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INQUIRY OF THE CROWN: Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee launch inquiry into crime fighting ability of ‘institutionally corrupt’ Crown Office & Procurator Fiscal Service

Crown Crooked – MSPs to quiz £112m-a-year Scots prosecutors. OFTEN DESCRIBED as the most corrupt public body in all Scotland – the Crown Office & Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) – is to face a major investigation of it’s purpose and role in prosecuting crime – by the Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee who want to hear from you by Wednesday 19 October 2016

Accused of being a haven of deceit, institutionally racist, sectarian, bigoted, prejudiced, corrupt, woefully incompetent and staffed with prosecutors who will – with ease – lie to victims of crime, misrepresent the facts in court, twist evidence of victims, witnesses and accused alike – this collection of swaggering lawyers and Crown Counsel who are paid a staggering £112.5 million of public cash this budget year to go after criminals – will now face questions on their own gangster-like existence in the annals of Scots Law.

The inquiry – which will take evidence in public during sessions of the Justice Committee over the coming months at Holyrood – will focus on the core role and examine the effectiveness and efficiency of the Crown Office, how well it works with its stakeholders, and the support it provides to witnesses and victims of crime.

The Committee will also examine its responsiveness to new challenges and opportunities, such as the evolving nature of crime and advances in technology. As part of the inquiry it will examine the role and function of the independent Inspectorate of Prosecution in Scotland.

Beware however – this is an enquiry which appears to focus more on questions of whether the Crown Office has enough resources – or the budget – to be effective at ‘fighting crime’.

Hands up those of you (not vested legal interests please) who believe £112.5 million of public cash a year – as part of an ever increasing budget – makes the Crown Office under budget or under resourced.

MSPs have also clarified the Justice Committee inquiry will not consider two other roles of the Crown Office – relating to establishing the cause of sudden, unexplained or suspicious deaths or investigating allegations of criminal conduct against police officers, except in relation to the general issue of whether the COPFS has the resources it needs to carry out its purpose.

This is a Crown Office gone bad – a prosecution service so rotten – the Scottish Government was forced to remove the law on double jeopardy to allow incompetent, often strange prosecutors – some with their own secret criminal histories – to bring persons before the court time and time again until convictions are eventually secured in front of increasingly worn out judges and juries.

The same Crown Office which shredded statistics on sectarian crime principally against Catholics and other religious minorities in Scotland shredded – to avoid being asked questions by MSPs considering the hated Offensive Behaviour at Football Matches & Threatening Communications Act and the impact of Scotland’s criminal justice system’s oh-so-obvious endemic religious bigotry.

The same Crown Office run by Prosecutors who present the deceased on witness lists at criminal trials.

The same Crown Office staffed by Prosecutors & employees who themselves have secret criminal records – on everything from assault, threats & perverting the course of justice to drugs offences.

The same Crown Office compromised by criminal informants among staff who leak details to crooks targeted by Police Scotland and other law enforcement agencies.

The same Crown Office who pride bonuses, junkets and higher salaries before obtaining justice for victims of crime.

The same Crown Office whose Advocate Depute did a runner from the High Court in 2007 during a major trial which resulted in the collapse of the first World’s End murder trial.

The same Crown Office run by a Lord Advocate who called into question the state of the judiciary in order to distract the public from Crown Office failures over the collapse of the same World’s End Trial –Top judge accused Lord Advocate of undermineg the judiciary in statements Angiolini made to the  Scottish Parliament.

The same Crown Office which campaigned for the removal of Corroboration – one of the cherished few safeguards of Scots law which cuts across every and all criminal cases and evidence presentation in our courts and helps to guard against miscarriage of justice.

And by removing corroboration – not, for any lofty aim of upholding justice and protecting the public – mind you.

The singular vested interest of the Crown Office in removing corroboration from the justice system was, and remains simply because – the Crown Office are so inadequate at prosecuting crime, they must have multiple chances to parade people in court to secure convictions, no matter how much it costs taxpayers, the reputation of Scots law.

Enter the man – no less than the ex Dean of the Faculty of AdvocatesJames Wolffe QC – who wanted – and was handed the job of Lord Advocate – tasked with steering, spinning and manipulating the Crown Office through the choppy murky waters of Scotland’s criminal empires, and not forgetting his own staff’s secret criminal pasts.

The accompanying fanfare and typical public relations exercise of Wolffe’s appointment to succeed former Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland, came with the usual fluff of a new broom to sweep away crime and criminality.

Yet Wolffe himself was – only a few months before his new commission of protecting Scots from big time crime barons – fretting with Scottish Ministers over his precious Faculty of Advocates spending of £320,000 on parts of Parliament House it had occupied without recorded title – yet somehow gained ownership of, reported here: WOLFFE HALL: Papers reveal Council’s legal action ‘abandoned’, £320K Faculty refurbishment of Laigh Hall.

And Scotland’s criminal justice system is so tipped against the rights of victims and accused – as the legal eagles waft in and out of jobs, earlier this week – Wolffe’s replacement as Dean at the Faculty of Advocates – Gordon Jackson QC – a leading lawyer who has rightly represented some of Scotland’s most hardened criminals and gangsters – lectured the Lord Advocate on the creeping rights of victims in an open letter to the press.

Mr Jackson expressed his concern that the “admirable principle” of an independent prosecution service, acting in the public interest, “is being eroded in practice”. Advocates depute and junior fiscals alike, he writes, are seen as reluctant to make decisions but refer cases to their superiors, and prosecutors have admitted to him that they are not following their own judgment on what can be proved “because of the family’s position” – referring to the now common practice of meeting victims’ families.

So now you know the views of the legal profession – picture the following – for it could, or may have already happened to you.

Your loved one has been brutally, mercilessly murdered by a criminal – a criminal perhaps not unknown to the authorities.

Or a victim of crime or has fallen to an untimely end at the hands of deceitful public servants or an unscrupulous business more interested in profits than the safety of their workforce.

Now – right in front of you- you face someone from the very same Crown Office talking at you – not to you – or with you

As you may begin to observe – they ask you questions – often the wrong questions – depending on their scheming ahead to figure out if they can secure a conviction or a grubby plea deal spun out by their public relations department as a win for justice. They may even tell you something in a meeting, face to face, then lie about it later. A big fat lie of a lie. No matter. The Lord Advocate will cover it up.

