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BRIBES’HEAD REVISITED: Second version of Advocate Depute’s letter to legal regulator ‘removed bribe offer’ in evidence considered by Faculty under ex-dean, now Lord Advocate James Wolffe QC

Craig Murray – undated letter removed reference to bribe. DOCUMENTS obtained by the media have revealed two legal regulators acted on significantly different versions of a letter bearing the name of an Advocate who also works as a Prosecutor for the Crown Office & Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS).

Listed in the Legal 500 Advocate Craig Murray of Compass Chambers– states on his website he represents clients in civil claims. Murray also states he works as an ad hoc Advocate Depute, prosecuting criminal trials for the Crown Office in the High Court of Justiciary.

However, an ongoing media investigation has established Advocate Craig Murray is the author of a letter to the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission (SLCC) – a letter of which two distinct versions now exist and were considered separately by legal regulators.

The investigation focuses on Murray’s role as Junior Counsel in Nolan v Advance Construction Ltd, and the conduct of legal figures in the case – spanning eight Court of Session judges – one a member of the privy Council, several Sheriffs, high profile QCs and Levy & Mcrae  – the law firm identified in the £400million collapse of a Gibraltar based hedge fund – Heather Capital.

The letter was sent by Mr Murray to the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission in relation to a complaint against senior QC, John Campbell – who claims to specialise in Planning law.

Crucially, however, a significantly altered version of the letter – still bearing the name of Advocate Craig Murray as the author – removes references to ‘offers of a bribe’ to elected councillors at a Scottish local authority, and detailed references to evidence in a high value civil damages claim in the Court of Session.

Enquiries have now established the version of Murray’s letter to the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission, on the subject of  found its way to the Faculty of Advocates via the law firm Clyde & Co (formerly, Simpson & Marwick) – who are known to represent members of the legal profession who are subject to complaints, allegations of dishonesty, corruption and negligence claims.

The complaint against John Campbell QC arises from his provision of legal services and representation to former National Hunt jockey & trainer Donal Nolan, who was the pursuer in – Nolan v Advance Construction Ltd – a case which is now likely to be heading to the UK Supreme Court for an appeal.

Questions have now arisen regarding extensive differences between the two versions of the letter, addressed to the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission. Both versions of the same letter bear Craig Murray’s name as author.

Significantly, certain references to allegations of bribery involving employees of a construction company and elected councillors, have been altered in a second version of Mr Murray’s letter – which bears no date.

Advocate Craig Murray’s letter to SLCC (Text marked in pink shows extent of deletions in Faculty’s version). In a letter dated 22 July 2014 to the SLCC, Craig Murray writes: “The most accurate account of Councillor Taggart’s position will be in that statement. My recollection of Ms Moore’s summary is that a person, whose identity was unknown to Mr Taggart, telephoned him about this case and offered a bribe. There was nothing to identify that person or connect that person to the defenders.”

However, the second version of the letter, has the references to bribery removed from the end of the sentence.

The undated letter still bearing Craig Murray’s name and Advocates address, then reads: The most accurate account of Councillor Taggart’s position will be in that statement. My recollection of Ms Moore’s summary is that a person, whose identity was unknown to Mr Taggart, telephoned him about this case. There was nothing to connect that person to the defenders.”

Then, both versions of the letter from Craig Murray to the SLCC continue: “An allegation that the defenders had been involved in bribing an elected public official to commit perjury in court would have been extremely serious. There was no basis upon which an allegation of that sort could have been made by a responsible solicitor or advocate. There could also be no further investigation (particularly in the midst of the proof diet) as it was not known who made the telephone call.”

Councillor John Taggart – who is referred to by Murray, was interviewed late last week.

Councillor Taggart’s role in discovering the dumping of contaminated waste by Advance Construction Ltd, and his further efforts to assist Mr Nolan, and constituents affected by events, was crucial in bringing the case to court and into the public eye.

In discussions with a journalist, Councillor Taggart made clear in his own view, the evidence in relation to the offer of an inducement related to an event occurred at the opening of Calderbridge Primary School (former site of Coltness Primary School), and NOT in a telephone conversation as Mr Murray claimed in his letter to the SLCC.

Further, Councillor Taggart indicated the “person, whose identity was unknown to Mr Taggart” – according to Craig Murray’s statement, had in fact handed his business card to the Councillor during the school opening event.

The Councillor further alluded to the identity of the person as an employee of a main contractor for North Lanarkshire Council.

It has since been established both Advocate Craig Murray, and Fiona Moore of Drummond Miller were present with the Councillor when his precognition of evidence was taken.

Further enquiries by journalists have now revealed the person who allegedly offered the inducement is an employee of a major construction contractor on North Lanarkshire Council’s list of approved contractors.

When it became known the incident involving the inducement was to be used in evidence, the person who approached the councillor left Scotland for Ireland and did not return for a number of months – despite being cited as a witness to attend court to give evidence in the Nolan v Advance Construction Ltd case.

The record later shows – John Campbell QC – failed to call the witness even though the individual alleged to have offered the inducement to the councillor appears on the final witness list for the proof hearing before Lord Woolman in 2014..

