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JUDICIAL REGISTER: Justice Committee to hear evidence from ex-Judicial Investigator, top judge on judicial interests register, MSP says Scottish judges should not be involved with Gulf States implicated in unlawful wars, mistreatment of women’s rights

Need for Judges’ Register. MEMBERS of the Scottish Parliament’s powerful Justice Committee have committed to further work and action on a cross-party backed petition calling for the creation of a register of judges’ interests – Petition PE1458: Register of Interests for members of Scotland’s judiciary

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

Amid strong comments during last Tuesday’s Justice Committee meeting from MSPs supporting the need for action on judicial transparency from the seven year Scottish Parliament investigation – the Committee also decided to call for further evidence from Moi Ali – Scotland’s first Judicial Complaints Reviewer, and Scotland’s top judge – Lord President Lord Carloway.

Commenting on the petition – John Finnie MSP made extensive observations on evidence presented to Justice Committee exposing involvement of senior Scottish judges in the Gulf States, and submissions from Moi Ali, and Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf.

John Finnie said: “It is very helpful to have all this information here. “There are a number of suggestions. I, for one, cannot understand what the problem with having a register would be.”

“The more people tell me that there is no issue, the more I am convinced that there is a need for a register. The submission from Moi Ali is very helpful. She refers to a letter of 23 April 2014, which is now a bit old.”

“We have also been provided with extracts from news coverage.”

“I do not agree with the idea that anyone connected with the Scottish judiciary could have any role whatsoever in the United Arab Emirates.”

“I looked yesterday at the Human Rights Watch world report, which does a country by country breakdown. The United Arab Emirates is a country that is intolerant of criticism, which has played a leading role in unlawful acts in Yemen, and whose treatment of migrant workers’ rights and women’s rights is shocking. It is a country that permits domestic violence.”

I do not think that any reasonable examination of the role of a public official—and I get the point about the separation of the judiciary—would say that involvement in such a country is acceptable.”

“I believe that we need to do something and I am not content with the cabinet secretary’s response, which is just playing out the same line as before—that there is nothing to see here and we should move on.”

“I do not think that this issue will move on until we have the openness and transparency that people rightly expect of public office.”

Adding to the debate, Daniel Johnson MSP referred to the Nolan principles, from the Committee on Standards in Public Life

Daniel Johnson said: I would like to speak in support of what my colleague John Finnie has just said.

“The Nolan principles are 25 years old this year. They are principles that have guided public life very well, in particular integrity, whereby holders of public office should not place themselves under any financial or other obligation to outside individuals or organisations that might influence them in the performance of their official duties”;

“openness, which I think is self-explanatory; and honesty, whereby”

“holders of public office have a duty to declare any private interests relating to their public duties and to take steps to resolve any conflicts arising in a way that protects the public interest”.

“That is pretty clear. Although the cabinet secretary may well not view that there is a problem, that is not to say that this is not a positive step towards ensuring that we have a judiciary that is open and transparent and whose integrity is beyond question.”

“I absolutely believe in the independence of the judiciary, but I think that in order to maintain that integrity and independence, this step has merit in terms of transparency.

“The committee should think about taking some further evidence, certainly from Moi Ali, which is the suggestion from the petitioner. This is something that we should progress and seek to move forward.”

Liam Kerr added: “I am pretty much in the same place on this. I can see the argument for why we would take this further and hear more.”

“I have looked at the response from the cabinet secretary and the reference to the previous cabinet secretary, whose view has been that there is nothing particularly to examine here.”

“Having considered the force of the argument in favour of exploring it further, I am not convinced that it is good enough to say, “There is nothing here. Don’t worry about it.”

For that reason, I think that we should look at this in more detail.

Liam McArthur said: “I echo what Daniel Johnson has said and much of what John Finnie has said.”

“In reference to the United Arab Emirates, although I might share many of his concerns, I think that the point is that a register would be illuminating”

Minutes from the meeting reveal the Justice Committee agreed to take evidence at a future meeting on issues raised by the petition – which will occur later this year in September.

Video from the Justice Committee meeting, the full official transcript and further reporting follows:

Register of Judicial Interests Petition PE1458 Justice Committee 28 May 2019

Judiciary (Register of Interests) (PE1458)

The Convener (Margaret Mitchell MSP): Our final item is consideration of petition PE1458. The petition is from Mr Peter Cherbi and asks the committee to consider the merits of establishing a register of interests for members of the judiciary. I refer members to paper 4. Since we considered the petition last time, we have received additional information from Mr Cherbi and also from Moi Ali. We have also received a letter from the Cabinet Secretary for Justice. I invite members to comment on the correspondence and say whether they wish to make any recommendations or suggest further action.

John Finnie MSP: It is very helpful to have all this information here. There are a number of suggestions. I, for one, cannot understand what the problem with having a register would be. The more people tell me that there is no issue, the more I am convinced that there is a need for a register. The submission from Moi Ali is very helpful. She refers to a letter of 23 April 2014, which is now a bit old.

We have also been provided with extracts from news coverage. I do not agree with the idea that anyone connected with the Scottish judiciary could have any role whatsoever in the United Arab Emirates.

I looked yesterday at the Human Rights Watch world report, which does a country by country breakdown. The United Arab Emirates is a country that is intolerant of criticism, which has played a leading role in unlawful acts in Yemen, and whose treatment of migrant workers’ rights and women’s rights is shocking. It is a country that permits domestic violence.

I do not think that any reasonable examination of the role of a public official—and I get the point about the separation of the judiciary—would say that involvement in such a country is acceptable.

I believe that we need to do something and I am not content with the cabinet secretary’s response, which is just playing out the same line as before—that there is nothing to see here and we should move on. I do not think that this issue will move on until we have the openness and transparency that people rightly expect of public office.

Daniel Johnson MSP: I would like to speak in support of what my colleague John Finnie has just said.

The Nolan principles are 25 years old this year. They are principles that have guided public life very well, in particular integrity, whereby

“holders of public office should not place themselves under any financial or other obligation to outside individuals or organisations that might influence them in the performance of their official duties”;

openness, which I think is self-explanatory; and honesty, whereby

“holders of public office have a duty to declare any private interests relating to their public duties and to take steps to resolve any conflicts arising in a way that protects the public interest”.

That is pretty clear. Although the cabinet secretary may well not view that there is a problem, that is not to say that this is not a positive step towards ensuring that we have a judiciary that is open and transparent and whose integrity is beyond question.

I absolutely believe in the independence of the judiciary, but I think that in order to maintain that integrity and independence, this step has merit in terms of transparency. The committee should think about taking some further evidence, certainly from Moi Ali, which is the suggestion from the petitioner. This is something that we should progress and seek to move forward.

Liam McArthur MSP: I echo what Daniel Johnson has said and much of what John Finnie has said. In reference to the United Arab Emirates, although I might share many of his concerns, I think that the point is that a register would be illuminating and, if there is a justification in engaging in order to improve the way in which judicial procedures operate in a third country, at least we would all know what the purpose of that engagement is.

I very much concur with what has been said about the need for transparency and the underpinnings of the Nolan principles.

I see from the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service the details of the accountability report. I am not sure that that is a massive leap away from what the petition is seeking, and therefore this may be a bit of a journey that it is on, but I certainly agree that it would be worth the committee continuing to pursue this, and to take further evidence from Moi Ali.

That would seem to be a logical next step, as John Finnie suggested. The earlier evidence was in written form. It was a number of weeks ago. I believe that it would probably benefit us all to hear what she has to say and cross-examine that a little further. I would be very keen to keep the petition open.

Liam Kerr MSP: I am pretty much in the same place on this. I can see the argument for why we would take this further and hear more. I have looked at the response from the cabinet secretary and the reference to the previous cabinet secretary, whose view has been that there is nothing particularly to examine here. Having considered the force of the argument in favour of exploring it further, I am not convinced that it is good enough to say, “There is nothing here. Don’t worry about it.” For that reason, I think that we should look at this in more detail.

Fulton MacGregor MSP: I echo what others have said. John Finnie in particular made a very compelling argument for doing something further on this. Some people have commented on the cabinet secretary’s response. It is not my take on it that he is saying that there is nothing to see here, but I think that we should take more evidence and information in order to work out where to go from here. I agree with what has been said.

The Convener (Margaret Mitchell MSP): If there are no other views, I will summarise. The committee is keen to hear from Moi Ali. Her letter was dated in 2014, but she has said that it is still relevant. It would be good to get an update. The Nolan principles are 25 years old, so perhaps it is time to take some evidence from Lord Carloway, if he is prepared to give a view, and certainly from the petitioner, and to give the cabinet secretary an opportunity to respond more fully than he did in his letter. If there are any other witnesses, we will be looking to do this in September. Are we agreed that that is how we will move forward?

Members indicated agreement.

CROSS-PARTY calls are being made for all of Scotland’s judges to declare their interests:

The issue of judicial transaprency and calls for judges to declare their interests was reported in more detail on Scottish Television (STV) – full article by visiting the link here: Scots judges facing pressure to declare their interests

The STV report states: Cross-party politicians on Holyrood’s justice committee believe that increased transparency is vital to maintain public trust in the judiciary.

The committee will call Moi Ali, the former Judicial Complaints Reviewer and current Independent Assessor of Complaints at the Crown Prosecution Service, to give evidence.

She told STV News: “This is the 21st century and people have quite high expectations of openness and transparency.

“I don’t really understand why one small but very powerful section of society should be allowed not to have to do that. It really doesn’t make sense.”

SNP MSP Alex Neil plans to introduce legislation if a register is not introduced.

An in-depth investigation on judicial conflicts of interest and the need for a register of judicial interests to increase public trust in the courts, is featured on STV (full article by visiting the link below)

 Judging for ourselves if conflict of interest in courtsBy Russell Findlay

“Most people would struggle to name Scotland’s top judge or many of the other 700-plus judicial office holders who preside in our civil and criminal courts.”

“His grand title is Lord President of the Court of Session and Lord Justice General (previously Colin Sutherland, lawyer) and one of his jobs is to take the swearing-in oath of First Ministers.”

“Yet he and these other largely unknown judges, sheriffs and justices of the peace hold great power – including being able to send people to prison – and their decisions directly or indirectly impact on all our lives.”

