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Scottish Arbitration : A ‘World Class Disaster’ with Law Society, Advocates, Surveyors, Marsh UK & Fettesgate justice, all backed by Scottish Government

Law Society & Scottish GovernmentScottish arbitration backed by Law Society & Scottish Govt of no use to clients, say insiders. SCOTTISH ARBITRATION, a new ‘business’ which has sprung up in the wake of the Arbitration (Scotland) Act 2010 backed by the Scottish Government, with participants such as the Faculty of Advocates, the Law Society of Scotland and the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors, is “a seedy world full of unaccountable self regulators, dishonest insurance companies and suspect individuals” say legal insiders & consumer groups, warning those who may be considering using arbitration or bringing their arbitration business to Scotland “to forget it and look elsewhere”.

john_murray_qcScottish Arbitration Centre appointed ex Court of Session judge who resigned over ‘officially unexplained allegations’. The recommendation to avoid using the very much self regulator dominated arbitration market in Scotland comes in the wake of a recent report by Scottish Law Reporter, revealing a former Court of Session judge, Lord Dervaird, aka Prof. John Murray QC the judge who STUNNED the Scots legal establishment in the early 1990s by resigning in a cloud of rumours connected to the FETTESGATE ‘Gay Justice Conspiracy’ scandal in which several journalists were arrested to cover up allegations against senior members of Scotland’s judiciary, has been appointed as an Honorary Vice President of the Scottish Arbitration Centre, a ‘joint venture’ opened by the SNP’s Fergus Ewing and backed by the Scottish Government, the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, the Faculty of Advocates, the Law Society of Scotland and the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors.

marshDisgraced US insurers Marsh operating here as Marsh UK insure many backers of Scottish Arbitration Centre. It can also be revealed that most or all of the organisations participating in Scottish Arbitration market have links to the disgraced insurers, Marsh, who were convicted in the United States of market rigging. Marsh also arrange professional indemnity insurance for the Law Society of Scotland through its notoriously corrupt Master Insurance Policy, itself linked to deaths in an independent report, and also provides the same insurance to Scotland’s Faculty of Advocates. Marsh are also used by many departments of the Scottish Government, local government and the private sector in Scotland for insurance coverage so if your dispute involves a profession insured by Marsh, a fair hearing in arbitration may be very hard to obtain.

Fergus Ewing Jim Mather Scottish Arbitration CentreFergus Ewing, Jim Mather & Brandon Malone nab create the arbitration business. The Scottish Arbitration Centre made the announcement of the appointment of ex judge Lord Dervaird, stating “A former Court of Session judge, Lord Dervaird has experience as an arbitrator and as counsel in numerous international arbitration proceedings. He wrote the National Report, Scotland, in the ICCA International Handbook on Commercial Arbitration in 1995. He is Emeritus Professor at the University of Edinburgh, and lectures on international arbitration at London (King’s College) and Strathclyde Universities.” No mention of exactly why Lord Dervaird was “a former Court of Session judge” was made in the Arbitration Centre’s media release, something potential clients may wish to know.

According to Scottish Law Reporter : The Scottish Arbitration Centre came about after a specific proposal for an arbitration centre was presented by Brandon Malone, solicitor advocate, on behalf of the Scottish Government’s steering group at a meeting last year between Fergus Ewing and representatives of the bodies authorised to act as Arbitral Appointments Referees (AARs) under the Arbitration (Scotland) Act 2010. Mr Malone, who also happens to be Chairman of the Scottish Arbitration Centre, has been involved with the SNP for many years and was the party’s “Assistant Spokesperson on Justice & Equality” in the late 90’s, famed among other things yet to be published, for writing letters in the Scotsman newspaper defending the legal profession and its stance on regulation.

The much hyped Arbitration (Scotland) Act 2010 pushed through by the SNP Scottish Government aimed to promote domestic & international arbitration under Scots Law and seeks to promote Scotland as a place to arbitrate disputes, legal & otherwise. In the over hyped campaign, the then Communities & Justice Minister Fergus Ewing claimed : “Scotland is now well positioned to be a ‘world leader in the lucrative international arbitration scene”.

This latest move on the part of the SNP Scottish Government to create a new business dominated and almost exclusively controlled by Scotland’s closed shop legal services sector, comes on the heels of a FAILED campaign in 2008 by Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill to encourage foreign firms & clients to bring litigation to Scotland. Wisely, international clientele heeded warnings on the perils of the Scottish justice system and stayed away from Mr MacAskill’s bid to attract litigants to the Scottish courts, a campaign which flopped within a few months.

Critics of the Arbitration (Scotland) Act 2010 and its passage through the Scottish Parliament point out the legislation was put through Hollyrood at the suggestion of the Scottish legal establishment to corner the arbitration market, seen as a lucrative business to be controlled before ‘outside elements’ took it over. The legislation seeks to increase the number of arbitrations under Scots Law while also increasing the level of business for arbitration advisers and the number of appointments of arbitrators based in Scotland, as long as they are agreeable to, or members of, or are under the control of the same organisations who are in partnership with the Scottish Arbitration Centre.

jamie_millarFormer President Jamie Millar welcomed Law Society’s new business venture in the guise of independent arbitration. Speaking at the time of the Scottish Arbitration Centre’s opening, Jamie Millar, the former President of the Law Society of Scotland admitted the whole idea of Scottish arbitration was a Law Society sponsored operation. Mr Millar said : “At the request of our members, the Society campaigned for new arbitration laws and was actively involved in the passage of the Arbitration (Scotland) Act 2010 through the Scottish Parliament. We have long supported the idea of having a focal point to promote the value of arbitration to Scottish businesses so are delighted to see that the new opportunities the act presents are being seized, and that international arbitrations are being encouraged to locate in Scotland.”

Faculty of Advocates crestThe Faculty of Advocates were also keen to corner lucrative arbitration business. Alan Dewar QC, Treasurer of the Faculty of Advocates, welcomed the plan, saying : “The Faculty of Advocates is pleased to have participated in the planning and preparations leading to today’s launch of the Scottish Arbitration Centre. It looks forward to playing its part in promoting arbitration (both domestic and international) as a useful, cost-effective alternative to litigation. Quite apart from being a beautiful country to visit, Scotland is ideally placed to offer a first class arbitration service in terms of expertise, facilities and surroundings. The Faculty is delighted that the Centre is to be located at Dolphin House in the Old Town of Edinburgh, very close to the Faculty’s base.”