If the evidence of bribery had emerged during lines of questioning at the Court of Session, the testimony may well have had a significant impact on the case, and most probably initiated a Police Scotland investigation into the companies involved, and North Lanarkshire Council.

However, Senior Counsel for Mr Nolan – John Campbell QC – chose not to introduce the conversation about the allegations of bribery in court.

Undated & altered version of Advocate Craig Murray’s letter to SLCC. The removal of references to a bribe, and swathes of material removed from the second, ‘undated’ version of Craig Murray’s letter to the SLCC – raises further questions over the written testimony offered by the Advocate & some time Prosecutor to the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission.

Curiously, the undated version of Murray’s letter then surfaces at the Faculty of Advocates – who chose to rely on this heavily altered version of Murray’s original letter – in relation to an investigation which ultimately dismissed the complaint against John Campbell QC.

In a letter dated 7 October 2015 from the Faculty of Advocates to Melanie Collins, Iain WF Fergusson QC confirmed the Faculty of Advocates preferred the lesser content of the undated letter to be used in the complaint against the QC.

Fergusson wrote: ”The earlier of your two e-mails refers to two versions of a letter by Mr Craig Murray, Advocate to the SLCC. The committee relied on the undated version of the letter as support for Mr John Campbell QC’s version of events. This has brought to light an administrative error – the version of the letter dated 22 July 2015 was not before the committee when it considered and determined your complaint”

In a letter of 2 May 2016 to the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission, law firm Clyde & Co – acting as legal agent for John Campbell QC against the complaint attempted to explain the discrepancy between the two versions of Craig Murray’s letter and how the undated version ended up at the Faculty of Advocates.

Anne Kentish, of Clyde & Co wrote: “We have reviewed our files and have ascertained the sequence of events surrounding the letter. When the complaint was originally made against Mr Campbell, we were provided with a copy of the undated version of the letter from Craig Murray to the SLCC. It was provided to us on the basis that it set out the background to the complaint and Mr Murray’s recollection of events.. We did not, at that time appreciate that the letter was in draft. It resembled a file copy letter.”

“When senior counsel for Mr Campbell, Alistair Duncan QC prepared the response to the complaint on behalf of Mr Campbell, he indicated that Mr Murray’s letter to the SLCC should be included in the appendix to the response. When we prepared the appendix, we used the version of the letter that we had within our files which was the undated version. We did not at that time appreciate that the final, dated version, existed.”

“Later that day, Mr Duncan forwarded to us some emails which happened to have the dated version of the letter attached. We understand that Mr Duncan had been provided with the final version of the letter by Mr Murray. Neither we nor Mr Duncan realised that we were working from slightly different versions of the same letter (one being a draft and one being a final version)”

“As soon as we realised a final dated version of the letter existed (the day after the response was submitted to the Faculty) we provided Faculty with the final dated version of the letter and asked it to replace the undated version.”

“Mr Murray has confirmed that the undated version is a draft version of the final version dated 22 July 2014.”

However, the lengthy and laboured explanation from Clyde & Co to the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission, and the email from Iain Fergusson QC are completely at odds with a written explanation provided by Advocate Craig Murray to Mr Nolan’s partner, Ms Collins.

Seeking to explain the situation regarding his letter, an email dated 23 June 2015 from Craig Murray to Mr Nolan’s partner, Melanie Collins, stated the following: “I finished writing this letter on 22 July 2014. I signed it and sent it to the SLCC that day. Copies were also sent to you and to John Campbell QC. I did not submit one to the Faculty of Advocates, nor did any Office-bearer or member of Faculty staff see the letter before it was sent (or for that matter have I passed a copy to any Office-bearer or member of Faculty staff since). I do not know how the Faculty of Advocates came to have a copy of the letter. Could you possibly provide me with a copy of the letter or email from the Faculty of Advocates, enclosing my copy letter?”

“I note that you have provided two copies of the letter. One is dated 22 July 2014 and has page numbers and footnotes. That is the letter I submitted to the SLCC and copied to you. The letter you have labelled 5B has no date, no page numbers and no footnotes. This letter is not in a form which I saved on my computer or sent to anyone else. It appears to have the same content, font and (roughly) layout as the dated version, but I have not checked on a line-by-line basis.”

It is unusual for such material to be made public as papers submitted to the SLCC remain unreleased due to confidentiality rules.

However, the papers have been made available to journalists who are investigating the litigation process of Nolan v Advance Construction Ltd – after the case was brought to the attention of MSPs at the Scottish Parliament.

And, given the author of the letter – Craig Murray also works as an ad hoc Advocate Depute prosecutor in Scotland’s courts, there are now concerns over the implications of a Prosecutor being identified in various versions of the same letter, one version of which contains alterations to witness testimony in relation to criminal acts, and references to evidence in what has now become a key case of judicial failures to recuse, and accusations of bias in the courts.

Late last week, the Crown Office was asked for comment on the matter and the impact on Murray’s role as a prosecutor.