“However, there are growing concerns about how little we know about their outside interests and concerns that these could potentially influence decisions on the bench.”

SCOTTISH JUDGES SERVING IN THE GULF STATES:

An exclusive investigation by Investigative Journalist Russell Findlay revealed Scottish judges were serving in Abu Dhabi & UAE courts while serious Human Rights abuses were taking place against British citizens in the same countries.

The investigation also reveals how Scottish and UK judges are lured to the UAE, Abu Dhabi, and Qatar with big money salaries are available here: JUDGES FOR SALE: Special investigation into top lawmen being lured with big money jobs in Qatar and the UAE and here: Scottish judges slammed for being on payroll of oppressive regimes abroad

The report reveals TOP judges are accused of selling the reputation of Scottish justice by working for Middle East countries with toxic human rights records.

Two judges are on the payroll of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) where domestic violence against women is legal and where regime critics are tortured and jailed without trial.

The most senior is Lord Hope of Craighead — Scotland’s former top judge, a member of the House of Lords and ex-deputy president of the UK Supreme Court.

Our investigation found that Lord McGhie has been registered to sit in the UAE for the past two years while he was also dispensing justice at the Court of Session in Edinburgh.

In recent years, retired UK judges have been increasingly lured with big paycheques to new civil courts in Qatar and the UAE states of Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

Lord Hope is chief justice of Abu Dhabi Global Market Courts which also employs Lord McGhie and six other male judges from the UK and Commonwealth.

Another former Lord President, Lord Hamilton, sits in a court in Qatar which is accused of backing international terrorism and using migrant slave labour.

The Justice Committee’s meeting of Tuesday 28 May 2019, was also reported in The National newspaper, here:

Holyrood committee advance plans for register of judges’ interests

By Martin Hannan Journalist 29 May 2019

SCOTLAND’S judges may soon have to register their interests after the Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee yesterday defied Justice Minister Humza Yousaf and Scotland’s most senior judges on the issue of transparency.

Seven years after he raised a petition on the issue, journalist and legal issues campaigner Peter Cherbi admitted last night he was surprised that Holyrood’s Justice Committee were going to keep his petition “live” and take the matter up with Scotland’s most senior judge, the Lord President, Lord Carloway.

Justice Minister Yousaf had told MSPs a register of interests was not necessary. Lord Carloway and his predecessors have also opposed it.

Cherbi told The National: “I am happy to hear that the Justice Committee are taking this petition forward and the supporting comments from MSPs today who clearly understand the value of bringing a register of interests to Scotland’s courts.

“Thanks to media coverage, including in the National, the issue has remained in the public eye and interest for seven years, and public debate has led to people asking why judges should exempt themselves from transparency and accountability – which are the core principles of any justice system.

“The benchmark evidence from Scotland’s first judicial complaints reviewer, Moi Ali, contributed in great measure to how the Public Petitions Committee took the work forward, with MSPs backing the petition in a major debate at Parliament, and through the seven years of work by the Public Petitions Committee.

“Perhaps it is now time for our judiciary to reflect on why they have resisted calls for transparency for seven long years.

“Where the Lord President and Scottish Government have failed to act, I look forward to the Justice Committee moving forward on this issue, and creating legislation for a publicly available register of judges’ interests, with proper rules and full, independent scrutiny in a manner which is equivalent to the register of interests which many other public servants, including our elected representatives and Scottish ministers, must sign up to.”

NOLAN PRINCIPLES

The 7 principles of public life apply to anyone who works as a public office-holder. This includes people who are elected or appointed to public office, nationally and locally, and all people appointed to work in:

  • the civil service
  • local government
  • the police
  • the courts and probation services
  • non-departmental public bodies
  • health, education, social and care services

The principles also apply to all those in other sectors that deliver public services.

1. Selflessness: Holders of public office should act solely in terms of the public interest.

2. Integrity: Holders of public office must avoid placing themselves under any obligation to people or organisations that might try inappropriately to influence them in their work. They should not act or take decisions in order to gain financial or other material benefits for themselves, their family, or their friends. They must declare and resolve any interests and relationships.

3. Objectivity: Holders of public office must act and take decisions impartially, fairly and on merit, using the best evidence and without discrimination or bias.

4. Accountability: Holders of public office are accountable to the public for their decisions and actions and must submit themselves to the scrutiny necessary to ensure this.

5. Openness: Holders of public office should act and take decisions in an open and transparent manner. Information should not be withheld from the public unless there are clear and lawful reasons for so doing.

6. Honesty: Holders of public office should be truthful.

7. Leadership: Holders of public office should exhibit these principles in their own behaviour. They should actively promote and robustly support the principles and be willing to challenge poor behaviour wherever it occurs.

They were first set out by Lord Nolan in 1995 and they are included in the Ministerial code.

For further information on the 7 principles and the work of the Committee on Standards in Public Life, visit the Committee’s website and blogsite.

SEVEN YEARS JUDICIAL INTERESTS PROBE:

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

A full debate on the proposal to require judges to declare their interests was held at the Scottish Parliament on 9 October 2014 – ending in a motion calling on the Scottish Government to create a register of judicial interests. The motion was overwhelmingly supported by MSPs from all political parties.

The lengthy Scottish Parliament probe on judicial interests has generated over sixty two submissions of evidence, at least twenty one Committee hearings, a private meeting and fifteen speeches by MSPs during a full Holyrood debate and has since been taken over by Holyrood’s Justice Committee after a recommendation to take the issue forward from the Public Petitions Committee in March 2018.

A full report containing video footage of every hearing, speech, and evidence sessions at the Scottish Parliament on Petition PE1458 can be found here: Scottish Parliament debates, speeches & evidence sessions on widely supported judicial transparency petition calling for a Register of Interests for Scotland’s judiciary.

TWO TOP SCOTS JUDGES FAIL IN HOLYROOD JUDICIAL TRANSPARENCY PROBE:

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

Video footage and a full report on Lord Brian Gill giving evidence to the Scottish Parliament in November 2015 can be found here: JUDGE ANOTHER DAY: Sparks fly as top judge demands MSPs close investigation on judges’ secret wealth & interests – Petitions Committee Chief brands Lord Gill’s evidence as “passive aggression”

Video footage and a full report on Lord Carloway (Colin Sutherland) giving widely criticised evidence to the Scottish Parliament in July 2017 can be found here: REGISTER TO JUDGE: Lord Carloway criticised after he blasts Parliament probe on judicial transparency – Top judge says register of judges’ interests should only be created if judiciary discover scandal or corruption within their own ranks

Previous articles on the lack of transparency within Scotland’s judiciary, investigations by Diary of Injustice including reports from the media, and video footage of debates at the Scottish Parliament’s Public Petitions Committee can be found here : A Register of Interests for Scotland’s Judiciary.

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JUDGE THE JUDGES: Seven years, and one year on from petition passed to Justice Committee, questions on judicial conflicts of interest & Scots judges swearing dual judicial oaths in Gulf States – time to move forward on legislation for register of judges’ interests

Seven years on – Judicial probe. OVER ONE year ago, and amid much positivity – a cross party backed public petition calling for the creation of a register of judges’ interests was passed to the Scottish Parliament’s powerful Justice Committee.

The transfer of the petition came after six years of a Scottish Parliament investigation on Petition PE1458: Register of Interests for members of Scotland’s judiciary – including work and evidence heard by Holyrood’s Public Petitions Committee.

The Public Petitions Committee’s support for creating a register of judicial interests and transfer of work to the Justice Committee – was reported in detail here: JUDICIAL REGISTER: Holyrood Petitions Committee calls for legislation to require Scotland’s judges to declare their interests in a register of judicial Interests

Now, SEVEN YEARS on from when the petition was first filed at Holyrood, in October 2012 – further evidence from the petitioner, and supporters of judicial transparency – urge MSPs on the Justice Committee to press ahead with work on legislation to create a publicly available register of judges’ interests.

Petition 1458 is to be considered again by members of the Justice Committee on Tuesday 28 May 2019, fourteen months after the Public Petitions Committee agreed to back the petition, and pass it to the Justice Committee for further work.

However, it was revealed last week by Justice Committee clerks – that only one of the branches of the justice system requested to give evidence by the Justice Committee had replied to MSPs request for cooperation.

From the Crown Office, to the Law Society of Scotland, Faculty of Advocates and even the Lord President himself – Lord Carloway –  all refused or ignored requests for evidence from the Justice Committee.

Quizzed on the work done by the Justice Committee in the last year, a Committee clerk informed the petitioner: “Before the Committee last considered your petition on 5 February, clerks approached those who have previously given evidence to the Public Petitions Committee to ask if they had anything to add to their previous submissions.”

“We approached the Lord President, the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, the Law Society of Scotland, the Faculty of Advocates, the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service and the Judicial Complaints Reviewer. Only the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service responded, stating that they had nothing to add”

From contact with the Justice Committee, it also emerged the Justice Secretary –  Humza Yousaf had written to MSPs, claiming judges should be allowed to judge themselves, and that the public must rely on judicial oaths & ethics – written and approved by the judiciary – instead of transparency in courts.

The Justice Secretary also, and erronesouly, claimed existing complaints rules negated the creation of a register of judges’ interests – a claim which prompted former Judicial Complaints Reviewer Moi Ali – to write to the Justice Committee in support of the petition, and to give her views on the effectiveness of judicial complaints rules.

Moi Ali’s letter was reported in further detail here: SCRUTINY FOR JUDGES: Former Judicial Complaints Reviewer to MSPs – Judicial complaints rules are no substitute for protection generated by a full register of judicial interests

Mr Yousaf also claimed in his letter that “no further evidence has been provided to the Justice Committee that strengthens the arguments already put forward in favour of the introduction of the register.”

Mr Yousaf’s letter was reported in further detail here: COPY MINISTER: ‘Copied’ content from ex Minister sent by Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf to Holyrood MSPs – Public must rely on judges judging judges for transparency, Scottish Government will not create register of judges’ interests

However, recent submissions to the Justice Committee including accounts of serving Scottish judges swearing dual oaths for high earning judicial posts in Qatar, Abu Dhabi and other Gulf States point to substantial new evidence submitted to MSPs, backing up the need for a full register of judicial interests.

