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LUCAN FOR HIM: Law Society repeatedly refused BBC Scotland access to ‘key player’ Regulation Chief for in-depth investigation report on rogue solicitors

Non appearance of top Law Society regulation boss in BBC investigation questioned QUESTIONS have been raised as to why Philip Yelland, the little known figure in charge of regulation of Scotland’s solicitors for the past two decades was not allowed to appear on Lawyers Behaving Badly, the recent BBC Scotland investigation on systemic failings in how the Scottish legal profession regulates itself and how lawyers have regularly escaped justice and continue to benefit from publicly funded legal aid.

In response to media enquiries, sources at the Edinburgh HQ of the Law Society of Scotland have confirmed that repeated requests from BBC Scotland for access to the society’s Director of Regulation were refused by Law Society chiefs who were determined there should be no access to, or any appearance by the twenty plus year serving head of regulation in the BBC programme.

Substituting for the Director of Regulation, the Convener of the Law Society’s Regulation Committee, Carole Ford was instead, interviewed on the powerful BBC programme broadcast last week.

However, while Ford’s performance was expectedly praised in some legal quarters, some legal experts, clients, and those who have experienced the ‘alice in wonderland’ world of how the legal profession regulates itself felt the Committee Convener was a poor substitute, and appeared to have little grasp as to the realities of how the system works, and how paying clients are treated by lawyers who regularly cover up for their own colleagues.

While many expected Mr Yelland to be part of the BBC investigation, there are numerous reasons as to why the one person in legal regulation circles who has been involved in many of the controversial and highly public cases involving solicitors escaping penalty for their actions over the past twenty years did not appear on the highly acclaimed undercover investigation by BBC journalist Sam Poling.

The Law Society’s reluctance to allow Mr Yelland’s appearance in the BBC programme may well stem from the unfortunate demise of the Society’s former Chief Executive Douglas Mill, who resigned a few weeks after the Law Society’s Council viewed and debated video footage posted to video sharing website You Tube of Mill’s angry confrontation at a Holyrood Justice Committee hearing with John Swinney, Scotland’s Finance Chief.

During the Justice Committee hearing in 2006 which formed part of the Scottish Parliament’s second, ill-fated attempt to clean up regulation of the legal profession, the former Chief Executive was caught out by the Scottish Parliament’s video coverage of the hearing when he argued with the SNP Finance Chief that the Law Society’s Master Policy, the insurance scheme which protects corrupt lawyers from clients, was fair, and that there was no collusion between figures at the Law Society and the insurers to throw out financial damages claims made by clients.

However, Mr Swinney, a skilled debater himself, trounced the then pugnacious Law Society Chief on all points, leaving the public with little doubt the Master Policy Insurance client compensation scheme run by the Law Society of Scotland is unfair and claims made by clients for damages are clearly subject to concerted and determined manipulation at the highest levels of the Law Society and the legal profession.

The footage featuring Mill’s Holyrood confrontation with John Swinney was first posted to the You Tube video sharing website in late December 2007. Mill, who superseded the equally controversial Kenneth Pritchard as Secretary of the Law Society of Scotland in the early 1990’s, then going on to become the Society’s Chief Executive and expected by many to remain in the position for a lengthy period of time, resigned a few weeks later in January 2008.

The confrontation between the former Law Society Boss and Scotland’s now Finance Chief, has since become a warning to how Law Society figures used to a closed world lacking any accountability can quickly stumble in public appearances such as the Holyrood Master Policy clash which made it obvious to all that the Law Society was, and remains determined to hang onto self regulation and the power that comes with it, at any cost.

Fears of BBC questions over claims made by clients against solicitors may also have played a part in the Society’s refusal to allow access to its regulation chief.

Academics heard involvement of Regulation Boss was linked to controversial complaints. A case referred to in a Research Report from the University of Manchester School of Law documented allegations in papers which have never been made public that the Society’s long time Regulation Chief was also allegedly linked to a case of a claim involving the Master Policy, where a respected businessman & family man from Oban committed suicide after he was sent to a law firm who have since been identified in a number of cases where dodgy solicitors have escaped justice and even possible criminal charges for legal aid fraud.

The revelations, appearing in papers studied by Professor Frank Stephen & Dr Angela Melville of the Manchester University of Law School in 2009 who were compiling a report on the Master Policy for the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission (SLCC), alleged the businessman from Oban had been sent to a Glasgow law firm to represent him in a court case against his former solicitors.

However the Glasgow based law firm, who have since represented the First Minister himself and a number of controversial figures in the legal world, did nothing for a period of three years and when it was revealed the same law firm who the Law Society’s Regulation Chief had allegedly recommended to the Oban businessman were also representing the Legal Defence Union, the organisation which represents crooked lawyers against complaints, the unnamed client committed suicide.

Against a background of too-numerous-to-mention cases where involvement of the twenty year plus serving Law Society’s Regulation Boss appears to have played a key part in allowing corrupt solicitors to remain in work, Yelland may well have faced difficult questions over his involvement in one of the key parts of the BBC Scotland report aired last week, that of former solicitor Tom Murray, currently living in Lucca, Italy.

Featured in the Lawyers Behaving Badly documentary, Murray, has appeared before the Scottish Solicitors Discipline Tribunal (SSDT) on no less than three occasions, (i) Law Society-v-Thomas Hugh Murray 01/03/2005 (ii) Law Society-v-Thomas Hugh Murray 25/11/2005 and (iii) Law Society-v-Thomas Hugh Murray 10/12/2009.

Former solicitor Murray, who said on the BBC programme during secret filming that if he returned to Scotland he could reapply to be a solicitor again, was found guilty of professional misconduct in respect of misrepresentation, deception and misleading clients including his failure to tell his clients he had been barred from practising as a lawyer. The solicitor who was sequestrated in Scotland in 2001 and continues to avoid any moves by the Law Society to take action against him and recover compensation awarded to his clients.

The case of Murray, and the Law Society’s apparently haphazard pursuit of complaints against him clearly provided fertile ground for difficult questions of Yelland, who has personally signed off on many of the communications to clients who were involved with the former solicitor. Diary of Injustice featured an in depth report on the Law Society’s involvement in the Murray case in an earlier article HERE

In a long, rambling statement attacking the BBC Scotland programme, the Law Society of Scotland made no mention as to why Mr Yelland refused to appear, nor did the Society explain why the one man who can be linked to many of the complaints made against Scottish solicitors which have done significant damage to the image of the profession, did not appear or give an account of his charge over regulation of, and standards in Scotland’s legal profession in the past two decades.

Diary of Injustice has reported on the BBC’s investigation into self regulation of the Scottish legal profession in previous articles here: Lawyers Behaving Badly – a window into the world of lawyers regulating themselves

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Drug smuggling, threats to destroy clients & Prosecutors convicted of child porn offences : Welcome to Scotland’s not-so ‘world class’ or ‘well respected’ legal profession

Scotland’s ‘well respected’ legal profession in the dock as solicitor jailed for drugs smuggling. YET another rough week for Scotland’s world famous legal profession has ended with the sentencing of solicitor David Blair Wilson to four years in jail for attempted smuggling of mobile phones & drugs into Saughton jail. As some legal observers have pointed out to journalists today, many feel the case only reached court because the media had reported on events surrounding the high profile swoop on Blair Wilson outside Saughton Prison in October 2011.