They claim they are going to put away the killer, the murderer, the fraudster, the crook who ruined your life, wiped someone’s very existence from life – yet you just know – that same Crown Office career monger has liar written all over their face. Unmissable, isn’t it – like a house on fire.

You’ll know it was all true – when the killer, crook or villain gets seven years and out in two.

Are you a victim of crime? Are you a victim of a miscarriage of justice? Are you a solicitor performing the testy task of representing accused persons against a prosecution service gone mad?

All of you have an interest in making your voice heard to this inquiry. Don’t leave it to vested interests, or the legal profession or those who cloak themselves in good deeds while concealing crime.

Make your voice heard – in writing – to the Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee by 19 October 2016.

Those submitting are invited to restrict their submission, if at all possible, to the equivalent of approximately four sides of A4. Evidence should be submitted in electronic (preferably MS Word) format by email to justicecommittee@parliament.scot

Organisations and individuals who do not have access to a PC and the internet may submit a hard copy to: Clerk to the Justice Committee The Scottish Parliament Edinburgh EH991SP

For further information on this inquiry please contact the committee clerks by email at justicecommittee@parliament.scot or by phone at 0131 348 6241.

MSPs TO INVESTIGATE CROWN OFFICE:

The Scottish Parliament Justice Committee has agreed to hold its first major inquiry of this session into the role and purpose of the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS), with this remit:

The COPFS is Scotland’s independent prosecution service, acting in the public interest to help bring offenders to justice.

The core role of the COPFS is to consider reports about crime from the police and other agencies, to decide whether it is in the public interest to prosecute them, and, if so, to deploy the resources that are necessary to help ensure that justice is done.

The Committee’s inquiry will focus on this core role, examining in particular—

The Scottish Parliament Justice Committee has agreed to hold its first major inquiry of this session into the role and purpose of the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS), with this remit:

“The COPFS is Scotland’s independent prosecution service, acting in the public interest to help bring offenders to justice. The core role of the COPFS is to consider reports about crime from the police and other agencies, to decide whether it is in the public interest to prosecute them, and, if so, to deploy the resources that are necessary to help ensure that justice is done. The Committee’s inquiry will focus on this core role, examining in particular—

• The effectiveness and efficiency of the COPFS, and how well it works with other stakeholders in the criminal justice system;

• Whether the COPFS has the resources and skillsets it needs to carry out its core role;

• The COPFS’s responsiveness to new challenges and opportunities including the evolving nature of crime in 21st century Scotland, advances in technology, and changes in the delivery of court services that may affect access to justice;

• How the COPFS protects and supports witnesses and victims of crime.

The Committee will also take evidence on the role and function of the Inspectorate of Prosecution in Scotland. (The IPS is the independent inspectorate for the COPFS.)

The inquiry will not consider the COPFS’s two other roles of establishing the cause of sudden, unexplained or suspicious deaths or investigating allegations of criminal conduct against police officers, except in relation to the general issue of whether the COPFS has the resources it needs to carry out its purpose.”

Questions to consider:

Organisations and individuals are invited to submit written views to the Committee in relation to the inquiry. Those submitting views should feel free to address issues raised in the remit in whatever manner they prefer, but it would be particularly appreciated if they could aim to address some or all of the questions set out below, providing specific examples, data or other evidence to back up their views whenever possible—

1. Please outline your views on the overall efficiency and effectiveness of the COPFS in its core role of considering reports about crime from the police and bringing prosecutions. Are there ways in which the services provided by the COPFS could be improved – for instance, through increased use of technology, further reforms to criminal procedure, or better case management? If so, do those changes also bring risks, in terms of the overall interests of justice or of access to justice (bearing in minds the differing needs of people across Scotland; urban and rural communities, economically disadvantaged people, vulnerable groups, etc)?

2. Please outline how well you consider the COPFS works with other stakeholders in the criminal justice system, so as to provide a “joined up” and complementary service that helps meet the ends of justice. Other stakeholders might, for instance, include the police, defence lawyers, the courts, the prison service, criminal justice social work, and third party organisations working with victims or offenders.

3. Does the COPFS as presently constituted have the resources and skillsets it needs to carry out its core role effectively? And is it appropriately “future-proofed” – for instance to deal with new technologies available to criminals, changes in the overall profile of crime in 21st century Scotland, or withdrawal from the European Union? If not, what additional capacities does the COPFS need?

4. How well does the COPFS respond to the needs of victims of crimes and to witnesses (especially vulnerable witnesses) in criminal cases and meet its legal obligations towards them?

5. The Inspectorate of Prosecution in Scotland is the independent, statutory inspectorate for the COPFS. What is your awareness of the existence and role of the IPS and of its effectiveness in carrying out that role? How effective has it been in carrying out its role? Does it appear to have the resources it needs?

Committee convener Margaret Mitchell MSP commented: “The Crown Office & Procurator Fiscal Service is absolutely fundamental to the operation of an effective justice system in Scotland. This is why this committee has chosen to make it the focus of its first major inquiry.

“MSPs on the previous Justice Committee raised several concerns about the additional pressures that the organisation faced in recent times – including an increase in complex historic sex abuse and domestic abuse cases and new requirements required by legislation.

“The COPFS’s responsibilities towards victims and witnesses have also been increasing – and rightly. This has all taken place against a backdrop of tight budgetary settlements in recent years.

“It is likely these significant pressures will continue, so fundamental to this inquiry will be to determine if the COPFS has the resources it needs to bring offenders to justice, and is ‘future proofed’ to deal with new challenges.”

If you feel the Scottish Parliament should be asking many more questions of our prosecutors, don’t forge to make your views known to your own MSP, even ask them to go along to the hearings and make your issues more aware to the Justice Committee.

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

 

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WOLFFE HALL: Parliament House – seat of justice – lost to Edinburgh as investigation reveals Scottish Government ‘gifted’ land titles to Faculty of Advocates after £58m refurbishment

Scotland’s top courts ‘gifted’ to advocates in secret deal with Scottish Ministers. PARLIAMENT HOUSE – the seat of power for Scotland’s judiciary and the nation’s highest, most expensive, elusive and pro-big business courts – has been lost to the Common Good and the citizens of Edinburgh who paid for it’s construction – after it was revealed earlier this week Scottish Ministers had gifted the land titles of the court buildings to the Faculty of Advocates .