Evidence and media reports in relation to the Gulf States service of Scottish judges was reported in more detail here: MSPs urged to take forward SEVEN year petition to create a Register of Judges’ Interests as Holyrood Justice Committee handed evidence of Scottish Judges serving in Gulf states regimes known to abuse Human Rights

Now, the petitioner has made a submission to the Justice Committee, calling on MSPs to hear further evidence if required, and take the petition forward to create legislation for a judicial interests regiser.

The full submission to the Justice Committee from the petitioner is reprinted here:

Submission re Petition PE1458 – A Register of Interests for Members of Scotland’s Judiciary

Noting the previous hearing of the petition, I am grateful to members comments in relation to openness and transparency not being a contradiction to the independence of the judiciary, and proposals by members to investigate the way other jurisdictions handle recusals and judicial declarations.

I would refer members to such jurisdictions as Norway and the USA – which both operate registers of judicial interests, and judicial recusals. I believe both could serve as a model to assist in the creation of a publicly available register of interests for Scotland’s judiciary.

Given members comments in relation to evidence collected by the Public Petitions Committee, I do feel it would be productive for the Justice Committee to hear further evidence from Scotland’s first Judicial Complaints Reviewer – Moi Ali.

I believe such an evidence session would refresh members views, and support the confidence exhibited in previous expressions of cross party support during the main chamber debate on this petition in October 2014, and enhance the backing of the Public Petitions Committee in requesting the Justice Committee consider this matter.

As I have previously indicated, I believe members would also benefit by hearing in an evidence session – from Petitions Committee members whose work brought this petition forward, and hearing from MSPs such as Alex Neil – who have looked closely at how the judiciary have handled questions of transparency and conflicts of interest.

Noting the Justice Secretary’s response to the Committee, it appears unfortunate the Minister was not informed of new and widely reported evidence submitted to members in relation to senior Scottish judges holding dual judicial posts, both in Scotland and in the Gulf states – and notably with no reference to such by the Judiciary of Scotland.

It is worth noting, that due to the passage of time of this petition – considerable, and regular presentations of new evidence to the Public Petitions Committee – in relation to issues such as a lack of judicial transparency, failure of judges to interact or cooperate with parts of the Judiciary & Courts (Scotland) Act 2008 – particularly interaction with the Judicial Complaints Reviewer – and widely reported developments in court proceedings from conflicts of interest to failures to recuse – depict a markedly different view of the current state of judicial transparency, and how a Register of Interests would benefit both judges, and increase public confidence in the justice system.

None of these matters are in doubt. The Public Petitions Committee evidence – both in written form and live evidence sessions with witnesses – including two of Scotland’s top judges, both previous Judicial Complaints Reviewers, academics and Ministers, gave the Public Petitions Committee the confidence to support this petition and refer it to the Justice Committee for further action.

This is indeed contrary to the Scottish Government’s position that the judicial oath, the statement of principles of judicial ethics and the various rules made under the Judiciary and Courts (Scotland) Act 2008 operate as a ‘safeguard’ when the overwhelming evidence is – they do not work in terms of increasing transparency, accountability or public confidence in the judiciary.

Indeed, the statistics in the Register of Recusals – created as a result of this petition – now total well over 100 instances of judicial conflicts of interest – and it is important to note we would not have known about previous to this petition and the investigative work of MSPs and the media who followed these events.

It is also worth noting the Recusals Register started out in April 2014 as a very bare reference log, without much detail – notably excluded tribunal members and still does not appear to include over 400 Justices of the Peace.

The Register of Recusals has only been reformed into the slightly more detailed state in which it currently exists, due to requests from the Public Petitions Committee, MSPs and direct discussions between myself and the Judicial Office – which I have previously provided to the Petitions Committee during their work.

Clearly, there is still much work to do on the Register of Recusals – and this may be an issue which the Justice Committee could investigate further.

Given the work by MSPs on this petition to-date, and the cumulative evidence collected by the Public Petitions Committee from witnesses and written submissions – from both sides of the debate, it is clear there is a considerable benefit to both the justice system and public expectation of transparency – to creating a register of interests for members of Scotland’s judiciary, in a form at least as already exists for all other branches of public life, including members of the Scottish Parliament.

SCOTTISH JUDGES SERVING IN THE GULF STATES:

An exclusive investigation by Investigative Journalist Russell Findlay revealed Scottish judges were serving in Abu Dhabi & UAE courts while serious Human Rights abuses were taking place against British citizens in the same countries.

The investigation also reveals how Scottish and UK judges are lured to the UAE, Abu Dhabi, and Qatar with big money salaries are available here: JUDGES FOR SALE: Special investigation into top lawmen being lured with big money jobs in Qatar and the UAE and here: Scottish judges slammed for being on payroll of oppressive regimes abroad

The report reveals TOP judges are accused of selling the reputation of Scottish justice by working for Middle East countries with toxic human rights records.

Two judges are on the payroll of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) where domestic violence against women is legal and where regime critics are tortured and jailed without trial.

The most senior is Lord Hope of Craighead — Scotland’s former top judge, a member of the House of Lords and ex-deputy president of the UK Supreme Court.

Our investigation found that Lord McGhie has been registered to sit in the UAE for the past two years while he was also dispensing justice at the Court of Session in Edinburgh.

In recent years, retired UK judges have been increasingly lured with big paycheques to new civil courts in Qatar and the UAE states of Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

Lord Hope is chief justice of Abu Dhabi Global Market Courts which also employs Lord McGhie and six other male judges from the UK and Commonwealth.

Another former Lord President, Lord Hamilton, sits in a court in Qatar which is accused of backing international terrorism and using migrant slave labour.

SEVEN YEAR TRANSPARENCY PETITION:

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

A full debate on the proposal to require judges to declare their interests was held at the Scottish Parliament on 9 October 2014 – ending in a motion calling on the Scottish Government to create a register of judicial interests. The motion was overwhelmingly supported by MSPs from all political parties.

The lengthy Scottish Parliament probe on judicial interests has generated over sixty two submissions of evidence, at least twenty one Committee hearings, a private meeting and fifteen speeches by MSPs during a full Holyrood debate and has since been taken over by Holyrood’s Justice Committee after a recommendation to take the issue forward from the Public Petitions Committee in March 2018.

A full report containing video footage of every hearing, speech, and evidence sessions at the Scottish Parliament on Petition PE1458 can be found here: Scottish Parliament debates, speeches & evidence sessions on widely supported judicial transparency petition calling for a Register of Interests for Scotland’s judiciary.

The judicial register of interests would contain information on judges’ backgrounds, figures relating to personal wealth, undeclared earnings, business & family connections inside & outside of the legal profession, membership of organisations, property and land, offshore investments, hospitality, details on recusals and other information routinely lodged in registers of interest across all walks of public life in the UK and around the world.

TOP SCOTS JUDGES FAIL IN HOLYROOD TRANSPARENCY PROBE:

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

Video footage and a full report on Lord Brian Gill giving evidence to the Scottish Parliament in November 2015 can be found here: JUDGE ANOTHER DAY: Sparks fly as top judge demands MSPs close investigation on judges’ secret wealth & interests – Petitions Committee Chief brands Lord Gill’s evidence as “passive aggression”

Video footage and a full report on Lord Carloway (Colin Sutherland) giving widely criticised evidence to the Scottish Parliament in July 2017 can be found here: REGISTER TO JUDGE: Lord Carloway criticised after he blasts Parliament probe on judicial transparency – Top judge says register of judges’ interests should only be created if judiciary discover scandal or corruption within their own ranks

Previous articles on the lack of transparency within Scotland’s judiciary, investigations by Diary of Injustice including reports from the media, and video footage of debates at the Scottish Parliament’s Public Petitions Committee can be found here : A Register of Interests for Scotland’s Judiciary.

 

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EXCESS BAGGAGE: Lord Carloway’s £4K trip to Washington DC, Lady Dorrian’s £6K trip to Melbourne – Judicial overseas junkets rocket to £43k as new Lord President abandons Brian Gill’s edict on public cash for judicial jollies

Scots judges run up £43K taxpayer bill for overseas junkets. SCOTLAND’S judiciary ran up a taxpayer funded £43K bill on overseas travel junkets in just one year, travelling around the globe on what the Judiciary of Scotland and Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service (SCTS) claim is official ‘judicial’ business.

But the huge increase in judicial jetting around the globe – which doubled in cost from £22,605.92 in 2015.16 to £43,354,91 in 2016/17 – flouts previous attempts by former top judge Brian Gill to “take control” of judges demanding to go on foreign trips to luxurious destinations, with hotels & golf clubs & ‘hospitality’ added to the mix.

And, chief among the big time spenders of public cash on air miles is the Lord President himself – Lord Carloway – who already earns a public salary of £222,862 a year.

Carloway – real name Colin Sutherland – who also goes by the title of Lord Justice General – took a taxpayer funded £4,189.96 jet flight to Washington DC on what the Judicial Office claim is a “UK/USA Legal Exchange” held in Philadelphia and Washington.

While his number two – Lady Dorrian – Scotland;s first ever female judge serving as Lord Justice Clerk earning £215,216 a year – racked up the most expensive flight on taxpayers in the past year – a £6,188.99 trip to attend the Commonwealth Law Conference held in Melbourne Australia.

Also added to the grand list of judicial jet setting across the globe by Scotland’s judiciary is a double overseas junket taken by Lord Matthews and Sheriff Norman McFadyen – who were travelling to the ISRCL – Halifax, Nova Scotia legal seminar in Canada.

Lord Matthews – a Court of Session Senator claimed £4017 costs for the trip, compared with Sheriff McFadyen’s £1842 bill to the public purse.

An investigation of this trip revealed Lord Matthews travelled in a separate business class seat compared with the Sheriff who was forced to fly premium economy class.

The trip by Lord Matthews & Sheriff McFadyen also breached judiciary guidelines on overseas travel issued in 2014 by Lord Brian Gill – which said, as a “general rule”, only one judge or sheriff need attend each conference.

Former Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland also appears on the list of travel junkets by Scottish Judges.

Mulholland was promoted by Lord Carloway to a seat on the bench in the Court of Session – after he blocked a criminal prosecution of footballer David Goodwillie for rape.

