officers and whether, had they still been in the force, more serious measures might have been necessary and appropriate in the circumstances?

Deputy Chief Constable Fitzpatrick: Yes, it did. The PSNI observed that it had not been able to engage with officers who had retired because, of course, the conduct regulations fall when an officer retires from policing. The PSNI observed that, on the basis of what it knew, it felt that other action might have been appropriate. Of course, it also observed that it had not been able to engage with or interview those officers. At that stage, that was a judgment as opposed to something that it could say to us was a matter of fact.

Liam McArthur: Is that then something that you can take learning from, even if you can take no action because of the status of the officers as being retired? Are there lessons to be learned from that going forward?

Deputy Chief Constable Fitzpatrick: Yes, to the extent that it is important to learn from all of these things. The issue here of course was the conduct regulations, which differ from those in England and Wales and under which there is no way of compelling individuals who have retired to engage with a conduct investigation. In fact, the conduct investigation has no locus for them at all because they are no longer serving as police officers. That particular point is a regulatory issue and not something that we have control over.

Liam McArthur: Given the role of this Parliament in looking at where regulation is and is not working, would you support our looking at that? Is it a deficiency in the way that the regulations are structured that, by dint of retiring, an officer can escape any sort of sanction, not for criminal offences, but for serious misdemeanours on their part?

Deputy Chief Constable Fitzpatrick: There is a range of views about that in policing. The 2014 conduct regulations have been in place for more than four years. There is learning about the regulations, just as there has been organisational learning for us all the way through in other matters in relation to CCU and comms data and so on. I think it is very wise to keep these things under review.

The Convener: Can you tell us why you cannot publish the PSNI report?

Deputy Chief Constable Fitzpatrick: Again, I look to Superintendent McDowall to keep me right on this, but my understanding of the conduct regulations is that, under the arrangements that exist in England and Wales, for example, hearings—in particular, on conduct matters—may be held in public, whereas that does not apply in Scotland. There is a presumption in the conduct regulations that misconduct proceedings—that is, on the conduct of the misconduct—will be in private and that people therefore have an expectation of privacy.

The Convener: My question is specifically on the report and why it is not possible for it to be published, even in redacted form. I express some surprise, because I would have expected that, as the disciplinary authority, you would have a full grasp of the small number of regulations that comprise the conduct regulations.

Deputy Chief Constable Fitzpatrick: I am sorry if the committee thinks that I do not have—

The Convener: I am only going by your comment that it was your understanding. I would have thought—

Deputy Chief Constable Fitzpatrick: My understanding is that there is an issue around the misconduct process, and the proceedings being in private. I was going to ask Mr McDowall, as my left-hand man here, to put me right if I had misinterpreted the regulations.

Superintendent McDowall: Absolutely. The police misconduct proceedings in Scotland are private proceedings. That is not similar to England and Wales. As a result—I do not think that this refers just to the specific matter of the PSNI investigation—it is important that we maintain consistency, not just for regulatory compliance but for all other misconduct regulations, which are not put into the public domain.

The Convener: Was the information that there were to be no proceedings shared with the complainers?

Deputy Chief Constable Fitzpatrick: I wrote to the complainers on 30 June with the result of the complaints investigation. The letters were very lengthy.

The Convener: That was the Durham Constabulary report. What about the PSNI report?

Deputy Chief Constable Fitzpatrick: That is right. I am trying to look now—[Interruption.] On 15 January, when we were speaking to the subject officers and letting them know the outcome of the conduct investigations into them—I am sorry; that took me a moment, because there have been so many letters on this—letters from me were hand delivered to each of the four complainers. Therefore, the complainers heard the outcome on the same day as the officers who had been subject to the misconduct investigation.

The Convener: Are you able to share how they responded to your decision not to institute proceedings?

Deputy Chief Constable Fitzpatrick: I think that that is a matter for them, convener.

The Convener: On the point about the retention of material and the recent exchanges on that, Police Scotland used quite an unusual phrase, if you do not mind me saying so, when it referred to any material on Police Scotland databases that did not “reflect the truth”. Can you explain what that means, please?

Deputy Chief Constable Fitzpatrick: Yes; I hope so. The committee will be aware that the original material that led to the IOCCO breach was one set of material; ultimately, the IPT judgment governs the disposal of that material. I understand that four of the complainers, three of whom were serving officers at the time, had some concerns, quite rightly, about other material about them that might be held on any of our databases—for example on our human resources database, or our professional standards database. When we talk about material that does not reflect the truth of these matters, that means any material that the complainers feel does not effectively represent the truth.