And, yesterday, in an attempt to head off calls for an immediate return of Scotland’s highest courts to public ownership, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said there was no easy solution to recovering the land titles for the citizens of Edinburgh – who originally paid for the construction of Parliament House.

Details surrounding the loss of Parliament House to Edinburgh – come from an investigation undertaken by well known land reform campaigner Andy Wightman – who discovered that in 2006 the Scottish Government asked Edinburgh City Council to confirm the ownership of Parliament House – which includes Parliament Hall and Laigh Hall. The moves by the Scottish Government to clarify ownership of the court buildings occurred prior to the taxpayer funded £58 million refurbishment project (originally budgeted at over £120m) of the sprawling court buildings.

However, after inquiries by government lawyers on the exact ownership of Scotland’s most highest courts, Edinburgh City Council concluded they were unaware of who owned Parliament House. This led to ownership transferring to Scottish Ministers who then allowed the Faculty of Advocates to register the title deeds to the interior of the building in its name.

From investigations carried out by Andy Wightman, it transpired the Faculty of Advocates had in-fact, lobbied the Scottish Government to hand over ownership.

Writing on his blog, Mr Wightman said: “The Faculty of Advocates has for centuries regarded Parliament House as theirs. They had almost exclusive use of it and so, by means as yet unclear, within a month of Scottish Ministers taking ownership, the Faculty persuaded Scottish Ministers to convey to its ownership for no consideration the room known as the Laigh Hall within Parliament House.”

The title deeds to Parliament House now state the interior of the building is owned by the Faculty of Advocates while the exterior comes under the government’s ownership as part of the Scottish Courts Service.

The full in-depth investigation by Andy Wightman is available here: Edinburgh Council loses Parliament House

During First Minister’s Questions at Holyrood yesterday, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon was asked a question by Alison Johnstone  MSP (Lothians, Green Party) about the Parliament Hall land grab by the Faculty of Advocates.

In her reply, featured below along with video footage of FMQs, Nicola Sturgeon claimed she found no fault on the part of the Scottish Government – who handed over the titles to the Faculty of Advocates – effectively little more than a lawyer’s lobby group. The First Minister went on to warn “ there is no easy solution to the issue of restoring title to the City of Edinburgh Council” without giving a real explanation of why the titles were transferred in the first place.

The First Minister also gave no explanation on why £58 million pounds of taxpayers money was thrown at the Court of Session buildings which were then effectively handed over to the Faculty of Advocates free of charge.

Parliament House handed over to Faculty of Advocates FMQ’s Nicola Sturgeon 19 February 2015

Alison Johnstone (Lothian) (Green): It transpired this week that the 17th century old Parliament hall in Edinburgh was transferred from the collective ownership of my constituents to Scottish ministers without knowledge or recompense to the common good fund.

The City of Edinburgh Council failed in its role as steward of the fund, but is now seeking to resolve the situation. Can the First Minister assure my constituents that any requests from the council to restore ownership of that common good asset to the council will be considered seriously and favourably?

The First Minister – Nicola Sturgeon: I will briefly state the background to this issue, of which I am sure that Alison Johnstone is aware.

The Scottish Government’s position is that title to Parliament hall was taken by Scottish ministers in good faith, and that that was done with the full knowledge and consent of the council. The Scottish Courts Service and the Faculty of Advocates, therefore, have now got good title to that property.

Of course, I am more than happy to ask the relevant minister, Marco Biagi, to; meet and discuss the matter with the City of Edinburgh Council, but as far as I can see there is no fault here on the part of the Scottish Government.

Further, of course, title has since been passed on, so it may very well be that there is no easy solution to the issue of restoring title to the City of Edinburgh Council. I think that any questions on how the situation has arisen probably have to be directed to the council.

During the summer of 2013,  Scotland’s top judge Lord Gill – who is head of the Scottish Court Service Board, and the Scottish Court Service Chief Executive Eric McQueen appeared before MSPs at the Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee to give evidence on court closures and the millions spent on Parliament House – yet neither the judge nor the Courts chief mentioned their astonishing secret to the MSPs present – that the title to Scotland’s highest court buildings had been swiped by the Faculty of Advocates in a deal on the sly with Scottish Ministers.

During questions from Justice Committee MSPs, SCS Chief Executive Eric McQueen said: “We are just coming to the end of the Parliament house contract; in total, the budget for it was £65 million and I think that we expect the final spend to be in the low £60 millions. The project has been delivered on budget, on time and on quality. How it has been delivered is a tribute to the Scottish Court Service.

McQueen continued: “I will give a potted history of the Parliament house situation. About 10 years ago, a scheme was in place that was going to run to way over £120 million. That was brought to a stop to allow us to reassess things and to consider the best strategy. At the same time, we looked at a business case for moving away from Parliament house altogether and having a development on a greenfield or brownfield site on the outskirts of Edinburgh. The major problem with Parliament house is that it is a grade A listed building and is a site of special historical interest. It should be a landmark building for the whole of Scotland.”

In an intervention, the Convener of the Justice Committee – Christine Grahame MSP said: “I am glad that you did not move to a greenfield site. It would have been a bit like going to B&Q. I do not mean to malign B&Q, but I like the old Parliament house building.”

Eric McQueen replied : “Had the decision been taken to move out of Parliament house, that asset would have been left with the Scottish Government. The infrastructure and the services were shot, and there was no fire certificate in place for the building. It would have cost as much to move out as to redevelop the building. From the point of view of the benefit to the nation and to the Scottish Government’s purse, the investment of the £65 million in Parliament house over that five or six year period was quite a sensible business case decision.”

Sitting by Eric McQueen was none other than Lord President Brian Gill himself, who did not at any stage of the meeting volunteer information to the Justice Committee in relation to the titles arrangements of Parliament House, despite the multi million pound taxpayer funded refurbishment.

Today, a spokesperson for the Scottish Court Service said: “The title to Parliament House, which includes the Laigh Hall situated underneath Parliament Hall, was registered by Scottish Ministers in 2006. The ownership of the interior of Laigh Hall was transferred to the Faculty of Advocates by the Scottish Ministers. Court buildings under the ownership of the Scottish Ministers were transferred to the Scottish Court Service (SCS) in 2010 under the Transfer of Property and in accordance with the Judiciary and Courts (Scotland) Act 2008.