An official from one of Scotland’s consumer organisations said today the arbitration market in Scotland appears to be cornered & controlled by the legal profession and elements of other professions who themselves are the biggest causes of cases which end up requiring arbitration.

She said : “This is clearly an attempt by a few professions to control the arbitration market for themselves.”

She continued : “There is a danger here where consumers may be fooled into thinking that taking their case to arbitration is a faster, cheaper way of obtaining a resolution to their problem rather than embarking on costly litigation in Scotland’s courts. However those same consumers may not be aware those who are in the arbitration market are backed by the same professions and even the same indemnity insurance companies they already have problems with.  I would therefore advise consumers to view arbitration with a degree of suspicion otherwise they may end up being bitten twice.”

A client who contacted Diary of Injustice about a long running high value negligence case against an Edinburgh law firm has recently been urged by his own solicitors to take his case to arbitration instead of going to court. He was suspicious of the move and asked for advice.

He said : “My own lawyers now want me to take my case to arbitration instead of the Court of Session but I don’t believe arbitration will reveal the extent of my solicitor’s negligence and how a large sum of money disappeared from my business. I want a ruling because my former lawyer is a thief and a liar. I also don’t want my huge financial loss turned into a paltry settlement.The money is missing and it is my first lawyer’s fault, it should be repaid and he should be found out in court.”

He continued : “I wondered why this sudden rush after my own lawyers worked on my case for three years and said I had a good chance of winning. After I found out the Law Society of Scotland were involved in the arbitration scheme and that it has something to do with the Master Policy insurers who are the defenders in my court action, I asked my lawyer who very reluctantly confirmed the facts. He admitted they were all tied up with the same insurers. I will be staying well away from this so-called arbitration, thanks.”

A Scottish Courts insider said today it would be foolhardy for foreign litigants to come to Scotland on the back of claims of legal expertise which do not exist.

He said : “If the Scottish Government wish to attract litigation or arbitration to Scotland they should first address the important recommendations raised by Scotland’s Lord Justice Clerk, Lord Gill in the Civil Courts Review to ensure Scots civil law is fit for purpose. Currently it is not and we now have a situation where the Scottish Government would rather rush through legislation to suit the ends of business & vested interests than reform the civil justice system upon which the likes of civil litigation & arbitration depends.”

Whether you are a company, or an individual, make sure you know the full facts before becoming involved in the Scottish version of arbitration, which more often than not is controlled & financially supported by the same industry or profession you case or dispute involves. Disputes arbitrated by vested interests do not guarantee a fair hearing, rather they guarantee only an unfair outcome.

If you are being pushed into arbitration in Scotland by professionals who themselves stand to make a lot of money out of it, or perhaps want something covered up while making sure you don’t really get the full measure of what a court ruling will provide, stay away from it. Just remember which particular industries & self regulators control the Scottish arbitration market, a state of affairs which clearly makes Scottish arbitration nothing less than a World Class Disaster.

Background of Fettesgate :

Fettes thief cons gay judges probe The SunProbe into gay justice scandal was itself discredited after further newspaper allegations. Fettesgate was the term given to a major scandal involving the Lothian and Borders Police force in the 1990s, from its Fettes Avenue headquarters near Fettes College in Edinburgh.The “Fettesgate scandal”, as the incident was quickly called, began in the early hours of 19 July 1992, when burglars spent three hours in the Fettes headquarters of the police force. The break-in, through an unsecured window of the Scottish Crime Squad’s ground-floor offices in the HQ building, led to several confidential documents being stolen and Animal Liberation Front slogans being sprayed on the walls.

Cases for ConcernMany claimed Police were directed to arrest journalists to cover up scandal in the judiciary. Two journalists who reported on the incident after receiving tip-offs were arrested; Alan Muir, a reporter for The Sun, wrote a story based on an anonymous telephone call on the day of the incident, and was detained for six hours, and Ron McKay, a journalist for Scotland on Sunday found documents after another anonymous call six days later. When he wrote a story based on the documents, he was arrested at dawn, while at his girlfriend’s house in Chatham, Kent. He was held overnight, and charged with reset, the crime under Scots law of receiving stolen property. The charges were dropped six months later. The stolen documents concerned the police’s use of “telephone metering”; recording the destination and duration of suspects’ telephone calls, without listening in on them. Although this was regarded as legal, the controversy led to a debate about privacy and what safeguards were needed regarding information gathered in this way.

How I Mugged Man from the Crown Office the Sun 18 December 1992Lothian & Borders Police were branded incompetent and Animal Liberation Front were blamed to take heat off scandal hit judiciary. The theft of such sensitive material from what should have been such a secure place, under the very noses of the police, led to questions being asked about the competence of the Lothian and Borders force to take charge of the European summit in Edinburgh later that year. It transpired that the Animal Liberation Front had not been involved in the break-in. The chief constable later admitted that the treatment of Mr McKay was tactless and apologised to the editor of Scotland on Sunday.

Aggrieved PoliceScots judiciary & Police were thrown into significant disrepute by gay conspiracy allegations. Nobody has yet been charged with the break-in, leading some journalists who have covered the story to believe that the burglar’s identity (allegedly a police informer) is known to the police, but that they fear he might embarrass the force in court. The return of the sensitive files was allegedly the result of senior detectives reaching an immunity deal with a man close to the city’s gay criminal underworld. An internal report is believed to have been completed by the police force on the matter, but has never been released to the public.

In a typically Scottish move, an investigation & subsequent report was written by members of the Scots legal establishment on the Fettesgate allegations, clearing everyone That report, widely disputed & discredited since its publication, can be read online or downloaded here : the report on an inquiry into an allegation of a conspiracy to pervert the course of justice in scotland by WA Nimmo Smith QC & JD Friel

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Westminster Expenses : Ex Scottish Borders Libdem MP Lord Kirkwood claimed furnishings & more on taxpayer – should be stripped of title

archiekirkwoodArchy Kirkwood as a member of Parliament offered little help to victims of crooked Scottish Borders lawyers. Former Scottish Borders MP, now Lord’ Archy Kirkwood features in today’s Telegraph newspaper revelations on the Westminster expenses scandals, and deservingly so, as the paper reports he “claimed £5,000 in expenses to refurbish his London flat before retiring as an MP and selling it to his daughter for less than half its value.”

