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JUDICIAL REGISTER: Holyrood Justice Committee to continue work on register of judges’ interests – MSPs to seek evidence from constitutional experts & info on conflicts of interest of key stakeholders in the justice system

MSPs to continue work on judicial register. THE Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee will continue work on a cross-party backed petition calling for the creation of a register of interests for all Scottish judges: Petition PE1458: Register of Interests for members of Scotland’s judiciary.

On Tuesday, members of the Justice Committee voiced their support for the plan to create a judges’ register of interests – despite intense opposition from Scotland’s top judge Lord Carloway – who refused to face questions from MSPs on judges’ interests .

Justice Committee members also decided to seek evidence from constitutional and academic witnesses – and briefings on the extent of conflicts of interest relating to key stakeholders in the Scottish justice system.

During the hearing, John Finnie MSP said: “The debate seems to be polarised. The petition has been open for a considerable number of years, and an issue remains. The public would expect some measure of accountability.”

“I note the comments about intrusion into the independence of the judiciary, and I wonder if there is any opportunity to investigate that further as a way forward. I am conscious that the petition has been around for a long time.”

James Kelly MSP said: “Over the period for which the committee has been examining the issue, I have become convinced by the case for a register of interests for the judiciary.”

“I note the responses from the cabinet secretary and Lord Carloway; there is clearly a bit of a stand-off here. Members’ suggestions of taking additional evidence to take the issue forward are sensible. We should not park the issue; it is important and we should continue to press it.”

Rona Mackay MSP said: “It is a very important issue, and it will not just disappear. As a committee, we should investigate it further and take some wider evidence to inform our views. I would be in favour of doing that at this stage. Albeit that we have—as John Finnie says—reached an impasse, it is incumbent on us to take a wider look.”

The move by the Justice Committee comes amid strong and continued opposition to the judicial transparency proposal from Scotland’s top judge – Lord Carloway, and Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf who both oppose any moves to require judges to disclose their interests in the same way others in branches of government, boards and all 129 MSPs disclose and register their interests.

Earlier this week, MSPs were provided with evidence from a senior Justice of the Peace that the official Register of Judicial Recusals – created by former Lord President Lord Brian Gill – was an incomplete record of conflicts of interest in Scotland’s courts.

Writing in a letter to the Justice Committee Convener, Justice of the Peace Dennis Barr said: “We have been advised by Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service (SCTS) staff, that in instances where the JP has initiated the recusal themselves, it is treated as an informal administrative decision not to sit in a particular case, and as such is not recorded.”

The startling admission from Mr Barr – that judges were told by Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service (SCTS) staff – that any cases where Justices of the Peace stood down from a court case due to conflict of interest – would NOT be recorded – completely undermines assurances to MSPs from retired top judge Brian Gill, and current Lord President Lord Carloway – that the recusals register was an accurate register of Scottish judges standing aside from cases due to conflicts of interest.

Mr Barr’s evidence to the Justice Committee was reported in further detail here: INJUSTICE OF THE PEACE: Judge admits Scottish Courts concealed conflict of interest recusals – Justices of the Peace were told by Court staff any cases where JP judges decided to step down from court hearings – would NOT be recorded in official register of judicial recusals

Continued opposition from the Scottish Government to the judicial transparency proposal – in the form of a letter from Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf to the Justice Committee, is reported in further detail here: NO, MINISTER: Justice Secretary claims Holyrood transparency legislation for register of judges’ interests – would undermine top judge who refused to meet Justice Committee on EIGHT YEAR judicial register petition

The Justice Secretary claimed that adding the requirement of judges to declare their interests could undermine Scotland’s top judge and intrude on the judiciary’s independence – similar arguments which have been constantly put forward by the Scottish Government & judiciary to the Public Petitions Committee – who investigated the petition for over six years and backed the plan to create the judicial register.

Further reporting on the register of judges’ interests petition and conflicts of interest of Scottish judges can be found on STV News here: Judging for ourselves if conflict of interest in courts and here: Scots judges facing pressure to declare their interests

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

Minutes of the meeting of Tuesday’s Justice Committee reveal the following decision:

Public petition PE1458: The Committee considered various pieces of correspondence received in relation to its ongoing consideration of the petition. The Committee agreed to keep the petition open and to seek further oral evidence in due course, in round-table formal, from constitutional and academic witnesses.

The Committee also agreed to seek further written briefings from the Scottish Parliament Information Centre (SPICe) in relation to other potential conflicts of interests relating to key stakeholders in the Scottish judicial system. The Committee will consider the scheduling of this work as part of its work programming up to spring 2021.

Video footage of Tuesday’s hearing can be viewed here:

Register of Judges Interests Petition PE1458 Justice Committee 10 March 2020

Judiciary (Register of Interests) (PE1458)

Margaret Mitchell (Central Scotland) (Conservative) Convener:  Agenda item 7 is consideration of petition PE1458, which is a proposal to establish a register of judicial interests. I refer members to paper 4, which is a note by the clerk. Do members have any questions or comments?

John Finnie (Highlands and Islands) (Green): We have had some very interesting contributions from the Cabinet Secretary for Justice and from various representatives of the judiciary, as well as comments on each of those from the petitioner.

The debate seems to be polarised. The petition has been open for a considerable number of years, and an issue remains. The public would expect some measure of accountability. I note the comments about intrusion into the independence of the judiciary, and I wonder if there is any opportunity to investigate that further as a way forward. I am conscious that the petition has been around for a long time.

I am supportive of the principle, and I note everything that has been said. However, we seem to have hit an impasse. I am keen to hear the views of different people—constitutional lawyers, for example.

Liam McArthur (Orkney Islands) (LD): I agree with John Finnie. Intuitively, I am supportive of the idea of a register. However, I do not underestimate some of the concerns that have been raised by the cabinet secretary and representatives of the judiciary—particularly on the independence of the judiciary.

The debate is rather polarised, and it is difficult to see where compromise might be possible. However, I wonder whether we might proactively elicit views from academics in the area, with a view to testing some of the arguments that they made to us in their helpful evidence.

Rona Mackay (Strathkelvin and Bearsden) (SNP): It is a very important issue, and it will not just disappear. As a committee, we should investigate it further and take some wider evidence to inform our views. I would be in favour of doing that at this stage. Albeit that we have—as John Finnie says—reached an impasse, it is incumbent on us to take a wider look.

Dr Alasdair Allan (Na h-Eileanan an Iar) (SNP): It is clearly an important issue, which merits our having a conversation or a discussion about it in the committee.

On principle, as the petition has been in the system for eight years, we should take evidence with a view to bringing the matter to a conclusion. It is not fair to have petitions in the system for that length of time without bringing them to some kind of conclusion. However, I would be happy to hear evidence on it.

James Kelly (Glasgow) (Lab): Over the period for which the committee has been examining the issue, I have become convinced by the case for a register of interests for the judiciary. I note the responses from the cabinet secretary and Lord Carloway; there is clearly a bit of a stand-off here. Members’ suggestions of taking additional evidence to take the issue forward are sensible. We should not park the issue; it is important and we should continue to press it.

The Convener: I should note that there is a petition that we have been dealing with for in excess of eight years—the Megrahi case petition. However, as members have said, it is not an ideal situation. Given the impasse and the diametrically opposed views, does the committee wish to seek further information on the record in a formal meeting with constitutional lawyers and others, in an effort to move forward and with a view to looking at the pros and cons of the petition? We could then take a formal decision on it. We could also ask the Scottish Parliament information centre and the clerks for a note on the wider issues, perhaps even taking into account any conflict-of-interest issues that might have a bearing on how court decisions are taken.

Liam McArthur: I agree with that. Such an evidence session might be better using a round-table format, rather than having a more traditional evidence session. Due to the fact that the cabinet secretary and, previously, the petitioner referred to the situation in New Zealand, which has now taken a different course, it would certainly be useful in the information that is to be provided by SPICe to have an understanding of the thought process that the New Zealand Parliament went through to arrive at the decision that it reached in relation to the same issue.

The Convener: Are we all agreed that that is the way forward?

Members indicated agreement.

The National reported on developments at the Justice Committee here:

 Scottish judges and government on collision course over interests register

By Martin Hannan The National 11 March 2020

THE Justice Committee of the Scottish Parliament is on a collision course with the Scottish Government and leading Scottish judges after the Committee voted to continue its inquiries into the possibility of legislation to set up a register of the financial and other interests of judges.

Lord Carloway, Scotland’s senior judge, and justice secretary Humza Yousaf both told the committee by letter yesterday that they were opposed to such a register, indicating that the petition for such a register raised in 2012 by journalist and law blogger Peter Cherbi should now be dropped.

The Committee decided otherwise, however, and agreed to keep the petition open and to “seek further oral evidence in due course, in round-table formal, from constitutional and academic witnesses”.

The Committee also agreed to seek further written briefings from the Scottish Parliament Information Centre (Spice) in relation to “other potential conflicts of interests relating to key stakeholders in the Scottish judicial system”.

In a surprise move directly against the wishes of Yousaf and Carloway, the Committee agreed to consider the scheduling of this work as part of its work programming up to spring 2021.