Parliament House is a public building and is home to our Supreme Courts. The SCS recently completed an extensive £58 million redevelopment of the courthouse ahead of schedule and within budget. Following the refurbishment, an exhibition, ‘The Hidden Gem’, became an Edinburgh Fringe event attracting thousands of visitors. Parliament House also hosts annual open days enabling the public to better understand our legal system, while Parliament Hall is  open to visitors during working hours.”

Asked how much was returned to public coffers via “The Hidden Gem” exhibition, a spokesperson for the SCS replied: “The Fringe event was open to the public without an admission charge and marked the completion of the substantial modernisation programme by the Scottish Court Service which conserves Parliament House for future generations and provides the modern and digital facilities required by the Scottish justice system. Our position is that Court buildings under the ownership of the Scottish Ministers were transferred to the Scottish Court Service (SCS) in 2010 under the Transfer of Property and in accordance with the Judiciary and Courts (Scotland) Act 2008.”

The Scottish Government refused to answer calls for a statement and questions on whether any attempt would be made to recover the £58m of taxpayers money spent on Parliament House . Neither the Dean of the Faculty of Advocates – James Wolffe QC or the Faculty itself have issued any statement on the matter so far.

 

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TOXIC LAW: MacAskill gives lawyers ‘right to complain about complaints’, backs law change allowing anti-client Scottish Legal Complaints Commission to ditch investigations on rogue lawyers

Law change makes it easier for lawyers to look after their own. RECENT Scottish Government backed changes to rules governing how solicitors, advocates and the remainder of the legal profession investigate themselves now make it easier for the ‘independent’ Scottish Legal Complaints Commission (SLCC) to dismiss complaints against rogue lawyers at an earlier stage than is currently allowed, or, if the situation permits, reinstate a complaint after it has already been dismissed.

Now known as Scottish Legal Complaints Commission (Modification of Duties and Powers) Regulations 2014 the changes also give solicitors involved in conduct complaints a new right to complain about the manner in which the complaint was dealt with by the relevant professional organisation.

The controversial change –  allowing lawyers to complain about complaints, may inevitably lead to dodgy lawyers using this procedure as a tactic to avoid the already meagre disciplinary measures handed down by the Law Society of Scotland and the Scottish Solicitors Discipline Tribunal (SSDT).

Earlier this year, the SSDT was shamed earlier this year in Lawyers Behaving Badly – a BBC Scotland investigation which revealed how “dishonest” lawyers escape being struck off in Scotland while in England & Wales, such conduct would result in a striking off.

Another change to the rules governing the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission effectively creates a quango within a quango – requiring the SLCC to set up an ‘independent’ panel to advise it on consumer and equality issues.

While the ‘independent’ advisory panel is more likely to be comprised of lawyers vested interests like the SLCC itself, MSPs were told it is is also to include representatives from consumer and equalities organisations. The panel’s remit will be to make recommendations to the Commission for improvements in practice and procedures; to make suggestions of topics for research connected to consumers; and to express views on other matters as requested.

Attending with the Justice Secretary, Roderick Campbell, a member of the Faculty of Advocates said of the advisory panel: “Putting into statute the independent advisory panel is a way forward and I am pleased that it will include representatives of consumer and equalities organisations. That ought to improve substantially how the commission functions, if it takes on board the panel’s comments.”

The overly pro-lawyer moves, are a result of discussions between a group consisting of the Law Society of Scotland, the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission, the Faculty of Advocates, the Association of Commercial Attorneys, the Legal Defence Union, the Scottish Solicitors Discipline Tribunal, Citizens Advice Scotland, Which? and the centre for professional legal studies at the University of Strathclyde law school were backed by Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill, who attended the Justice Committee on 5 August 2014 to give evidence on the proposed changes.

Rules change will benefit consumers little. The Scottish Legal Complaints Commission (Modification of Duties and Powers) Regulations 2014, were laid under section 41 of the Legal Profession and Legal Aid (Scotland) Act 2007, passed by the Scottish Parliament eight years ago in what has now become a flawed attempt to clean up the law on how lawyers deal with complaints against their colleagues.

The instrument will make amendments to the Legal Profession and Legal Aid (Scotland) Act 2007 to adjust the duties and powers of the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission (SLCC) and to impose new duties and new powers on it. These include–

  • giving the SLCC the ability to revisit the eligibility of the complaint during the investigation phase;
  • providing for a more flexible order of consideration of aspects of complaints;
  • giving the SLCC the ability to discontinue the investigation of a complaint and, should it wish, reinstate a complaint where it has discontinued an investigation;
  • providing practitioners about whom a conduct complaint has been made with the power to complain to the SLCC if they feel that the conduct complaint has been poorly handled by the relevant professional organisation;
  • providing new powers for dealing with recommendations in reports on handling complaints;
  • providing for handling complaints to be reinstated;
  • placing an obligation on the SLCC to set up and consult an independent panel.

During the short debate, in which the amendments to legislation was passed by the Justice Committee and is a statutory instrument, Mr MacAskill claimed he had not heard any suggestion the heavily pro-lawyer, anti-client Scottish Legal Complaints Commission was “not  working  reasonably  well  and smoothly.”

Justice Committee Scottish Parliament 5th August 2014 SLCC Rules change

The short debate at the Scottish Parliament on the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission (Modification of Duties and Powers) Regulations 2014 :

The Convener: If I have members’ attention, I will move on to agenda item 2, which is consideration of an affirmative instrument. The draft regulations amend and add to the duties and powers of the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission with the aim of improving the complaints process.

The cabinet secretary has, of course, stayed with us, and I welcome from the Scottish Government Denise Swanson, head of the access to justice unit, and Alastair Smith, from the legal services directorate. The cabinet secretary will give evidence in advance of the debate on the regulations. I understand that he wishes to make a brief opening statement.

Kenny MacAskill: Thank you, convener. I am happy to be here to assist the committee in its consideration of the draft Scottish Legal Complaints Commission (Modification of Duties and Powers) Regulations 2014.