Initially, the Crown Office refused to comment, and demanded any request for media reaction be put in the form of a Freedom of Information request.

Pressed on the matter, a spokesperson for the Crown Office then suggested: “..as Mr Murray is not a COPFS employee any request for formal comment in relation to his professional conduct as an Advocate should be submitted to Mr Murray himself, the Dean of the Faculty of Advocates or the SLCC. Any allegations of criminal conduct should be raised with Police Service of Scotland.”

However, there are clearly public interest questions in relation to a prosecutor named as the author of a letter where one version, used by a law firm with direct connections to the judiciary – removed evidence in relation to criminal acts and bribery.

The Crown Office was then asked if the Lord Advocate intends to act to protect public confidence in the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service by ordering an investigation into the use of altered versions of Mr Murray’s letter to the SLCC, and act on the status of Mr Murray as an Advocate Depute.

No reply was received.

However, it has since been established, the Dean of the Faculty of Advocates during the sequence of events which saw the Faculty investigation into John Campbell – is the current Lord Advocate James Wolffe QC.

As part of his current role as Lord Advocate – James Wolffe QC now oversees cases Craig Murray prosecutes while acting as an ad hoc Advocate Depute.

Earlier this month, DOI revealed a judge took part in a case on no less than eight occasions, where his son acted as a solicitor for the defenders. No recusal was ever recorded in this case by the judge – Lord Malcolm, who’s son Ewen Campbell had acted for the defenders – Advance Construction Ltd. The article featured here: 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

Additionally “The National” newspaper carried an exclusive investigation into the Nolan V Advance Construction Ltd case, here: Couple’s human rights breach claim raises questions about how judicial conflicts of interest are policed. The newspaper’s investigation revealed there are moves to take an appeal to the UK Supreme Court at a date to be decided.

Papers now under consideration by journalists for upcoming publication, are set to reveal allegations a legal team – of which Mr Murray was a member – received disbursements from a senior QC from funds the QC obtained after demanding and personally collecting substantial cash sums of thousands of pounds from clients.

The payments – outwith the normal procedure of paying advocate’s fees via a solicitor and to faculty services – are under investigation by journalists due to concerns in relation to irregularities and potential tax avoidance issues.

Craig Murray was contacted for his comments on material handed to the press.

Craig Murray was asked why there were significant differences between two versions of his letter to the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission, one dated, the other undated.

Craig Murray refused to comment.

Craig Murray was asked to confirm if his letter was altered by someone other than himself.

Craig Murray refused to comment

Craig Murray was asked if he was aware of Lord Malcolm’s true identity (Colin Malcolm Campbell) and his relationship to solicitor Ewen Campbell, one of the legal agents working for the defenders.

Craig Murray refused to comment.

Lastly, Craig Murray was asked to comment on both versions of the letter he sent to the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission. He was asked which one he wrote and if he was aware anyone altered the second undated version of his letter.

Craig Murray refused to give any comment.

A billing document from Craig Murray’s Compass Chambers to the client, reveals he was to be paid £800 +VAT per day for proof preparation and £1,250 + VAT per day for Court, which ran to 8 days. A bill was subsequently received from Mr Murray’s stables for around £39,000.

It has since been established, the SLCC relied on the dated version of Murray’s letter, while the Faculty of Advocates relied on the heavily altered undated version of Murray’s letter regarding their consideration of a complaint against John Campbell QC.

Papers obtained from case files and published in this investigation confirm the undated version of Craig Murray’s letter appears to have originated from the Edinburgh law firm – Clyde & Co (formerly Simpson & Marwick).

The letter from Clyde & Co also confirms the undated version of Murray’s letter was sent to the Faculty of Advocates, on the instructions of Alistair Duncan QC.

Duncan was tasked with defending John Campbell QC in relation to the complaint being considered the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission.

However, Court papers record the same Alistair Duncan QC – who was now defending John Campbell QC, once appeared for the defenders against Mr Nolan – in the Nolan v Advance Construction case – on 9 November 2011.

Late yesterday, the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission was provided with the two versions of Craig Murray’s letter, and a copy of a letter from Clyde & Co, admitting their role in providing the second, undated version with alterations to the Faculty of Advocates.

The Scottish Legal Complaints Commission was asked for a statement on the existence of the two versions of Craig Murray’s letter and what action the regulator intends to take.

The SLCC refused to comment.

However, the SLCC confirmed a meeting had taken place between their Chief Executive – Neil Stevenson – and former Cabinet Minister Alex Neil MSP – who has provided powerful backing for his constituent – Donal Nolan.

A spokesperson for the SLCC said: “I can confirm that a meeting between our CEO and Alex Neil MSP took place.   The meeting was to discuss the SLCC’s process: what powers we have; actions we can take; and what we can’t do.”

The case has now been brought to the attention of the Scottish Parliament’s Public Petitions Committee – who are probing judicial interests, failures of judges to recuse over conflicts of interest, and opposition of Scotland’s current Lord President – Lord Carloway – to calls for the creation of a register of judicial interests.