Yousaf had told the Committee: “I would caution however that if such a register were to be established by way of legislation, rather than through the powers of the Lord President, this may be perceived as undermining the principle of judicial independence and the separation of powers between the judiciary and other branches of government.”

Yet Carloway, the Lord President and Lord Justice General, has long made known his opposition to such a register, and he told the Committee in his letter that he would not be attending to give his views.

Speaking at yesterday’s meeting, John Finnie MSP said the debate on the issue had become “polarised”.

He said: “There is an issue here that remains to be dealt with and I think the public would anticipate that there is some measure of accountability.”

Peter Cherbi told The National: “Noting the Justice Committee meeting today I am grateful to those MSPs who declared their support for the register of judicial interests – and all the MSPs who have previously worked on this petition to support it and advance the issue of judicial transparency

“Clearly the debate has become very polarised as John Finnie said during the hearing. This polarisation has come about because the judiciary are entrenched in their opposition to the same level of transparency which applies to all other branches of the executive.

“It is no accident this petition has lasted eight long years, where at every turn the judiciary have sought to undermine the petition at every hearing, invoke anyone, from government ministers to vested legal interests in an effort to shut down the petition and any debate on judicial transparency.

Sadly, the effort expended by judges against this petition, is an indication judges have something to hide and fear disclosure.”

UNCONVINCING TOP  SCOTS JUDGES WHO REFUSED TO BE TRANSPARENT:

Scotland’s recent two top judges failed to convince MSPs that a register of interests is not required for Scotland’s judiciary

Former Lord President Brian Gill, and current Lord President Lord Carloway consistently argued the existence of judicial oaths and ethics – which are both written, and approved by  judges negate any requirement for further transparency in the judiciary.

However, both the Scottish Parliament’s Public Petitions Committee – who investigated the judicial interests petition for six years, and the Justice Committee – who have considered the petition since 2018, found the judiciary’s arguments against transparency to be “unconvincing”.

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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JUDGE JUDGES: Scotland’s top judge refuses to face questions from MSPs on judiciary’s EIGHT YEAR battle against register of judges’ interests – Lord Carloway says he will not attend Holyrood to “rehearse the same arguments which have not apparently found favour”

Lord Carloway refused request to face MSPs. SCOTLAND’S top judge Lord Carloway – has refused a second request from Holyrood’s powerful Justice Committee to face questions on judges’ opposition to an EIGHT YEAR petition calling for the creation of a register of judicial interests – Petition PE1458: Register of Interests for members of Scotland’s judiciary

In a letter to Margaret Mitchell MSP – Lord Carloway (real name Colin Sutherland) informed the Convener of the Justice Committee he would not attend Holyrood to “rehearse the same arguments which have not apparently found favour”.

The uncompromising – yet unconvincing letter from the top judge is a veiled reference to previous unconvincing arguments against judicial transparency put forward by both Lord Carloway and his predecessor – Lord Brian Gill – who both demanded an end to MSPs investigations of judges’ interests.

The letter from Scotland’s top judge to MSPs – dated 29 January 2020 but only published by Holyrood earlier this week – is loaded with contentions that judges can only judge judges – and ends with a previously used veiled threat to the Scottish Parliament over alleged constitutionality of elected politicians creating legislation to require judges to declare their interests.

Lord Carloway also rehearses previous arguments put forward to MSPs on sponsored studies by EU judicial quango groups – even though the UK left the European Union on 31 January 2020.

It should be noted both the Public Petitions Committee and Justice Committee have heard the same arguments put forward by the judiciary over the course of eight years, yet both Committees found judges’ arguments against transparency and judicial declarations to be unconvincing against the weight of cross party, media and public support for a judicial register.

And in November 2019, the Convener of the Justice Committee wrote to Lord Carloway informing the top judge MSPs were minded to support the petition as the judiciary had not put forward any convincing arguments against the creation of a register of judges’ interests p reported here: JUDGES MUST DECLARE: Holyrood Justice Committee back cross party supported proposal to require Scotland’s judges to declare all financial interests and other links in a publicly available register of judicial interests

The cross party backed judicial register petition calls for the creation of a publicly available register of judicial interests – containing information on all judges’ backgrounds, figures relating to personal wealth, undeclared earnings, business & family connections inside & outside of the legal profession, membership of organisations, property and land, offshore investments, hospitality, details on recusals and other information routinely lodged in registers of interest across all walks of public life in the UK and around the world.

The Justice Committee’s note of support follows over SIX YEARS of investigations by the Scottish Parliament’s Public Petitions Committee – who also concluded a register of judges’ interests was workable and could be created – despite similar arguments put forward by Carloway’s predecessor Lord Brian Gill who warned MSPs they did not have the power to require judges to declare their interests.

The decision by the Public Petitions Committee to endorse the petition was reported in further detail here: JUDICIAL REGISTER: Holyrood Petitions Committee calls for legislation to require Scotland’s judges to declare their interests in a register of judicial Interests

And, like Lord Carloway – Brian Gill refused two requests to face MSPs questions on the petition – only finally showing up at Holyrood in November 2015 after the top judge retired earlier that year.

The Justice Committee will consider Petition PE1458 at a meeting on Tuesday 10 March 2020.

Lord Carloway’s letter to Margaret Mitchell MSP Convener of the Justice Committee:

I thank you for your letter of 22 November 2019 in which you indicate that the Justice Committee is inclined to support the principle behind the petition of a judicial register of interests. I have, once again, considered the matter very carefully. As I mentioned in my letter of 23 August 2019, if substantive new issues had been identified then I would have been happy to address them. However, no new issues have been identified.

Over the course of 7 years, I and my predecessor have repeatedly explained our view that a register of judicial interests is constitutionally inappropriate, unnecessary, disproportionate, unsupported by objective evidence, and incapable of achieving its stated aim. On a practical level, it would have negative effects on judicial retention and recruitment at a time when attracting quality applicants for judicial office is, as I suspect you are already aware, extremely challenging. It would be cumbersome to operate. It would provide additional means for disgruntled litigants to target judges and their families. Elected office and judicial office are not comparable. The checks and balances applicable to each are different by conscious design. Judges and sheriffs are fully accountable for each and every decision which they take. Those decisions are taken in open forum and subject to appeal. At each stage the actions of the court are governed by clear and transparent legal rules. The nature of political decision-making is very different from that of legal decision-making. That is why the checks and balances are correspondingly different.

The Committee will be familiar with the Council of Europe Group of States Against Corruption (GRECO). The Committee undertakes regular independent investigations into anti-corruption mechanisms in member states. It concluded (at para 133), once again, in its Fourth Evaluation Round Report about our judiciary that there is no “element of corruption in relation to judges, nor is there evidence of judicial decisions being influenced in an inappropriate manner… What was said in the First Evaluation Round Report with respect to the absence of a system for formal registration of interests of judges is still valid. GRECO did not recommend the introduction of an asset declaration system at that time and the GET found no change of circumstance that require such a recommendation at this time”. GRECO is an important independent source of evidence on how our legal system functions. In the absence of any objective suggestions of corrupt practices, and by that I mean from those without axes to grind, I would suggest that no additional controls, beyond those already in place, are desirable.

The Committee appears already to have reached at least a preliminary view on the matter. There would seem to be little value in wasting the Committee’s time with a third Parliamentary appearance only to rehearse the same arguments which have not apparently found favour.

I have mentioned previously that the question of whether to have a register of interests for the judiciary is not something that can be considered in isolation. It forms part of a larger equation which bears on judicial recruitment, retention, reward, quality, independence and effectiveness. As part of ensuring that this equation continues to balance, the Committee may be interested to know that a judicial working group of the Judicial Council, comprising members drawn from each of the judicial ranks, has been working for some months on a project to refresh the Statement of Principles of Judicial Ethics. The Statement is a cornerstone in supporting judicial independence, impartiality and integrity. It builds on tire UN Bangalore Principles.

At its most recent meetings, the group has focussed on the extent to which judges may undertake extra judicial activities. In due course, the Judicial Council will be considering whether or not, among a range of other measures, a system of permissions for commercial activity has a place in any adjusted code of ethics. Regardless of the decisions which the group may eventually reach, the Committee can have confidence that they will have been arrived at after deep consideration of the likely effects of any change across the whole judicial system. That is the most effective means by which such questions can be explored and resolved.

I remain of the view that, from the constitutional perspective, the extent of any monitoring of judicial conduct, including judges’ interests relative to the performance of their duties, should remain a matter for the Judiciary and not for Government or Parliament. I note that almost every country in Europe and the Commonwealth agrees with this analysis.

While Scotland’s judiciary have conducted an eight year resistance to proposals to make the judiciary as transparent as elected politicians, other jurisdictions such as Norway, the USA, and other countries have operated registers of judicial interests and requirements on judges to publish their financial reports without any issues.

In Norway, judges must complete a register of interests listing honorary posts, investments, memberships of political parties, companies, religious communities and charities among others.

The Norwegian model of judicial interest disclosure was hailed by the Public Petitions Committee as model for Scotland’s judges to follow.

More on Norway’s register of judges’ interests can be found here: NORWAY, M’LORD: Judicial interests register of Norway cited as example to follow for Holyrood MSPs six year investigation to create a register of judges’ interests in Scotland

EIGHT YEAR JUDICIAL INTERESTS PROBE:

The judicial register petition – first debated at the Scottish Parliament’s Public Petitions Committee in January 2013calls for the creation of a publicly available register of judicial interests.