Mulholland also blocked criminal charges against the driver of the Glasgow bin lorry which ran out of control in December 2014 killing six people in the centre of Glasgow while injuring 15 others.

Lord Mulholland, as he is now known – took a two day trip on the taxpayer to the European Court of Justice meeting on the 18 – 20 Sept 2016 in Luxembourg, at a staggering cost of £1,216.34

Previous investigations into Overseas travel records released by the Judicial Office for Scotland have also revealed Court of Session judge Lord Brailsford enjoyed a £4,898.94 eight day taxpayer funded junket to Sydney Australia from 11 – 19 November 2015.

Lord Brailsford – who became widely known after his son escaped criminal charges for ‘rape & murder’ threats to a girl on twitterwas outed in published documents obtained from the Scottish Government as the listed owner of the Laigh Hall – which forms part of Court of Session buildings located at Parliament House, Edinburgh.

Earlier reports also revealed Lord Gill enjoyed a two day trip during the twilight days of his short, if stormy three year term as Scotland’s top judge – to the Forum of Chief Justice of British Isles – held in the tax haven of Jersey. Lord Gill claimed £302.09 expenses on top of the £231.60  cost of travel to Jersey – taking the cost of his last ‘confirmed’ judicial overseas junket as top judge – to £533.69.

A Scottish Sun investigation revealed Lord Brian Gill travelled to Qatar in 2014 on a five day £2,800 taxpayer funded state visit – while dodging invitations to attend the Scottish Parliament to face scrutiny on his opposition to increased transparency of the judiciary.

And in early 2016,  Lord Gill billed the Scottish Parliament a further £267.75 worth of expenses claims – after the former top judge travelled 1st class to Edinburgh in November 2015 – demanding MSPs drop a three year probe on proposals to create a register of judicial interests as called for in Petition PE1458: Register of Interests for members of Scotland’s judiciary.

The Sunday Mail newspaper also investigated judicial overseas junkets in 2015 – revealing three sheriffs spent £15,000 on an overseas junket to Zambia in Africa JUDGE JET: Sheriffs’ £15K tour of Africa adds to air miles racket of Scots judiciary – as top judges’ clampdown on judicial jet set junkets takes flight.

And a report in the Sunday Mail on June 2 2013 revealed Scottish judges spent over £83,000 on overseas travel junkets in three years – while top judge Lord Gill refused calls to appear before the Scottish Parliament to answer questions on the judiciary’s secretive financial interests & links to big business, banks & the professions.

The Sunday Mail featured an exclusive report on judicial air travel:

PLANE DAFT: It’s plane daft as judge costs taxpayers £2175 more than sheriff who flew on same flight to conference

Lord Matthews was travelling to the same legal seminar in Canada but racked up a huge bill in first class while Sheriff Norman McFadyen went economy.

By Craig McDonald 14 MAY 2017 Sunday Mail

A judge ran up a £4000 taxpayers’ bill flying business class to a conference – while a sheriff who accompanied him sat in economy.

Judge Lord Matthews and Sheriff Norman McFadyen were travelling to the same legal seminar in Canada.

But Matthews claimed £4017 costs for the trip, compared with McFadyen’s £1842 bill to the public purse.

High Court judge Lord Matthews also filed £201 in expenses for the excursion to Halifax, Nova Scotia, last year.

Sheriff McFadyen, who sits at Edinburgh Sheriff Court, claimed no cash back.

The trip also appeared to breach judiciary guidelines issued in 2014 which said, as a “general rule”, only one judge or sheriff need attend each conference.

Another trip saw five High Court judges – Lords Brodie, Glennie, Doherty, Pentland and Lady Scott – attend a Strasbourg conference at a total cost of £4378.

It also cost £1408 to send four sheriffs – Corke, Reith, Mackie and Stewart – to a conference in Dublin.

The taxpayer coughed up £43,354 for foreign travel by the judiciary office last year. The figure was double the total of £22,605 in 2015.

Labour’s justice spokeswoman Claire Baker MSP said: “Questions should be asked about why one person is travelling at twice the cost of another.

“There will be legitimate reasons why the judiciary require to attend international events.

“However, this is an overall significant increase on the previous year and they need to be mindful that this is public money. All trips need to be proportionate.”

Scottish Tory justice spokesman Douglas Ross MSP said: “This is a huge increase in travel costs and needs to be explained.

“When guidelines state that one judicial member should be sufficient for each event, it’s questionable why so many have been travelling together.

“This is taxpayers’ money and shouldn’t be splashed out on needless flights.”

The judge and sheriff were attending the International Society for the Reform of Criminal Law seminar between July 24 and 28 last year.

In 2014, the then Lord President, Lord Gill, issued guidance on overseas travel in which he stated “it should only be necessary for one judicial office holder to attend a conference overseas”.

Lord Gill said it would only “be in exceptional cases that I am likely to consider it necessary for more than one person to attend”. He added: “In all cases where funding is being sought, I will require a business case to be produced.

“I will need a clear justification for any overseas travel.”

Figures for judicial travel for the 12 months to March 31 showed a total of 38 trips were made overseas.

The biggest single claim was for a £6188 trip to Australia by Lady Dorrian to attend the Commonwealth Law conference in Melbourne.

The least expensive was when Lord Tyre managed an Academy of European Law trip to Frankfurt at a cost of just £84. The High Court judge did claim a further £57 in expenses for the trip last April.

Lord Tyre also attended events in Brussels, The Hague, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Warsaw, Madrid and Rome.

One of the most widely travelled of the judiciary last year was Edinburgh Sheriff Gordon Liddle.

He attended the Commonwealth Magistrates’ and Judges’ Association in Georgetown, Guyana, at a cost of £3637 and a European Network of Councils for Justiciary event in Warsaw, Poland, costing £607.

Sheriff Liddle also attended events in Ljubljana, Slovenia, costing £383 and in Bratislava, Slovakia, costing £285.

A spokesman for the Judicial Office for Scotland said last week: “There will be occasions where it is appropriate to send more than one member of the judiciary to important legal conferences.

“Attendance at overseas conferences is only authorised by the Lord President where there is a clear justification.”

He added: “Lord Matthews flew business class, while Sheriff McFadyen flew premium economy/economy, which goes some way to explaining the difference in cost.

“Furthermore, Lord Matthews’ flights required to be booked closer to the date of departure as he was presiding over a trial.”

JUDICIAL JUNKETS – Judges cost taxpayers £43K in flights to ‘legal’ conferences, hotels with health spas, golf courses & hospitality in 2016/17:

The full list of Overseas trips for 2016-2017 currently acknowledged by the Judicial Office for Scotland:

10 – 12 April 2016 Lord President – CJEU Bilateral meeting – Luxembourg £673.83 £20.00 £693.83

10 – 12 April 2016 Lord Tyre – ENCJ Conference – Barcelona £284.76 £74.69 £359.45

21 – 23 April 2016 Lord Tyre – Board of Trustees of the Academy of European Law – Frankfurt £84.64 £57.09 £141.73

1 – 3 June 2016 Lord Tyre – ENCJ General Assembly – Warsaw £604.94 £73.97 £678.91

1 – 3 June 2016 Sheriff Liddle – ENCJ General Assembly – Warsaw £607.35 £32.86 £640.21

29 – 30 June 2016 Lady Dorrian – Joint meeting of the Working Party on e-Law with legal practitioners – Brussels £511.92 – £511.92

3 – 4 July 2016 Lord Tyre – ENCJ Executive Board Meeting – Madrid £464.59 £76.35 £540.94

24 – 28 July 2016 Sheriff McFadyen – ISRCL – Halifax, Nova Scotia £1,842.93 – £1,842.93

24 – 28 July 2016 Lord Matthews – ISRCL – Halifax, Nova Scotia £3,816.19 £201.74 £4,017.93

6 – 11 August 2016 SP Abercrombie – Representing the Scottish Sentencing Council -Salt Lake City, Utah. £230.98 £36.13 £267.11

14 – 23 Sept 2016 Lord President – UK/USA Legal Exchange – Philadelphia and Washington USA £4,189.96 £123.11 £4,313.07

18 – 20 Sept 2016 Lord Mulholland QC – Attending ECJ meeting – Luxemburg £1,131.03 £85.31 £1,216.34

18 – 22 Sept 2016 Sheriff Liddle – CMJA Conference – Georgetown, Guyana £3,637.78 – £3,637.78

26 – 27 Sept 2016 Lord Tyre – ENCJ Project Group Meeting – Rome £381.07 £104.93 £486.00

1 – 3 October 2016 Lady Dorrian – Opening Legal Year – Dublin £623.21 – £623.21

1 – 3 October 2016 Lord Doherty – Opening Legal Year – Dublin £623.21 £162.19 £785.40

3 – 14 October 2016 Sheriff L Drummond – FBIJCC Stage 2016 – Paris £3,185.32 £350.83 £3,536.15

16 – 21 October 2016 Sheriff O’Carroll – IAJ Conference 16 – 21 October 2016 – Mexico City £3,660.29 – £3,660.29

17 – 28 October 2016 Sheriff C Cunninghame – FBIJCC Stage 2016 – Bordeaux £1,899.73 £210.70 £2,110.43

20 – 22 November 2016 Lord Brodie – Bilateral between the European Court of Human Rights and the Senior Judiciary of Scotland – Strasbourg £740.14 £229.62 £969.76

20 – 22 November 2016 Lord Glennie – Bilateral between the European Court of Human Rights and the Senior Judiciary of Scotland – Strasbourg £817.23 – £817.23

20 – 22 November 2016 Lord Doherty – Bilateral between the European Court of Human Rights and the Senior Judiciary of Scotland – Strasbourg £817.23 £47.51 £864.74

20 – 22 November 2016 Lord Pentland –  Bilateral between the European Court of Human Rights and the Senior Judiciary of Scotland – Strasbourg £827.43 £82.13 £909.56

20 – 22 November 2016 Lady Scott – Bilateral between the European Court of Human Rights and the Senior Judiciary of Scotland – Strasbourg £817.23 – £817.23

21 November 2016 Lord Tyre – ENCJ Executive Board meeting – Brussels £366.87 £87.16 £454.03

24 – 25 November 2016 Sheriff D Corke – 4 Nations Public Guardian Conference – Dublin £361.32 – £361.32