Had a comprehensive and publicly available register of judicial interests existed at the time of the Nolan v Advance Construction Ltd case, details of judicial links in the register could have prevented injustice in the Nolan case – and many others in the courts – from the very outset.

PROFILE: Craig Murray – Personal Injury specialist & Ad hoc Advocate Depute, of two letters:

Craig Murray – Year called: 2008

Qualifications: LLM in Commercial Law (Distinction),University of Edinburgh Member, Chartered Institute of Arbitrators Faculty Scholar, Faculty of Advocates LLM in Human Rights Law, University of Strathclyde, Dip Forensic Medical Sciences, Society of Apothecaries, Dip Legal Practice, University of Edinburgh LLB (Hons), University of Edinburgh.

Craig has a busy defender personal injury practice in the Court of Session, representing insurers and local authorities. A substantial practice part of his practice is in defending fraudulent claims at all levels, in particular employers’ liability cases and road traffic claims.Craig also represents claimants in medical and dental negligence claims.

Craig has been instructed in a number of complex product liability cases, including pharmaceutical cases (Vioxx and Celebrex) and medical products (mesh surgical implants and PIP silicone implants).

Craig has substantial experience in property damage claims and other aspects of reparation.Craig occasionally acts in public law and human rights cases, including judicial review, mental health appeals and immigration.Craig has previously been a tutor on the Diploma in Regulatory Occupational Health & Safety at the University of Warwick and on the Civil Court Practice course at the University of Edinburgh.

Craig was appointed as an Advocate Depute ad hoc in July 2015. He is a member of the Children’s Panel for the Scottish Borders.

Among references to recent cases listed on Craig Murray’s profile is Nolan v. Advance Construction [2014] CSOH 4, a land contamination case in the Commercial Court, with senior counsel.

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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.

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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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Questions over ‘Victorian’ Justice delays as Court of Session set to rule on SIXTEEN YEAR medical injury claim against Motherwell College & North Lanarkshire Council

Motherwell CollegeCourt of Session ruling expected on 16 year civil damages claim after 8 weeks of hearings over 2 years. THE COURT OF SESSION is soon expected to issue a ruling in a SIXTEEN YEAR battle for justice in a medical injury case against Motherwell College & North Lanarkshire Council. The case, which is the longest of its kind on record, regarding a workplace injury which occurred in 1995, has taken a staggering sixteen years out of the life of Mr Martin Wilson, a Music Lecturer who suffered severe back injuries after help was denied to him in the course of his duties by its now former Principal Richard Millham, who was dubbed a “Bully Boss” by national newspapers after Motherwell College lost a string of unfair dismissal claims brought by College staff.

Members of staff at Motherwell College were reported to have described ‘a strong climate of fear which is still there’. One of several unanimous decisions by Employment Tribunals against the College confirmed that Mr Wilson was unfairly dismissed while on long term sickness leave.

Lord WoolmanLord Woolman is the presiding judge in the present claim of M.Wilson v North Lanarkshire Council & Others (A1628/01). Investigations conducted by the media have revealed the case has generated thousands of pages of transcripts along with numerous hearings before the Court of Session where internationally acclaimed expert medical witnesses from the UK and abroad disputed the testimony of Motherwell College’s own ‘experts’. As the hearings ‘progressed’, many legal observers to the case indicated matters could & should have been resolved years ago, some expressing opinions the case appeared to have been prolonged by legal teams solely for the purpose of generating legal fees from Motherwell College totalling HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF POUNDS, ultimately paid for by taxpayers.

An in-depth investigation into the case carried out by Scottish Law Reporter, compiled with the help of observers to the legal proceedings and senior legal insiders, berated Motherwell College and its legal representatives for wilfully delaying for THIRTEEN YEARS after Mr Wilson’s injury before commissioning an expert ergonomics report in this manual handling claim, and then only after Mr Wilson had managed to gain access to the defenders premises, something no fewer than FOUR ‘normally reliable’ law firms which included the well known Edinburgh law firm of Balfour & Manson & the Glasgow based Harper Macleod who had previously ‘represented Mr Wilson’s best interests’ had failed to do during the thirteen years since the summons was served on Motherwell College.

Damning evidence from interviews with legal observers to the proceedings revealed instances where despite the court suggesting the defenders make the “expert ergonomics report” available to Mr Wilson as soon as possible, the legal agents acting for Motherwell College, Simpson and Marwick, withheld the report until approximately 72 hours before the Proof was scheduled to begin in June of 2008, and then only handing it over on Court premises during a procedural hearing before Lord Penrose.

After being told of the report being withheld from the pursuer, Lord Penrose claimed that the defenders had been “playing fast and loose with due process in an attempt to gain an unfair advantage” and “had rendered the scheduled proof hearing unsafe”. Lord Penrose then invited Motherwell College representatives to apply for a postponement, which they did, and despite the party litigant being prepared to continue regardless – he had paid for distinguished expert witnesses to travel from destinations as far afield as the Western United States.