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.

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.

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.

The Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee has consistently supported calls for a judicial interests register over multiple hearings – where MSPs have spoken out on Scottish judges involvement in the Gulf States, reported here: JUDICIAL REGISTER: Justice Committee to hear evidence from ex-Judicial Investigator, top judge on judicial interests register, MSP says Scottish judges should not be involved with Gulf States implicated in unlawful wars, mistreatment of women’s rights

A report on the Justice Committee’s consideration of the Judicial Interests Register Petition in May 2019 – where MSPs backed the petition – can be found here: 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’

A report on the Justice Committee’s consideration of the Judicial Interests Register Petition in February 2019 – where evidence in relation to Scottish judges swearing dual judicial oaths and working for Human Rights abusing Gulf States dictatorships – can be found here: 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

TWO TOP SCOTS JUDGES FAIL IN HOLYROOD JUDICIAL TRANSPARENCY PROBE:

Both of Scotland’s recent top judges failed to convince MSPs that a register of interests is not required for judges – even after both Lord Presidents attempted to press home the existence of judicial oaths and ethics – which are both written, and approved by – judges.

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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JUDGES MUST DECLARE: Holyrood Justice Committee back cross party supported proposal to require Scotland’s judges to declare all financial interests and other links in a publicly available register of judicial interests

Justice Committee issues backing for Judicial Register. A CROSS-PARTY supported proposal to require all members of Scotland’s near 700 strong judiciary to declare and register their financial interests, links to big business and other connections has moved a step closer after MSPs declared their support for Petition PE1458: Register of Interests for members of Scotland’s judiciary

The Justice Committee published a letter from Margaret Mitchell MSP, Convener of Holyrood’s powerful Justice Committee to Scotland’s top judge Lord Carloway – in which Ms Mitchell states: “After this evidence session and a previous one, the Committee is minded to support the principle behind the petition of a judicial register of interests as it has yet to hear a convincing case against.”

The cross party backed judicial register petition 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.

Support from the Justice Committee to advance the judicial transparency proposal – comes after six years of investigation by the Scottish Parliament’s Public Petitions Committee – who unanimously backed the petition in the face of strong resistance from Scotland’s judiciary, and two years of work by the Justice Committee – who have now gone on the record with their support for a publicly available register requiring all judges in Scotland to declare their interests – in the same way all members of the Scottish Parliament declare their interests.

While in theory, all UK judges including Scotland’s judiciary have a duty to declare all relevant interests in cases they hear in court, a number of serious cases have come to light via media investigations – revealing judges are routinely failing to declare key interests – even when their own family members are before them in court.

In one serious example of a failure to declare interests, Lord Malcolm (real name Colin Campbell QC) heard a damages claim EIGHT TIMES while his own son – Ewen Campbell – represented the defenders in the same court.

The case involving Lord Malcolm generated significant interest as it was not just any ordinary case – it was an appeal linked to a multi million pound damages claim involving defenders represented by a then serving member of the judiciary – (now former Sheriff) Peter Watson – who was later suspended for a record three years plus over his links to a £28M writ involving the £400M Heather Capital Hedge Fund collapse – and then resigned in 2019.

The investigation into the Lord Malcolm case of serious failures to declare conflicts of interest,  is reprinted here: CONFLICT OF INTEREST: Papers lodged at Holyrood judicial interests register probe reveal Court of Session judge heard case eight times – where his son acted as solicitor for the defenders

A number of other cases where judges failed to recuse have also come to light, and cases where the Judicial Office failed to publish recusals – including at least one hearing involving Lord Bracadale (real name Alistair Campbell) – were drawn to the attention of the Public Petitions Committee during their long six year investigation of the proposal calling for a register of judicial interests.

An investigation revealing the Judicial Office altered the Register of Judicial Recusals – one year after Lord Bracadale recused from a case – and only after journalists questioned the Judicial Office on the omission, can be found here: RECUSALS UNLIMITED: Doubts over credibility of register of judges’ recusals – as Judicial Office admit court clerks failed to add details of senior judges recusals – then silently altered records a year later

The full letter from Margaret Mitchell, Convener of the Justice Committee – to Lord Carloway – was published by the Justice Committee as follows:

Dear Lord President,

Petition 1458 – Proposal to establish a register of judicial interests

I write regarding the above Petition which the Justice Committee considered on 19 November. After this evidence session and a previous one, the Committee is minded to support the principle behind the petition of a judicial register of interests as it has yet to hear a convincing case against.

The Committee thanks you for your letter of 23 August 2019 on this subject. However in light of the above, members agreed it wanted to give you the opportunity to relate your views, in person, as to why a register of judicial interests should not be established.

I should be grateful, therefore, if you would indicate whether you, or a representative of the Judicial Office, would be willing to give oral evidence on the petition in the New Year. If so, in order to move forward. I would be grateful if your officials would contact the Justice clerks to discuss a mutually convenient date.

Finally it would be extremely helpful if you would provide further details on your views of what would be involved in establishing such a register and whether this would require primary legislation or could be achieved by some other means through the powers that you have as Lord President.

I look forward to your response. Best wishes,

Margaret Mitchell MSP Convener, Justice Committee

While Scotland’s judiciary have conducted an eight year resistance to proposals to make the judiciary as transparent as elected politicians, other jurisdictions such as Norway, the USA, and other countries have oeprated registers of judicial interests and requirements on judges to publish their financial reports without any issues.

In Norway, judges must complete a register of interests listing honorary posts, investments, memberships of political parties, companies, religious communities and charities among others.

The Norwegian model of judicial interest disclosure was hailed by the Public Petitions Committee as model for Scotland’s judges to follow.

More on Norway’s register of judges’ interests can be found here: NORWAY, M’LORD: Judicial interests register of Norway cited as example to follow for Holyrood MSPs six year investigation to create a register of judges’ interests in Scotland

After hearing evidence from Scotland’s first Judicial Complaints Reviewer (JCR) – Moi Ali in a hearing last November, the Justice Committee have also invited Lord Carloway to attend Holyrood to face further questions on his opposition to judicial transparency.

During that hearing in November, and in response to a question from MSP Shona Robinson on concerns raised by Lord Carloway of difficulties in hiring judges – Moi Ali said: “If a lawyer were put off by having to be open and transparent, that would raise questions about their suitability to be a member of the judiciary.”

Video Footage of this exchange can be found here:

Moi Ali – Judicial interests register will not deter judicial candidates – Justice Committee 19 November 2019

A full report on the Justice Committee evidence hearing with Moi Ali on 19 november 2019 can be found here: JUDICIAL REGISTER: Ex-Judicial Investigator responds to top judge’s claims a register of judges’ interests may affect judicial recruitment – “If a lawyer were put off by having to be open and transparent it does raise questions about their suitability to be members of the judiciary”

Earlier, in September 2013, and during the term of her office as Judicial Complaints Reviewer – Moi Ali gave evidence to the Scottish Parliament’s Public Petitions Committee, and supported calls for the creation of a register of judicial interests. The hearing is reported in more detail along with video footage of the 2013 evidence session here: Judicial Complaints Reviewer tells MSPs judges should register their interests like others in public life.

EIGHT YEAR JUDICIAL INTERESTS PROBE:

The judicial register petition – first debated at the Scottish Parliament’s Public Petitions Committee in January 2013calls for the creation of a publicly available register of judicial interests.

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.

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.

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.

The Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee has backed calls for further work on the judicial interests register during at least THREE further Holyrood hearings, including the latest hearing from June 2019, reported here: JUDICIAL REGISTER: Justice Committee to hear evidence from ex-Judicial Investigator, top judge on judicial interests register, MSP says Scottish judges should not be involved with Gulf States implicated in unlawful wars, mistreatment of women’s rights

A report on the Justice Committee’s consideration of the Judicial Interests Register Petition in May 2019 can be found here: 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’

A report on the Justice Committee’s consideration of the Judicial Interests Register Petition in February 2019 can be found here: 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

TWO TOP SCOTS JUDGES FAIL IN HOLYROOD JUDICIAL TRANSPARENCY PROBE:

Both of Scotland’s recent top judges failed to convince MSPs that a register of interests is not required for judges – even after both Lord Presidents attempted to press home the existence of judicial oaths and ethics – which are both written, and approved by – judges.

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: Evidence to MSPs urges probe of Scots Judges in Gulf States – Scottish Parliament Justice Committee urged to move forward on EIGHT YEAR cross party backed petition to create a Register of judges’ interests

MSPs consider evidence on judicial register. THE Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee have been urged to progress a cross party backed eight year petition calling for the creation of a Register of judges’ interests Petition PE1458: Register of Interests for members of Scotland’s judiciary

A submission of evidence from the petitioner – published by the Justice Committee – also reveals there are questions over the lack of recusals by Justices of the Peace – who were deliberately excluded from a Register of Recusals created in 2014 as a result of the Public Petitions Committee’s hearings on the petition.