Scotsman coverage of some of the stories relating to Andrew PenmanArchy Kirkwood offered little help against crooked lawyer Andrew Penamn & crooked accountant Norman Howitt. I always wondered what Archy Kirkwood did for the Scottish Borders, because all I was ever able to secure from him was a letter writing contest to the former Scottish Office then Scottish Executive on the corruption of crooked Borders lawyer Andrew Penman of Stormonth Darling solicitors, Kelso – right in the heart of Archy Kirkwood’s constituency. It seemed to me, backed up by information provided by others in the region, Mr Kirkwood was a touch soft on the likes of crooked lawyers, and particularly didn’t want to do much regarding corrupt Borders accountants such as Norman Howitt, who you can read more about here : A picture is worth a thousand words – Images of fraud reveal corruption & deceit by lawyers & accountants in the Scottish Borders

Norman Howitt Accountant JRW Group Hawick Scottish BordersBorders accountant Norman Howitt of JRW Group, Hawick took pensioner’s pension & bank book. even made false statements to Police to cover his tracks, but Kirkwood did nothing. Now, you’d think ‘Lord’ Kirkwood would have done something about a crooked accountant confiscating a pensioner’s pension book and wanting to take control of a pensioner’s entire savings for himself .. but, strangely, no. It seems there was too much to gain from supporting the same crooked accountancy and legal firms as one of the region’s leading solicitors informed me …

However, it wasn’t just me who felt the lack of support from Mr Kirkwood during his time as an MP, after several people in the Borders began to contact me over similar problems in getting Mr Kirkwood to do anything for them at all other than the standard fair of writing letters, while refusing to raise issues or early day motions at the Westminster Parliament, during the time where that’s all we had as a legislature.

Taking a look around the Scottish Borders as I did before I left it years ago (and apparently it has changed little to-date) backs up the idea the region needs younger, harder working idealistic politicians who have the region’s people and Scotland’s interests at heart, rather than preferring the Westminster cabal to give them long term jobs and the facility to milk the taxpayer for expenses while their constituency lies in ruins.

I note Lord Kirkwood still remains in the LibDems armoury, his name cropping up on the GovNet website here, alongside other such luminaries as Lord Foulkes of Cummock, also an MSP : Govnet Advisory Board, which lists his following details as :

Lord Archy Kirkwood of Kirkhope

Archy Kirkwood was MP for Roxburgh and Berwickshire for 22 years, standing down at the May 2005 General Election. First elected in June 1983, he became the Liberal Party’s spokesman on Health, Social Services and Social Security. In 1992, he became the Chief Whip of the Liberal Democrat parliamentary party. In 1997 Archy became Chair of the Social Security Select Committee (now Work & Pension Committee).

He served on the House of Commons Audit Committee and on the House of Commons Commission and was knighted in 2003 for services to Parliament. Archy was made a life peer in 2005. He is currently head of external relations at the office of the Liberal Democrat Leader.

However, despite all of his positions, ‘Lord’ Kirkwood is now revealed as just another British politician who has milked the taxpayer, for, as the Telegraph reports, everything down to £3,000 for carpets and flooring for his kitchen and bathroom from John Lewis and £94 for a lavatory paper holder and tiles from Fired Earth.

Not satisfied with that, as the Telegraph continues to report, he returned to John Lewis to buy a £207 bathroom cupboard and mirror, curtains for £90 and lighting worth £72. Whatever relationship carpets, flooring, and other furnishings has to politics, evades me. Pay the money back. In fact, give up your title – as sure as all titles should be stripped from any politician caught milking the system.

Congratulations to the Telegraph for their excellent reporting, and I hope someone makes ‘Lord’ Kirkwood pay all the money back he has claimed from the taxpayer, along with all the other Westminster, and Scottish politicians who have done the same. Politicians are paid plenty for their job, and should bear in mind its all about representing the community, not ripping us off.

Pay the money back ‘Lord’ Kirkwood. In fact, since everyone was recently shouting to take Sir Fred Goodwin’s title away, give up your title too, ‘Lord’ Kirkwood, as sure as all titles & privileges should be stripped from any politician caught milking the system.

The Telegraph reports :

MPs’ expenses: Lord Kirkwood did up flat on expenses, then sold it cheaply to daughter

Lord Kirkwood, a Liberal Democrat peer, claimed £5,000 in expenses to refurbish his London flat before retiring as an MP and selling it to his daughter for less than half its value.

By Jon Swaine
Published: 10:30AM BST 03 Jun 2009

The peer, a work and pensions spokesman, used public funds to buy carpets, curtains and bathroom furniture for his Westminster flat from stores including John Lewis and Fired Earth.

He made the purchases after announcing in April 2004 that he would retire as MP for Roxburgh and Berwickshire at the general election in May 2005. During his final year in the Commons, he claimed a total of £18,806 in allowances for the flat, which he bought for £182,500 in 2001.

These included about £670 a month to pay the interest on its mortgage. He then sold it in May 2007 to his daughter Holly, 31, a journalist for Country Life magazine, for £100,000. On Tuesday he said the flat had been valued at £225,000.

Three weeks before the sale, a flat in the same building sold for £358,000.

When he made the claims, Lord Kirkwood, then Sir Archy Kirkwood, sat on the House of Commons commission which was overseeing the first publication of basic details of MPs’ expenses. As the details were published in October 2004, he said that he welcomed the fact that “taxpayers can really see how their money is being spent”.

However, he dismissed suggestions that voters would be shocked by the amount of money involved. “I’m not saying it’s an insignificant sum, but it’s pretty small beer,” he said.

Between November and December 2004, Lord Kirkwood claimed more than £3,000 for carpets and flooring for his kitchen and bathroom from John Lewis. He also claimed £94 for a lavatory paper holder and tiles from Fired Earth.