24 – 25 November 2016 Sheriff F Reith QC – 4 Nations Public Guardian Conference – Dublin £363.48 £39.65 £403.13

24 – 25 November 2016 Sheriff A Mackie – 4 Nations Public Guardian Conference – Dublin £298.19 £8.40 £306.59

24 – 25 November 2016 Sheriff N Stewart – 4 Nations Public Guardian Conference – Dublin £336.90 £336.90

8 – 9 December 2016 Lord Tyre – Attending ENCJ Independence & Accountability Project Team Meeting – The Hague £441.97 £63.21 £505.18

11 – 12 December 2016 Sheriff Liddle – ENCJ – Project Group Meeting – Bratislava £285.36 £22.15 £307.51

26 – 28 January 2017 Lord Boyd – Attending ECHR Judicial Seminar, Principle of international Law – Strasbourg £497.40 £32.53 £529.93

12 – 14 February 2017 Lord Tyre – ENCJ Executive meeting – Brussels £428.74 £30.39 £459.13

12 – 14 March 2017 Sheriff Liddle – ENCJ Project team meeting – Ljubljana £383.69 £26.78 £410.47

15 – 25 March 2017 Lady Dorrian – Commonwealth Law Conference – Melbourne Australia £6,188.89 £6,188.89

16 – 17 March 2017 Lord Tyre – ENCJ, Project meeting – Vienna £301.98 £12.25 £314.23

26 – 28 March 2017 Lord President – Judges Forum, 60th Anniversary of the signatures of the Treaties of Rome – Luxembourg £32.14 £32.14

30 – 31 March 2017 Lord Tyre – ENCJ, Digital Justice Seminar – Amsterdam £132.94 £132.94

Total cost of trips: £42,860.72 Total Expenses claimed: £2,323.82 Grand Total of Judicial Overseas costs to March 2017: £43,354.91

GUIDANCE BY GILL – Former Lord President Brian Gill’s guidance on judicial overseas junkets:

After several spats between members of the judiciary who were keen to take overseas junkets to luxurious destinations & enjoy tours, hospitality & golf instead of attending law conferences on taxpayers cash, Lord Gill attempted to curtail demands of greedy judges on the public purse.

Guidance issued by Lord Gill in 2014 stated:

I have been reviewing the arrangements to control expenditure to meet attendance at conferences by the judiciary, especially where the conference is taking place outwith the United Kingdom. I have also been considering the arrangements for the authorisation of all other overseas travel to be paid from public funds. With immediate effect the following arrangements are to apply to future requests.

Requests for funding for attendance at conferences and for all other overseas travel should be sought only from the Judicial Office . No request for support to meet attendance at conferences, or other overseas travel should be made to any other part of the Scottish Court Service.

In all cases where funding is being sought I require a business case to be produced by the judicial office holder or the judicial representative body that is seeking funding. The business case does not need to be long, but it must:

(i) identify the nature of the conference;

(ii) the number of judicial office holders it is suggested should attend;

(iii) why that number is necessary if it is more than one;

(iv) the benefit either to those attending or to the judiciary more widely from attendance at the conference;

(v) the likely costs of attendance ; and

(vi) the likely impact on the efficient administration of business.

The business case should be sent to the Executive Director of the Judicial Office for Scotland, Stephen Humphreys. He will assess whether funds are available to meet the costs of attendance and if so pass the business case to me.

I will then consider all requests and respond directly to the judicial office holder. I will need a clear justification for any overseas travel. As a general rule it should only be necessary for one judicial office holder to attend a conference overseas. It will only be in exceptional cases that I am likely to consider it necessary for more than one person to attend.

Where support is provided to attend a conference a report is to be prepared and sent to the Executive Director within one month of the end of the conference. The report will be placed on the Judicial Hub and the Judicial website. It is important that as many of the judiciary as possible are able to benefit from the investment of public money in attending the conference.

Lord President Lord Gill, July 2014

Previous articles on the judiciary’s use of public cash to fund judicial overseas junkets can be found here: Overseas travel of Scottish judges.

 

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PUBLISH & BE JUDGED: As Lord President, Lord Hamilton gave nod to transparency after media interest prompted decision to publish judges’ expenses claims

Former Lord President Lord Hamilton, now of Qatar court. TRANSPARENCY has not always been the perceived sworn & deadly enemy of Scotland’s jet setting, boozing, partying, public-funds-cheating & tax avoiding-island-hopping-bank-fiddling Judiciary of Scotland  – as one former Lord President proved when confronted by journalists investigating the veil of secrecy around our ermine clad public servants.

For the story of how Scotland’s judiciary finally surrendered details of their own cash splurging expenses claims – began with an investigation by Diary of Injustice during 2010 – prompting a decision by the then Lord President – Lord Arthur Hamilton – to publish judges expenses claims on a quarterly basis ever since.

The task – to break the secrecy around how much public cash our judges were burning up for junkets here, there and everywhere – was admittedly difficult.

The Scottish Government – initially claimed they held no such figures – and none existed.

The same was true of the Scottish Courts Service – eager to keep the open wallet policy of throwing cash at the judiciary out of the headlines.

But, there was Freedom of Information – a tool to be used by all – media and public alike – to break the secrecy of our public institutions no matter how high up the ladder they regard themselves.

Compared to England & Wales – where the judiciary were required to publish their expenses claims and had done so for many years, going that little bit further in Scotland appeared almost impossible, with the resistance encountered from public bodies responsible for  the figures.

The more resistance, the more suspicion there was … something to hide.

On top of judicial salaries in 2010 – around £6.1 million, the judges were topping up their positions with cumulative expenses claims of £200K.

Admittedly perhaps not in the Westminster Parliament’s expenses fiddling league – but getting there – if left secretive and unchecked.

However, once told of the queries – Lord Hamilton – the top man – was having none of it – and the Scottish Courts Service were ordered to make the figures public on a rolling basis – every quarter.

And since 2010, on a more often than not regular basis, the public are able to read up on how much Scotland’s eerily secretive, not-very-diverse-or-representative-of-the-wider-community judges plunder from the public purse by clicking here: Judiciary of Scotland – Judicial Expenses Claims

In one quarter alone this year – from 1 April to 31 June, our Court of Session Senators on salaries of up to £225K a year – claimed a whopping £17,331.57 extra in expenses.

Lord Carloway – who is otherwise occupied in fighting proposals before the Scottish Parliament to create an even greater and more effective level of transparency – Petition PE1458: Register of Interests for members of Scotland’s judiciary – claimed £1315.66 expenses in the last quarter available.

Lady Dorrian – The Lord Justice Clerk – claimed a mere £338, Lady Smith – £176.55. Lady A Carmichael- £121. Lord Kinclaven claimed a whopping £6,195.35 – most of which falls under the heading of “accommodation and subsistence”. Lord Brailsford required £14.85 from the public purse – the same judge whose name appears on the title deeds of the Laigh Hall – as a “trustee” for the Faculty of Advocates who swiped it from public ownership. Lord Matthews claimed £308.70. Lord Pentland claimed £385.86. Lady Stacey claimed £741.50. Lord Tyree claimed £490.52. Lord Stewart claimed £3,990.75. Lord Burns claimed £103.80.Lord Armstrong claimed £2,709.50. and Lady Rae claimed £439.53. Bringing a grand total of £17,331.57 for a mere three months work for a handful of judges.

It’s a tough life being a Senator of the Court of Session.

All that jet setting, sitting in court, gatherings with the legal crowd at taxpayers expense. resisting declaring their interests.

A tough life indeed – but at least Lord Hamilton allowed the media and the public the chance to peer a little deeper into how our cash flowed out on judicial jet set junkets and judicial expenses claims.

Since retiring as Lord President, Lord Hamilton now serves on the supplementary panel of the United Kingdom Supreme Court (UKSC).

Additionally, from April 2015 – the former Lord President now holds a position on the Qatar International Court and Dispute Resolution Centre – where big business can confront each other over – as the title suggests – disputes.

The Qatar International Court (QIC) is based in Doha, Qatar. The Court’s mission statement from their website states: “To provide a world-class international court and dispute resolution Centre that will maintain the highest ethical standards, act in accordance with internationally recognized best practices and deliver justice fairly and efficiently with a firm commitment to upholding the Rule of Law.”

The court is led by QIC President, The Rt. Hon. The Lord Phillips of Worth Matravers – former Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales who served as President of the Supreme Court of the UK from 2009 to 2012.

Appointed along with Lord Hamilton was Edwin Glasgow QC from England, Gopal Subramaniam from India and Justice Laurence Li, a former supplementary judge of the Qatar International Court, from Hong Kong.

The QIC comprises the QFC Civil and Commercial Court and the QFC Regulatory Tribunal established pursuant to QFC Law No 7 of 2005, as amended by QFC Law No 14 of 2009. The QIC has internationally renowned judges with expertise in complex commercial disputes and serves to uphold the rule of law, applying the highest quality international legal standards to civil and commercial disputes between individuals and business entities operating both in and outside the QFC.

Readers will be familiar with Lord Brian Gill’s five day state visit to Qatar LORD JET SET: Scotland’s top judge Lord Gill takes 5 day STATE VISIT to Qatar as investigation reveals judiciary’s international travel junkets spree.

Gill took the junket in preference to appearing before the Scottish Parliament to give evidence on A Register of Interests for Scotland’s Judiciary

 

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LORDING IT MORE OPENLY: Scotland’s obsessively secretive judiciary reveal overseas junkets – after media spotlight on judges’ international air travel circuit increases judicial transparency

Media interest results in judges revealing overseas trips. THE MOST powerful & unaccountable figures in Scotland’s justice system – The Judiciary –  will now regularly publish details of their frequent use of taxpayer funded overseas travel junkets.

The transparency victory comes after a three year Freedom of Information & media spotlight on judicial overseas travel junkets forced the Judiciary of Scotland to come clean on judges’ opulent use of public cash to fly around the globe to lavish locations and events officially described as ‘law conferences’.

Of the thirty one overseas travel junkets taken by Scottish judges in the latest year of figures covering from April 2015 to March 2016 – members of the judiciary racked up a further £22,605.92 worth of international trips funded by public cash – including £2,052.97 of expenses claimed by the travelling judges.