Blair Wilson had been targeted by a sting operation after Police & Prison authorities had been tipped off he was running a well planned operation, smuggling illegal drugs which had been heat sealed into pages of A4 paper, and other banned items such as mobile phones into Saughton Prison.

Lawyer held by jail Drug Cops Sunday Mail 09 October 2011Sunday Mail reported arrest of David Blair Wilson in October 2011. His trial, which lasted six days in April, saw dramatic CCTV footage of plain clothes police officers blocking any attempt by Blair Wilson to drive away in his silver hatchback after making an exit from prison buildings. Police then led him away in handcuffs. Police subsequently searched Blair Wilson’s car and uncovered mobile phones, diazepam tablets worth up to £2800 at inflated prison prices, and cannabis resin with a prison value of £4000 along with other contraband items.

A jury’s majority verdict convicted Blair Wilson of attempting to smuggle three mobile phones, three SIM cards along with two chargers and two earphones into the jail. He was also found guilty, by majority, of being concerned in the supply of cannabis resin, diazepam and body-building drugs, in particular to prisoner Lee Brown who is serving 18 years for attempted murder.

Blair Wilson rose to fame as a central character in the Magic Circle scandal of the late 1980’s, where the most senior members of Scotland’s judiciary had been investigated for having inappropriate liaisons with ‘young males’ and ‘rent boys’, liaisons which has clearly spilled over into the courts system, according to Police intelligence at the time.

Scottish Law Reporter has reported on the Magic Circle in an article HERE and has also featured a report on the key role of a former Lord Advocate in what was known at the time as Operation Planet, an investigation run by Lothian & Borders Police to catch crooked judges & prosecutors ‘who were swapping boys for favours in Scottish Courts’, HERE. Lord Nimmo Smith QC’s REPORT ON MAGIC CIRCLE GAY JUSTICE SCANDAL, has been widely refuted by many as a whitewash of the corruption in the Scottish judiciary, which some claim, with evidence, continues to this day.

Solicitor Grant Docherty – threatened to destroy a client. THIS WEEK had already started on a bad note for Scotland’s legal profession, when it was reported Police are allegedly investigating another solicitor, Grant Docherty, the current head of Banking & Finance for DWF Biggart Baillie after evidence presented to the Scottish Solicitors Discipline Tribunal (SSDT) revealed a torrent of messages containing threats & abuse from Mr Docherty to a client, over a failed house purchase. More on the story can be found at Scottish Law Reporter here : Police called in to investigate DWF Biggart Baillie’s Banking & Finance head solicitor Grant Docherty, fined £7.5K by Discipline Tribunal over ‘crazed’ threats made to client

Scottish Law Reporter reported that evidence presented to the SSDT and included in complaints made to the Law Society of Scotland revealed that solicitor Docherty (aged 49), who is currently head of the Banking & Finance team at DWF Biggart Baillie said Robert Rankin would be ripped “to shreds” after failing to come up money for a house purchase. The Discipline Tribunal also heard that Docherty, 49, sent his client a string of abusive texts including one which warned: “I’ll come after you with everything I have.” A further text said: “This is personal. You’re a liar and the worst sort of human being.”

It was also reported the Law Society of Scotland’s Prosecuting Fiscal, Paul Marshall, told the Scottish Solicitor’s Discipline tribunal in Edinburgh of the contents of the messages, which said in one case : “He said he would rip Robert Rankin to shreds.” Mr Marshall went on to tell the Discipline Tribunal that some of Docherty’s 33 messages, which had been sent between December 2010 and January 2011, were also seen by the client’s young son. One of the messages said Docherty would “ensure” Robert was “destroyed”.

Docherty only stopped threatening his client, who had been put in a state of fear & alarm by the solicitor’s actions, when Police were called in. Complaints were then made to the Law Society of Scotland who brought the prosecution of Docherty before the Tribunal hearing in April where the solicitor was eventually fined £7,500 after being found guilty of professional misconduct although allowed to continue working.

A month on from the Tribunal hearing involving Grant Docherty, the Scottish Solicitors Discipline Tribunal have failed to publish its decision and any evidence heard during proceedings. Scottish Law Reporter added in their report that discussions have apparently been taking place “with a view to refrain from publishing some of the more threatening texts sent by the solicitor, which a well placed legal insider claims are allegedly of a violent nature”.

The brewing row over the SSDT’s conduct in the Tribunal hearing against solicitor Grant Docherty apparently relates to the content of many of the messages sent by Docherty to his client, content which some allege to contain life threatening statements which the SSDT do not want to publish in their final decision. Yet despite the seriousness of the threats made by the solicitor, the Tribunal chairman Alistair Cockburn could only manage a comment claiming : “The expressions used were unfitting of a solicitor.”

Admittedly, Mr Cockburn’s lack of shock may well be put down to the fact that solicitors physically threatening their clients has become commonplace in complaints, with substantial evidence pointing to the Law Society watering down client;s allegations to ensure most cases never made it to the media.

Former Procurator Fiscal Depute Stuart MacFarlane who served in Iraq, awaits sentence for downloading child porn. MIDWEEK faired no better, after the media reported that former Procurator Fiscal Depute Stuart MacFarlane (45), from Glasgow, had admitted downloading child pornography from the internet, reported further on Scottish Law Reporter here : Shame for Crown Office & Lord Advocate as former Procurator Fiscal Stuart MacFarlane admits downloading child porn, added to sex offenders register

The former Procurator Fiscal, who had served in the Army in Iraq, and is now apparently working as a contractor in Afghanistan, was caught with at least 15,000 images of child pornography on computer equipment at his home after Police succeeded in gaining a search warrant to raid his premises and seize computer equipment. Images seized by Police from computer equipment owned & used by MacFarlane showed acts of a sexual nature against minors, and also pictures of sexual acts with animals. Macfarlane now awaits to hear if he will be handed a custodial prison sentence on MacFarlane although his name was placed on the sex offenders register.

MacFarlane had served as a Procurator Fiscal Depute at Scotland’s Crown Office & Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) for many years, and during his time there the media reported MacFarlane strangely escaped prosecution for earlier charges of indecency with a prostitute the Crown Office claiming at the time “it was not in the public interest” to prosecute.

The current Lord Advocate, Frank Mulholland, and the Crown Office have issued no statement or comment on their former colleague’s admission to downloading child porn, instead preferring to run off Press Releases praising their own conviction rate, and doubtless hoping for the reinstatement of bonuses or inflated salaries.

Philip Yelland, Head of Regulation at the Law Society of Scotland. Coming along to reassure us the Law Society of Scotland would act further in the case of David Blair Wilson, but apparently not in the case of the convicted former Prosecutor, or the top banking lawyer who threatened his client, the Law Society of Scotland’s Director of Regulation, Philip Yelland issued a Press Release stating : Former solicitor, David Blair-Wilson was today, Friday 17 May, sentenced to four  years in prison at Edinburgh High Court. The length of sentence means that he faces automatic prosecution before the Scottish Solicitors Discipline Tribunal. Mr Blair-Wilson has not held a practicing certificate which would allow him to work as a solicitor since October 2011.