The Law Society of Scotland and the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission previously contacted the Minister for Community Safety and Legal Affairs and the Justice Committee to raise concerns about certain tactical aspects of the Legal Profession and Legal Aid (Scotland) Act 2007. The society and the commission agreed to form a working group with other stakeholders, the aim of which was to suggest changes to the legislation to improve the complaints process, which would benefit both the public and the profession. The group consisted of the Law Society, the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission, the Faculty of Advocates, the Association of Commercial Attorneys, the Legal Defence Union, the Scottish Solicitors Discipline Tribunal, Citizens Advice Scotland, Which? and the centre for professional legal studies at the University of Strathclyde law school.

The amending regulations are a direct result of the working group’s findings. They will significantly assist in making the legislation a more effective framework for dealing with legal complaints in Scotland, which is in keeping with the Scottish Government’s national outcome:

“Our public services are high quality, continually improving, efficient and responsive to local people’s needs.”

The regulations will rearrange the order in which the SLCC considers the various aspects of a complaint, to improve efficiency and better reflect current practice. They will give the SLCC the power to discontinue and reinstate service complaints and will give legal practitioners the right to complain about the handling of a complaint by a professional body. They will also require the SLCC to set up an independent panel to advise it on consumer and equality issues.

I hope that that is useful to the committee. I am happy to take questions.

The Convener: It all seems like common sense to me.

Margaret Mitchell: I thank the cabinet secretary for that opening statement. To what extent does the Scottish Government monitor the operation of the commission?

Denise Swanson (Scottish Government): The SLCC lays an annual report before Parliament. It is a non-departmental public body for which my unit has sponsorship responsibility. We work closely with the SLCC, including on its consultation on budget proposals. It is an unusual non-departmental public body in that it is funded not by the Scottish Government but by a levy on the profession. There is a certain amount of accountability to the profession regarding the way that the commission operates. We work very closely with it on improvements to and efficiency in its operations.

Margaret Mitchell: I am aware that ministers appoint members of the board. Given that the changes, which are all very sensible and should improve the complaints system, have come from stakeholders, and given that the commission came into being in 2008, is it not time for some post- legislative scrutiny of how the commission is operating and a more in-depth look at its performance and how it could be improved?

Kenny MacAskill: I am happy to consider any suggestions that Ms Mitchell or, indeed, the committee may have, but it seems that we have the appropriate balance. As Denise Swanson said, the commission is a non-departmental public body. We appoint the commission and there is a level of scrutiny there, but we have to have trust and faith in those who are appointed, and we do. Equally, it is quite clear that the levy, which is unusual, if not necessarily unique, ensures that there is a great deal of scrutiny by bodies that represent individual members of the profession.

I am happy to take on board any suggestions, but it seems that the commission, together with those stakeholders, has been working reasonably well. It has recognised that there have been challenges and difficulties, and it has got itself together and worked out what changes are needed. We are here as an Administration to support it, although we are open to suggestions.

Margaret Mitchell: I understand that the SLCC is funded by a levy on stakeholders—people who may be the subject of complaints—so I suppose that I am suggesting that we should ensure that there is more independent scrutiny.

Kenny MacAskill: Again, I say that I am open to suggestions about the level of scrutiny that you want. I have had no suggestion that the organisation is not working reasonably well and smoothly. Clearly, the Government has oversight and responsibility regarding the commission, as it does with any NDPB. It seems that some tweaks have been made and some challenges have been met. We are discussing and engaging with stakeholders.

My deputy and I meet the Faculty of Advocates and the Law Society regularly. Unless matters such as malfeasance were suggested, I do not see why the Government would wish to intervene in a body that appears to be liaising well and operating reasonably smoothly. However, we are always open to suggestions.

Margaret Mitchell: The measures in the regulations are good but, given their number, it would be good to have wider debate and parliamentary scrutiny. We in the Scottish Parliament are notoriously bad at doing post- legislative scrutiny.

Kenny MacAskill: That is a matter for the committee or perhaps for Opposition parties in considering Opposition days. One reason why many aspects have been referred to is that the field is complicated. I welcome the fact that the measures have been discussed and taken on board not only by those who would normally expect to be represented, such as the Law Society and the Faculty of Advocates, but by bodies that interact with the public, such as Citizens Advice Scotland and Which? The issue that you raise is for Parliament rather than the Government.

The Convener: I do not want to give evidence, but am I right in saying that an arm of the Law Society used to deal with complaints? That was not satisfactory. We have now moved to the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission. Does the cabinet secretary agree that the independent advisory panel will be important, as it will look at how the commission operates?

Kenny MacAskill: The basis for establishing the SLCC was public concern, which was transmitted across political parties, as the convener said. Such aspects could not and should not be dealt with by professional bodies regulating themselves.

Denise Swanson: It might help to note that, in the past two to three years, the SLCC has reported an improvement in the efficiency of its complaints handling. There was a bit of a backlog, which has been resolved. In the budget proposals that were recently consulted on, the SLCC reduced the levy. It is reporting on improvements in processes and in the time that it takes to process complaints.

Margaret Mitchell: Are you confident that the enforcement of recommendations is working well?

Denise Swanson: Yes. The number of cases that are taken to court for enforcement is reducing.

Roderick Campbell: I refer to my registered interest as a member of the Faculty of Advocates. Putting into statute the independent advisory panel is a way forward and I am pleased that it will include representatives of consumer and equalities organisations. That ought to improve substantially how the commission functions, if it takes on board the panel’s comments.

The Convener: I welcome the flexibility that is being built in, but I am surprised that it has taken a wee while to get that. It seems like common sense to have the ability to revisit eligibility questions and rearrange the order of consideration and to have the power to discontinue and reinstate service complaints. They all seem like measures to manage cases that should have been available from the start, so I very much welcome them.

Consultation packs were sent to a range of people. Were they all happy? Were the consultees—particularly the consumer organisations Citizens Advice Scotland, Which? and the Office of Fair Trading—content with the amendments to existing practices?

Denise Swanson: Yes. Those organisations were part of the group that worked on the proposals. The group’s remit was to agree which improvements could be delivered through practice change, which would require primary legislation and which would require subordinate legislation. The group agreed on the position.

The one outstanding issue concerns appeals going to the Court of Session. That element requires primary legislative change, so the group accepted that it must remain as it is at the moment.

The Convener: Do the rest of the proposed amendments have agreement across the spectrum?

Denise Swanson: Yes.

The Convener: That is fine.