In April 2004, the month he announced his intention to step down as an MP, he claimed £200 for repairs to the flat’s electrics. In June 2004, he claimed £50 for fans. In July he claimed £660 for unspecified work by a contractor.

Over the following months, he returned to John Lewis to buy a £207 bathroom cupboard and mirror, curtains for £90 and lighting worth £72.

In February 2005, he claimed £145 for a clothes rail and storage devices, £78 for kitchen stools and £56 for roller blinds. He also claimed £115 for computer equipment through his office expenses two months before he retired.

Lord Kirkwood, 63, had designated as his main home a house in Selkirk where he still lives with his wife Rosemary.

He claimed more than £63,000 in House of Lords allowances last year, including £20,019 on overnight subsistence: the Lords’ equivalent of second home allowances.

He claimed £11,419 in “day subsistence” allowances, £11,419 in office running costs and £9,741 in travel costs.

Lord Kirkwood, who was knighted for services to Parliament in 2003, was one of five Lib Dem MPs put forward for peerages by Charles Kennedy, the then party leader, after the 2005 election. He announced his retirement after it was decided that his seat should merge with that of Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale, which was held by Michael Moore, a fellow Lib Dem.

Lord Kirkwood said yesterday: “When I sold the flat to my daughter a professional valuation was secured on the property. It was valued at £225,000. This was declared for capital gains.

“The fuse box and wiring system was unsafe and needed to be replaced. There were some costs of relaying flooring in parts of the property.”

 

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Scotland’s Got Crooked : Police investigation reveals hundreds of crooked lawyers & accountants assisting organised crime gangs

Law Society of ScotlandHundreds of Law Society of Scotland ‘crooked lawyers’ are helping crime gangs. A survey reported today in the Scotsman newspaper reveals what many inside & outside the legal profession already know – that organised crime gangs in Scotland are assisted by hundreds of crooked lawyers, crooked accountants and other “specialists” who help criminals evade justice.

Law Society of Scotland & ICASScottish lawyers & accountants self-regulate, allowing criminality to flourish in their professions. While the self regulating bodies of lawyers & accountants in Scotland – the Law Society of Scotland & the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland profess to maintain their ‘respective’ professions in order, in reality hundreds of solicitors & accountants and their firms are in the pay of criminal gangs, with some of those concerned masquerading as small legal or accountancy firms, taking on innocent local clients & businesses to cover the profits generated from some of their less respectable associations.

Cash laundering link to law chief stabbing - Scotland on Sunday 29 January 2006Law Society chief Leslie Cumming suffered mafia style hit from his own crooked lawyer colleagues. While members of the public who trust their legal affairs to solicitors & legal firms who have an undisclosed darker side of clientele, even the Law Society of Scotland itself was hit in a mafia style assault in early 2006, when the solicitor’s regulatory body’s Chief Accountant, Leslie Cumming was attacked in a ‘hit’ arranged from within Scotland’s crooked legal establishment over what some claim were investigations which involved big legal names,

Douglas Mill 4Law Society Chief Exec Douglas Mill tried to pin blame on campaigners in newspaper reports on Cumming attack but real culprits were crooked lawyers. To-date, the assault on Mr Cumming, apparently arranged by colleagues from within the legal profession itself, remains unresolved, with Lothian & Borders Police still looking for clues. However, several legal insiders say the investigation into the attack on Cumming “was heavily compromised” after the then Law Society of Scotland’s Chief Executive Douglas Mill viciously tried to implicate campaigners & law reformers in the mafia style hit on Mr Cumming, to deflect attention away from critical legislative reforms which were due later in 2006 and which ultimately led to Mill’s subsequent downfall and resignation from the Law Society after a serious parliamentary confrontation with Cabinet Secretary for Business, John Swinney.

Lothian & Borders Police still looking for crooked lawyers who arranged attack on Law Society Chief :

With an ever growing criminal element within Scotland’s legal profession, we are of course, back to the problem of ‘self regulation’ where, specifically on the matter of ‘crooked lawyers’, the Law Society of Scotland has failed to maintain standards within Scotland’s legal profession, and all the while has operated a closed shop, highly corrupt system of self regulation where the criminal element of Scotland’s 10,000 solicitors can basically get away with criminality, as long as they pay their subscription fees to the Law Society, which help the Society continue to maintain its power of self regulation over the profession.

SLCC membersScottish Legal Complaints Commission is as protective of crooked lawyers as the Law Society of Scotland. The £650 a year to the Law Society of Scotland in annual subscriptions, and the £400 complaints levy to the SLCC which solicitors willingly pay, keeps self regulation of the legal profession going, which allows solicitors to assist the likes of criminal gangs, or fleece clients at will, mostly without fear of a criminal prosecution because the Law Society, and as we see now, the new ‘independent’ Scottish Legal Complaints Commission, are both so incompetent or closed minded at investigating corruption within the legal profession that the evidence which the Police & Crown Office would have to rely on to prosecute solicitors for stealing from their clients is more often than not, covered up by the solicitors regulators.

money£650 a year to fund Law Society ‘ in-house complaints system’ guarantees lawyers will face no charges over widespread criminality in handling client affairs or law breaking. Its as simple as that – pay £650 a year in subscription fees, and a crooked lawyer can go do what they please, overcharge, embezzle, steal, bend the law, bribe, act as drug dealers, threaten clients, blackmail, anything, and not get sent to jail, unless of course, whatever they are doing and whoever they are representing becomes just too public and attracts too much media attention.

It may well be the case you are unknowingly entrusting your life savings, last will & testament, or funds for a house purchase or sale to a solicitor who is little more than a convicted criminal, and you will never know it unless the law is changed, and there is considerable resistance from the legal profession in Scotland to changing the law to disclose the criminal records of solicitors, although in England & Wales, you do stand a greater chance of finding out, as I reported earlier, here : Criminal records of lawyers : Scots public kept in dark over convictions while England & Wales get ‘right to know’

Sadly the Scots legal profession, as crooked as it is, has far too many key supporters & defenders in high places, as Scotland’s own Justice Secretary, Kenny MacAskill himself demonstrated in outrageous comments during a Scottish Parliament debate, even claiming the SNP controlled minority Scottish Government owed the legal profession a mysterious ‘great debt’ :

Would Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill be so quick to defend the criminal element of Scotland’s legal profession ?