Responding to an earlier letter from Scotland’s top judge – Lord Carloway – the petitioner highlighted the Lord President’s inability to address issues of Scottish judges serving in the Gulf States – a subject which drew harsh criticism from Justice Committee members at an earlier meeting – reported here: JUDGE THE JUDGES: Seven years, and one year on from petition passed to Justice Committee, questions on judicial conflicts of interest & Scots judges swearing dual judicial oaths in Gulf States – time to move forward on legislation for register of judges’ interests

An investigation by 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 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

The letter from Scotland’s top judge – Lord Carloway (real name Colin Sutherland) to the Justice Committee – also revealed the Lord President had refused to appear before the Justice Committee to give evidence, and went on to demand he be told of any questions in advance before he even consider the issue.

Lord Carloway’s letter to MSPs was reported in further detail here: Scotland’s top judge complains Holyrood judicial transparency probe prevents him recruiting judges – refuses Justice Committee invitation to give evidence in cross-party backed Eight year register of judges’ interests investigation

Petition PE1458 Register of Interests for Scotland’s Judiciary

Given the submission from Lord Carloway dated 23 August 2019 has only recently been published, I would like to name a number of observations in this submission to the Justice Committee.

I would observe Lord Carloway does not address important issues raised with the Justice Committee in relation to serving members of Scotland’s judiciary holding judicial positions in the UAE and other States with poor Human Rights records.

Noting comments from member John Finnie MSP in relation to this matter, and the facts presented to the Committee in my previous submissions along with media coverage, I recommend members pursue this matter to the fullest extent, given this is a very clear issue where a register of judicial interests would, and should include such service – where members of Scotland’s judiciary are swearing judicial oaths in countries condemned by rights organisations for multiple Human Rights abuses.

To address the remaining points in Lord Carloway’s letter, the Justice Committee will be aware from previous work and evidence taken by the Public Petitions Committee that former Lord President refused at least two invitations to give evidence to MSPs, and only attended the Petitions Committee on November 2015, some six months after his retirement as Lord President.

Lord Carloway’s evidence to the Public Petitions Committee took place on 29 June 2017. I would highlight my previous submission to the Petitions Committee of 4 September 2017  and media coverage provided to the Petitions Committee in relation to that hearing.

I feel it appropriate to request members of the Justice Committee watch the video coverage of Lord Carloway’s evidence of 29 June 2017 to the Public Petitions Committee, and pay particular attention to Lord Carloway’s responses to MSP Alex Neil – Lord Carloway evidence on Register of Judges interests Petitions Committee Scottish Parliament 29 June 2017

I note Lord Carloway states it is unfortunate this issue is being raised by the Justice Committee at a time during which he is seeking to recruit more members of the judiciary.

The statistics of Scotland’s judiciary, often difficult to obtain and varying, depending on what the Judicial Office publish, indicate there are currently between 650 – 700 members of the judiciary in Scotland.

A handful of judges, around seven – are already required to declare their interests in the standing register of interests for the Scottish Courts & Tribunal Service Board.

The limited disclosure of the seven judges, and non-judicial members are included in the SCTS Annual report, published each year.

A further limited disclosure of financial shareholdings of SCTS Board members, is available via a Freedom of Information request, which I have submitted to the Justice Committee along with this written submission.

This leaves the bulk of Scotland’s judiciary who are not declaring anything, no interests, no financial disclosures, nothing – other than a short biography for a select few judges.

As a result of this petition there is now a Register of Recusals – which has existed since April 2014 and now holds over 180 recusals of members of the judiciary and tribunal members – on varying grounds which in itself, does confirm and bolster the need for a full register of judicial interests.

There are however, problems with the Register of Recusals – as some recusals are not being made and some are not being listed. Notably, Lord Carloway’s explanation to the Public Petitions Committee in regard to unpublished and omitted recusals should be looked at further.

I also ask Committee members to note – there is not one recusal from a Justice of the Peace in the entire Register of Recusals.

Given there are some 450 Justices of the Peace in Scotland, and taking into account the recusal statistics from other branches of the judiciary – from Sheriffs, to Court of Session Senators and Tribunal members, the lack of recusals from JPs are a matter of concern and should be investigated further.

I recommend members of the Justice Committee read my submission of 29 November 2017 to the Public Petitions Committee, which contains important information on the Register of Recusals.

On a further matter of judicial appointments to which Lord Carloway raises, I would recommend members of the Committee read published revelations in the book “Acid Attack” @acid_book by journalist Russell Findlay @RussellFindlay1

In one example of a judicial appointment, contained in the Acid Attack book, are substantiated references to Lord Carloway’s appointment of a full-time sheriff – a year after the Sheriff’s troubling conduct in relation to organised crime criminal clients.

I recommend the Justice Committee request evidence from journalist Russell Findlay, who has written extensively on matters related to the judiciary and justice issues in Scotland.

Of further note to the Justice Committee should be Lord Carloway’s swift appointment of former Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland – direct from the position of Lord Advocate to the judicial bench, and a position as a Senator of the Court of Session.

Clearly, in anyone’s mind – making a top prosecutor a top judge in an instant – creates the possibility of voluminous conflicts of interest – particularly in the instance of Mr Mulholland – who stood with Lord Carloway on the Scottish Government’s move to remove the use of “corroboration” from Scots Law – the instance where evidence must be validated by two independent sources. It is of note the Justice Committee heard evidence from both Lord Carloway & former Lord Advocate Mulholland on this issue, and concluded it should not go ahead.

However, we are now in a situation where Scotland’s former top prosecutor is a top judge. Clearly yet another example of why a register of judicial interests for all members of the judiciary – should exist.

I previously provided evidence to the Public Petitions Committee of the instance where, as members will be aware from media coverage – the Lord Advocate’s wife – who is also a judge – was scheduled to hear a damages claim involving her husband – the Lord Advocate.

Clearly, a register of judicial interests for all members of the judiciary would help to inform litigants, court users, legal representatives and the public of such clear conflicts of interest, rather than leaving it to the last minute in a court hearing to realise the judge is related to one of those being sued in court.

I also recommend members of the Justice Committee read two fresh reports in relation to the petition’s aim of creating a register of judicial interests, and – reports of Scottish judges serving in the UAE – which have been previously commented upon by Committee members prior to publication of these news reports on Scottish Television (STV), here: Judging for ourselves if conflict of interest in courts  and here Scots judges facing pressure to declare their interests

A 75 second Video report relevant to this petition, and information of interest to the Justice Committee can be found on STV Twitter feed here: STV News – Register of Judges Interests

This petition is now in its eighth year, and has been with the Justice Committee for over a year, after the Public Petitions Committee agreed to support the petition in May 2018 after six years of evidence.

The evidence accumulated by the Public Petitions Committee, and the hard work of MSP members past and present of the Public Petitions Committee is as fresh today as when it was taken during the PPC’s extensive deliberations on this petition.

That work, including the evidence of all who gave it, and Public Petitions Committee members efforts to keep this issue alive, in the realisation members of the judiciary should declare their interests, and that there is no valid argument against a register of judicial interests, is to be commended, and therefore should be carried through to the creation of a register of interests for all members of Scotland’s judiciary.

A list of evidence accumulated by the Public Petitions can be found on the Public Petitions Committee link here Public Petitions Committee – Register of Judicial Interests  and within the files of the Petitions Committee in relation to copies of media coverage & related issues brought to the attention of it’s members.

Evidence gathered by the Public Petitions Committee includes:

Extensive written submissions of evidence (over 62 written submissions) across 25 hearings of the Public Petitions Committee,

Evidence from Cabinet Secretaries,

Evidence from one Lord President and one retired Lord President,

Key evidence from Scotland’s first Judicial Complaints Reviewer Moi Ali, and supporting evidence from Judicial Complaints Reviewer Gillian Thompson.

Evidence from law academics,

A full debate which took place in the Scottish Parliament in October 2014 – which concluded with members from all parties supporting the petition,

Multiple media reports on the petition and reports in relation to the judiciary – including undeclared conflicts of interest –

And a clear public interest and public expectation of transparency in court in this petition being brought into legislation to enable court users, the public, legal representatives of litigants, the media and politicians to see that the judiciary is held to the same levels of transparency as all others in public life.

It is now time, after eight years – for the Scottish Parliament to move ahead with this volume of evidence, the vast majority of which supports bringing transparency to the judiciary, and create a register of interests for all members of Scotland’s judiciary

Peter Cherbi, Petitioner PE1458

EIGHT YEAR JUDICIAL INTERESTS PROBE:

The judicial register petition – first debated at the Scottish Parliament’s Public Petitions Committee in January 2013calls for the creation of a publicly available register of judicial interests.

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.

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.

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.

The Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee has backed calls for further work on the judicial interests register during at least THREE further Holyrood hearings, including the latest hearing from June 2019, reported here: JUDICIAL REGISTER: Justice Committee to hear evidence from ex-Judicial Investigator, top judge on judicial interests register, MSP says Scottish judges should not be involved with Gulf States implicated in unlawful wars, mistreatment of women’s rights

A report on the Justice Committee’s consideration of the Judicial Interests Register Petition in May 2019 can be found here: 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’

A report on the Justice Committee’s consideration of the Judicial Interests Register Petition in February 2019 can be found here: 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

TWO TOP SCOTS JUDGES FAIL IN HOLYROOD JUDICIAL TRANSPARENCY PROBE:

Both of Scotland’s recent top judges failed to convince MSPs that a register of interests is not required for judges – even after both Lord Presidents attempted to press home the existence of judicial oaths and ethics – which are both written, and approved by – judges.