Members have no more questions, so we will move on to item 3, which is the formal debate on the motion on the regulations. I invite the cabinet secretary to move motion S4M-10634. Motion moved,

That the Justice Committee recommends that the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission (Modification of Duties and Powers) Regulations 2014 [draft] be approved.—[Kenny MacAskill.]

Motion agreed to.

The Convener: As members are aware, we are required to report on all affirmative instruments. Are members content to delegate authority to me to sign off the report? Members indicated agreement.

The overtly pro-lawyer changes to the SLCC’s rules, dubbed by critics as more “window dressing” come after Justice Secretary MacAskill earlier this year refused to give more powers to the Judicial Complaints Reviewer to hold dodgy Scottish judges to account, some of whom were revealed to have criminal records, tax dodging investments and shareholdings in businesses directly connected with the courts.

Although the legal profession claim the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission is independent and funded by lawyers, in reality, the SLCC is paid for by a levy from lawyers who in turn recoup it many times over from unsuspecting clients. In short – if, as clients, you have paid legal fees since 2008, you have probably paid your solicitor’s SLCC complaints levy many times over.

Last year, a media investigation revealed lawyers secret links with ‘independent’ regulator, showing the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission is actually run by former Law Society of Scotland employees, lawyers, and other vested interests from the legal profession.

 

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Fees please, not Justice: Courts Reform (Scotland) Bill encounters more opposition from lawyers vested interests in hearings at Scottish Parliament

Reforming Scotland’s courts for easier public access is opposed by legal profession. SCOTLAND’S “Victorian” civil justice system will be turned into even more of a train wreck” than it currently is, by the Scottish Government’s proposed Courts Reform (Scotland) Bill, according to representatives of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers who faced the Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee earlier this week. The proposals to slightly widen Scots access to justice which are currently under consideration by the Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee were originally recommended by the current Lord President, Lord Brian Gill in his 2009 Scottish Civil Courts Review.

The latest opposition from the vested interests of the legal profession to the planned changes to Scotland’s inaccessible courts come after last week’s evidence from the Law Society of Scotland and the Faculty of Advocates who are both traditionally opposed to any reforms to the courts which allow the public greater and easier access to justice without having to go through expensive solicitors and QCs.

The overall tone of all opposition currently put before msps against the planned changes to the courts boils down to this – don’t allow people to access justice on the cheap, or do it themselves without a battalion of expensive lawyers and other so-called legal professionals.

The coverage from Tuesday’s session of the Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee is available here :

Courts Reform (Scotland) Bill Justice Committee – Scottish Parliament: 25th March 2014

One of the more controversial aspects of the Courts Reform bill, that of transferring most of the Court of Session’s existing workload to the sheriff court by allowing sheriff courts to hear cases up to the value of £150,000, has drawn special ire from lawyers and advocates who claim the sheriff courts are currently overwhelmed with work and cannot cope with the increased workload.

However, the more obvious factor in many from the legal profession opposing the switch from Scotland’s Court of Session to the sheriff courts is that of fees.

It is well known solicitors, law firms and advocates, both junior & senior counsel would rather operate in the expensive exclusive and tightly controlled environment of the Court of Session in Edinburgh rather than scuttle around Scotland having to attend cases and possibly pick up a lot less in fees.

The Scottish Government have included in the bill plans for a specialist personal injury court which would take many of the cases being transferred from the Court of Session. However, msps heard more from lawyers who attacked this plan as being “seriously underfunded”.

In further evidence, Mr Ronnie Conway, who is the Scottish co-ordinator of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers also maintained that projected savings to the legal aid fund were “illusory” because 85% of legally aided cases were successful and costs were recovered from the defender.

Laughably, Alan Rogerson of the Forum of Scottish Claims Managers, told msps that insurers wanted cases to settle rather than ending up in litigation. Not really. Not if it the claim has anything to do with the Master Policy or is a negligence case involving a lengthening list of professions and public bodies.

The Law Society of Scotland and Faculty of Advocates have previously given evidence against the reforms, which are also opposed by trade unions for the effect they are said to be likely to have on damages claims brought by their members. Typically, the legal profession has come out against the court reforms, with both the Law Society of Scotland & Faculty of Advocates opposing the changes. However, Citizens Advice Scotland and the consumer body Which? are among those who support the plans, on the ground that they would simplify the process of litigation.

The Scottish Government issued a Press Release earlier this week showing that while the number of civil cases being heard at sheriff court level has been declining – down 10 per cent between 2011-12 and 2012-13, a 43 per cent drop since 2008-09, the number of civil cases being heard at the Court of Session has remained steady. Personal injury cases accounted for 79 per cent of cases raised in the General Department of Court of Session .

Cabinet Secretary for Justice, Kenny MacAskill said: “The latest civil law statistics underline why we need to reform Scotland’s courts and in particular ensure that the right cases are heard in the right courts, at the right time. As highlighted by Lord Gill, our civil justice courts have remained relatively unchanged for more than a generation and need to be made more effective and efficient.”

“At present too many cases, particularly lower value personal injury cases, are being raised in the Court of Session – clogging up the system and resulting in higher costs and delays for the parties involved. Through our court reforms we will ensure such cases can be heard at a new, national specialist personal injury court, where they can be dealt with more swiftly at a lower cost. This will have little impact on the sheriff courts themselves – representing only a three per cent transfer of civil cases – but will have a considerable impact on the Court of Session, enabling it to focus on more complex cases.”

 

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Courts Reform (Scotland) Bill v Vested Interests: Law Society warns against taking £150K claims away from ‘Victorian’ Court of Session’s stranglehold on Scots access to justice

Can a Sheriff tell the difference between £5K & £150K? Law Society thinks not. REFORMING Scotland’s Courts is never going to be an easy task when the judiciary, the legal profession and some of the people who actually run the courts system have vested significant financial interests in maintaining the current way of how things are done in our expensive, mostly out of reach and much derided justice system.

When a business is highly profitable, closed shop and draws in billions for lawyers, law firms, judges, their relatives, and anyone else who earns their keep from Scotland’s justice system, then why change it? – the Law Society of Scotland told msps earlier this week in their submissions to the Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee who are considering the Courts Reform (Scotland) Bill

After all, the poor little Scots client and their family, matters little to lawyers with pound signs in their eyes and the wealthy, secretive judges clinging desperately to their hidden interests and fat Fred Goodwin style pension books.