Taking the defenders legal representatives conduct into account, Lord Penrose described the situation as ‘unfortunate’ yet amazingly, no penalty was imposed on the defenders and these tactics, widely viewed as cynical delaying tactics, led to a further delay of over a year, the hearings finally getting started in November 2009 at the Court of Session under Lord Woolman. Later that month, and only after the Proof hearings had begun, a ruling in the Wilson v North Lanarkshire Council & others case heralded in the appearance of Scotland’s first Civil Law McKenzie Friend in a Court of Session case.

According to legal observers, hearings in the case continued “sporadically” and one year later in November 2010 Motherwell College’s legal team told the court they were withdrawing their “expert ergonomics report” and would not be relying on it, leading many observers to view the defender’s case as being “unsustainable”.

The report by Scottish Law Reporter also revealed that out of a total of some SIXTEEN LAY WITNESSES to be called by Motherwell College, only FOUR eventually appeared, and none of those included the key player in Mr Wilson’s earlier successful Employment Tribunal Decision against the College, it’s disgraced former Principal, Richard Millham.

Astonishingly the defenders suddenly decided at the last minute in January 2011 not to call the College’s former Health and Safety Officer in a manual handling claim, – a consequence perhaps of the defenders failure to produce a single risk assessment or manual handling record. Observers to hearings of the case described the testimony of Motherwell College’s expert witnesses as “lacking any credibility whatsoever”, “highly scripted”, and “unusually combative”.

North Lanarkshire Council & Motherwell College were represented throughout hearings at the Court of Session by Edinburgh law firm Simpson & Marwick. Senior Counsel for Simpson & Marwick was Ian MacKay QC, Junior Counsel was Calum Wilson both of Compass Chambers.

Richard Millham Jack McConnellPolitical connections ? Former Motherwell College Principal Richard Millham, pictured (left) with the then First Minister Jack McConnell (right) in Motherwell FC awards ceremony. While the Court of Session is expected to issue its ruling soon, there remain significant questions over who or what delayed a civil damages claim for approximately 16 years against scandal hit Motherwell College. Senior legal insiders have indicated the case may well form part of an effort to have the Scottish Parliament look at the regular and unjustifiable delays in access to justice in the Scottish courts while some have raised questions over the possibility influence of a political nature may have been exerted on law firms to delay Mr Wilson’s access to justice.

BACKGROUND TO MOTHERWELL COLLEGE CLIMATE OF FEAR & 16 YEAR JUSTICE BATTLE :

College's 300K Bully Bill Sunday Mail June 15 2003Motherwell College squandered £300K of taxpayers money fighting a string of Tribunal hearings involving bullying allegations against lecturers which the College lost. A number of media reports, referred to in earlier coverage by Scottish Law Reporter, show Motherwell College were involved in a string of Employment Tribunal decisions the college lost during Richard Millham’s term as Principal of Motherwell College. Allegations in newspapers including the Sunday Mail reported that “In 1999, lecturer Martin Wilson won £4000 after a tribunal ruled he had been unfairly fired. He had a back injury and could not work. A close friend said : “He was targeted by Millham. There was a strong climate of fear, which is still there .”

Scottish Law Reporter reported in earlier coverage : “From 1995-1998 Motherwell College opposed Mr Wilson’s claim for Unfair Dismissal while on long term sickness leave and lost, to a unanimous decision. Undeterred Motherwell College appealed the decision, and lost again. This was the first of several high profile Employment Tribunal cases lost by the Board of Management of Motherwell College, often to unanimous decisions against it.”

I have reported on this case in previous articles, here : FIFTEEN year wait for justice against Motherwell College marks poor state of Scotland’s ‘Victorian’ Justice System on European Civil Justice Day and here : Access to Justice ? Law Society’s insurers Marsh UK linked to SIXTEEN YEAR Court of Session civil damages claim against Motherwell College

 

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Access to Justice ? Law Society’s insurers Marsh UK linked to SIXTEEN YEAR Court of Session civil damages claim against Motherwell College

Marsh UK, the UK subsidiary of the US insurance firm Marsh & McLennan companies which saw some of its directors plead guilty as a result of an investigation by the New York District Attorney’s Office of bid-rigging and price-fixing in the insurance industry has now been linked to Scotland’s longest running civil damages action claim, now in its SIXTEENTH YEAR in the Court of Session, involving Motherwell College & North Lanarkshire Council after the local authority released details in response to a Freedom of Information request.

Lord WoolmanCourt of Session judge Lord Woolman hears Scotland’s longest running civil damages claim. Now in its Sixteenth year in the Court of Session, fresh hearings in the long running civil damages claim in front of judge Lord Woolman began earlier on Tuesday of this week. M.Wilson v North Lanarkshire Council & Others (A1628/01) which has its origins in the mid 1990’s and brought about Scotland’s first civil law McKenzie Friend in late 2009, involves a sole party litigant, Mr Martin Wilson, a former Music lecturer of Motherwell College who, according to media reports was forced out of his job after sustaining severe back injuries during the course of his duties as a music lecturer during his time at the College in the 1990’s.

Responses obtained by Diary of Injustice in reply to Freedom of Information enquiries reveal that Marsh, the insurance firm who insure all members of Scotland’s legal profession without exception, now also insure North Lanarkshire Council, who operate Motherwell College.