This is the reality of self regulation, nothing more than a cover for criminality, and with business & profits on the slide in Scotland’s legal & accounting professions, expect to see a lot more crooked lawyers, accountants and other so-called ‘professionals’ out there who might also just be your solicitor or accountant too.

Those who defend self regulation are, these days, in the wake of the Westminster expenses scandals, generally viewed as defending unacceptable, often morally wrong conduct, cronyism & criminality, and in my view, have no place in public life.

The Scotsman reports :

The gangster map: 3,000 hardcore criminals and their crooked lawyers

 

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Complaining against a lawyer ? You should expect a knock from the Police

To all those who made complaints against lawyers …. how long was it before the Police ended up at your door, armed with ‘anonymous tips’ or information from ‘un quotable sources’ you were up to something ?

Well, for those who have made complaints of a significant nature against their lawyer .. be that a local lawyer in a small town, or one of the so-called Edinburgh ‘high-flyers’ … it doesn’t take long before either yourself or other members of your family gain the attention of the Police.

For many who have contacted me over the years, it seems to be little more than a few weeks after making the complaint to the Law Society of Scotland .. about their crooked lawyer,

For me, well .. when I made my complaint against crooked lawyer Andrew Penman , of Stormonth Darling Solicitors, Kelso , I sent a copy to the Scotsman newspaper, back in 1994 .. so I had media attention .. and it took the Police a wee while longer to come knocking on my door. Take it from me, going to the Press as soon as I made the complaint against Penman was probably one of the best things I did for myself, and ultimately, my campaign to bring independent regulation to the legal profession in Scotland.

Scotsman 18 October 1994 Son threatens to walk away from inheritance after legal row

There was another difference though … I knew the Police in the Borders quite well .. (don’t forget, they were almost living with us for several months to catch a gang of drug dealers in Jedburgh) .. so the Police talked [on the side] .. told me what was going on and why I was being targeted. That was the junior officers, you understand .. not the ‘big white chiefs’ .. with all their wire braiding … that lot were obviously well in the hook of the legal mafia.

I remember some of these incidents quite well.

One Saturday afternoon, for instance, PC Keith Sudlow, turned up on his own at my house in Bongate, Jedburgh, on account that Norman Howitt , the crooked accountant who had ripped off my dad’s estate .. and even worse, had stolen my mum’s pension book, had made a claim he was being threatened over the sale of my dad’s car to his business partner. The origin of the ‘threat’, was unspecified, but my name was given by Howitt to the Police at Wilton Hill Police Station, Hawick.

However, what had actually happened was that Norman Howitt had given the false information to the Police to knock me off the scent of finding out who he had actually sold the car to at the time – which turned out to be Felix Sears , of Melrose – who was well known to Norman Howitt as a friend & business associate. I hadn’t known of the identity of the purchaser of my dad’s car at the time – but was told that by the Police .. so Howitt’s plan sort of backfired and ended up giving me more information on his crooked dealings involving my dad’s estate.

What knocked that particular Police inquiry on it’s head, was the wee snippet of information that when Norman Howitt secretly sold my dad’s car to his friend, Felix Sears, he stuffed the money into his firm’s business accounts – the crooked firm of Borders accountants : Welch & Co, Chartered Accountants, Hawick & Galashiels

When the Cops verified that information .. that was it … a few off the record apologies to me .. but no action against Norman Howitt – who I think certainly should have been charged with providing false information to the Police, to cover up his own crimes. Wouldn’t you agree ?

Another incident I remember quite well, was 30 October 1997, when 3 Police officers, among them, Sergeant Murray, PC Stuart Roughhead & one other, ended up outside our kitchen door brandishing a search warrant & one of those thingies to bash in the door of a house.

Quite a surreal incident that morning, I must admit …. talking to my mum for a few minutes & her giving me a shopping list, then the cops try to break down the door.

Why were the Police at my house that day ?

Well, they had received information from one of the lawyers I had made a complaint against, that I was up to no good .. so they were here to shake me & my mum down.

Of course, the Police entered the house, and began having a look around, then after Sgt Murray actually decided to tell me his name, I asked, “hmm .. are you by any chance, Kevin Murray’s dad ?” .

His face went as white as a sheet. He said “Yes, I am. How do you know Kevin ?”

“Well”, I said, “Kevin, your son, has been one of the CID officers operating in my house & property for months to catch the drugs gangs in Bongate View”.

The officers looked at each other in astonishment, and I could see what was going to happen next.

The ‘search’ on the bogus information provided by one of the crooked lawyers I was complaining against, stopped. The conversation then went on to stuff such as “ooch, the weather is a wee bit chilly today” & “how nice the posters were on my bedroom wall” … It seemed one particular blonde caught the eye of Sgt Murray …. If the new retired Sgt Murray is reading this, he will no doubt remember verbatim what happened that day .. or of course, I could play it back to him …

So that was it .. search ended, after I had asked what the hell was going on, why were we being searched, and why, then the Police had been in our house for so long, was I obviously being accused of something I couldn’t have possibly been up to – whatever that was .. because I still don’t know.

After the officers left, I found out a wee bit more about what had happened.

It seemed .. the clever lawyers & their friends in the Police, had been unaware of the months long Police operation at my house .. and that when the Procurator Fiscal had been asked to sign the search warrant for my house on that morning, he was actually fresh from a meeting with the Officer in charge of G Division CID at the time, discussing the actual operation to catch the drugs dealers in Bongate View.

Well, there is another version .. perhaps more sinister …

I was told that the information may have been given to the Police to kill off the drugs operation against the Jedburgh drugs dealers .. so they could go on selling drugs … I certainly didn’t believe that at the time, but come to think of it now, the family who were selling the drugs to all the Jedburgh kids, were represented by this particular legal firm …. so you see .. there could have been a motive there.

I remember a string of other visits from the Police, all on the back of false information provided by crooked lawyers in an attempt to ‘persuade’ me into dropping complaints against them .. but of course, I had too much press attention .. so nothing could ever really be done against me on that level … lucky me ..because some of the other visits had the prospect of harm to myself.