Mr Yelland, who has been at the Law Society of Scotland for 23 years and who’s name has become familiar to clients who have received no justice against corrupt solicitors, commented : “Solicitors are expected to maintain the highest standards both in their professional and personal lives. They are bound by rules including rules about their conduct, and serious criminal convictions are a breach of these rules. We will get official notice of the sentence from the authorities, which will allow us to raise a formal complaint which enables us to take a prosecution to the independent Scottish Solicitors Discipline Tribunal.”

Mr Yelland, after twenty three years at the Law Society, handling all the cases you have, your department & its staff saving hundreds of solicitors from the long arm of the law, from justice for clients, saving those solicitors who should rightly be stuck off after they ruined clients lives, interfering in many client’s legal cases in courts against solicitors … you must be kidding.

 

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Clients of Scots solicitors miss out on ‘right to know’ as UK Legal Ombudsman moves to name & shame ‘crooked lawyers’ in England & Wales

Legal OmbudsmanLegal Ombudsman for England & Wales now operating naming & shaming policy. CROOKED LAWYERS operating in England & Wales who are being investigated over complaints from clients and law firms who are considered ‘serial offenders’ in their poor treatment of clients & consumers could now be publicly identified by the Legal Ombudsman (LeO), even if the complaint is yet to be decided, according to an announcement made earlier this week by the independent regulator of complaints against the legal profession south of the border.

The policy, popularly known as ‘naming & shaming’ has taken well over a year for the LeO to implement after several consultations took place amid bitter arguments and veiled threats from the legal profession, who are worried consumers may end up seeing a different ‘warts, complaints, swindling, corruption & all’ view of lawyers other than the carefully manicured image projected by the Law Society and the UK’s legal services industry.

The LeO originally announced in November 2011 they would be going ahead with ‘naming & shaming’ in early 2012, reported by Diary of Injustice here : Scots to be ‘kept in dark’ on details of crooked lawyers while Legal Ombudsman’s ‘naming & shaming’ policy ‘will protect’ consumers in England & Wales

Earlier this week, Legal Ombudsman issued a statement & media release on its website confirming the naming & shaming policy is now operational : “As of 1 April 2012 we are collating names of lawyers and law firms subject to complaints resolved by an ombudsman’s decision. Any data collected will be made publicly available at the end of July 2012 and then subsequently every quarter.”

The statement (pdf) went on to say : “In November last year, the Office for Legal Complaints (OLC), which is the board of the Legal Ombudsman, announced its decision that it is right to publish the names of lawyers in some specific circumstances, in line with the powers given to the Board under the Legal Services Act 2007.”

“The policy – which starts from 1 April 2012 – is to identify lawyers or law firms that are the subject of complaints in two different ways. The first of these is to publish, once a quarter, a table that summarises the number of ombudsman decisions each legal entity has been the subject of, what the outcome was (so remedy or no remedy), and the area of law in each case. The first quarterly information will be available on the Legal Ombudsman website in late July.”

The second is where there is a pattern of complaints, or circumstances where it is in the public interest to publish the details of a lawyer or law firm, then, pending approval from the Board, the Legal Ombudsman will publish this information immediately. This is regardless of whether there has been an ombudsman decision on the case.”

Liz France, Chair of the Legal Ombudsman’s board, said: “After careful reflection, based on the consultations we undertook, I am confident that the approach we are taking strikes the right balance. It meets our aim to be open in all we do while not providing information which is excessive to the purposes of publication – protecting consumers of legal services from detriment and helping to improving standards of service.”

Further information is available on the Legal Ombudsman’s consultations page HERE. Diary of Injustice reproted on the Legal Ombudsman’s consultation over naming & shaming here : Legal Ombudsman moving to name & shame crooked lawyers in England & Wales, crooked Scottish solicitors records to remain protected by secrecy for now

Which logoConsumer group Which? have previously given their backing to the Legal Ombudsman’s plans to identify crooked lawyers in England & Wales. A spokesperson for Which? told Diary of Injustice last year : “Which? strongly supports the principle of the LeO publishing complaints data under a strict and published policy , including in some circumstances the name of the law firm concerned. We set out our position in our response to the LeO consultation (page 51: opening up regulatory data)) pointing out that it is the expectation of Government that complaints handling bodies are as transparent as possible.”

Legal Services Consumer PanelSpeaking on the LeO’s plans to publish complaints data & the identities of law firms who perform poorly for clients, Elisabeth Davies, Chair of the Legal Services Consumer Panel (LSCP), said last year : “Research shows that UK consumers are now leaving well over 100 million comments online every year about their experience with businesses across the economy. Lawyers cannot escape this welcome emergence of consumer power, but instead should seek and then use such feedback to improve the service they offer.

She continued : “The courts will decide the fate of the Solicitors From Hell website. However, such websites fill a vacuum that exists because official complaints data about lawyers is not publically available to help consumers identify good quality lawyers. The Panel will continue to push the Legal Ombudsman to name those law firms who regularly provide poor service.”

oftThe Office of Fair Trading (OFT) also supports the Legal Ombudsman’s naming & shaming policy. The OFT stated in its submission (pdf) to the LeO’s consultation : “We appreciate that you need to balance the interests of consumers with the reputational impact on firms and individual lawyers. However, the OFT remains firmly of the view that the publication of named complaints data could incentivise legal service providers, due to reputational considerations, to maintain and/or improve the quality of service they provide to consumers.We believe that essential data would include:

* The number of complaints made against individual firms and lawyers;
* The nature of those complaints and placing them into categories to help see if a pattern develops;
* The ratio of complaints upheld against an individual firm or lawyer;
* Areas of law where complaints tend to focus;
* Which aspects of service the complaints tend to focus; and
* Whether the complaints tend to come from private or publically funded cases.

Diary of Injustice has been following the Name and Shame debate in England & Wales and it should not be forgotten the Law Society of England & Wales has, at rumoured costs of up to half a million pounds, used the courts to silence private individuals efforts to set up websites naming & shaming ‘crooked lawyers’, the most famous of which was Rick Kordowski’s Solicitors from Hell website.

While consumers of legal services in England & Wales are expected to benefit from the tough stance on naming & shaming taken by Adam Sampson, the Legal Ombudsman, there are no equivalent statutory moves being made in Scotland by the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission (SLCC) to name & shame many of Scotland’s ‘serial rogues’ from the legal profession who regularly get away with a slap on the wrist or secret shady deals done between the SLCC, Law Society of Scotland & the Legal Defence Union.

Even though the SLCC, Law Society of Scotland or the Faculty of Advocates currently refuse to name & shame their serial offenders who fail their clients, there are other routes, as Diary of Injustice reported earlier this year, here : NAME & SHAME YOUR CROOKED LAWYER : Have you been treated roughly by your solicitor ? It’s time to talk, rate, review, name & shame YOUR crooked lawyer

No one from the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission or the Scottish Government was available to comment on the lack of public information available about Scottish solicitors’ regulatory history, however a former Law Society Council member speaking to Diary of Injustice indicated any moves to name & shame ‘crooked lawyers’ in Scotland “will be fiercely resisted by the Law Society of Scotland”.