Overseas travel records now released by the Judicial Office for Scotland reveal Court of Session judge Lord Brailsford – enjoyed a £4,898.94 eight day taxpayer funded junket to Sydney Australia from 11 – 19 November 2015 – making Lord Brailsford the top overseas judicial junket claimant of the past twelve months.

Lord Brailsford – who regularly appears in judicial overseas junkets lists – was recently outed in published documents obtained from the Scottish Government – as the listed owner of the Laigh Hall – which forms part of Court of Session buildings located at Parliament House, Edinburgh.

The Laigh Hall was effectively swiped from public ownership by the Faculty of Advocates in the Parliament House titles scandal – which saw the City of Edinburgh Council lose public ownership of Scotland’s top court buildings to the Faculty of Advocates and the body which runs the courts – the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service (SCTS).

The overseas travel data also reveals Scotland’s former top judge – Lord Brian Gill and current Lord President Lord Carloway – as the two judges filing the largest expenses claims on top of the costs of overseas travel in the past year.

Lord Gill enjoyed a two day trip during the twilight days of his short, if stormy three year term as Scotland’s top judge – to the Forum of Chief Justice of British Isles – held in the tax haven of Jersey.

Figures reveal Lord Gill claimed £302.09 expenses on top of the £231.60  cost of travel to Jersey – taking the cost of his last ‘confirmed’ judicial overseas junket as top judge – to £533.69.

Known for previous overseas judicial trips taken at taxpayers expense – Lord Brian Gill travelled to Qatar in 2014 on a five day £2,800 taxpayer funded state visit – while dodging invitations to attend the Scottish Parliament to face scrutiny on his opposition to increased transparency of the judiciary.

And earlier this year, Lord Gill billed the Scottish Parliament a further £267.75 worth of expenses claims – after the former top judge travelled 1st class to Edinburgh in November 2015 – demanding MSPs drop a three year probe on proposals to create a register of judicial interests as called for in Petition PE1458: Register of Interests for members of Scotland’s judiciary.

Meanwhile Lord Carloway (real name Colin Sutherland) – who ascended to the top judicial post carrying the title of Lord President in January 2016 – claimed £352.51 expenses on top of the £650.47 cost of a judicial junket to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg during 24-26 January 2016 – bringing the total cost of Carloway’s latest taxpayer funded trip to £1,002.98.

Carloway – also well known on the judicial air miles junket set – previously took a £5,820.16 seven day trip costing taxpayers £5,820.16 to a law conference in Vancouver, Canada during 21 – 27 June 2014.

And, a two day group judges trip to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg in late January – comprising Lord Carloway, Lord Braccadale, Lord Bannatyne, Lady Stacy, Lady Smith and Lady Paton – cost taxpayers a whopping £4413.23.

Full details of public cash funded overseas travel junkets by Scottish judges have previously been published by Diary of Injustice here: Overseas travel of Scottish judges in 2014-2015, Overseas Travel of Scotland’s Judges 2013-2014 & Overseas Travel of Scotland’s Judges 2010-2013.

The latest transparency move by Scotland’s judiciary to reveal the secretive world of judges junkets and expenses claims comes after an earlier Freedom of Information campaign by DOI during 2009 –2010 resulted in the then Lord President – Lord Arthur Hamilton agreeing to publish regular disclosures on judicial expenses, featured in an article in 2010 here: Scots judges emerge from ‘Victorian veil’ as judiciary’s expenses claims set to be published online from November 2010 .

In response to a Freedom of Information request for information on the latest judicial overseas trips, the Judicial Office for Scotland confirmed the new policy of publication.

R. Gare, Policy Manager for the Judicial Office for Scotland said: “The Judicial Office for Scotland now publishes information on overseas travel. Information relating to your request can be found on the Scottish Judiciary website. Further, I can confirm that no SCTS staff travelled with any of the members of the judiciary in relation to the trips contained within the table.”

Overseas travel of Scotland’s judiciary 2015-2016: Information released by the Judicial Office for Scotland to DOI, and now published on the Judiciary of Scotland’s website reveals the extent of overseas travel undertaken by Scotland’s judges in the past year:

9 -10 April 2015 Lord Tyre ENCJ Project Group meeting in Lisbon £540.31

16 – 17 April 2015 Sheriff G Liddle ENCJ – RECJ meeting of the Project team “Development of minimum judicial Standards” in Brussels £566.57

29 -31 May 2015 Lord Gill Forum of Chief Justice of British Isles in Jersey £533.69

2 – 6 June 2015 Sheriff G Liddle ENCJ AGM meeting in The Hague £408.68

3 – 5 June 2015 Lord Tyre ENCJ General Assembly meeting in The Hague £443.36

9 – 14 June 2015 Lord Brodie FBIJCC meeting in Paris £663.48

10 – 13 June 2015 Sheriff McGowan FBIJCC meeting in Paris £562.82

10 – 14 June 2015 Sheriff Welsh FBIJCC meeting in Paris £719.72

10 – 14 June 2015 Sheriff M Neilson FBIJCC meeting in Paris £710.75

11 – 14 June 2015 Lord Eassie FBIJCC meeting in Paris £646.55

11 – 14 June 2015 Sheriff L Drummond FBIJCC meeting in Paris £970.92

18 – 20 June 2015 Lord Tyre ERA meeting in Luxembourg £375.24

June 2015 ENCJ Reimbursement -£975.10 -£975.10 August 2015 ERA Reimbursement -£364.77 -£364.77

13 – 18 September 2015 Sheriff R Dickson CMJA Conference in NZ – Wellington £1,161.26

12 – 19 September 2015 Sheriff Fletcher CMJA Conference in NZ – Wellington £1,545.28

24 – 25 September 2015 Sheriff G Liddle ENCJ Project meeting in Paris £660.97

24 – 25 September 2015 Lord Tyre ENCJ Project meeting in Paris £983.10

27 – 29 September 2015 Lord Matthews ECJ meeting in Luxembourg £522.25

3 – 5 October 2015 Lord Doherty Opening of Legal Year in Dublin £584.90

4- 5 October 2015 Lady Stacey Opening of Legal Year in Dublin £281.37

11 – 19 November 2015 Lord Brailsford International Hague Network of Judges in Hong Kong and Commonwealth and Common Law International Family Justice Conference in Sydney £4,898.94

30 November – 1 Dec 2015 Sheriff Liddle ENCJ meeting project on Funding of the Judiciary in Brussels £557.90

3 – 4 December 2015 Lord Tyre ENCJ Project Meeting – Independence and Accountability in Brussels £508.36

24 – 26 January 2016 Lord Carloway European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg £1,002.98

24 – 26 January 2016 Lady Paton European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg £650.47

24 – 26 January 2016 Lady Smith European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg £690.52

24 – 26 January 2016 Lord Bracadale European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg £729.89

24 – 26 January2016 Lord Bannatyne European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg £650.47 

24 – 26 January 2016 Lady Stacey  European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg £688.90

18 – 19 February 2016 Lord President  Bilateral Meeting in Dublin £110.51

28 February – 1 March 2016 Sheriff Liddle  ENCJ Colloque meeting – Dublin £253.00

7 March 2016 Lord Tyre ENCJ Project Group – Independence and Accountability in Brussels £322.63

Total: £20,552.95 £2,052.97 £22,605.92

Abbreviations: ENCJ – European Network of Councils for Judiciary, CMJA – Commonwealth Magistrates and Judges Association, ECJ – European Court of Justice ERA – Academy of European law, FBIJCC – Franco -British – Irish Judicial Cooperation Committee Colloque

The decision in 2016  by the Judicial Office to publish judges overseas travel information and costs comes after several media investigations into the judiciary’s use of public cash to fund overseas trips.

In 2014, the Scottish Sun on Sunday newspaper investigated judicial overseas travel junkets, reporting:

 LORDING IT ALL OVER THE WORLD

Beaks Trips on Taxpayer

Exclusive : By Russell Findlay 17 August 2014 Scottish Sun

JET-SETTING judges spent £26,000 of taxpayers’ cash on overseas trips last year, a Scottish Sun on Sunday investigation can reveal.

Top beaks flew out to destinations including Russia, Israel, Switzerland, Germany, France, Bulgaria, Lithuania and Qatar.

The most expensive was a £5,800 trip to Canada by Scotland’s second most senior judge, Lord Carloway. Lord Gill – who is the Lord President – also spent five days on a £2,800 trip to Doha, Qatar, where he gave speech on judicial ethics.

Our probe found he jetted to the desert state — criticised for its human rights abuses – after twice snubbing calls to appear in front of the Scottish Parliament’s public petitions committee just 800 yards from his office.

Committee member John Wilson MSP said: “During his speech in Qatar he said that he had much to learn from that country’s judicial system. But Qatar has a poor record on human rights, as identified by Amnesty International.”

Legal campaigner Peter Cherbi added: “Judges are supposed to sit in courts, not in jets.

“It’s hard to believe that Scotland and our judiciary can learn anything from Qatar, a country accused of funding war. mass murder and chaos throughout the Middle East.”

In the past year the Judicial Office for Scotland has paid for Lord Carloway — who earns £208.000 a year – to take part in law events in Vancouver. Canada, and Dijon. France.

It also forked out public money for Lord Armstrong, Lord Boyd and Lady Dorrian to meet other Euro pean judges on a three-day trip to Luxembourg.

Lord Eassie travelled to legal events in St Gallen, Switzerland, and Yalta, Ukraine.

And Lady Clark spent four days at an Anglo-Israeli conference in Tel Aviv, Israel, while Lord Hodge went to Paris.

Meanwhile four sheriffs — Wendy Anne Sheenan, Frank Crowe. Nikola Stewart and Thomas McCartney — attended a four day family law event in Ireland.

It took place at luxury Carton House hotel and spa in Co Kildare where the itinerary included a lack tie gala dinner and optional round of golf on the hotel’s course.

Last year Lord Gill — whose salary is £216,307 – also travelled to Jersey, while in the previous three years he went to Ireland, South Africa, Slovenia and Canada.

Last week he announced a clampdown on overseas travel by judges, sheriffs and JPs.

He will only allow judges to travel if they give a good reason to do so and they will also have to write a report about their trips.

The SNP’s Mr Wilson added: “Given the pressures on our courts, it’s welcome that Lord Gill is seeking to curtail future judicial travel and will hopefully lead by example.”