The IPT order governs the material that relates to the authorisations and the communications data. In speaking to the three complainers, as I did on 1 March 2017, I wanted to assure them of the fact that, if there was any material that they felt did not reflect truthfully what had happened, we would be very open to removing that material from any of our databases, such as our intelligence, HR, complaints or other databases.

The Convener: The complainers used the words “delivering our remedy”. Do you think that Police Scotland has delivered a remedy for people who have been wronged?

Deputy Chief Constable Fitzpatrick: There are two aspects to that. One is the effective remedy, which is referred to by the IPT; it was determined that that could come about only by an independent investigation into what has happened. Effectively, we have had two independent investigations. I know from speaking to the complainers when I met them on 1 March last year that they feel very gravely wronged in this matter, so for me there is that separate issue about what people feel personally is an effective remedy. Again, I cannot answer for the complainers on that, because I know that that is a very personal view.

The Convener: Do you think that it is legitimate that they continue to feel wronged?

Deputy Chief Constable Fitzpatrick: Absolutely. As I said to them when I met them, and as I have repeated in my letters to them, I feel that we failed them absolutely as an organisation, and that we continued to fail them by not being in contact with them. I continue to offer them my whole-hearted apologies for that failing.

The Convener: What reassurance can you give the people of Scotland that we will not see a repetition of this abuse?

Deputy Chief Constable Fitzpatrick: I have spoken about organisational learning. I think that it is very easy to use the phrase “organisational learning”, but I also think that it is legitimate to ensure that those lessons are actually implemented and that they effect change.

As the committee is aware, HM inspectorate of constabulary carried out a very early assurance review of our CCU arrangements, which has led to substantial change. The 39 recommendations that HMICS made have all either been completed or, in the case of three, are finally proposed for closure. In fact, HMICS is back with us to conduct a further review of our progress in implementing those recommendations. There is independent assurance around whether we have moved on from those days.

The Convener: Thank you. The committee will seek an update from the inspectorate on that work. Are there any further questions?

Margaret Mitchell: May I comment on one thing? It concerns the information that should be withdrawn. You said that it was about regulation, and that it did not fully reflect the truth. We were told quite bluntly that it had been made up. Unless you speak very plainly and say, “A spade is in fact a spade, we are holding up our hands to that and we will address it”, the lack of openness, transparency and accountability in how senior management—we are not talking about the rank and file—are getting on with their jobs on a daily basis, will mean that we will be here on a regular basis. At a senior level, openness, transparency and accountability must be at the very heart of what you do.

The Convener: Do you wish to respond, DCC Fitzpatrick? We are very keen that there is maximum engagement with the inspectorate on following up those 39 recommendations.

Deputy Chief Constable Fitzpatrick: Indeed, convener. I will respond to Mrs Mitchell’s point. We have asked Durham Constabulary, and it has very kindly agreed, to provide independent assurance on the process of removing material that, as I said, does not reflect the truth on all of our databases.

The Convener: I thank you all very much for your evidence. We now move into private session.

14:21 Meeting continued in private until 14:30

Meanwhile a day after the woeful evidence from Police Scotland witnesses to MSPs, information has emerged at an employment tribunal that Deputy Chief Constable Rose Fitzpatrick asked for relocation expenses to be paid by cash transfer.

A former accountant with the Scottish Police Authority (SPA) – Amy McDonald told the tribunal that the payment would not have gone through the payroll system, where it would have been taxed.

Mrs McDonald said this was akin to a bonus payment and was against SPA and government rules.

The tribunal heard that the senior accountant was frozen out by the SPA after raising objections.

Previously at the tribunal hearings, Mrs McDonald had also revealed four unnamed senior SPA figures had received significant payments of public cash – totalling £350,000.

Mrs MacDonald claims the four who received the payments should not have been entitled to them.

The payments included a £165,000 “golden handshake” for a senior executive who had been arrested for domestic abuse just weeks previously.

Mrs McDonald – who was the Scottish Police Authority’s director of Financial Accountability – told the tribunal she raised objections with the watchdog’s officials.

Two months after raising concerns, Mrs McDonald informed the public spending watchdog Audit Scotland and Justice Secretary Michael Matheson.

As a result, Audit Scotland probed issues raised and published a scathing report into the SPA’s finances in December, criticising the “unacceptable” use of taxpayers’ money – which has not been repaid.