The insider also suggested any moves made in petitions to the Scottish Parliament or pleas to the Scottish Government to amend legislation to enable the SLCC to identify solicitors who are the subject of complaints “will be lobbied against by the Law Society of Scotland”.

THOSE WHO KEEP COMPLAINTS AGAINST SCOTS SOLICITORS HIDDEN FROM PUBLIC VIEW :

Philip YellandMisplaced trust with complaints : Philip Yelland. Philip Yelland, the Law Society of Scotland’s director of standards, previously director of regulation and before that head of the Law Society’s “Client Relations Office” has been in charge of regulating crooked lawyers in Scotland for over TWENTY YEARS yet from Penman to the present and beyond, most crooked Scottish lawyers have either received a slap on the wrist or no punishment at all while the client ends up financially ruined and excluded from the courts to make sure justice can never be done. Would you trust anyone like this with your complaint ? Make sure you use the media first before trusting the Law Society or SLCC with your lawyer problems.

Lawyer sued for 1 million Sunday Mail June 3 2007Law complaints regulators like the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission & Law Society of Scotland turn out to be client-haters rather than consumer protectors. Consumers, clients & readers may get a lot further in their complaints and obtain a lot more satisfaction from a media investigation of their crooked lawyers long before the Law Society of Scotland or blundering Scottish Legal Complaints Commission get round to putting pen to paper. Put simply, its more difficult for so-called regulators like the Law Society of Scotland or SLCC to let a crooked lawyer off the hook if they have already been in the newspapers a few times. Its also more difficult to let a crooked lawyer off the hook if, as usually turns out to be the case, the media reveal they have been ripping off many of their clients, not just you, or someone you know

If you have a story about a crooked lawyer, contact Diary of Injustice via scottishlawreporters@gmail.com with full details of what happened, how you were treated and what you have done about it so far.

 

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NO JUSTICE for clients as Crown Office & Law Society ‘cosy deal’ allowed FRAUD accused lawyer to slip criminal prosecution & move to Lucca, Italy

Luccan for meCrown Office & Law Society ‘deal’ allowed a ‘crooked lawyer’ to escape justice over client fraud charges. SIGNIFICANT FAILURES on the part of prosecutors at the Crown Office & Procurator Fiscal Service and the lawyer’s regulator the Law Society of Scotland to prosecute solicitor THOMAS HUGH MURRAY over a string of fraud allegations made by his former clients have allowed the one time Stirling based lawyer who has been the subject of several investigations to slip away to the Northern Italian town of Lucca in Tuscany after the Law Society and prosecutors suspiciously failed to pursue charges the struck off solicitor embezzled £18,000 from client Neil McKechnie.

It has now emerged via the Sunday Mail newspaper that Murray, the solicitor involved in the client scam has been ARRESTED TWICE by Scottish Police, once over fraud charges and again after an attempt to flee the UK to avoid being prosecuted. However, the charges were dropped after a cosy deal was reached between the Crown Office & the Law Society of Scotland who then failed to act to protect clients.

The now Italian based Tom Murray, who as a solicitor was sequestrated in 2001 in Scotland, continues to avoid any moves to recover compensation for ruining his clients lives even though he has appeared before the Scottish Solicitors Discipline Tribunal (SSDT) on no less than three occasions, (i) Law Society-v-Thomas Hugh Murray 01/03/2005 (ii) Law Society-v-Thomas Hugh Murray 25/11/2005 and (iii) Law Society-v-Thomas Hugh Murray 10/12/2009. Murray was found guilty of professional misconduct in respect of misrepresentation, deception and misleading clients including his failure to tell his clients he had been barred from practising as a lawyer.

However, the Law Society of Scotland and SSDT’s attempts to prosecute Murray over the complaints have been called into question after it was alleged the solicitor appointed by the Law Society of Scotland to prosecute Murray before the Discipline Tribunal may have had a professional relationship with the very same solicitor he was supposed to be prosecuting. The details of what can only be described as a serious conflict of interest between the Law Society’s prosecution of Murray and the accused solicitor only came to light after a secret internal investigation at the Law Society, which is rumoured to have been given contradicting accounts by those involved in prosecuting Murray at the SSDT..

yellandPhilip Yelland, Director of Regulation at the Law Society of Scotland & in charge of Client Relations for the past 20 years. The Law Society of Scotland’s Philip Yelland who has been in charge of regulating solicitors for the past TWENTY YEARS, a now notorious two decades which have seem some of the worst scandals involving crooked lawyers in Scotland, wrote to Mr McKechnie, admitting : “Whilst you are quite correct in indicating that the Scottish Solicitors Discipline Tribunal considered specifically the failure of the part of Mr Murray to implement the decision made by the Law Society about the inadequate professional service you had received the written decision which would have allowed the Society to take steps to deal with the matter was not issued in December 2009 but was in fact issued by the Tribunal some months later. I should clarify that is normal practice in terms of the Tribunal and that following on from the issuing of the written findings there is a short period of appeal available.”

“What the Tribunal issues under Section 53C of the 1980 Act is the equivalent of a decree and there is therefore no reason to require service of that document on Mr Murray before consideration can be given to enforcement proceedings. As you are aware the prosecution of Mr Murray for alleged professional misconduct was continuing at that point and it is fair to say that immediate action was not taken to enforce the Section 53C order. The Society’s Fiscal however did at that point in time make some general enquiries about the enforcement of the Tribunals’ decision.”

“The challenge around the question of enforcement arises because of the fact that Mr Murray is now resident in Italy. So far as the Law Society of Scotland is aware Mr Murray is not resident in Scotland. Neither does Mr Murray have any assets in Scotland so far as the Law Society is aware.”

“That means that any enforcement proceedings would need to take place in Italy and from previous experience of other solicitors resident abroad the Society has had to look very carefully about the approach to take because of the difficulties arising both in terms of process and procedure and potential cost. That said on Thursday 19 January at the Court of Session in Edinburgh, the Society successfully served a charge on Mr Murray which opens up the possibility of other proceedings. However those will not instantly resolve outstanding matters. Accordingly I have prepared a paper to go to the Society’s Client Care Sub Committee in relation to the enforcement of this order. The reason that I am doing this is that the practicalities of endeavouring to enforce the order are extremely difficult. They are also costly.”

COPFS murrayProsecutors wrote to the solicitor’s victim admitting serious crimes had occurred yet they dropped the charges. The Crown Office & Procurator Fiscal Service have also come in for stinging criticism in their failure to prosecute the solicitor over the fraud allegations after he was reported to Police by clients who had their money taken by Murray, and although Police did arrest the solicitor over the allegations, twice, the Crown Office came to a cosy arrangement with the Law Society of Scotland who were supposed to act but instead allowed the one time lawyer to slip away to Italy. The Procurator Fiscal’s Office in Stirling wrote to Mr McKechnie, stating : “A decision was taken by the Crown Office to take no further proceedings in this case: this decision was not taken lightly as we realise the seriousness of this crime.” Further attempts to gain further information relating to the refusal to prosecute the lawyer have failed, after the Crown Office refused to release any of the papers it held on Murray, raising suspicions of yet another cover up where the Lord Advocate’s team have taken decisions not to prosecute a colleague from the legal profession.