Well, the Herald Newspaper is reporting that another individual seems to have gone through the same as me – a few years before my experience … and the alleged Police involvement in a long history of intimidation & worse against the individual, Mr Duff, seems to spring from .. complaints made against lawyers.

Well, I am running another story related to this issue soon, .. so I wont spoil that one, but for now, read of Mr James Duff’s experiences with the Police .. and remember folks … it seems to be quite common for crooked lawyers to provide the Cops with malicious allegations against complaining clients, to cover up their crooked behaviour .. and this tactic mostly works .. although not so much in my case, as there are still plenty in the Police who give me snippets of information on crooked lawyers and a whole lot more besides …

While reading the Herald’s story on Mr Duff, you might like to read FOI Commissioner Kevin Dunion’s decision in favour of Mr Duff on his FOI request to the Police – which is now currently in the Court of Session .. Decision 068-2005 (pdf document)

http://www.theherald.co.uk/news/77924.html

15th-century law brings police chief to court
ALAN MacDERMID January 03 2007

A former businessman who claims to have been ruined by faked police reports has invoked an ancient Scottish law to have a chief constable brought to court.

Jim Duff used an action known as lawburrows, dating to 1429, to obtain a warrant citing David Strang, head of Dumfries and Galloway Constabulary, to appear.

It was granted by Sheriff Smith at Dumfries Sheriff Court and the hearing is due to take place there on January 18.

In his court papers Mr Duff, a former housebuilder from Lochmaben, Dumfriesshire, stated he was in business until 1976 when he was “illegally made bankrupt”.

He alleged that Mr Strang’s officers had for years been involved in defrauding him of his lands, house and money by conspiring with a former Dumfries solicitor.

Lawburrows is described as an ancient Scottish remedy against anticipated physical harm to a person or damage to property. To obtain an order for lawburrows, the applicant must show he has reasonable cause to believe the respondent will cause bodily harm to him, his family or property. It is easier to obtain than an interdict and could require Mr Strang to post a bond of up to £10,000 for his future behaviour.

Mr Duff claimed he had “a vast amount of evidence” to prove his cases, including fake police reports. He said that, in January 2005, he applied under the Freedom of Information Act for copies of the reports, and claimed that, when he received them, officers’ names were blanked out on the orders of the chief constable. He had been ordered later by the commissioner to name the officers, which he had done.

Mr Duff said he had written to Mr Strang 83 times between 2004 and 2006 advising him that reports had been fabricated and requesting him to ask another chief constable to investigate. He said Mr Strang refused and “incited his officers to further fabricate reports in order to mislead the procurator-fiscal and the Crown Office.”

Mr Duff said he had been living in fear for years and believed the chief constable “would continue his vendetta against him”.

His action calls for the sheriff to order Mr Strang to find caution of £10,000 “or such other sum as the court considers appropriate” and if he fails to do so to grant warrant for his imprisonment for a period not exceeding six months.

Last year, Mr Duff raised a similar action against the Lord Advocate at Edinburgh Sheriff Court. It was dismissed, but he is appealing and a hearing has been set for January 23.

Mr Strang was not available for comment yesterday.

How lawburrows ‘terrify evil doers’

Lawburrows was first enacted by the parliament of James I in 1429 as a remedy against threats to the safety of members of the public. The aim stated in the Act was “…to prevent such delinquencies (the issuing of threats) and terrify evil doers…”

It has a number of advantages over the interdict – the most common action against someone who threatens violence – which can be refused by the court on the grounds of public interest, requiring witnesses to be provided by the applicant. It also leaves uncertainty about what happens should the defender disobey the interdict. If it is a first offence, a nominal punishment or warning may be imposed.

Lawburrows, however, is noted for its simplicity, speed of execution, low cost of process and the absolute certainty of the exact penalty should the order be contravened. Neither the police nor procurator-fiscal is initially involved.

In an initial writ to the Sheriff Court, the pursuer asserts that he fears harm to his person, property, family, tenant or employees from the defender. He asks the sheriff to obtain a certain sum of money (a “caution”) or a bond as security against being molested or troubled further by the defender.

As soon as this writ is received, the sheriff must immediately order it to be served on the defender and a date for an early hearing has to be fixed.

At the hearing, the standard of proof is “on the balance of probabilities” as in other civil actions, so only one credible witness is needed if there is evidence to show there are reasonable grounds for the pursuer’s fear of harm.

If the pursuer is successful, the sheriff can order a sum of money to be found (or a bond to be given) and he can order that, should the defender fail to provide this, he shall be imprisoned for up to six months. If the defender does any harm of the kind specified in the writ, the pursuer may raise an action for “contravention of lawburrows” asking that the money be divided equally between the Crown and himself

 

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My blog makes the headlines in Scottish Newspaper Scotland on Sunday

The continuing revelations in the media over the attack on Leslie Cumming, Chief Accountant of the Law Society of Scotland, make for interesting reading .. where it is being reported today in Scotland on Sunday, the main lead being pursued is that of a hitman, probably hired by a lawyer to attack Mr Cumming.

If such a theory indeed turns out to be the truth, and reveals that a fellow member solicitor of the Law Society membership orchestrated the vicious attack on Mr Cumming, then I think, those at Drumsheugh Gardens should sit back and take a long hard look at themselves over how they have policed their own members over the years … needless to say … not very well .. if some of their own people are arranging for colleagues to be attacked or even murdered ?…..

A lawyer hiring a hitman to attack another lawyer …. would be one in the eye for those at the Law Society who, on Friday,opportunistically & viciously turned on aggrieved clients who have started their own websites & protest groups, wanting all such expressions of free speech by those disaffected by the Scottish legal profession ‘shut down’ on the basis that those ‘aggrieved clients’ websites & protests are allegedly ‘calls for violence’ ….. however, it seems the “violence” has probably come from the within legal profession itself ….

I was given an opportunity to comment in Scotland on Sunday today, which I have done so, and I would say, for the record, I have had dealings with Mr Cumming, back in 1999-2001.. and here is a summary of what happened …

The actual dealings I had with Mr Cumming related to Andrew Penman’s administration of my late father’s will in terms of the financial investments, which Leslie Cumming, as Chief Accountant, was charged with regulating.