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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CONFLICT OF JUSTICE: Deputy President of UK Supreme Court Lord Hodge blocked appeal to UKSC on damages case he previously heard 16 times – where fellow judge Lord Malcolm failed to declare his own son represented defenders in same court

Lord Hodge heard case 16 times, then blocked appeal. PAPERS from a UKSC case file – reveal top judge Lord Hodge – who has today been appointed as Deputy President of the UK Supreme Court (UKSC) – blocked an appeal to the Supreme Court on a case he failed to declare he heard up to SIXTEEN TIMES when he sat as a judge in the Court of Session.

BUT, the case was not just any ordinary case – it was an appeal linked to a multi million pound damages claim involving defenders represented by a then serving member of the judiciary – (now former Sheriff) Peter Watson – who was later suspended for a record three years plus over his links to a £28M writ involving the £400M Heather Capital Hedge Fund collapse – and then resigned in 2019.

AND – in the SAME case representing the SAME defenders – was solicitor Ewen Campbell – the son of another Court of Session judge – Lord Malcolm (real name Colin Campbell QC) – who, like Lord Hodge – is also a Privy Councillor.

However, as DOJ has previously investigated and reported – Lord Malcolm ruled on the same case up to EIGHT TIMES – while failing to declare his own son – Ewen Campbell – acted for the defenders in the same court before his own father – Lord Malcolm.

The information revealing Lord Hodge blocked the appeal to the UK Supreme Court – came to light in a letter from UKSC Registrar – Louise Di Mambro.

The brief letter from the Registrar of the Supreme Court reveals no court procedure for any UKSC appeal was followed, and that simply – the Registrar had shown the papers to Lord Hodge who had claimed the UKSC had no jurisdiction over the case.

In fact – so confident was Loise Di Mambro and Lord Hodge of blocking the appeal – they sent a copy of their letter to solicitor Richard Cullen at the respondent’s law firm – Levy and McRae – where Ewen Campbell & Peter Watson had represented the defenders – Advance Construction Ltd.

When enquiries were made of UKSC media after the papers were discovered in case files some time ago – a long and protracted debate took place over the validity of an appeal, and counter claims were received in response to media queries on the case and how Lord Hodge came to a conclusion the Supreme Court had no jurisdiction.

However when the existence of the Registrar’s letter and it was pointed out – Lord Hodge had failed to declare he had heard the case up to sixteen times in the Court of Session – a different tone was struck from UKSC media chiefs in emails now being studied for further publication.

It should be noted the pursuer and his legal backers contended at the time – the UK Supreme Court did have jurisdiction over how badly the case had been manipulated in the Court of Session – however a noticeable and deliberate effort by the judiciary to put the case to one side, and even reopen hearings to channel funds to the defenders – struck a bad chord in Scotland’s courts – particularly with the background of what many connected to the case was a judge deliberately concealing his links to family members in court.

AND – there are significant grounds for a re-examination of the case – and other cases heard by Lord Malcolm – given the inescapable conclusion the judge could not have forgotten over eight hearings – that his own son was a legal representative of the pursuers in the exact same courtroom.

Bio: Justice of The Supreme Court, The Right Hon Lord Hodge

Patrick Stewart Hodge, Lord Hodge became a Justice of The Supreme Court in October 2013.

Lord Hodge was admitted to the Faculty of Advocates in 1983 and appointed a Queen’s Counsel in 1996. From 1997 – 2003, he was a part time Law Commissioner at the Scottish Law Commission.

Prior to his appointment to the Supreme Court in April 2013, Lord Hodge was the Scottish Judge in Exchequer Causes and one of the Scottish Intellectual Property Judges. He was also a Judge in the Lands Valuation Appeal Court and a Commercial Judge.

Lord Hodge is one of the two Scottish Justices of The Supreme Court.

Bio: Louise di Mambro Registrar

Louise has been Registrar of The Supreme Court since 1 October 2009 and Registrar of the Privy Council since 1 April 2011.

As Registrar, she exercises judicial and administrative functions under the two sets of Rules and Practice Directions which provide the procedure for these Courts.

From June 2008 until September 2009, Louise was Deputy Head of the Judicial Office of the House of Lords, supporting the Law Lords in their judicial functions. Before that, Louise was a deputy master in the Court of Appeal, Civil Division, working in the Royal Courts of Justice from December 1997 to May 2008.

From September 1977 to December 1997, Louise held various posts as a member of the Government Legal Service in the Treasury Solicitor’s Department and the Lord Chancellor’s Department. Louise was called to the Bar in July 1976.

It should be noted this is the second case of a top UK Supreme Court judge failing to declare their interests in previous cases and hearings.

Last month, Lord Reed – another Scottish judge – assumed the presidency of the UK Supreme Court after his appointment in the last days of Theresa May’s Government.

DOJ reported more on Lord Reed’s undeclared interests in further detail here: SUPREME COURT INTERESTS : Prorogation case judge Lord Reed who failed to declare role in appointment of Scotland’s Prorogation Judicial Review ruling top judge Lord Carloway – takes over as new President of UK Supreme Court

The investigation into the Lord Malcolm case of serious failures to declare conflicts of interest,  is reprinted here: CONFLICT OF INTEREST: Papers lodged at Holyrood judicial interests register probe reveal Court of Session judge heard case eight times – where his son acted as solicitor for the defenders

Judicial Interests probe – Lord Malcolm heard case involving his own son. AN INVESTIGATION by MSPs into proposals to create a register of judges’ interests has received evidence which contradicts claims by top judges – that members of the judiciary recuse themselves when they have conflicts of interest in court.

Papers lodged with the Scottish Parliament’s Public Petitions Committee in relation to Petition PE1458: Register of Interests for members of Scotland’s judiciary – reveal Court of Session judge – Lord Malcolm – real name Colin Malcolm Campbell QC – took part in multiple hearings on a case which began with his son – Ewen Campbell – providing legal representation to building firm Advance Construction Ltd.

However, Lord Malcolm did not recuse himself from any of the hearings, and no one in the court made the pursuers aware of any relationship between Lord Malcolm and Ewen Campbell until years into the court case.

The high value civil damages claim, initially heard in Hamilton Sheriff Court and then transferred to the Court of Session for a ‘speedy’ resolution – involved the dumping of 16,500 tons of contaminated waste by the defenders from a North Lanarkshire Council PPI project on the land of Donal Nolan – the well known & respected former National Hunt jockey & trainer.

At the time, the defenders solicitor – Ewen Campbell – worked for Glasgow based Levy & Mcrae – a  law firm linked to Scotland’s judiciary and more recently named in a writ in relation to the £400million collapse of a Gibraltar based hedge fund – Heather Capital.

Papers now lodged at Holyrood reveal Ewen Campbell reported back to former Levy & Mcrae senior partner and suspended Sheriff Peter Watson on the day to day running of the case for Advance Construction Ltd.

Crucially, answers lodged by the defenders in relation to an appeal by the pursuer in 2016 – finally confirmed the relationship between the judge hearing the case and the defenders solicitor, admitting Ewen Campbell was Malcolm’s son, and had been acting for the defenders in court in earlier hearings.

However, the admission of the relationship between the judge and the defenders solicitor came years into the case, and questions are now being asked as to why the judge, and no one else in court informed the pursuers of this potential conflict of interest at a much earlier stage in the action.

A quote from a motion raised by the defenders in 2016 stated: “Lord Malcolm’s son, namely Ewen Campbell, was formerly an assistant solicitor at Messrs Levy & Mcrae, Solicitors, Glasgow. That firm is the principal agent instructed by the Defender and Respondent. Ewen Campbell was formerly involved in the present cause as an assistant to the partner handling the case.”

Pleadings to the court reveal Lord Malcolm heard the case on eight separate occasions, listed as 3 May 2012, 11 May 2012, 24 July 2012, 4 October 2012, 13 March 2013, 11 April 2013, 20 May 2013 and  on 16 March 2016.

However, there is no record of any recusal by Lord Malcolm in the case.

During the 11 April 2013 hearing, a note of the decision written by clerk Kate Todd reveals Lord Malcolm appointed Lord Woolman to hear the proof.

The move to appoint another judge is now subject to debate and questions from the pursuers and legal observers, given the fact Lord Malcolm had already taken part in no less than five hearings in Mr Nolan’s case without any recusal with regard to his son’s interest as legal agent for the defenders.

According to normal procedure, the appointment of Lord Woolman to the proof should instead have been undertaken by the Office of the Keeper of the Rolls of the Court, and not by another judge.

Lord Woolman has since come in for criticism after key parts of his 2014 opinion have been subject to concerns in relation to a lack of evidence and ‘unauthorised’ actions attributable to a senior QC.

However the saga of Lord Malcolm’s appearances in the case did not end with the proof being handed over to Lord Woolman in 2013.

Lord Malcolm returned to the same case during 2016 for another hearing – in order to hear and grant a motion handing money to the defenders – which had been lodged for an appeal by a friend of Mr Nolan.