However, investigations now being carried out by independent law journalists into the Thomas Murray crooked lawyer scandal have now revealed the involvement of a prominent Scottish Sheriff in Murray’s sequestration which dates back as far as 2001, and allegations surrounding the fraudulent use of cheque books belonging to a building company and other activity which may warrant a criminal investigation. More details on these new revelations will follow in further articles.

A friend of Mr McKechnie, one of the solicitor’s victims who lost tens of thousands of pounds due to Murray’s actions, spoke to Diary of Injustice today. The friend said it was clear the Law Society and the legal establishment have gone out of their way to avoid taking any substantive action against Murray, branding their “feeble efforts to prosecute the solicitor” as little more than “an attempt to pervert the course of justice.”

He said : “The Law Society has ignored the SSDT’s Legal Order for enforcement to demand payment of erroneously taken money as fees plus the maximum compensation allowable under law, despite the Society having around a dozen opportunities to do so face to face with Mr Murray. He [Tom Murray] should be arrested on 23rd February, when he appears at the Court of Session”

Mr McKechnie’s health has suffered significantly as a result of dealings with Mr Murray and the situation has been made much worse by the Law Society’s failure to resolve the matter. However, Mr McKechnie is now being assisted by his local msp, Keith Brown (SNP) who is also the Scottish Government’s Transport Minister.

The Sunday Mail reports :

Sunday Mail scan tm 120212 2LAWYER’s ITALIAN JOB : LUCCAN FOR ME ? Victim’s fury after £18k fraud probe solicitor jets off to new life

Feb 12 2012 Exclusive by Russell Findlay, Sunday Mail

A LAWYER accused of stealing a client’s cash dodged paying compensation by quitting Scotland for Italy. Tom Murray is holed up in the town of Lucca in Tuscany after watchdogs did not pursue allegations that he embezzled £18,000 from a client.

Murray, 49, has three times been found guilty of professional misconduct by the Scottish Solicitors Discipline Tribunal but never struck off. One victim, Neil McKechnie, 43, has accused the legal establishment of protecting Murray.

Murray was arrested by fraud squad detectives in 2007 over claims he stole more than £18,000 from Neil. Weeks later, he was arrested again for allegedly trying to flee the country. But charges were dropped after the Crown Office agreed that the Law Society should take action.

Following the decision, Helen Bruce, of the Crown’s victim unit, wrote to Neil, stating: “This decision was not taken lightly as we realise the seriousness of this crime.” Neil, from Dunblane, said: “Anyone with the misfortune of being the victim of a lawyer should realise that self-regulation is self-protection.” In 1999 Murray was accused of ripping off Stuart Usher, who later founded pressure group Scotland Against Crooked Lawyers.

It took six years for the SSDT to rule Murray “acted dishonestly” and “deceived” Stuart by charging £3500 for work which was not done. Murray was ordered to work under supervision for three years. He was back before the SSDT later in 2005 for concealing his 2001 bankruptcy from a German client. The SSDT found him guilty of “misrepresentation, deception and misleading the client” and suspended him for five years.

Murray faced a third SSDT hearing in 2009 in relation to Neil’s complaints. He was found guilty of ignoring an earlier order to repay Neil £3049 fees and £1000 compensation. But the more serious accusation of the £18,000 embezzlement was abandoned. Last month the Law Society’s Philip Yelland wrote to Neil, stating: “The challenge around the question of enforcement arises because Mr Murray is now resident in Italy.”

Murray, who has worked in Dundee, Glasgow and Stirling, and his partner Linda Kilgour rent a £750-a-week apartment near Lucca. The lawyer has hit back against his former client with allegations of harassment. He served a writ demanding £15,000 damages from Neil. But Neil claimed he was medically unfit to defend himself so Murray won by default.

Neil said: “I have suffered serious illness as a result of my dealings with this man. I am now a 22st recluse with depression and diabetes.”

 

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NAME & SHAME YOUR CROOKED LAWYER : Have you been treated roughly by your solicitor ? It’s time to talk, rate, review, name & shame YOUR crooked lawyer

Lawyer sued for 1 million Sunday Mail June 3 2007Naming & shaming a crooked lawyer is one of the best ways to warn consumers of the perils of using lawyers who fail to disclose their history to clients. IN response to last year’s court sponsored takedowns of websites such as Solicitors from Hell & others across the UK & Ireland where clients of “crooked lawyers” had used the online ratings sites to publish and even debate their usually bad experiences with their solicitors, it is very clear that in 2012, consumers who are ripped off by their legal representatives or those who know of a story involving a crooked lawyer ripping off members of the public should follow the Legal Ombudsman (LeO) naming & shaming policy, by using this year to OUT those lawyers who fail their clients, whether by negligence, corruption or multiple mistakes in an effort to ensure all consumers are protected from the rogue elements of the legal profession, whether in Scotland, England Wales, or Ireland.

Naming & shaming is terribly easy to do. Make the choice to protect yourself & others, by doing it.

If you have experience of a crooked lawyer, or if you know of anyone who has experience of a crooked lawyer, wherever you are, you can help protect yourself, or help others by ensuring the details of the story are fully published in the media while also making a complaint to bodies such as the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission (SLCC) and the Law Society of Scotland.

Margaret Scanlan - Called to the Bars - Sunday Mail  15 March 2009 emailLaw complaints regulators like the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission & Law Society of Scotland turn out to be client-haters rather than consumer protectors. Consumers, clients & readers may get a lot further in their complaints and get a lot more satisfaction from a media investigation of their crooked lawyers long before the Law Society or blundering SLCC get round to putting pen to paper (usually more so in an effort to protect the lawyer before protecting the client). Put simply, its more difficult for so-called regulators like the Law Society of Scotland or SLCC to let a crooked lawyer off the hook if they have already been in the newspapers a few times. Its also more difficult to let a crooked lawyer off the hook if, as usually turns out to be the case, the media reveal they have been ripping off many of their clients, not just you, or someone you know.

If you have a story about a crooked lawyer, contact Diary of Injustice via scottishlawreporters@gmail.com with full details of what happened, how you were treated and what you have done about it so far.

Publishing your experiences at the hands of crooks in the legal world will protect you, and protect others, and will also help shame some of those 70K a year plus expenses politicians in the Scottish Parliament who continue to allow lawyers to regulate themselves and cover up for their colleagues, either at the point of complaint or in the courts. Its time you, the public are heard. Its time consumers and clients who fund the legal profession come first and make sure YOU, the fee paying client have the final say in what happens to YOUR crooked lawyer.

As the Sunday Mail reveals, clients & consumers are usually not aware their own crooked lawyer is ripping off a host of others, and getting away with it, until the media comes along and reports it to the wider world :

Revealed - Top Lawyer at the centre of 12 negligence claims April 23 Sunday Mail 2006REVEALED: TOP LAWYER AT THE CENTRE OF 12 NEGLIGENCE CLAIMS

EXCLUSIVE Brief who’s making a career out of failure

By Russell Findlay April 23 2006 Sunday Mail

THIS is the high-flying solicitor at the centre of a remarkable 12 negligence claims.