An official from North Lanarkshire Council replying to an FOI request admitted : “I can advise that North Lanarkshire Council’s Insurance Brokers until 30 September 2007 were AON, and from 1 October 2007 this service has been provided by Marsh. I can advise also that Travellers Insurance Company Limited have provided employers liability cover for the whole period of your request.”

In what is now Scotland’s longest running civil damages claim, Mr Wilson, the party litigant, has been forced to represent himself after several of Scotland’s leading law firms suspiciously abandoned his case at the very last minute. Mr Wilson is facing North Lanarkshire Council and their indemnity insurers, Travelers Insurance Co Ltd who are both being represented in court by Edinburgh law firm Simpson & Marwick. Senior Counsel for Simpson & Marwick is Ian MacKay QC, Junior Counsel being Calum Wilson both of Compass Chambers.

Now, following further investigations by Diary of Injustice and despite the outrageous time it has taken for Scotland’s civil justice system to hear their testimony, hearings in the Court of Session have shown that many internationally acclaimed experts have supported the party litigant’s claims.

I first reported on Mr Wilson’s case late last year, here : FIFTEEN year wait for justice against Motherwell College marks poor state of Scotland’s ‘Victorian’ Justice System on European Civil Justice Day where legal insiders who attended previous court hearings reported that Mr Wilson, who had been put in the position of having to represent himself after several big name law firms, who were at the time & are currently all insured with Marsh UK, withdrew from Mr Wilson’s case at the last minute prior to scheduled hearings of the Proof. Mr Wilson had also encountered repeated & numerous refusals of ‘expert witnesses’ from Scotland to assist his case as long as he was unrepresented. As a party litigant without representation, Mr Wilson was, according to court observers, forced abroad to Japan and the United States for supportive expert medical reports.

According to court documents seen by Diary of Injustice last October, Mr Wilson was previously represented by the well known Edinburgh law firm of Balfour & Manson, who were appointed by Scotland’s largest teachers & lecturers Union, the Educational Institute for Scotland (EIS), who spent tens of thousands of pounds assessing Mr Wilson’s injury as a valid claim, and that it should proceed to court. Amazingly it took the EIS almost THREE YEARS to lodge the summons against Motherwell College.

Papers studied by legal insiders reporting on the case revealed that Balfour & Manson, after being appointed by the EIS spent a staggering EIGHT YEARS working on Mr Wilson’s injury claim, and then at the last minute, decided to withdraw from acting for their client with only weeks to go before scheduled Proof Hearings in the Court of Session.

Balfour & Manson’s withdrawal from acting for Mr Wilson then became a suspicious pattern followed by further four law firms, including the Glasgow based Harper Macleod also withdrawing at the last minute, some eighteen months after representing Mr Wilson. Harper McLeod claimed they had ‘suddenly discovered’ “a commercial difficulty” in that they had an annual retainer from Motherwell College for several years, and had represented the College in Mr Wilson’s Employment Tribunal hearing over his unfair dismissal, which Mr Wilson won on a unanimous decision. Motherwell College also appealed the Employment Tribunal decision on Mr Wilson’s case and lost again.

A further two legal firms took on Mr Wilson’s case and then were apparently persuaded to drop their client, amazingly even returning fees paid to them for their service.

College's 300K Bully Bill Sunday Mail June 15 2003Motherwell College squandered £300K of taxpayers money fighting a string of Tribunal hearings involving bullying allegations against lecturers which the College lost. A number of media reports, referred to in recent coverage of the case by Scottish Law Reporter, show Motherwell College were involved in a string of Employment Tribunal decisions the college lost during Richard Millham’s term as Principal of Motherwell College. Allegations in newspapers including the Sunday Mail reported that “In 1999, lecturer Martin Wilson won £4000 after a tribunal ruled he had been unfairly fired. He had a back injury and could not work. A close friend said : “He was targeted by Millham. There was a strong climate of fear, which is still there .”

According to Scottish Law Reporter who last year reported on the case, “From 1995-1998 Motherwell College opposed Mr Wilson’s claim for Unfair Dismissal while on long term sickness leave and lost, to a unanimous decision. Undeterred Motherwell College appealed the decision, and lost again. This was the first of several high profile Employment Tribunal cases lost by the Board of Management of Motherwell College, often to unanimous decisions against it.”

Simpson & Marwick, who are representing Motherwell College & North Lanarkshire Council, are themselves famed for their representation of solicitors accused of professional negligence & client swindling, all supposedly covered by the Law Society of Scotland’s Master Policy Professional Indemnity Insurance Scheme, operated by Marsh to defend against negligence claims raised by clients. The Master Policy and its administration, operation was linked in 2009 to client suicides in an independent report published by the University of Manchester’s Law School.