The Judicial Office for Scotland was asked to give details of Lord Gill’s itinerary for the rest of his Qatar trip and whether he regretted going after snubbing Holyrood.

A spokesman said they couldn’t help as the Lord President is on holiday.

The Sunday Mail newspaper also investigated judicial overseas junkets in 2015 – revealing three sheriffs spent £15,000 on an overseas junket to Zambia in Africa JUDGE JET: Sheriffs’ £15K tour of Africa adds to air miles racket of Scots judiciary – as top judges’ clampdown on judicial jet set junkets takes flight.

And a report in the Sunday Mail on June 2 2013 revealed Scottish judges spent over £83,000 on overseas travel junkets in three years – while top judge Lord Gill refused calls to appear before the Scottish Parliament to answer questions on the judiciary’s secretive financial interests & links to big business, banks & the professions.

Previous articles on the judiciary’s use of public cash to fund judicial overseas junkets can be found here: Overseas travel of Scottish judges.

 

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U-TURN, M’LORD: Top judge Lord Gill to appear before Scottish Parliament to face questions on judicial transparency & calls to create a register of judges’ interests

From Qatar to Holyrood – Lord Gill to give evidence on judicial register. SCOTLAND’S former top judge who led a bitter two year fight against proposals to create a register of judges’ interests – has finally agreed to face questions on his opposition to transparency and disclosure of judicial wealth & links to big business – at the Scottish Parliament next month.

Lord Brian Gill (73) – Scotland’s longest serving judge who suddenly retired as Lord President in May – giving only 30 days of notice after serving three years in the post, will appear before Holyrood’s Public Petitions Committee on 10 November 2015.

The former Lord President will face the same committee he twice refused to attend to give evidence and answer questions on the judiciary’s opposition to Petition PE1458: Register of Interests for members of Scotland’s judiciary.

The judicial transparency proposal calls for the creation of a publicly available register of judicial interests containing information on judges backgrounds, their personal wealth, undeclared earnings, business & family connections inside & outside of the legal profession, offshore investments, hospitality, details on recusals and other information routinely lodged in registers of interest across all walks of public life in the UK and around the world.

During the two year investigation by MSPs on calls to bring the judiciary into line with all others in public life who are required to declare their interests, Lord Gill waged a bitter, letter-only campaign against the notion judges could be required to declare their vast wealth, connections to the professions & links to big business.

In a series of terse written letters to the Public Petitions Committee, Gill condemned the media, litigants, court users, branding all a threat to judges’ privacy, insisting there would be no deal to declare judges interests.

The top judge went on to imply he may be forced to restrict judges interaction with Holyrood committees, using loopholes in the Scotland Act to claim members of the judiciary could not be forced to give evidence in public if they did not want to.

Lord Gill then embarked on a 5 day state visit to the middle eastern dictatorship of Qatar (among a slew of overseas junkets) – preferring to mingle in the company of politicians & prosecutors from a country condemned for its use of slave labour & abuse of human rights – instead of showing up at the Scottish Parliament to answer questions on vast undeclared judicial wealth, links to professions & banks, tax dodging, concealed investments in huge property empires, crime & unchecked power.

While in Qatar, Gill toured a motor museum, and was photographed attending organisations accused of being funding fronts for Qatar to influence international politics, business & wars around the world.

And, in yet another act of defiance against calls for openness, the aging Lord Gill blasted elected politicians and transparency itself as an “insidious threat” to the judiciary – during a speech at the Commonwealth Law Conference 2015 held in Glasgow earlier this year.

During his widely witnessed rant, given to a crowd of judges, lawyers & legal vested interests, Gill said: “The threats to judicial independence do not always come with a knock on the door in the middle of the night.  In a society that prides itself on the  independence  of  its  judiciary,  the  threat  may  come  in  insidious ways, even at the hands of well-meaning governments and legislators, in the name of efficiency and, ironically,  in the name of  transparency.”

In the same speech, the 73 year old judge went on to joke about two individuals who were allegedly protesting against the top judge “standing perhaps appropriately, at the Heart of Midlothian, the scene of public executions in Edinburgh in former times”.

The proposal to require all members of the judiciary to declare their interests gained cross party support from msps during a debate on the petition – held at the Scottish Parliament on 7 October 2014.

The Parliamentary debate, including video footage and the official record, was reported in the media, and on Justice Diary here: Debating the Judges.

During the debate, MSPs openly joked it may have been easier to visit Qatar and get answers from Gill than bring him before the Scottish Parliament – only a few steps down the Royal Mile from Gill’s seat of power – Parliament House.

As MSPs made their speeches – mostly in favour of the creation of a register of judicial interests, Gill’s refusal to attend the Scottish Parliament came in for heavy criticism.

Independent MSP John Wilson said of Lord Gill’s refusal to give evidence at Holyrood: “Clearly, we must ask why we cannot have a register. No doubt the associated media coverage of Lord Gill’s non-appearance at the Public Petitions Committee has led to him being given the title of Lord No-No. That is not something that I particularly welcome, although, quite frankly, it seems to have a degree of merit for an individual who spent six days in Qatar to give a speech about transparency and judicial regulation that lasted one hour, but who could not find the courtesy to accept an invitation from a mandatory committee of this Parliament.”

Scottish Conservative MSP Jackson Carlaw said: “John Wilson is absolutely right. I have here a copy of the 16-page speech that the Lord President gave in Qatar, incorporating the very issues that we addressed. Had the committee known, we could have applied to the parliamentary authorities to go to Qatar to hear the speech in person and tackle the Lord President there. If he did not come to the committee, the committee could have gone to him.”

Gill’s refusal to appear at Holyrood was condemned by Labour MSP Neil Findlay – who said in his speech during the debate: “.. is it not an outrage that Lord Gill had such contempt for this Parliament that he refused to attend a particular meeting? Does that not make people even more suspicious of his motives?”

Mr Findlay continued: “I fully support the proposal for a register of interests for members of the judiciary. After all, we have the right to know whether those who are involved in determining whether a man or woman loses their freedom have any financial, business, social, political or other relationship that could influence any decision they might make. Currently there is no compulsion to declare such an interest and we rely on what is known as the fair-minded observer test. That, to me, is wholly inadequate. Through history, we have heard allegations of religious, class, financial and political bias or of members of certain organisations being helpful to each other during trials. I can think of many industrial and other disputes that have gone to court where claims of bias and collusion have been made—and, I believe, with justification.”

“That situation has to end, and we should have a register with clear rules that leave no one in any doubt about who and what should be registered. Is it really a surprise to people that the legal establishment does not want such a register.”

Upon the debate’s conclusion, MSPs overwhelmingly supported a motion urging the Scottish Government to create a register of judicial interests.

Scotland’s first ever Judicial Complaints Reviewer (JCR) – Moi Ali supported the judicial transparency proposal during a must watch evidence session held at Holyrood in September 2013.

Current JCR Gillian Thompson OBE gave further support for the plan to create a register of interests for judges during a recent evidence session at Holyrood in June 2015.

Earlier this year it emerged a secret meeting was held in February between Legal Affairs Minister Paul Wheelhouse and Lord Gill during February – to discuss joint efforts between the Scottish Government and senior judicial figures to undermine proposals for increased judicial transparency.

Some weeks after the meeting, Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon issued a letter of intervention declaring she felt judges should be able to conceal their interests and other activities – activities which now extend from shareholdings in corrupt businesses to lobbying for fracking interests to tax avoidance and more. The Scottish Government’s attempt to thwart a register of judicial interests was reported in the media here: INTERESTS INTERVENE: First Minister joins top judge in bid to block register of judicial interests

The Scottish Sun on Sunday reported on Lord Gill’s planned appearance at Holyrood next month:

 Lord Gill in U-Turn over quiz at Parly

By Russell Findlay, Scottish Sun 04 October 2015

FORMER top judge Lord Gill is to be grilled by MSPs over his opposition to plans for a register of judges’ hidden interests.

The ex-Lord President has twice snubbed invites to appear at Holyrood.

But he has agreed to face the Petitions Committee next month after they issued a third plea.

Legal campaigner Peter Cherbi said: “This is a significant U-turn from a judge who spent the last two years fighting Holyrood’s investigation of judicial interests.

“It’s time for him to come clean on the closed world of judicial interests, wealth, influence and links to big business.”

Tory Jackson Carlaw urged MSPs to make the third invite after the beak, 73, retired.

He said: “I’m sure the committee will host a fascinating and frank exchange of views.”

The Sunday Mail also reported on Gill’s planned appearance at Holyrood:

 Lord No-No says yes to parly probe

MSPs to quiz judge

By Mark Aitken, Sunday Mail 4 October 2015

Former top judge Lord Gill will finally be quizzed by MSPs on his opposition to his colleagues’ business and financial secrets being made public.

Lord Gill retired as Lord President of the Court of Session at the end of May.

He was dubbed “Lord No-No” for snubbing requests to appear before Holyrood’s petitions committee, who are considering a submission by campaigner Peter Cherbi for a judicial register of interests.

Details could include gifts, hospitality, property, shares, criminal convictions and links to outside bodies such as law firms.

Lord Gill twice declined to appear before the committee, citing the need for judicial independence from political interference.

But his retirement from the bench means he will now give evidence at Holyrood on November 10.

Cherbi said: “Now Lord Gill cannot hide behind the rank of lord president and refuse to attend.”

“The judiciary must be brought into line with the 21st century whether they like it or not.”

Committee member John Wilson MSP said: “It is disappointing he has taken the decision to appear before the committee when he effectively no longer has any influence on the judiciary.”

The Sunday Herald newspaper also reported on the decision by the former top judge to visit the Scottish Parliament:

 Lord Gill to finally give Holyrood evidence

Paul Hutcheon, Investigations Editor Herald Scotland: Sunday 4 October 2015

ONE of the country’s top judges has finally bowed to pressure by agreeing to give evidence to a Holyrood inquiry on the creation of a judicial register of interest.

Lord Gill, who recently retired as Lord President, had twice snubbed calls to face MSPs but will be grilled on the contentious subject next month.

Currently, a range of senior public sector figures, including MSPs, MPs, councillors and public board members, must provide details of directorships or shareholdings, but judges and sheriffs are under no such obligation.