John O’Donnell, 54, makes a comfortable living from conducting complicated property transactions.

But we can reveal insurers Royal & Sun Alliance have already been forced to pay out £350,000 on seven negligence claims against him. And at least five more worth £200,000 are still being contested. His firm, John G O’Donnell & Co, is based in Cathcart, Glasgow. The Law Society for Scotland, who govern the conduct of lawyers, keep his record of complaints a secret.

O’Donnell has also been accused of misconduct but the Law Society, â„¢ has not brought any cases to the Scottish Solicitors’ Discipline Tribunal. The claims centre on complicated transactions involving property and mortgages. 9 One case settled with an £81,000 payout involved Glasgow boxing promoter Alex Morrison, 67, for whom O’Donnell acted in the 2002 sale of his Sydney Street gym to Scottish Enterprise for £130,000. The sale money should have gone to Morrison’s offshore firm, Decafarm Ltd, but was instead issued to O’Donnell’s.

Decafarm complained to Strathclyde Police fraud squad but the procurator fiscal decided not to prosecute. 9 In other cases, his clients took out two mortgages on property and sold the property, paying off one mortgage. The others lender then had to pursue the solicitor for negligence to get their money back – and his insurance paid out.

Last night, ex-SNP leader and legal reform campaigner John Swinney said: “This appears a clear example of why a robust and independent complaints handling system is required. I hope forthcoming legislation to be considered by Parliament will address these issues.”

Peter Cherbi, of Injustice Scotland, said: “If you buy a tin of beans, you can see the ingredients on the label. If you’re paying a solicitor, you should be aware of what he or she has been up to. I’m also asking Justice Minister Cathy Jamieson to revoke the exemption of the Law Society of Scotland from the Freedom of Information Act.”

Last month, it emerged that complaints against lawyers had risen 30 per cent in a year to almost 5000. But a Law Society of Scotland spokesman said: “The consumer protections for clients of Scottish solicitors are second to none.”

Last night, a legal firm issued a statement on his behalf. It read: During 2000-2002, John O’Donnell received treatment for a mental illness. He was diagnosed with clinical depression. During those dark days, Mr O’Donnell accepts his own high standards slipped. Indeed, when making a determination, the Law Society of Scotland makes reference to his illness, citing this as ‘extenuating circumstances’. “In 2003, Mr O’Donnell started a new legal practice and has many loyal and satisfied clients.”

Two years ago, the Sunday Mail revealed that O’Donnell’s office was searched by police as part of a money-laundering probe into McGovern crime family lieutenant, Russell Stirton, 46.

Where there's a will there's a crook - Sunday Mail November 28 2010Remember Remember – Where there’s a will there’s a crook. Suspension from legal practice is, however, no deterrence for crooks to come back and rip off people and their wills, as a recent Sunday Mail article exposed the case of the former jailed lawyer Valerie Macadam, now Valerie Penny returned from legal oblivion & started her own will writing business without telling her new clients she was jailed for embezzlement. Quoting from the Sunday Mail article :  “A CROOKED lawyer jailed for stealing money from dead clients is back in business, we can reveal. Valerie Penny, 54, runs a slick website to lure customers into handing over £80 for wills. She is selling the same legal services she used to steal £130,000 from clients and their estates – a catalogue of dishonesty that landed her in prison. The struck-off solicitor, who was called Macadam before her marriage, boasts of her “successful career”. But she makes no mention of her jail time for robbing clients’ cash or her shocking record of professional misconduct.”

Philip YellandMisplaced trust with complaints : Philip Yelland, the Law Society of Scotland’s Director of Regulation for over 20 years yet Scotland has more crooked lawyers than ever. Philip Yelland, the Law Society of Scotland’s director of standards, previously director of regulation and before that head of the Law Society’s horrifically named “Client Relations Office” has been in charge of regulating crooked lawyers in Scotland for over TWENTY YEARS yet from Penman to the present and beyond, most crooked Scottish lawyers have either received a slap on the wrist or no punishment at all while the client ends up financially ruined and excluded from the courts to make sure justice can never be done. Would you trust anyone like this with your complaint ? Make sure you use the media first before trusting the Law Society or SLCC with your lawyer problems.

 

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Hacking your life ? The Law Society of Scotland & its insurers are experts. Memos & more proved information sharing, surveillance, hacking of Scots public goes right to the top

Douglas Mill 4Strong questions and a lack of custard pies in 2006 ensured Law Society Chief Executive fell on his information gathering memos. IN a favourable comparison to yesterday’s Westminster Culture Committee session in which hardly anything new was gained from the questioning of Rupert & James Murdoch & Rebekah Brooks on a what did they know and when did they know it theme regarding the News of the World “phone hacking” scandal, readers may wish to take note us Scots visited this same topic in 2006, where, albeit accidentally, the ‘dark art’ of information sharing & hacking into the lives of the public was revealed during questioning the Law Society of Scotland’s then Chief Executive, Douglas Mill by the now Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Finance, John Swinney.

Hacking for some seems to, suspiciously, focus only on hacking phones, yet as we all know, hacking into your own life can mean a lot more. Legislation such as  the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act, with our own Scottish version (RIPSA) has effectively promoted an uncontrolled culture of hacking throughout the UK so should we be surprised certain sections of the media felt left out and did their own hacking ? No.

Things like, hacking your medical records, hacking your financial details, hacking your mail, hacking your email, hacking into your home, hacking into your legal aid, hacking into your relationship with your own lawyer, hacking into your family life, and all done pretty much without so much as a whimper from anyone willing to stop it. We have seen it all before, yet nothing has ever been done until now. Did the same happen in Scotland ? Yes, although in the case of Scotland, you can be assured there will never be a Westminster style inquiry into it, ever.

As documents came to light at the Scottish Parliament in 2006 which touched on the subject of the legal profession hacking into the lives of clients, no one thought to ask the appearing Law Society officials exactly what methods they had used when intervening in the lives of members of the public to block their access to justice.

By today’s standards, not pursuing such a line of questioning when faced with documentary proof those before you had personally intervened in the lives of members of the public, gathered information which could not have been obtained in many cases, legally, had applied that information to blocking legal representation or interfering in court cases, or had knowledge that the Police had been used to thwart investigations, would in itself be suspicious. This is exactly what happened, and nothing more was said, nothing more was done.

Targeting clients : John Swinney asked stern questions of Law Society Chief Mill in 2006 which exposed lawyers using information to undermine members of the public. (Click image to view video)

John SwinneyCabinet Finance Chief John Swinney (then in opposition in 2006) knew how to ask some questions, yet he should be asking more. You can read more about the content of Mr Mill’s memos to the Law Society of Scotland President & the disgraced insurance firm Marsh, who were convicted of criminal offences in the United States, here : Law Society boss Mill lied to Swinney, Parliament as secret memos reveal policy of intervention & obstruction on claims, complaints. The memos between the Law Society & employees of an insurance firm portrayed an information sharing agenda on members of the public which existed in order to undermine any court actions or access to justice for those victimised by the legal profession. Clearly a degree of spying against members of the public was being practised by the Law Society and its insurers, and clearly the legal profession had undermined an earlier Scottish Parliamentary inquiry, yet no searching questions were asked.