One of Simpson & Marwick’s partners, Dr Pamela Abernethy famously appeared at the Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee during 2008, telling msps that pleural plaques, an asbestos related condition, could actually be good for people. I reported on Dr Abernethy’s incredulous claims in September 2008, here : Insurance lawyers argue against laws to help asbestos victims asserting part of their suffering ‘is a good thing’

Marsh UK, the British end of the gigantic US insurance operation appear to be linked to many insurance deals in the public & private sector, ranging from multiple services provided by local & national government including law & order, to the private sector. Marsh also enjoy a monopoly on the insurance of all solicitors in Scotland through the Law Society of Scotland’s ‘brutal enforcement’ of the Master Insurance Policy arrangements where all solicitors are required to pay into the professional indemnity insurance scheme if they want to practice any form of law.

Marsh appear to have heavy political influence in the UK, with Conservative Lord Ian Lang now the Chairman elect of Marsh & McLennan companies, according to his register of interests published as per his duties as Chairman of the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments. Lord Lang joined the Marsh & McLennan board in 1997 and has assiduously refused all invitations to comment since news of the ‘Marsh Frauds’ broke, frauds which were accompanied by valid injury and disability claims being routinely denied. More on Lord Lang’s position at Marsh & McLennan and his career history, along with documents detailing serious allegations against many directors of Marsh including Lord Lang, can be viewed at Scottish Law Reporter, HERE

This reporter and the Scottish Law Reporters team will continue to follow this case closely.

 

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FIFTEEN year wait for justice against Motherwell College marks poor state of Scotland’s ‘Victorian’ Justice System on European Civil Justice Day

Court of Session EdinburghScotland’s Court of Session to hear lecturer’s 15 year wait for justice against Motherwell College. IN a fitting tribute to mark the poor state of Scotland’s civil justice system on the European Civil Justice Day held every 25th October, a record breaking personal injury civil damages claim against Motherwell College & North Lanarkshire Council in the Court of Session which has its origins in the mid 1990’s and last year brought about Scotland’s first civil law McKenzie Friend is now set to be followed by an unprecedented thirteenth year of litigation with further hearings scheduled for 2011 in what some claim is a considerable abuse of the court process & the individual’s right of a fair hearing within a reasonable time as enshrined in Article 6 of European Human Rights laws.

The case in question, M.Wilson v North Lanarkshire Council & Others (A1628/01) involves a sole party litigant, a former Music lecturer of Motherwell College, pitched against the might of North Lanarkshire Council and their indemnity insurers, Travelers Insurance Co Ltd who are both being represented in court by Edinburgh law firm Simpson & Marwick, themselves famed for their representation of solicitors shielded by the Law Society of Scotland’s Master Policy Professional Indemnity Insurance Scheme, operated by Marsh to defend against negligence claims raised by clients.

Legal insiders who have attended the court hearings report that Mr Wilson, who has been put in the forced position of having to represent himself after several big name law firms withdrew from his case at the last minute prior to scheduled hearings of the Proof, has also encountered repeated & numerous refusals of ‘expert witnesses’ from Scotland who refuse to assist his case as long as Mr Wilson is unrepresented. Instead, Mr Wilson has been forced abroad to Japan and the United States for supportive expert medical reports, leading to charges many in Scotland’s ‘expert witness’ groups “may have been nobbled or scared off” and will not provide their services to unrepresented party litigants such as Mr Wilson.

According to court documents seen by Diary of Injustice, Mr Wilson was previously represented by the well known Edinburgh law firm of Balfour & Manson, who were appointed by Scotland’s largest teachers & lecturers Union, the Educational Institute for Scotland (EIS), who spent tens of thousands of pounds assessing Mr Wilson’s injury as a valid claim, and that it should proceed to court. Amazingly it took the EIS almost three years to lodge the summons against Motherwell College.

Papers studied by legal insiders reporting on the case reveal that Balfour & Manson, after being appointed by the EIS spent a staggering eight years working on Mr Wilson’s injury claim, and then at the last minute, decided to withdraw from acting for their client with only weeks to go before scheduled Proof Hearings in the Court of Session.

Balfour & Manson’s withdrawal from acting for Mr Wilson then became a suspicious pattern followed by further four law firms, including the Glasgow based Harper Macleod also withdrawing at the last minute, some eighteen months after representing Mr Wilson. Harper McLeod claimed they had ‘suddenly discovered’ “a commercial difficulty” in that they had an annual retainer from Motherwell College for several years, and had represented the College in Mr Wilson’s Employment Tribunal hearing over his unfair dismissal, which Mr Wilson won on a unanimous decision. Motherwell College also appealed the Employment Tribunal decision on Mr Wilson’s case and lost again.

A further two legal firms took on Mr Wilson’s case and then were apparently persuaded to drop their client, amazingly even returning fees paid to them for their service.

College's 300K Bully Bill Sunday Mail June 15 2003Motherwell College squandered £300K of taxpayers money fighting a string of Tribunal hearings involving bullying allegations against lecturers which the College lost. A number of media reports, referred to in recent coverage of the case by Scottish Law Reporter, show Motherwell College were involved in a string of Employment Tribunal decisions the college lost during Richard Millham’s term as Principal of Motherwell College. Allegations in newspapers including the Sunday Mail reported that “In 1999, lecturer Martin Wilson won 4000 after a tribunal ruled he had been unfairly fired. He had a back injury and could not work. A close friend said : “He was targeted by Millham. There was a strong climate of fear, which is still there .”