DCC Fitzpatrick became Scotland’s most senior female police officer when she moved from the Metropolitan Police in London in 2012, ahead of the formation of Police Scotland in April 2013.

The Audit Scotland report said the deputy chief constable was given £18,000 to relocate during the 2014/15 financial year, and another £49,000 for a similar move in 2016/17.

Mrs McDonald told the employment tribunal hearing in Glasgow that DCC Fitzpatrick had asked for a cash transfer to be made for the expenses although by the time she made the request she had lived in Scotland for four years.

Mrs McDonald said: “I could not see any exceptional circumstances to support this payment of relocation expenses.

“There was no event or circumstance which I can see to support the claim.”

Mrs McDonald said DCC Fitzpatrick viewed the payment as more akin to a bonus and added: “The SPA does not allow bonuses to be paid. And Scottish government rules also prevent bonuses from being paid.”

Mrs McDonald said normally such payments would go through the payroll.

Ms McDonald said: “The deputy chief constable asked for a cash transfer. This is something which does not go through the tax system.”

In its report, Audit Scotland said relocation money paid to DCC Fitzpatrick and a further £53,000 to settle her tax liability in 2017 “did not represent a good use” of public funds.

While Audit Scotland rebuked the SPA for its poor accounting of these payments, none of the public funds have been repaid.

A BBC Scotland article reports that Ms McDonald’s tribunal case relates to hundreds of thousands of pounds in further payments received by other senior figures in policing from the SPA, all of which she says she raised concerns about through the body’s whistleblowing policy.

However, a court order obtained by the SPA prevents the names of those senior figures – who received large payments of public cash – from being revealed in connection with the proceedings.

Mrs McDonald is a qualified chartered accountant who joined the SPA as director of financial accountability in 2014. However, and possibly as a result of raising objections to matters of financial accountability, Mrs McDonald is no longer in a financial role at the SPA having moved to a position with its forensic science team.

The case in which the details of cash demands by DCC Fitzpatrick have emerged relates to an action brought by Mrs McDonald – who claims she has suffered as a result of highlighting the potential financial wrongdoing.

BBC Scotland has further revealed that the tribunal later heard that after Mrs McDonald had submitted her grievance, she was warned she had posed a terrorist threat to DCC Fitzpatrick.

In her application to the tribunal she had said that the deputy chief constable had sold her house but insisted she had only revealed the town and county where it was located.

Asked what she understood the threat to be, she said: “I had put DCC Fitzpatrick’s personal safety at risk, potentially she could come to great harm as a consequence.

“Not harm just for DCC Fitzpatrick but for her family as well.”

Mrs McDonald said she was extremely frightened by this and was put under a great deal of stress.

Further information payments to DCC Rose Fitzpatrick can be found in the Scottish Sun here: Law unto themselves – Police Scotland branded ‘dodgy tax haven’ for wrongly listing part of top cop’s taxpayer-funded £120k relocation deal as childcare vouchers

Events have further moved on today, with the announcement that the deputy chair of the Scottish Police Authority – Nicola Marchant – who was appointed under the former chair Andrew Flanagan – is to resign from her role on 21 March.

In a statement issued by the Scottish Police Authority, SPA Board member, Nicola Marchant, has announced her resignation from the Board of the SPA having stood down as Deputy Chair last month.

Dr Marchant informed the Cabinet Secretary and SPA Chair earlier this week and will step down on 21 March 2018.

Susan Deacon, Chair of the SPA said: “I want to thank Nicola for the contribution she has made to the SPA over the last two and a half years as a Board member, as Deputy Chair and most recently for her work on the Executive Review of the SPA. I wish her well for the future.”

Politicians have described this as a good move, however, there has been recent criticism of the new SPA Chair Susan Deacon’s praise of the Scottish Government’s approach to policing, raising questions as to whether Ms Deacon – who replaced Andrew Flanagan as SPA Chair – will fair any better in bringing transparency to the discredited Scottish Police Authority.

Previous articles on the Scottish Police Authority can be found here: Scottish Police Authority – Poor governance, private meetings & lack of accountability at Police regulator

 

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TOP COP SECRETS: Transparency lacking at Police Scotland as spy scandal cops refuse to disclose files on complaints & historical sexual assault case details involving Deputy Chief Constable Iain Livingstone

Police Scotland refused to disclose secret files on top cop. SCOTLAND’S single national Police service – Police Scotland has refused to disclose details of secret files on a case involving allegations of sexual assault against the force’s most senior office – Deputy Chief Constable Iain Livingstone.