In one of the memos, sent from Alistair Sim, the Director of Marsh UK to Mr Mill, Sim suggested collecting information on clients while in another memo, Mill refers to a proposed Scottish Parliament Justice Committee 1 inquiry into regulation of the legal profession in Scotland, which was held in 2002-2003 under the Convenership of the Christine Grahame MSP, who is again, coincidentally of course, the Convener of the Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee.

It was clear from the content of the memos Law Society officials & Marsh employees were involved in an attempt to undermine the 2003-2003 Justice Committee hearings and prevent anyone attending who might have exposed the hacking culture at the Law Society of Scotland and its insurers which was going on in the name of protecting the legal profession’s Master Policy, a massive multi million pound client compensation scheme. which oddly enough, hardly ever pays out.

During the 2002-2003 inquiry, not one single member of the public was allowed to testify before the Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee after the Law Society of Scotland demanded members of the public be banned from speaking at Committee hearings. The 2002-2003 inquiry under Christine Grahame did not discuss the memos made available to John Swinney, and Ms Grahame’s team subsequently went onto conclude regulation of the legal profession should remain as it was, under the control of the Law Society of Scotland.

It took a second inquiry into regulation of solicitors, held in 2006 by the Scottish Parliament’s Justice 2 Committee, initially chaired by Annabel Goldie (who resigned due to a conflict of interest) subsequently replaced by David Davidson, which brought the Law Society’s meddling in cases & client’s lives to the fore.

During the 2006 enquiry,  members of the public were allowed to testify before the Justice 2 Committee and subsequent to Mr Swinney’s encounter with Douglas Mill over the secret memos, Mill was forced to resign, albeit only after video footage of the incident was posted to video sharing website You Tube. Yet amid all this, no searching questions were asked by MSPs as to exactly what methods the Law Society of Scotland and its insurers employed to intervene in the lives of members of the public.

As readers will now be well aware, the creation of the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission has done nothing to clean up the corruption in the world of regulation of the legal profession, in fact, probably worsening it. My previous coverage of the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission, itself branded a “Front Company for the Law Society of Scotland”, can be found here : Scottish Legal Complaints Commission : The story so far

Readers can find out more for themselves in my previous coverage of just how the Law Society of Scotland and agents acting for its Master Policy insurers hack into the lives of clients, here : Spies, Lies, Hacking & Facebook : Law Society Master Policy snooped on ‘difficult clients’ to undermine damages claims, complaints about lawyers & here : Suicides, ill health, financial ruin : Will SLCC’s latest Master Policy report deliver solution to Law Society ‘pro-crooked lawyer’ insurance scheme ?

421Who headed the hacking ? Law Society’s now former Chief Executive Douglas Mill & Philip Yelland, head of Client Relations. Regular readers will be well aware I was significantly targeted by both Douglas Mill who personally blocked my legal aid, and the Law Society of Scotland’s Director of Regulation, Philip Yelland, who personally intervened with my solicitor at the time and ordered him not to take my instructions. Correspondence which revealed the actions of Mill & Yelland against me, can be viewed HERE & HERE. I can assure you all, these people and agents working for their “Master Policy” made my family life and my access to justice, a living hell. Almost, a death sentence, all in the name of protecting crooked Borders solicitor Andrew Penman of Stormonth Darling Solicitors, Kelso. The Andrew Penman scandal was heavily reported in the Scotsman newspaper during the 1990s.

Indeed, I have not forgotten that during the time of the Scotsman’s coverage, disruptive relationships between the legal & accounting profession who were intent on preventing further media reporting on Mr Penman, and, officers of Lothian & Borders Police came to the fore in several incidents, one of which involved the compromising of a costly & lengthy CID surveillance operation. Details of this scandal may well soon be appearing in a newspaper near you.

In my experience investigating & reporting on the legal profession for five years, and campaigning for legal reforms since the 1990s, information sharing, hacking, operating a policy to undermine critics by any means necessary, including the use of surveillance, and relationships involving the Police, goes right to the very top of any organisation which is very much involved in undermining the public good for its own ends.

 

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Supreme Court judge Lord Rodger who found Law Society of Scotland lied over dishonesty claims in legal establishment’s stitch-up of former solicitors ‘who championed underdog’, dies after short illness

LordRodger1Former Lord President who became Supreme Court judge, Lord Rodger dies after a short illness. LORD RODGER, the former Lord President of the Court of Session who found the Law Society lied over dishonesty claims in a famous case involving former Edinburgh solicitors Gordon & Maria Thomson who were hounded out the profession for taking too much legal aid business, and who went on to become a judge in the UK Supreme Court, itself recently involved in controversial rulings on Scottish Human Rights cases which have changed the face of Scotland’s notoriously corrupt, antiquated legal system, has died after a short illness, it has been announced.

Lord Alan Rodger studied at the University of Glasgow, graduating with an MA, and at the University’s School of Law, taking an LLB. He became an advocate in 1974 and was Clerk of the Faculty of Advocates from 1976 to 1979. He was a Member of the Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland from 1981 to 1984, and was appointed Queen’s Counsel in 1985.He was an Advocate Depute from 1985 to 1988 and was appointed Solicitor General for Scotland in 1989, being promoted to Lord Advocate in 1992, at which time he became a life peer as Lord Rodger of Earlsferry, of Earlsferry in the District of North East Fife, and was appointed to the Privy Council.

Lord Rodger was appointed a Senator of the College of Justice, a judge of the High Court of Justiciary and Court of Session, in 1995, and became Lord Justice General and Lord President in 1996. He was appointed a Lord of Appeal in Ordinary in 2001, upon the retirement of Lord Clyde. He and nine other Lords of Appeal in Ordinary became Justices of the Supreme Court upon that body’s inauguration on 1 October 2009.

Among the many rulings Lord Rodger will be remembered for, is that of the famous case where former Edinburgh solicitors, Gordon & Maria Thomson, who were hounded out of the Scottish legal profession by establishment elements and the Law Society of Scotland for taking ‘too much’ of the legal aid business. In a ruling on a petition to the nobile officium, Lord Rodger, then the Lord President, along with Lords Coulsfield & Marnoch, found the Law Society of Scotland, who had rigged an investigation into the Thomsons, and subsequent hearings before the Scottish Solicitors Discipline Tribunal which struck off the Thomsons as solicitors, had not removed allegations of dishonesty which were part of the Law Society’s concerted effort to strike down the Thomson’s popular legal business. The ruling from Lord Rodger and his colleagues on the bench stated :

This petition to the nobile officium by Gordon Thomson and Maria Thomson comes before the court on a motion for a first order for service. Among those upon whom service is sought are the President and Council of the Law Society of Scotland. It appears, however, that a copy of the petition was faxed to the Law Society some days ago and in any event the existence of the petition was reported in the press. The Law Society were accordingly represented at the hearing by Mr. Macdonald, Q.C.