The return of a judge to a case in which MSPs have been told he should have stood aside due to a conflict of interest – has now prompted concerns over the integrity of information currently supplied by the Judicial Office since 2014 relating to judicial recusals – and previous claims by judicial figures to politicians that judges had recused themselves when required to do so prior to the creation of the recusals register in 2014.

And, it has been pointed out – Lord Malcolm’s position on such an obvious conflict of interest contrasts starkly with action taken by former Lord President Brian Gill – who avoided the same situation when forced to step down from a case in June 2014 when Lord Gill’s son – Advocate Brian Gill – appeared in the same court acting for a party in a hearing.

With increasing calls for transparency on judges’ declarations and interests, questions are also being asked why a judge was allowed to sit unchecked so many times on a case in which his own son provided legal representation for the defenders.

The case involving Lord Malcolm – has now been brought to the attention of members of the Scottish Parliament’s Public Petitions Committee – who are involved in a five year probe on the judiciary and proposals put forward to require judges to register their interests.

Writing in a submission to MSPs, Mr Nolan’s partner – Melanie Collins – said had a register of interests for judges existed in Scotland, the existence of such a register would have resulted in Lord Malcolm recusing himself from hearing the case.

Ms Collins also highlighted links between the same judge – Lord Malcolm – and a ruling affecting hundreds of solicitors and members of the public which toppled over 700 investigations by the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission against solicitors and law firms accused of wrongdoing.

Ms Collins informed MSPs the SLCC were at the time investigating a complaint in relation to issues surrounding Mr Nolan’s case.

However, the ruling by Lord Malcolm ‘coincidentally’ closed down the legal regulator’s investigation into solicitors involved in the case, and hundreds of other cases after the judge struck down a 30 year policy where the Law Society of Scotland and SLCC investigated “hybrid complaints’ comprising of conduct and service issues against solicitors since before 1980.

Now, Ms Collins and her partner Mr Nolan both have the support of their constituency MSP Alex Neil and backing to bring their experiences to the Scottish Parliament.

The full submission from Melanie Collins: PE1458/CCC: SUBMISSION FROM MELANIE COLLINS

I would like to make the following submission in relation to the current system of judicial recusals.

In my view the system is not transparent about the circumstances in which judges should recuse themselves, such as circumstances in which a judge could be perceived as having a potential bias, or the instances in which a judge may be asked to consider recusing themselves but decide not to do so. My experience demonstrates that the recusal register is not working and that a register of interests being put in place is both necessary and correct to allow the public to have faith in the judiciary and transparency of the judicial system.

My views arise from a case raised on my partner’s behalf and in which a senior judge did not recuse himself, in circumstances in which the existence of a register of interests may have resulted in him having done so.

The matter, which I note has already been mentioned in a submission by the petitioner and has been aired by Committee members, has relevance to a recent ruling in the Court of Session a recent ruling in the Court of Session carried out by the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission .

In a civil case raised in the Court of Session, on behalf of my partner, Mr Donal Nolan, Lord Malcolm (Colin Campbell QC) heard and ruled on evidence in the case.

His son, Ewen Campbell, who at the time was with Levy & McRae, was an assistant solicitor involved in the day-to-day running of the case, providing the defenders with advice and representation in court. Ewen Campbell reported back to Peter Watson, formerly a senior partner of Levy & Mcrae, and (at the date of this submission) currently suspended as a temporary sheriff.

In the case raised on behalf of my partner Mr Nolan, had a register of interests for members of the judiciary existed prior to the case coming to court, this may in my view have resulted in Lord Malcolm having recused himself.

In relation to the impact of this on the ruling in the case involving the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission, the SLCC were investigating matters in relation to this case which the ruling by Lord Malcolm had the effect of changing the hybrid complaints process which resulted in numerous cases not being concluded.

There are examples in the judicial recusals register of judges recusing themselves, particularly the instance where former Lord President, Lord Brian Gill, recused himself on 26 June 2014, after his son appeared in the same court acting for a respondent.

It is not clear to me how this instance differed from my case where Lord Malcolm did not recuse himself and on which Lord Brodie’s opinion concluded that the circumstances did not satisfy the test for apparent bias or that there was a question of interest on the part of Lord Malcolm. This lack of clarity about when recusal is appropriate does not help in assuring public faith in the judiciary and transparency of the judicial system .

Members may also wish to note I have written to the current Lord President Lord

Carloway, to make him aware of concerns in relation to my own experience before the Court of Session.

No action has been taken by Lord Carloway to address the matter, which in my view is of significant concern where there is a potential conflict of interest, and where the transparency of the judicial system could be improved. In a response from the Lord President’s Office, information about the complaints mechanism for judges was not provided.

As members of the Committee have previously been made aware of certain details of this case, I would very much welcome the opportunity to give evidence in a public session, and also that my MSP, Alex Neil whose assistance has been invaluable in advancing matters, be invited to give evidence before the Committee.

——————————

THE UNRECUSED: The judge, his son, conflicts of interest and failure to recuse – undermines public confidence in Court of Session:

An ongoing investigation into a case in which a judge did not recuse himself from seven hearings on a case where his own son represented the defenders, and returned for a eighth hearing in 2016 to hand over sums lodged as cation for an appeal – is eroding confidence in Scotland’s top court –  the Court of Session.

Journalists examining papers relating to Lord Malcolm’s eighth appearance to the case of Nolan v Advance Construction Ltd – have revealed a motion lodged by pursuer Mr Nolan for permission to appeal the decision by Lord Malcolm to hand over the £5,000 lodged as caution for expenses was blocked by Lord Brodie – but only after the judge appeared to be talked out of considering the pleadings by the defender’s QC.

The appeal raised by Mr Nolan against Lord Malcolm’s decision to hand over the cation – raised a conflict of interest and human rights, stating “grounds of justice and all persons who have an interest in the case should have been declared”.

This appeal was lodged during 2016 – only after the pursuer had been alerted to the fact a solicitor – Ewen Campbell – who acted for the defenders was actually the son of the judge – Lord Malcolm – who had presided over the case on seven previous hearings.

During hearings in relation to the initial lodging of the £5K cation by a friend of Mr Nolan – the QC, Roddy Dunlop acting for defenders Advance Construction Lrd asked Lord Menzies to increase the amount of the cation to around £35K.

However, Lord Menzies denied the defenders their motion to increase, and thought £5K was sufficient for to advance the appeal.

Then, in a later hearing, Lord Brodie said the money for the appeal should have been left in situ after the pursuer entered pleadings – requesting the cation be returned to the third party.

However Balfour & Manson – acting on behalf of Levy & Mcrae – for Advance Construction Ltd – presented a motion requesting the money be handed over to the defenders.

It was at this hearing, Lord Malcolm returned for the eighth occasion after earlier recusing himself from the case – to hand over the cash to the defenders.

The pursuer – Mr Nolan – then sought a written opinion from Lord Malcolm for his decision on 16 March 2016 to hand over the cation – however none was forthcoming from the judge or his clerks.

An opinion by Lord Brodie from the Court of Session – dated 20 May 2016 which the Scottish Courts Service has refused to publish – reveals Lord Brodie – who previously ruled on parts of the case, returned to hear Mr Nolan’s motion requesting for leave to appeal Lord Malcolm’s decision to the UK Supreme Court.

In the difficult to obtain opinion, Lord Brodie appeared to be going for the pursuer’s pleadings in that the test was met for a fair minded observer to conclude a conflict of interest existed on the part of Lord Malcolm.

However, as Lord Brodie’s opinion continues, the judge is then persuaded against granting the pursuer’s request for leave to appeal by the defender’s QC – Roddy Dunlop.

Commenting on the developments at the Scottish Parliament, the petitioner suggested the rules around judicial recusals should be improved to ensure a judge who has already recused themselves from a case should not be allowed to return to the same case at any later date.

The petitioner further stated: ”It appears Mr Nolan had no chance of obtaining justice at the Court of Session in a situation where the father of the defender’s legal agent was the presiding judge, the law firm acting for the defenders had senior partners who were judicial office holders and therefore colleagues of the presiding judge, and a QC who was representing the defenders has family links to the judiciary.”

“Had a register of judicial interests already existed, most or all of these relationships should have been caught and properly dealt with if public scrutiny and the test of fair mindedness of external observers were able to be applied to events in this case.”

As investigations into the case continue, papers currently being studied by journalists are set to reveal further issues:

* a senior QC sent emails to the pursuer and his partner demanding cash payments outside of the process where Advocate’s fees are normally paid through solicitors to Faculty Services. At the time of these demands for cash payments, the current Lord Advocate – James Wolffe QC – was the Dean of the Faculty of Advocates and fully aware of the QC’s irregular requests for cash.

* a set of desperate emails from a senior QC demanding possession of a recorded consultation during which, among other issues the pursuer’s legal team seem aloof of developments in major contamination & planning related cases.

* Evidence of Advocates’ demands for cash payments and falsified documents handed to James Wolffe QC – the then Dean of the Faculty of Advocates and now Scotland’s top prosecutor – the Lord Advocate – were not acted upon or properly investigated.