However, I had severe difficulties with Mr Cumming’s consideration of matters, and frequently had to ask the FSA and even other Law Society officials, to step in to prompt him for action.

Even getting Mr Cumming to initially investigate my allegations of misappropriation of funds, delays of action, etc, by Mr Penman, was difficult enough – and I recall that the Client Relations Office Director , Mr Philip Yelland, tool some 4 months to inform him that I actually wanted to make a complaint (his office is, apparently, next door !) … and when Mr Cumming eventually sent the complaint onto a Complaints Committee, it was so full of holes, that nothing was done, of course (and if you go back to the original William Chisholm & Jenny Booth articles, you will see why – the representation by Mr James Ness, Senior Council Member of the Law Society, of Mr Penman) – made sure nothing was done .. so it was fiddle after fiddle …

I then of course went to the Scottish Legal Services Ombudsman, which was Garry S Watson at the time. However, the rules & interpretation of the law made it so that he claimed he could not look into matters of a financial nature and investigations by Mr Cumming’s office – so, up until this point, the Ombudsman was not able to look into the actions of Mr Cumming in terms of complaints by clients.

I then persuaded the Financial Services Authority in London, through a long course of letters, to discuss the matter with the Ombudsman, and new regulations were brought in, so that the Ombudsman COULD review complaints against solicitors of a Financial & Investment nature that had passed through the Office of Mr Cumming .

So – the end result was that the Scottish Legal Services Ombudsman could now look at complaints brought by clients who had made a complaint to Mr Cumming’s office which had been mishandled – it’s a pity the Ombudsman didn’t ask for those powers himself, instead having to be pushed by a client – me – to do it … such is the nature of the legal profession and those who are appointed to oversee those who regulate it … but who turn out to be just as bad ….

In any case, this blog made the headlines, as you will see from today’s Scotland On Sunday newspaper article by Murdo Macleod at this link
http://scotlandonsunday.scotsman.com/index.cfm?id=145782006 …and all that is left to say on this issue for now, is that I wish Mr Cumming a speedy recovery, and for the Police to catch the culprits as soon as possible .. because crooked lawyers on the loose are bad enough – but violent lawyers on the loose – well, that just shows a legal profession out of control ….

and of course – over the next few days & weeks, I will be publishing a LOT more material as to what the legal profession did to me & my family … so, stay tuned for even more insidious details of how an entire profession, using every resource available to it, can set about attempting to destroy the life of a single complainant …. – and remember – everyone uses a lawyer, so, it could happen to YOU too ….

Crooked Lawyers now attacking their own colleagues to protect themselves while Law Society bosses hold private media briefings to implicate critics & clients of crooked lawyers ….

Cash link to law chief stabbing

Read on for the Scotland on Sunday article :

Cash Laundering Link to Law Chief Stabbing

MURDO MACLEOD

FOUR Scottish solicitors suspected of money laundering are to be interviewed by detectives investigating a frenzied knife attack on a top law official.

Leslie Cumming, who survived 12 stab wounds, is understood to have headed an inquiry into corruption among lawyers which resulted in the four solicitors facing trial.

Police are looking at the theory that Cumming, chief accountant for the Law Society of Scotland, was the victim of a revenge attack ordered by a lawyer whose alleged criminality he had exposed.

Cumming, 62, was attacked last Monday outside his home in the Murrayfield area of Edinburgh by a masked man. He spent three days in hospital.

Cumming, who is viewed as a tough customer by many members of the legal profession he helps regulate, is understood to have spearheaded a recent crackdown on all forms of misconduct relating to finance, including money-laundering.

At present, 16 Scottish solicitors face charges, including four on allegations of money-laundering.

A Lothian and Borders Police source said: “We will be questioning people who have been involved in money-laundering because he and his team normally take to investigating them. There are some guys – especially some in criminal practice – who give us a lot of concern because of the people they associate with. And they will know some pretty nasty guys who could carry out an attack for them.”

Police will also this week begin sifting through all Law Society files that were being dealt with by Cumming and his team of 12 accountants. They will be looking for anyone who could have a grudge against Cumming, or who might have feared being investigated.

Cumming has given detectives the names of two former solicitors who have been banned from practising at least partially because of his inquiries and could have a grudge against him.

One was struck off for professional misconduct and the other for embezzling.

But officers say they will not be restricting their inquiries to these two individuals. Another force insider said: “Because of his position there are any number of people who will have had a grudge against him.”

The attacker is described as being in his twenties, stocky and wearing dark clothing. Police will begin putting up posters in the area tomorrow in an effort to get more information from potential witnesses.

Meanwhile, campaigners for greater openness in the legal profession have hit back at suggestions that their organisations and websites could have been linked to the attack.

Senior figures in the Law Society have made it known they feel some of the websites criticising lawyers are tantamount to incitement to violence.

But Peter Cherbi, a long-time critic of the Law Society who runs a weblog “A Diary of Injustice in Scotland”, said: “I’m concerned that some people will try and use this to stifle criticism and open debate. I can’t imagine anyone connected to the campaigns would be involved in anything like this. Lawyers are supposed to uphold the right to free speech and not be acting against it.”

He added: “As for Mr Cumming, I wish him all the best and a speedy recovery from this terrible attack.”

At the Cummings’ imposing home there was little sign yesterday of the knife attack just a few yards away. The small gated set of stairs leading down to their front door remained unlocked and windows around the house were left ajar.

Shreds of police tape which had been used to cordon off the area earlier in the week remained caught on a bush near the scene. Out on the hedge-lined street there were few passers-by, and residents hurried from their front doors to their cars parked on the road, with a few nervous glances.

A spokesman for Lothian and Borders Police said their inquiries were ongoing.

 

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Major move by the Law Society of Scotland to silence critics in the wake of assault on one of it’s top members

Amidst the recriminations over the assault of Leslie Cumming, the Law Society of Scotland and it’s allies have moved to condemn aggrieved clients of lawyers in Scotland – and particularly those who have set up websites displaying their case of what their lawyers did to them – in an effort it seems, to get them shut down and block free speech.