The force also refused to disclose any non-disclosure agreements which may have been part of any settlement of the case – which ultimately led to the female officer leaving her job,

And, the information has been categorised as so sensitive, Police Scotland refuse to confirm if the files even exist.

The move came in relation to Freedom of Information requests seeking details of information held by Police Scotland on accusations and allegations of sexual assault made by a female Police Officer against current DCC Iain Livingstone during his time in Lothian and Borders Police.

Also sought for disclosure was information contained in any discussions or misconduct hearings in relation to these allegations and information contained in any admissions by Iain Livingstone with regards to these allegations and, any information contained in any non-disclosure agreements, termination of employment, resignation or retirement of any persons or Police Officers making these allegations against Iain Livingstone.

However a statement from Police Scotland in response to the Freedom of Information request refused any form of disclosure or acknowledgement of the status of any files held by Scotland’s single national Police service – who said:

“Police Scotland endeavours to provide information whenever possible. However, under section 18(1) of the Act, a public authority may refuse a request where:

• if the information existed and was held by the authority, it would be exempt from release under any of Sections 28 to 35, 38, 39(1) or 41 of the Act; and

• the authority considers that to reveal whether the information exists, or is held by it, would be contrary to the public interest.

In this instance, it is considered that to reveal whether the information you have requested exists, or is held by Police Scotland, would be both exempt from release under the Act and contrary to the public interest. There is a strong public interest in protecting individuals’ privacy, and personal information is exempt from release into the public domain under section 38 of the Act if it would be unfair, unlawful or otherwise breach the Data Protection Act.

For these reasons, Police Scotland must refuse your request under section 18(1) of the Act.

This notice should not be taken as conclusive evidence that the information you have requested exists or is held.”

Issues surrounding the allegations of sexual assault made by a female Police Officer against Iain Livingstone while he served at Lothian & Borders Police in 2003 resurfaced during recent scrutiny of Police Scotland over the past year.

Livingstone was however, cleared of the allegations by a hearing chaired by another senior Police officer – John McLean, Strathclyde assistant chief constable. The Police led hearing on allegations against Police Superintendent Livingstone established there had been no sexual impropriety or intent on Mr Livingstone’s part.

However, interest in the 2003 case and details surrounding it has resurfaced – after the single Police service – created by the Scottish Government in 2013 – was hit by several scandals including numerous suspensions of senior officers, allegations of Ministerial meddling with ultimately led to the ousting of Chief Constable Phil Gormley, and the ongoing probe into senior officers use of a surveillance unit within Police Scotland to illegally spy on journalists & cops.

At the time of the sexual assault allegations in 2003, Iain Livingstone, 37, was working as an aide to Scotland’s most senior police officer, Sir Roy Cameron, at Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary, when he was suspended in February 2003 over the claims – which arose from a drunken party at the Scottish Police College at Tulliallan.

It was reported at the time that Iain Livingstone – previously a solicitor and member of the Law Society of Scotland – had been suspended for 17 months after the WPC claimed she had been sexually assaulted during the party.

Five allegations of serious sexual assault made by the female Police officer against Livingstone were dismissed – but, at an internal misconduct hearing, Mr Livingstone admitted less serious allegations, including being in the woman’s room overnight after falling asleep.

A qualified lawyer and member of the Law society of Scotland, Mr Livingstone switched careers in 1992, joining Lothian and Borders Police. In just 10 years, he reached the rank of superintendent.

Livingstone was ultimately demoted from superintendent to constable following the disciplinary hearing, although is now in the position of caretaker Chief Constable of Police Scotland, while the Scottish Government attempt to find another ‘suitable’ candidate to fill the Chief Constable post vacated by Phil Gormley.

However, recent interest in the case surfaced after it emerged DCC Iain Livingston was being promoted to fill the Chief Constable slot vacated by Gormley – who had effectively been ousted from his job after Justice Secretary Michael Matheson intervened in a decision taken by the Scottish Police Authority to allow Mr Gormley to return to work

And, it later emerged that during evidence given by Deputy Chief Constable Iain Livingstone to the Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee, neither Livingstone or the Justice Sub Committee Convener John Finnie declared they knew each other, after papers revealed Mr Finnie had represented Mr Livingstone when he was cleared of the sexual misconduct claims in 2003.

In a further refusal to disclose information on the current top cop in Scotland, Police Scotland refused to reveal any information in relation to additional complaints made against Deputy Chief Constable Iain Livingstone.