* North Lanarkshire Council paid out £2 million pounds of public cash which ended up with the defenders after they were paid in a subcontract agreement – yet the contaminated material dumped by the defenders on Mr Nolan’s land is still there and no action has been taken to remove it while the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) ‘looked the other way’.

* Mr Nolan had obtained a Soul & Conscience letter from his doctor due to ill health, lodged as document 148 of the process. The existence of the Soul and Conscience letter meant Mr Nolan should never have been put a position to address a court under the circumstances but was forced to do so.

* the blocking of an appeal to the UK Supreme Court by Lord Hodge – who failed to declare he previously sat on the Nolan v Advance Construction Ltd case at least eighteen times while he served as a judge in the Court of Session.

Previous articles on the lack of transparency within Scotland’s judiciary, investigations by Diary of Injustice including reports from the Sunday Herald and Sunday Mail newspapers, 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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EVIDENCE, M’LORD: Scotland’s top judge complains Holyrood judicial transparency probe prevents him recruiting judges – refuses Justice Committee invitation to give evidence in cross-party backed Eight year register of judges’ interests investigation

Lord Carloway refused to meet MSPs. SCOTLAND’S top judge – Lord Carloway – has refused to appear before the Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee to give evidence on proposals to create a register of judges’ interests contained in a cross party backed petition – Petition PE1458: Register of Interests for members of Scotland’s judiciary

Papers published late yesterday by the Scottish Parliament for next Tuesday’s 19 November 2019 meeting to discuss the petition, state the following: “The Committee also invited the Lord President of the Court of Session, Rt Hon Lord Carloway to give oral evidence on the petition. Lord Carloway declined the invitation, setting out his reasons in a letter to the Committee on 23 August 2019.”

Lord Carloway’s letter to Margaret Mitchell MSP – Convener of the Justice Committee – dated 23 August 2019 – only published late this week, states There would, however, appear to be little that could be said in any further session that does not simply go over ground that has already been covered extensively. It would not, I suggest, be the most fruitful use of the Committee’s valuable time.”

Lord Carloway – real name Colin John Maclean Sutherland – who earns over £220K a year – also complains in the letter to the Justice Committee – that raising the issue of judicial transparency & accountability right now is hampering his ability to recruit judges for well salaried judicial jobs which come with perks, international travel, speaking events, hospitality and gold plated pensions.

Carloway ended his letter to Margaret Mitchell with a barbed comment against the Committee’s proceedings: “We will then be well placed to determine how best to progress this matter which, unfortunately, has been aired at a time when I am attempting to encourage our most senior lawyers to apply for office of judge of the Court of Session and High Court.”

However, documents obtained via Freedom of Information legislation – SCTS Board members shareholdings – and from the Scottish Courts & Tribunals Service (SCTS) Annual Report – SCTS Board register of interests – reveal Lord Carloway and other members of the judiciary are already required to declare some interests in the SCTS Board which runs Scotland’s courts – reported in further detail here: FACULTY LORD: ‘Abbotsford Art & Faculty of Advocates trustee’ declaration of globetrotting £223K a year anti-transparency top judge Lord Carloway, with 20 years on the judicial bench – calls into question scrutiny of Court quango interests register

While Lord Carloway will not be present at next Tuesday’s evidence session, Justice Committee MSPs will take further evidence from Scotland’s first Judicial Complaints ReviewerMoi Ali – who has consistently backed calls for the creation of a register of judges’ interests for all members of Scotland’s judiciary.

Lord Carloway’s refusal to attend the Justice Committee marks the third refusal of a sitting Lord President to give evidence on Petition PE1458: Register of Interests for members of Scotland’s judiciary – which 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 refusals to give evidence on the judicial transparency proposal – saw Lord Carloway’s predecessor – Lord Brian Gill – twice refuse invitations to give evidence to the Public Petitions Committee,

Only upon retiring from the office of Lord President in May 2015, did Brian Gill later accept an invitation to appear before MSPs in November 2015, during which Brian Gill’s angry responses to questions from Public Petitions Committee MSPs ended up being dubbed “passive aggression” by the then Committee Convener – Michael McMahon.

Lord Carloway’s letter to Margaret Mitchell MSP, Convener of the Justice Committee, in full:

I refer to your invitation of 25 June to give evidence to the Committee in relation to the proposal for a judicial register of interests. This is a matter that has been the subject of parliamentary consideration for number of years, with the petition being lodged in 2012. Since then there have been a number of exchanges between the Petitions Committee and both my predecessor, Lord Gill, and myself. Both Lord Gill and I have given oral evidence to the Petitions Committee on this matter. For your convenience, I attach copies of the letters that Lord Gill and I have sent to the Petitions Committee, and also the transcripts of our oral evidence.

I appreciate that your Committee is constituted differently from the Petitions Committee, and that the topic may therefore be comparatively new to its members. There would, however, appear to be little that could be said in any further session that does not simply go over ground that has already been covered extensively. It would not, I suggest, be the most fruitful use of the Committee’s valuable time.

If, however, after consideration of everything that has gone before, it emerges that there are new substantive issues, I would be happy to address them. I would be grateful if you could write to me setting out any new issues that have been identified. We will then be well placed to determine how best to progress this matter which, unfortunately, has been aired at a time when I am attempting to encourage our most senior lawyers to apply for office of judge of the Court of Session and High Court.

This is not the first time Lord Carloway has declined to attend the Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee to give evidence.

In 2016, Lord Carloway was accused of stifling a Justice Committee inquiry into the Lord Advocate and Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service by refusing an invitation to give evidence to MSPs.

The Herald newspaper reported Lord President, Lord Carloway, wrote to every level of the judiciary telling them he has refused to give evidence to the Justice Committee’s explosive probe into the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) – with a clear hint the Lord President’s letter was to discourage others from attending the Justice Committee’s investigation of Scotland’s prosecution service.

He said the Scottish Courts service as an institution should give evidence to the committee, rather than individual members of the judiciary, even retired ones.

After the intervention, the SJA pulled out of its scheduled appearance at today’s committee.

The behind-the-scenes activity is understood to have troubled the committee’s convener, Conservative MSP Margaret Mitchell, who at the weekend told a meeting of JPs she would be concerned if there was a perception that freedom of speech was being restricted.

Opposition parties are also privately uneasy about a possible ‘chilling effect’.

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 her 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.

JCR Moi Ali gives evidence to Scottish Parliament on a proposed Register of Judicial Interests

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”

Evidence of Lord Gill before the Scottish Parliament 10 November 2015

Later, in June 2017 – Lord Carloway (real name Colin John MacLean Sutherland) did accept an invitation to give evidence at the Public Petitions Committee.

However, Carloway’s position relied on attacking the media, court users, and a demand that judges essentially be exempt from the same levels of transparency applied to all other public officials.

The judge’s appearance at the Public Petitions Committee was widely criticised, after Lord Carloway withered during detailed questions by Alex Neil MSP on serious issues of senior judges failing to declare significant conflicts of interest.

Video footage and a full report on Lord Carloway (Colin Sutherland) giving widely criticised evidence to the Scottish Parliament in June 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

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

In May 2018, the Public Petitions Committee rejected Lord Carloway’s claims of an “unworkable” register, with MSPs ultimately backing the petition after a six year investigation and passing the petition to the Justice Committee for further action in May 2018, with an obvious expectation of progress – reported in further detail here: JUDICIAL REGISTER: Holyrood Petitions Committee calls for legislation to require Scotland’s judges to declare their interests in a register of judicial Interests

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

HOLYROOD’S EIGHT YEAR JUDICIAL INTERESTS PROBE:

The judicial register petition – 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.

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.

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.

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.

The Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee has backed calls for further work on the judicial interests register during at least THREE further Holyrood hearings, including the latest hearing from June 2019, reported here: JUDICIAL REGISTER: Justice Committee to hear evidence from ex-Judicial Investigator, top judge on judicial interests register, MSP says Scottish judges should not be involved with Gulf States implicated in unlawful wars, mistreatment of women’s rights

A report on the Justice Committee’s consideration of the Judicial Interests Register Petition in May 2019 can be found here: 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’

A report on the Justice Committee’s consideration of the Judicial Interests Register Petition in February 2019 can be found here: 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

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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SHERIFF WALKS: Scottish Courts confirm lawyer & part-time Sheriff Peter Watson – who was named in £28M Heather Capital writ linked to collapsed £400M hedge fund – resigned from the judiciary in 2018

Carloway lifted suspension, Sheriff resigned.. THE Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service (SCTS) have confirmed a lawyer linked to a collapsed hedge fund – who also served as a judge – and was suspended for over three years “in order to maintain public confidence in the judiciary” – resigned his judicial post in 2018.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The suspension came after Gill demanded sight of the writ.

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

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

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

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

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

On Monday 16 February the Lord President considered the matter.

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

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

A fulll report on Mr Watson’s suspension from the judiciary in 2015 can be found here: CAPITAL JUDGE: As top judge suspends sheriff over £28m law firm writ alleging links to £400m Heather Capital collapse, what now for Lord Gill’s battle against a register of interests & transparency for Scotland’s judiciary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[21]      In the Levy Mcrae case:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lord Glennie stated in his opinion:

[97]      I have had the advantage of reading in draft the opinions to be given by Lady Paton and Lady Clark of Calton.  I agree with them and, for the reasons they give, I too would allow parties a Proof Before Answer of all their averments on record preserving all pleas. 