Unless by chance, that same poor little Scots client and their hard working family has a legal case, a family tragedy, or a damages claim which can be milked for fees right up to the last minute before the lawyer walks off into the sunset, leaving the client unrepresented on the steps of Scotland’s ‘highest court’ – the Court of Session – also known as the worst, most abrasive, most intimidating and most expensive highest court in the entire European Union.

And then, lets not forget those hard working Scots clients who happen to have a property or land which a solicitor works out could be his at the end of the case, leading to a not too lengthy repossession to pay extortionate legal fees, handed over to the solicitor in a wink by some smiling happy judge who fails to disclose his own wife runs the very same law firm who are also known to fiddle their fee notes on a regular basis.

Then of course, there are the criminal cases where, if there is a prospect of extorting a few more million from Scotland’s publicly funded annual £150 Million legal aid budget, it’s full steam ahead for lawyers and the legal aid board have to fork out or else.

So you just know when the idea of reforming Scotland’s courts comes along to the Scottish Parliament, the vested interests crowd will be there protesting about tweaks, turns and a lot of what is effectively window dressing, because fiddling about with the current stitch up may impinge on lawyers profits. Easy to spot, about as easy to spot as a judge lifting his tax dodging offshore trust from one island and making off with it to another.

This week, a number of vested interests published their submissions to the Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee on the Courts Reform (Scotland) Bill. Unsurprisingly, the Law Society, Faculty of Advocates and the Solicitor Advocates all came out against many of the key proposals in the Courts Reform (Scotland) Bill.

Courts Reform (Scotland) Bill 18 March evidence session at Justice Committee, Scottish Parliament

The Law Society of Scotland said in it’s own submission that the proposals contained in the bill could adversely affect access to justice due to the insufficient resources being allocated to implement the major reforms.

The Law Society went on to express concern at the dramatic increase in the threshold for cases to be heard in the Court of Session (up to £150,000 from £5,000) and warned that this will result in a large transfer of cases from the Court of Session (where no one without a deep pocket and a bent brief obtains justice) to the sheriff courts – without a matching increasing in the number of sheriffs.

The Law Society also expressed concern about the proposed changes to judicial review in Scotland, which will introduce a three month time limit on judicial review cases. The Law Society has already warned that this will restrict access to justice, although anyone who actually bothers to read some of the Judicial Reviews handed down by the Court of Session may well wonder why anyone bothers asking help from what is effectively a wave through for injustice and the vested interests of big business.

Adding to the profession’s mission to keep the money rolling in, the Faculty of Advocates claimed the reforms will put the best legal representation out of reach for ordinary men and women and favour those with deep pockets – as if it doesn’t already. Ever heard the one about the QC, the bung and the ruined client? It’s a common joke around Parliament Square …

The Faculty went on to claim that one reason litigants pursue their cases in the Court of Session is because of the right to instruct counsel, who often act for pursuers on a no win no fee basis in personal injury cases. However, the Faculty forgot to explain to msps some of the other less professional ways in which Advocates end up very much in pocket even after allegedly representing someone on a no win no fee case.

In the Sheriff court, the Faculty said, use of counsel has to be sanctioned. Raising the threshold to £150,000 would therefore make it more difficult to instruct counsel, which the Faculty of Advocates claimed would reduce choice.

The Society of Solicitor Advocates also queried the impact of the Bill on access to justice, especially in relation to the lack of automatic sanction for counsel. It also warned that any financial savings that may be brought in by the changes will be “small and disproportionate to the detriment the changes will bring about,” and that the proposals will not make the justice system any more efficient, faster or less costly.

As usual, party litigants, those with out legal representation and anyone with a case which does not draw in big numbers, fails to get any mention.

All submissions of evidence for the Courts Reform (Scotland) Bill can be read here: Submissions received on the Courts Reform (Scotland) Bill

 

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Court Closures are necessary, Scotland’s top judge tells MSPs, as Lord Gill refuses to face public questions over rich judiciary’s vested interests, criminal records, & secret wealth

Lord Gill Court Closures Justice Committee Scottish Parliament 4 June 2013Lord Gill goes to Holyrood, willing to talk about court closures, not judge’s hidden wealth & vested interests. UNDERPREFORMING Scottish courts need to be closed as part of a process to make savings of 20% in the Scottish Court Service budget by 2015, Scotland’s top judge Lord President Lord Brian Gill and representatives of the Scottish Court Service told MSPs on the Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee earlier this week on Tuesday. The closures, already approved by the Scottish Government last year will see ten sheriff courts and seven justice of the peace courts shut down in an effort to streamline Scotland’s Victorian justice system.

Lord Gill’s attendance at the Justice Committee on Tuesday can be viewed on BBC Democracy Live, HERE. The session passed off without much ado, bar some slight signs of dispute over how the Scottish Courts Service had handled the court closures, after MSPs on the Justice Committee raised questions of why many of Scotland’s local sheriff courts buildings have been left with a £57 million pound repair backlog while Parliament House, home to Scotland’s Court of Session and the top tier of the judiciary, including Lord Gill himself, has seen well over £60 million pounds spent on it in the past five years.

Notably, the Lord President showed little difficulty discussing issues relating to the court closures, an apparently less threatening subject for Scotland’s most senior judge who has now twice refused to attend another Scottish Parliament Committee to give evidence on simple questions of transparency within the judiciary, raised in Petition PE1458: Register of Interests for members of Scotland’s judiciary.

LORD NO NO - Scotland's top Judge refuses second Parliament invite over Register of Interests - Sunday Mail 2 June 2013Lord NO-NO : Top Judge defies Scottish Parliament on Judiciary’s interests Last week, Scotland’s Sunday Mail newspaper, and Diary of Injustice reported on a letter sent by Lord Gill to MSP David Stewart, Convener of Holyrood’s Public Petitions Committee. In the letter the Lord President again refused to accept an invitation from MSPs to discuss the current system of how judges recuse themselves and, inevitably face questions on the hidden wealth, undeclared interests and other vested interests of Scotland’s closed door judiciary.