And, again, Police Scotland refused even to confirm if such information was held – this despite information already available in the public arena including discussions on social media platforms relating to additional complaints made against DCC Livingstone by Police Officers.

A request for information relating to numbers of complaints, subject of complaints, and identities (not name, but by rank, status as Police Officer, civilian employee, member of the public or other) – who have made complaints (and the numbers of complaints) against current DCC Iain Livingstone from 1 April 2013 to the date of this FOI request and the status, and outcomes of these complaints – resulted in the following response from Police Scotland, with a refusal to disclose:

“Police Scotland endeavours to provide information whenever possible. However, under section 18(1) of the Act, a public authority may refuse a request where:

• if the information existed and was held by the authority, it would be exempt from release under any of Sections 28 to 35, 38, 39(1) or 41 of the Act; and

• the authority considers that to reveal whether the information exists, or is held by it, would be contrary to the public interest.

In this instance, it is considered that to reveal whether the information you have requested exists, or is held by Police Scotland, would be both exempt from release under the Act and contrary to the public interest. There is a strong public interest in protecting individuals’ privacy, and personal information is exempt from release into the public domain under section 38 of the Act if it would be unfair, unlawful or otherwise breach the Data Protection Act.

For these reasons, Police Scotland must refuse your request under section 18(1) of the Act.

This notice should not be taken as conclusive evidence that the information you have requested exists or is held.”

And, it emerged in February of this year that during evidence given by Deputy Chief Constable Iain Livingstone to the Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee, neither Livingstone or the Justice Sub Committee Convener John Finnie declared any previous links to each other while Livingstone testified before MSPs.

A report in the Sunday Mail newspaper in February revealed Mr Finnie – previously a serving Police Officer and representative for the Scottish Police Federation (SPF) – had represented Mr Livingstone when he was cleared of the sexual misconduct claims in 2003.

The issue was reported by the Sunday Mail newspaper here:

Green MSP under fire after failing to reveal sex case link to top cop Iain Livingstone

John Finnie failed to tell MSPs he represented the acting chief constable when he was cleared of sexual misconduct.

By Mark Aitken 18 FEB 2018

John Finnie failed to tell MSPs he represented Iain Livingstone

A Green MSP is facing questions over his connection with Scotland’s acting chief constable.

Former police officer John Finnie failed to tell fellow MSPs he had represented Iain Livingstone when he was cleared of sexual misconduct.

He failed to declare the link at a meeting of Holyrood’s justice committee when Livingstone was being questioned.

Finnie spent 14 years as an official for the Scottish Police Federation (SPF) – the organisation who represent police officers up to the rank of chief inspector.

Livingstone, the frontrunner to replace Phil Gormley as Scotland’s chief constable, was acccused in 2004 of sexually assaulting a female police officer.

Livingstone admitted falling asleep in the woman’s room at the Scottish Police College in Tulliallan, Fife, after a drunken party in 2000.

Iain Livingstone was accused of sexually assaulting a female police officer in 2004

At an internal hearing, more serious allegations were dropped.

Livingstone, who was then a superintendent, was demoted to constable but won his job back on appeal. Livingstone’s appeal was backed by the SPF.

Finnie said at the time that the case had highlighted “the ease with which the system can be abused and the punitive consequences which affect not only the officer but their family”.

At Holyrood’s justice committee in January, Finnie quizzed Livingstone about staffing levels and said losing chief officers was one of the benefits of creating a single police force.

Scottish Labour justice spokesman Daniel Johnson said: “John is a valued colleague on the justice committee but I am alarmed that he did not see fit to declare this link with the acting chief constable.

“Police Scotland are in desperate need of scrutiny – and the public will expect such scrutiny to be conducted professionally.

“I would urge him to correct the record and to ensure he declares interests fully and promptly in future.”

A spokesman for the Scottish Conservatives added: “He also owes parliament an explanation as to why he neglected to mention this very important link.”

Finnie began his career with Lothian and Borders Police in 1976 and moved to Northern Constabulary three years later.

He served as a full-time officer with the SPF from 1992 to 2006.

Finnie was elected as an SNP MSP in 2011 but quit the party the following year in protest at the decision to end their long-standing opposition to Nato membership.

Finnie and the Greens failed to respond to the Sunday Mail’s calls.

It has since come to light there are a number of non disclosure agreements in force which relate to Police Officers and others connected to Policing in Scotland, a matter now being probed by the media for further reporting.

 

 

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