[98]      I would wish to add two comments of my own. 

[99]      The main focus of the debate in each case was whether the pursuer, HC, had made sufficient and relevant averments of “reasonable diligence” for the purposes of section 11(3) and the proviso to section 6(4) of the 1973 Act.  In both cases the Lord Ordinary held that HC had not said enough and in sufficient detail to justify sending the matter to a Proof Before Answer.  The matter could be determined on the pleadings.  Lady Paton has explained why we take a different view.  But I have a more general concern about this approach. 

[100]    In his note of argument in the LM case, under reference to cases such as John Doyle Construction Ltd v Laing Management (Scotland) Ltd 2004 SC 713 at pages 722 – 723 and Watson v Greater Glasgow Health Board [2016] CSOH 93 at paragraphs 22-23, Lord Davidson QC was at pains to remind us that the purpose of pleading is to give fair notice of the assertions of fact sought to be established in the evidence as well as to identify the essential propositions of law on which a party founds.  Elaborate pleading is unnecessary in any action, not just in a commercial action.  The purpose of the pleadings is to give notice of the essential elements of the case.  The pleadings should set out the bare bones of the case.  They are not the place to set out in full the evidence intended to be adduced.  In the present cases that appears to have been overlooked.  To that extent I have some sympathy with Lord Davidson’s submission.  The Closed Record in the BP action, as it appears in the Reclaiming Print, runs to some 59 pages, while that in the LM action extends to 93 pages.  This has happened, so it seems to me, because in their pleadings parties have indulged in a process akin to trial by pleading.  The defenders have made averments of fact intended to undermine the pursuer’s case on reasonable diligence; the pursuer has responded by making further averments addressed to those points;  this in turn has caused the defenders to make further averments or raise further questions;  the pursuer has tried to answer by making yet further averments;  and this is constantly repeated until parties are finally exhausted.  The process resembles one of cross examination and response, a process for which pleadings are quite unfitted.  I do not seek to apportion blame.  In a case such as this, the temptation to pile pressure on to the pursuer by pleading a wealth of detail is difficult to resist;  and a pursuer who does not respond in kind runs the risk of being thought to have no answer to the points which have been raised.  Difficulty arises when the matter comes to debate on the question of whether, for example, the pursuer has made sufficiently relevant and specific averments that it “could not with reasonable diligence have been aware” that loss had occurred (section 11(3)) and that it could not “with reasonable diligence have discovered” the fraud or error induced by the debtor which induced it to refrain from making a relevant claim at an earlier stage (section 6(4), proviso).  Points are made in argument about the failure to take certain steps or to follow up on the particular line of enquiry;  and the Lord Ordinary is invited to form a view that what was done was insufficient or that the reasons given for not doing it are inadequate.  Such an invitation should, in my view, be resisted save in the most obvious case.  The judgments which the court is being asked to make are essentially value judgments, assessments of the reasonableness or otherwise of a party’s conduct.  Such judgments should seldom if ever be made on the basis of the pleadings without hearing evidence.  It may seem obvious, on paper, that something ought to have been done or that a line of enquiry ought to have been pursued; but when evidence is led it might seem less obvious, or there might be good reasons for not taking that course.  It is not the function of pleadings to set out every reason why each relevant individual took or did not take any particular step.  In many cases issues of credibility and reliability might arise, the evidence may be far more nuanced than it is possible to convey on paper, explanations may be given more fully and persuasively than can come over in the pleadings, and some of the criticisms may, in light of all the evidence, be seen to be informed by hindsight.  I should emphasise that I make these observations without reference to any of the particular points decided in the particular cases with which we are here concerned.  But it does seem to me that the cases with which we are concerned illustrate the danger of the court being drawn into deciding cases on detailed averments of fact when it would be more appropriate that all the evidence be heard before any decision is made. 

[101]    The other comment I would wish to make concerns the question of whether the claims advanced in both actions on the basis of the existence of a trust are subject to the 5‑year prescriptive period in section 6 of the 1973 Act or are subject to the 20-year long negative prescription in section 7.  This matter was discussed by Lord Doherty in the LM action at paragraphs [25]-[31].  He concluded that the obligation of a trustee to produce trust accounts is an imprescriptible obligation;  that the liability to make payment of the sum found due in an accounting for trust funds is subject only to the long negative prescription;  and that the obligation of a trustee to restore the value of trust property paid away in breach of trust is also subject only to the long negative prescription.  The matter was not discussed by Lord Tyre in the BP case for reasons which are slightly unclear – matters appear to have proceeded in that debate on the basis that all obligations were subject to the 5-year prescriptive period and that the only issues in that respect concerned the pursuer’s case on sections 6(4) and 11(3) – but it was not suggested before us that the point is not live in that action too.  Detailed submissions on the point were made by Mr Duncan QC on behalf of LM and adopted by Mr Dunlop QC on behalf of BP.  Lord Davidson QC responded on behalf of HC.  I, for one, was grateful for their submissions.  It emerged in the course of those submissions, as it had to some extent at the debate in the LM case, that not only was there a dispute as to the law to be applied in a case of accounting and/or breach of trust but there was also a dispute as to whether the circumstances of the present cases gave rise to a relationship of trust at all or, alternatively, a trust of a kind intended to be excluded from the 5-year short negative prescription.  In light of this, it seems to me that it would be desirable that all of the relevant facts be determined before the issues are decided.  For that reason, and for the reasons given by Lady Paton in paragraph [80] of her opinion, I am persuaded that it would be premature to attempt to decide these points at this stage.

COLLAPSE OF FIVE YEAR CROWN OFFICE PROBE:

In a further twist to the Heather Capital saga, a FIVE YEAR probe by the Crown Office & Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) collapsed just a few days before the collapse of the £28million writ against Levy and Mcrae, & Peter Watson.

A report by journalist Russell Findlay revealed: CROWN prosecutors will take no action against four men following a fraud probe into a collapsed £400 million finance firm.

Lawyer Gregory King, 49, and three others were reported to the Crown by detectives who investigated his hedge fund Heather Capital which was based in the Isle of Man.

Heather, launched by King in 2005, attracted investors from around the world and loaned money to fund property deals.

Following its 2010 collapse, Heather’s liquidator Paul Duffy claimed that around £90million was unaccounted for and a police fraud probe resulted in the four men being reported to the Crown Office in April 2013.

An Isle of Man court judgement likened Heather to a ‘Ponzi’ scheme, made famous by US financier Bernie Madoff who was jailed for 150 years in 2009.

The other three reported by police were lawyer Andrew Sobolewski, of Bridge of Weir, Renfrewshire, Andrew Millar, of ­Cambuslang, near Glasgow, and Scott ­Carmichael, of Thorntonhall, near Glasgow.

Last year there was criticism of the Crown for taking so long to consider the case but after almost five years it has now dropped the case.

A Crown Office spokesman said: “Following full and careful consideration of the facts and circumstances of the case, including the currently available admissible evidence, Crown Counsel instructed  that there should be no proceedings at this time.

“The Crown reserves the right to raise proceedings should further evidence become available.”

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

The Scottish Sun reports:

WRIT HITS THE FAN

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

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

By RUSSELL FINDLAY Scottish Sun 15 February 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bench ban for sheriff linked to fraud probe

Lawman, 61, suspended

By RUSSELL FINDLAY 25th February 2015, Scottish Sun

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The National also recently reported on the continuing suspension of Peter Watson from the judicial bench, here:

Lawyer Peter Watson still suspended despite case ending

Martin Hannan Journalist

Peter Watson was suspended from the bench more than three years ago

LAWYER Peter Watson remains suspended from his position as a part-time sheriff despite a £28 million court action in which he was being sued having been brought to an end.

Lord Carloway, the Lord President and Scotland’s senior judge, is said by legal sources to be considering the position of Watson after Paul Duffy, the liquidator of Heather Capital, abandoned the £28m action against Levy and McRae solicitors in which Watson was a former partner.

Watson was suspended from the bench more than three years ago on February 16, 2015, after the then Lord President, Lord Gill, was informed of the claims in the case against Levy and McRae, and specifically against Watson, over Heather Capital’s collapse in 2010.

It was Watson himself who e-mailed the summons material to the Lord President’s office himself and volunteered “not to sit as a part-time sheriff on a voluntary basis, pending the outcome of those proceedings,” as the Judicial Office stated at the time.

The statement added that Lord Gill had “concluded that … suspension was necessary in order to maintain public confidence in the judiciary.”

Watson now has his own law business, PBW Law.

He told reporters: “I am very pleased that this action has been abandoned and I am looking forward to serving my clients now it is clear that there was no valid basis for this claim.”

A spokesperson for the Judicial Office said: “The action, in which suspended part time Sheriff Peter Watson was among the defenders, has settled.

“The Lord President will consider what, if any, steps now require to be taken?,” the spokesperson added.

Of note – there is no statement on the Judcial Office website in relation to the resignation of Peter Watson from the judicial bench, as of this article’s date of publication on 3 July 2018.

 

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