The Law Society of Scotland – widely known to be one of the most corrupt regulatory organisations in Scotland – with 1000s of disattisfied clients every year complaining against their member solicitors, has seized the opportunity to try and silence their critics – and of course, the website of Injustice Scotland, Scotland Against Crooked Lawyers, and others, are the targets of these outlandish accusations by people who are serial liars & fraudsters ….

The direct quote from the Scotsman article :

“Senior figures in the Law Society and the Faculty of Advocates feel some of the websites set up by clients aggrieved by the legal service are tantamount to calls for violence.”

so .. it seems that if a client who is disattisfied with the way in which the Law Society of Scotland handles their complaint, against a crooked lawyer (that being – the Law Society let’s the crooked lawyer off the hook, and the client looses everything) and airs his opinions in public, this is “calling for violence” … whereas of course, the solicitor or advocate who ruins their client, steals their money, robs their dead family members assets, fiddles cases, overcharges work, sells a client’s house on the cheap to a lawyer colleague or political friend, or puts a client out of their family home …etc .. is but a saint, and can go on robbing & pillaging people blind as they see fit .. immune from the law and any independent regulation ….. and if we, the client try & do something about it .. well then … the Law Society of Scotland will envoke all it’s friends in Government – such as the Justice Minister, all it’s friends in the Police, the Crown Office, and any other public sector .. and will nail you to the cross …. just as has happened to some campaigners over the years …..

Whereas of course, the solicitor or advocate who ruins their client, steals their money, robs their dead family members assets, fiddles cases, puts them out of their family home …etc .. is but a saint, and can go on robbing people blind as they see fit .. immune from the law and any independent regulation …..

Whatever happened to Mr Cumming, would be certainly nothing to do with any successfully and impartially considered complaint which came to a successful conclusion for a complainant … so, we will just have to wait and see what revenge tactics the Law Society and it’s allies in the media take against those who speak out against how they have been treated by the likes of the Law Society of Scotland … in a way, similar to what just happened to Fathers 4 Justice – which was shut down, apparently, only on the basis of rumour rather than evidence … so this must certainly mark the start of a major drive against disattisfied clients & consumer organisations who oppose the crooked Scottish legal profession …. a very dangerous practice indeed and certainly an attempt to shut down our right of free speech when we have been ripped off ….

Read on for the article, from “The Scotsman” newspaper, at :

http://thescotsman.scotsman.com/index.cfm?id=139422006

Hitman may have targeted top legal official, say police

MICHAEL HOWIE

DETECTIVES believe a hitman may have carried out a “cold and calculating” knife attack on a senior law official who was stabbed more than a dozen times outside his home.

Police last night said the assault on Leslie Cumming appeared to have been carefully planned rather than frenzied, revealing that his assailant “walked calmly” away from the 62-year-old after knifing him in the back, face and chest.

They said aspects of the assault, in Edinburgh’s affluent Murrayfield district, suggested the attacker may have been a hired hitman.

Senior officials at the Law Society of Scotland are now convinced the attack was connected to Mr Cumming’s work as the body’s chief accountant.

He was attacked as he returned from work around 5:10pm on Monday. His assailant, who was wearing a balaclava and dark clothes, is thought to have been waiting behind a tree for Mr Cumming to arrive, before plunging a knife into his back as he locked his garage door.

The victim had driven home in his Jaguar car and was about to make the short walk from the garage, which is at the end of a secluded lane, to his back door when the knifeman struck.

Mr Cumming struggled with his attacker and managed to stagger to his door where his shocked wife, Mary, found him slumped against the wall, covered in blood.

Mr Cumming, who on Thursday was able to leave Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, where he was being treated, told police his assailant calmly walked down the lane after the attack.

Around 8am that day, two schoolgirls saw a man fitting the attacker’s description acting suspiciously in the lane. Search teams have scoured the area for clues, but the weapon has not been found.

Detective Inspector Keith Hardie, who is leading the hunt for the knifeman, said: “Mr Cumming has told us the attacker walked calmly down the lane after the assault. Nothing was said. It was a cold and calculated attack and afterwards he just walked down the lane.

“It was serious and vicious but also cold and calculating.

He added: “His evidence has raised the possibility that the attacker was a hitman. That is something we are strongly considering.”

DI Harris also revealed that two witnesses have come forward to say they saw a man run down a street adjoining the lane around the time of the assault.

He said: “We have identified a couple of other potential witnesses to a male who was seen running down Ormidale Terrace around the time of the attack.

“That is significant. Hopefully it is the same person who carried out the attack.”

Detectives have already interviewed Mr Cumming in hospital and plan to question him further over the next few days. They will be asking him to identify people who may have had a grudge against him as a result of his work.

Police are drawing up a list of lawyers and clients whom Mr Cumming has come into contact with in his role as secretary of the Law Society’s Guarantee Fund. The fund investigates allegations of theft by lawyers from clients and provides advice in money laundering cases.

The society’s inspection team carries out bi-annual checks of the accounts of Scotland’s 1,275 law firms to look for discrepancies, but aggrieved clients have accused the body of failing to expose irregularities.

A legal source said: “We are sure the attack is connected with his work. Everyone in the Law Society is devastated but we cannot see any explanation.”

Senior figures in the Law Society and the Faculty of Advocates feel some of the websites set up by clients aggrieved by the legal service are tantamount to calls for violence.

Last year the Scottish Court Service (SCS) moved to shut a website dedicated to exposing corrupt Scottish lawyers.

Cathy Jamieson, justice minister, said the site, operated by lobby group Scotland Against Crooked Lawyers (SACL), was “potentially defamatory”, and that SCS officials had contacted the website’s internet service provider.

SACL, which claims to have hundreds of members, has run a vocal campaign demanding the Law Society be banned from investigating complaints against solicitors.

Yesterday, the police inquiry team quashed reports that a housebreaker was operating in the Murrayfield area, adding there was “no evidence” to support the claim.

Officers will on Monday increase their presence in Murrayfield, putting up posters and handing out leaflets in the hope that residents who they have not yet spoken to come forward with information.

Mrs Cumming yesterday refused to comment other than to say the family was recovering from the shock of the attack.

She added: “Well, to say it’s a shock is an understatement. I’m very shaken.”

 
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Posted by on October 3, 2007 in Law

 

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