The petitioners were the subject of proceedings in the Solicitors Discipline Tribunal, the hearing in which took place over several days in 1994 and 1995. On 22 March the Fiscal and the petitioners reached a substantial measure of agreement and the proceedings were adjourned until 5 April 1995. After sundry procedure, the Tribunal issued an interlocutor on 7 April and on 8 June 1995 they issued their formal Findings which comprised seventeen numbered paragraphs. In due course the petitioners appealed to this court. Their appeal came before an Extra Division who allowed it and remitted the matter to the Tribunal. In the opinion delivered by Lord Prosser, in a passage which we do not repeat but which was based on the submissions made at the hearing of the appeal, the court indicated that they were not satisfied that all the allegations of personal dishonesty against the petitioners had been withdrawn. In the present petition the petitioners state that the position of the Fiscal at the original hearing before the Tribunal was, and the position of the Fiscal at the new hearing is, that all such allegations have been withdrawn. The petitioners therefore ask the court to exercise the nobile officium and inter alia: “to hold that the Opinion of the Court should be recalled and re-written omitting any imputation of personal dishonesty by either Petitioner and publicised accordingly….”

However great the powers of this court may be, we cannot rewrite history. Nor can any interlocutor recall the words of an opinion or unsay what the court has said in an opinion which has been issued. The petition is therefore self-evidently incompetent.

None the less, as the petitioners point out, the opinion of the court has been published on the Internet and elsewhere. If the Law Society’s position is actually that the Fiscal at the original hearing withdrew the allegations of personal dishonesty and that the Society do not allege personal dishonesty, then it is proper that this state of affairs should be given equivalent publicity. In the course of the short hearing we accordingly asked Mr. Macdonald to clarify the position of the Law Society. He readily did so. Based on what he told us, for the avoidance of doubt, we record that the Law Society of Scotland agree that the findings of the Discipline Tribunal issued on 8 June 1995, so far as inferring personal dishonesty on the part of the petitioners, did not reflect the pleas tendered by the petitioners and accepted by the Fiscal and those findings should therefore not have been made by the Tribunal.

Struck off mavericks celebrate legal victoryFormer solicitors Gordon & Maria Thomson were targeted in a fit up by the Law Society of Scotland over their law business. Gordon and Maria Thomson were originally struck off in 1995 after a 16-day tribunal hearing over what many now see as widely fabricated allegations by the Law Society of Scotland of a “substantial catalogue” of professional misconduct. The couple had become widely known through television commercials which featured Mr Thomson in biking leathers, astride a Harley- Davidson motor cycle. They were judged by the Law Society to have been too hungry for fees and to have run their Edinburgh practice in a manner which allegedly brought the profession into disrepute. Their firm, Gordon Thomson & Co, operated from the Sighthill shopping centre in Edinburgh. It also had branch offices, dubbed “law cafes”, in Methil and Glenrothes in Fife. In his advertising Thomson portrayed himself as a champion of the underdog, and clients were called “friends”. His theme tune was Tina Turner’s Simply The Best. The offices were run almost as drop-in centres where members of the public could go for a coffee and a talk with one of the staff. The Law Society condemned this as soliciting clients of other lawyers and thus decided to kill off their business, and practising certificates.

Unbeknown to myself at the time, a firm of Edinburgh solicitors who were representing me in the case of the crooked Scottish Borders solicitor, Andrew Penman, and my attempt to take the Law Society of Scotland to court, had been appointed to wind up the Thomson’s legal practice by the Law Society. One of the firm’s solicitors went onto confess the whole thing had been about money, because many Edinburgh law firms were anxious the Thomson’s were taking their business, and particularly the legal aid money which effectively subsidises some of Edinburgh’s most noted, if most useless and sometimes most crooked, law firms.

421Law Society’s Chief Executive Douglas Mill & Philip Yelland, head of Client Relations during the fit up of the Thomsons. It is worth noting that throughout the Law Society of Scotland’s determined pursuit of the Thomsons, its Chief Executive was Douglas Mill, who was forced to resign his position after video footage of a confrontation between Mill & the Scottish Government’s Finance Secretary John Swinney at a 2006 meeting of Holyrood’s Justice 2 Committee was published on the internet. It is also worth noting the same individuals who were wrapped up in the Thomson case, Mr Mill & Philip Yelland, the Law Society of Scotland’s Client Relations & Regulation Chief at the time of the Thomson case, were both also involved in the same highly personalised & bitter pursuit of myself, blocking all my attempts to take Andrew Penman, his law firm Stormonth Darling, the Master Policy,  and the Law Society of Scotland to the Court of Session.

Scotland’s serving & previous Lord Advocates issued their own tribute to Lord Rodger in a Press Release from the Crown Office :

Following the sad death of Alan Rodger, Lord Advocates past and present have paid tribute.

Speaking of Mr Rodger, Frank Mulholland QC, Dame Elish Angiolini QC and Lord Boyd of Duncansby QC issued a joint statement saying: “It is with great sadness that we have learnt of Alan Rodger’s death. Those of us who have had the privilege of working with or appearing before him held him in the highest regard.”

“His sharp intellect allied to his humanity and humility made him one of the great Lord Advocate and Lord Presidents. Scotland’s legal profession is poorer for his passing. He bore his illness with great courage and has left a legacy of significant jurisprudential thinking which will stand Scotland well for many years to come. Our thoughts are with his family at this sad time.”

The Law Society of Scotland issued its own tribute to Lord Rodger

In tribute to Lord Rodger, Cameron Ritchie, President of the Law Society of Scotland said: “Lord Rodger was an eminent and distinguished figure within the Scottish legal profession. He held some of Scotland’s most distinguished positions, including Lord Advocate and Lord President, where he demonstrated immense ability and intellect. “His more recent role as a member of the UK Supreme Court; one of only two Scottish Judges served to underline his considerable contribution, not only to the justice system but to society as a whole. Above all he was a great ambassador for the Scottish legal profession and someone who will be greatly missed.”

Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond, who recently launched highly personalised attacks on the Supreme Court judges over their ruling in the Nat Fraser case, delivered his own commentary on Lord Rodger’s death, saying : “Lord Rodger made an outstanding contribution to public life in Scotland over many years both as a judge and as Lord Advocate. He was held in the highest regard by all those who worked with him in public service, and dedicated himself to the interests of justice during a long and hugely influential career.”

Yet in early June, the First Minister and his Justice Secretary, Kenny MacAskill publicly criticised the Supreme Court & its judges, (two of whom were Scottish, Lord Hope and Lord Rodger, now deceased) of being part of a ”court in London that is made up of a majority of judges who do not know Scots Law, who may have visited here for the Edinburgh Festival”.

Mr MacAskill went on to threaten to withdraw funding for the Supreme Court, saying : “When I go to the Law Society I say that I will not routinely fund ambulance-chasing lawyers. It should be said that I am not going to pay for ambulance-chasing courts. As a Government we have to pay for the Supreme Court of the UK and I think they should recognise that we’ll pay for our fair share of what goes there. But I am not paying money that would come out of the police budget, or prison budget or community payback budget because they are routinely taking cases that we as a country do not think should be going there. He who pays the piper, as they say, calls the tune.”

 

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