Lord Gill told MSPs the Scotland Act as it currently stands, allows judges to pick & choose what subjects they feel comfortable discussing at the Scottish Parliament, however it does not seem in the public interest that the Scotland Act is now being used by the judiciary to hide their indiscretions, criminal convictions and secret interests which are not being declared in courts as they should be.

Lord Gill’s letter stated : “Judges have from time to time given evidence to committees of the Scottish Parliament on matters that affect the administration of justice in Scotland. I hope that that has been helpful in the legislative process. Judicial participation in the work of the committees must however be kept within prudent limits.

The letter from the Lord President also pointedly reminded MSPs of a now rather Victorian era excuse of protecting the independence of the judiciary from situations which may compromise it. In this case, apparently discussing the secret interests of the judges themselves is curiously seen by the Lord President as an issue which may compromise Scotland’s judiciary over a simple issue of transparency.

Lord Gill went on in his letter to the Petitions Committee, saying : “Section 23(7) of the Scotland Act provides inter alia that the Parliament may not require a judge to attend its proceedings for the purposes of giving evidence. This is not a loophole. It is a necessary part of the constitutional settlement by which the Parliament is established. Its purpose is to protect the independence of the judiciary, a vital constitutional principle that is declared in section 1 of the Judiciary and Courts (Scotland) Act 2008. When a committee invites a judge to give evidence before it, I have to decide whether the subject matter might infringe the principle of judicial independence; and whether the evidence required could be satisfactorily given in writing.”

Lord Gill has already refused to attend the Petitions Committee earlier in April 2013 to discuss issues raised in Petition PE1458, reported here : Scotland’s top judge Lord Gill refuses to attend Scottish Parliament to face questions over opposition to register of judicial interests

Previous articles from Diary of Injustice including video footage of the Petitions Committee meetings and further information on the drive to create a register of interests for Scotland’s judiciary can be viewed here : A Register of Interests for Scotland’s Judiciary

 

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Human Rights record of Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee ‘non existent’ claims Glasgow Human Rights Network report for Holyrood msp group

Justice Committee Scottish Parliament 11Holyrood’s Justice Committee has a poor record of considering Scots Human Rights, claims report. THE Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee has been condemned in a report produced by academics from the University of Glasgow for the Cross Party Group on Human Rights at Holyrood as having  “a reductive and sceptical pattern of attitude towards human rights”. The critical report goes on to challenge the pitiful role of the Justice Committee, often seen by the public as partisan & protective of vested interests, and claims the committee “… rarely makes reference to the regional and global human rights regimes of which the UK is a member, and when it does it appears to see human rights merely as a constraint on the administration of criminal justice.”

The report (pdf), also available online here : Scottish Parliament Committees’ Perspective on Human Rights produced by Dr Kurt Mills, Senior Lecturer in International Human Rights at the University of Glasgow and Convenor of the Glasgow Human Rights Network found deficiencies in approach in several of the existing structures, most notably the Justice Committee. For example, the report notes that when discussing issues such as inclusivity of the justice system, legal aid and prisons, the Committee did not make reference to human rights which the authors found “extremely concerning.”

The findings of the report will echo with many members of the public who have asked the Justice Committee to consider issues of grave importance concerning many aspects of Scots law only to be rebuked by a divisive, prejudiced & at times, flippant group of politicians, who appear to have little regard for the inclusive Human Rights of all of Scotland.

The report calls for the Scottish Parliament to establish a separate Human Rights Committee because the current committee system has failed to adequately consider human rights issues.

A Press Release from the University of Glasgow reports that Dr Kurt Mills, Senior Lecturer in International Human Rights at the University of Glasgow and Convenor of the Glasgow Human Rights Network which produced the report said: “We found that whilst there is some consideration of human rights at Holyrood, consideration of such issues is haphazard at best. The committee with the official mandate for human rights, the Justice Committee, exhibits, according to the report, “a reductive and sceptical pattern of attitude towards human rights.” It rarely makes reference to the regional and global human rights regimes of which the UK is a member, and when it does it appears to see human rights merely as a constraint on the administration of criminal justice.”

Dr Mills continued : “It is clear that for the Scottish Parliament to adequately live up to human rights obligations found in the UK Human Rights Act, the European Convention on Human Rights, and many other international human rights instruments to which the UK is a party, it needs a mechanism whereby all relevant legislation can be considered from a human rights perspective. Current arrangements are not adequate. The most reasonable course of action is to create a human rights committee within the Scottish Parliament to act as a focal point for such review and discussion.”

The findings of the report have been backed by politicians and representatives from civic Scotland. The Convenor of the Scottish Parliament’s cross-party group on Human Rights is the SNP MSP John Finnie:  “This report is an important examination of Parliament’s committee system’s consideration of human rights issues.  I am sure that the Parliamentary authorities will give the report appropriate consideration including a review of the need for a Parliamentary human rights committee.”

That view was endorsed by Shabnum Mustapha, Director of Amnesty International Scotland :  “Amnesty International welcomes the findings of the report which has cast a light on some of the missed opportunities to raise human rights as part of Scottish Parliamentary scrutiny of legislation. We urge the Scottish Parliament to look at how human rights considerations can be better embedded in the work of the Parliament.”

Carole Ewart, Convener of The Human Rights Consortium Scotland (HRCS), also voiced her support : “The Human Rights Consortium Scotland welcomes the report which confirms the anecdotal experiences of our members that human rights are insufficiently addressed by committees in the Scottish Parliament. We repeat our call, first made in early May 2011, that the Scottish Parliament establishes a Human Rights Committee to ensure transparency, accountability and compliance with human rights law and with Section 29 of the Scotland Act.  We believe that mainstreaming  human rights across its business will improve the design, delivery and funding of public services, reduce risk of spending public money on compensation payments and  prioritise spend on the people who need services the most.”

It is a matter of record that since it came into existence in 1999, the Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee has never once passed a pro-consumer reform or positively considered a public petition seeking to clean up Scotland’s “Victorian” justice system or reform key areas such as regulation of Scotland’s legal profession or deal with issues relating to Human Rights of clients & consumers against the vested interests of those in the legal establishment.

Constituents of MSPs have reported issues over the years to Diary of Injustice where politicians from all parties have failed abysmally to publicly push issues of Human Rights in the Scottish Parliament while on the other hand, being ever happy to issue congratulatory appreciations & events for some professions accused of serial breaches of mounting numbers of constituents Human Rights.

 

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