During all this time and many forced appearances at the Court of Session as a party litigant, court staff have indicated in comments they believe Mr Wilson’s health has diminished considerably, one insider claiming to Diary of Injustice the former lecturer looked like he had aged 30 years in the last year alone.

Lord WoolmanCourt of Session judge Lord Woolman to hear case in a few weeks time. Hearings on Mr Wilson’s personal injury claim are scheduled to start again in a matter of weeks at the Court of Session under Lord Woolman. Legal insiders say many are now taking a strong interest in the Wilson/NLC case and its final outcome, especially in the wake of the Lord Justice Clerk Lord Gill’s recommendations in his Civil Courts Review to reform what he described as Scotland’s “Victorian justice system”, which appears to be so Victorian, cases can float around in the justice system literally for decades with party litigants such as Mr Wilson failing to get anything near approaching “a fair hearing within a reasonable time”.

It is worth noting the solicitors acting for North Lanarkshire Council & Motherwell College, the Edinburgh law firm of Simpson & Marwick in their representation of insurers in connection with claims for asbestos related health diseases attained public notoriety last year in their appearance before the Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee in September 2008, where one of their senior partners, Dr Pamela Abernethy of the Forum of Insurance Lawyers famously argued with MSPs that symptoms of Asbestos contamination were ‘good for people’.

It is also worth noting last year, the Master Policy, of which Simpson & Marwick often act as lead solicitors, often representing fellow solicitors facing negligence claims from clients, was investigated by the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission, with an independent report carried out by the University of Manchester’s Law School linking the secretive ‘Master Policy’ insurance scheme to the deaths of clients who had attempted to claim damages from ‘crooked lawyers’.

The SLCC’s report on the Master Policy and my earlier coverage on the revelations can be found here : Suicides, illness, broken families and ruined clients reveal true cost of Law Society’s Master Policy which ‘allows solicitors to sleep at night’

The report from Scottish Law Reporter on Mr Wilson’s 15 year quest for access to justice in the Scottish Courts follows :

Record 15 year wait for justice approaches for lecturer in Court of Session showdown with former Motherwell college ‘Bully Boss’ principal

Motherwell College's 300K bully bill Sunday Mail 15th June 2003A staggering 15 year wait for Justice by a music lecturer against Motherwell College may see its disgraced former Principal appear in court. FIFTEEN YEARS later in what is Scotland’s longest running civil damages action involving Motherwell College, the disgraced former Principal & CEO of Motherwell College Richard Millham, dubbed the “Bully Boss” by the media due to a string of allegations of bullying involving college lecturers, may be back in the dock soon, this time in Scotland’s Court of Session in a civil damages action claim against Motherwell College, brought by Mr Martin Wilson, a former Music Lecturer at the College.

“Bully Boss” Richard Millham who was alleged in media reports ‘to have targeted Mr Wilson in a strong climate of fear’, was forced to resign after widespread press coverage of the many Employment Tribunal decisions lost by the College under his stewardship – some estimates put the cost of these at a staggering £300,000 pounds of taxpayers money.

One of several staff members who fought back against the bullying culture at Motherwell College was the Music Lecturer Martin Wilson, who has braved the Court of Session as a party litigant in a 15 year attempt to gain justice in his civil damages claim against Motherwell College, who are represented by Simpson & Marwick, who famously argued against the Damages (Asbestos) Bill at the Scottish Parliament, claiming to MSPs asbestos related illnesses were actually good for victims who suffered from ‘pleural plaques’, a condition that forms as a result of exposure to asbestos

From 1995-1998 Motherwell College opposed Mr Wilson’s claim for Unfair Dismissal while on long term sickness leave and lost, to a unanimous decision. Undeterred Motherwell College appealed the decision, and lost again. This was the first of several high profile Employment Tribunal cases lost by the Board of Management of Motherwell College, often to unanimous decisions against it.

Undeterred, the Board of Management of Motherwell College has continued to spend thousands of pounds more of taxpayers money for the last 13 years opposing Mr Wilson’s Personal Injury claim, the longest running civil case of its kind, the new Principal Mr Hugh Logan losing appeals before the FOI Commissioner and the Pensions Ombudsman along the way.

Mr Wilson has still not received his correct ill-health pension entitlement some 15 years after he was injured, all of which adds further substance to Lord Gill’s recent criticisms of the Scottish Civil Justice system as ‘failing society’ and often involving ‘scandalous delays’.

In an age of fairness and public sector cuts it is difficult to imagine how Motherwell College’s obstinacy can be justified. However it might have something to do with the important precedent the case will establish if successful and the attitude of the College’s disgraced insurer Travelers Insurance Co Ltd, who have also been fined hundreds of millions of dollars in connection with workers claims for asbestos injuries, one of many subpoenas alleging it had acted “maliciously” using “fraud, deceit and outright lies,” designing and orchestrating their claims settlement practices to “intentionally delay,” and raising defences that they knew would never succeed in order to settle claims for less money.

 

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