Members of the judiciary are instead require to ‘recuse’ – or excuse – themselves from cases where there might be a potential conflict of interest.

Campaigner Peter Cherbi tried to plug the loophole by tabling a petition to Holyrood that would require judges to declare their pecuniary interests.

However, Gill, who as Lord President was the most senior judge north of the border, submitted written evidence to Holyrood’s Public Petitions Committee opposing the plan.

He argued that a judge’s privacy could be affected by “aggressive media or hostile individuals” and warned:

“The establishment of such a register therefore may have the unintended consequence of eroding public confidence in the judiciary.”

However, Lord Gill then refused invitations by the Committee to explain his written evidence in person in front of MSPs.

He told Holyrood that the legislation that created the Parliament contained a provision that meant judicial officer holders could not be required to give evidence.

He instead agreed to a private meeting with senior members of the committee.

After Gill retired earlier this year, MSPs invited him to give evidence for a third time.

Gill has agreed and will face MSPs on November 10.

Cherbi said: “Now that Lord Gill cannot hide behind the rank of Lord President and refuse to attend the Scottish Parliament, it will be interesting to hear how Scotland’s longest serving judge attempts to justify a judicial exemption against transparency when openness is supposedly a pre requisite for all others in our courts and justice system.

Tory MSP Jackson Carlaw, who is also a committee member, said: “I warmly welcome this change of heart by Lord Gill to appear before the Committee, even if it is as the former Lord President. I am sure the committee will host a fascinating and frank exchange of views.”

Justice Diary recently revealed Lord Brian Gill emerged from his brief summer retirement – taking up an appointment as a supplementary panel judge at the London based UK Supreme Court.

Previous articles on the lack of transparency within Scotland’s judiciary, investigations on judicial interests including reports from the media, and video footage of debates at the Scottish Parliament’s Public Petitions Committee can be found here : A Register of Interests for Scotland’s Judiciary

 

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JUDGE JET: Sheriffs’ £15K tour of Africa adds to air miles racket of Scots judiciary – as top judges’ clampdown on judicial jet set junkets takes flight

Judges’ use of overseas junkets in the dock. A CLAMPDOWN on judicial jet set junkets announced by Scotland’s top judge last October has failed to curb the ever spiralling jet set habits of the judiciary – it can be revealed.

Figures released by the Judicial Office in response to a Freedom of Information request – report the costs of Overseas travel of Scottish judges in 2014-2015 has in fact – increased – from the previous year (2013-2014) – which saw Scots judges take lavish 5 day judicial junkets to international destinations including middle eastern dictatorships.

And the frequency of flights & journeys suggest Scotland’s judiciary are still clocking up air miles regardless of spending cuts across other public services – often at brutal expense & little gain to the justice system.

The latest list of overseas travel – which the Judicial Office claim is necessary for judges to share their understanding of the law and court processes – also includes a five day junket for three Sheriffs who travelled to Africa.

The taxpayer funded £15,000 junket to Zambia – paid for Sheriff Gordon Liddle, Sheriff Lindsay Wood and Sheriff Michael Fletcher to attend a five-day conference hosted by the Commonwealth Magistrates’ and Judges’ Association. The event was held at a hotel by the Victoria Falls and ended with a sunset cruise on the Zambezi.

Speeches at the five day event included “building public confidence through judicial accountability” and “identifying and eliminating corruption in the legal system”.

The latest revelations of judges taking taxpayer funded trips to ‘law conferences’ & river tours emerged after last year’s investigation by the Scottish Sun newspaper which revealed Scotland’s top judges spent £26,000 on thirty three international trips funded by taxpayers – including journeys to destinations such as Russia, Israel, Switzerland,Germany, France, Bulgaria, Lithuania.

The now retired top judge Lord Gill – who has yet to respond to a third invitation requesting his appearance at the Scottish Parliament’s Public Petitions Committee  to answer questions from msps on judges undeclared wealth & interests – also jetted off on a five day state visit to Qatar during 2014.

Last April, Gill (73) gave a sixteen page speech on ‘judicial ethics’ in the Gulf Emirate of Qatar – a country which stands accused of multiple breaches of human rights, using slave labour and funding terrorism & war.

Asked for further details of Lord Gill’s itinerary in Qatar, a spokesperson for the Judiciary of Scotland said no information could be provided. The Judicial Office claimed there were no photographs or video footage of Lord Gill’s trip to Qatar, even though the trip was paid for by the taxpayer.

In response to media scrutiny of judicial air junkets and mentions in the Scottish Parliament, top judge Brian Gill announced a crackdown on overseas trips made by judges.

The Lord President issued an edict on judicial jet junkets, setting out new rules stating judges would have to make a written business case for clocking up more air miles via taxpayers cash.

However, as total figures for this year reveal, the cost of flying the highly secretive, wealthy & elderly Scottish judges around the globe at taxpayers expense surpassed last year’s £30K figures – and this is only for trips admitted to by the Judicial Office and the Scottish Courts & Tribunals Service.

Overseas travel of Scottish judges in 2014-2015:

Listed by: Date, Judicial Office Holder, Reason for Trip & Destination, Cost, Expenses Claimed, Total Cost.
15-18 May 2014  Lord Eassie EAJ Conference in Larnaca   £731.53   £0.00  £731.53
10-13 June 2014  Lord Tyre  ENCJ General Assembly of the ENCJ in Rome  £984.00  £110.90  £1,094.90
10-13 June 2014  Sheriff Normand  ENCJ General Assembly of the ENCJ in Rome  £945.16  £65.00  £1,010.16
21-28 June 2014  Lord Carloway  ISCRCL Conference Vancouver in Canada  £1,885.28   £39.00  £1,924.28
21-28 June 2014  Sheriff McFadyen  ISCRCL Conference Vancouver in Canada  £1,408.31 £0.00  £1,408.31
Jan 14 – June 14  ENCJ Reimbursement -£150.10  -£150.10
Jan 14 – June 14  ENCJ Reimbursement  -£298.00  -£298.00
07 – 11 September 2014  Sheriff M Fletcher CMJA Council meeting and Conference in Zambia £4,624.74  £290.53  £4,915.27
07 – 11 September 2014  Sheriff G Liddle CMJA Council meeting and Conference in Zambia  £4,810.77  £45.78  £4,856.55
07 – 11 September 2014  Sheriff L Wood  CMJA Council meeting and Conference in Zambia  £4,998.30  £119.68  £5,117.98
18-19 September 2014  Lord Tyre  ENCJ project group meeting in Madrid  £336.74  £95.39  £432.13
21 – 23 September 2014  Lord Turnbull  Judicial and Academic visit in Luxembourg  £384.30    £0.00    £384.30
21 – 23 September 2014  Lord Burns Judicial and Academic visit in Luxembourg  £384.00  £0.00  £384.00
13 October 2014  Lord Tyre ENCJ project group meeting – The Hague, Netherlands  £468.01 £82.88  £550.89
16 – 17 October 2014  Lord Brailsford  Judges seminar in Antwerp  £782.27  £0.00  £782.27
17 – 19 November 2014  Lady Rae  Judges Forum in Luxembourg  £270.74  £0.00  £270.74
17 – 19 November 2014  Lord Bannatyne  Judges Forum in Luxembourg  £299.97  £0.00    £299.97
1-2 December 2014  Lord Tyre  ENCJ Project Independence & Accountability 1-2 December 2014- Brussels  £488.04  £70.25  £558.29
08 December 2014  Sheriff Liddle  ENCJ Project group meeting in Dublin £183.19  £0.00  £183.19
Sept 14 – Dec 14  ENCJ Reimbursement -£284.54  -£284.54
25-26 January 2015  Lord Tyre ENCJ Expert Group meeting in Brussels  £487.25  £75.50  £562.75
29 – 31 January 2015  Lord Turnbull ECHR- Strasbourg on behalf of the LP  £847.90  £0.00  £847.90
11-13 February 2015  Lord Tyre  ENCJ Project Group meeting in Bucharest  £466.25  £56.09  £522.34
25-26 February 2015  Sheriff Liddle ENCJ project group meeting in Madrid  £135.25  £0.00  £135.25
23-24 March 2015  Sheriff G Liddle  ENCJ project group Committee Meeting in Amsterdam  £264.18    £7.40    £271.58
09 – 10 April 2015  Lord Tyre ENCJ – Project Group meeting, Lisbon  £452.87  £87.44  £540.31
16 – 17 April 2015  Sheriff G Liddle  ENCJ Project group Meeting in Brussels  £367.52  £0.00  £367.52

Total  for Trips: £26,273.93,  Expenses: £1,145.84,  Total Cost: £27,419.77

Dates, Traveller, Reason for Trip & Destination, Hotel & flight costs, Expenses Claimed
25-28 August 2014  Lord Carloway  Evidence Review Group meeting in Hague & Oslo  *298.26
25-28 August 2014  Lady Dorrian  Evidence Review Group meeting in Hague & Oslo
25-28 August 2014  Sheriff Principal Scott Evidence Review Group meeting in Hague & Oslo
25-28 August 2014  Eric McQueen  SCTS Staff  Evidence Review Group meeting in Hague & Oslo   ** £412.96
25-28 August 2014  Tim Barraclough  SCTS Staff  Evidence Review Group meeting in Hague & Oslo  *** £146.60
5 people    £3,712.37  The Hague – Hotel meeting room fees  £146.50
Subtotals: £3,858.87,   Expenses:£857.82,  TOTAL: £4,716.69

The latest round of judicial jet set junkets was reported in the Sunday Mail newspaper:

Judges’ £15,000 Zambia Junket
Fury over sheriffs’ bill
By Mark Aitken, 09 August 2015 Sunday Mail

More than £15,000 of taxpayers’ cash was spent on three sheriffs going on a junket to Africa – despite a clampdown on overseas trips.

Scotland’s judges and sheriffs spent more than £27,000 on overseas trips in 2014-2015.

Destinations included Amsterdam, Rome, Madrid, Vancouver and Lisbon.

The most expensive trip was £14,890 for sheriffs Gordon Liddle, Lindsay Wood and Michael Fletcher to attend a five-day conference in Zambia hosted by the Commonwealth Magistrates’ and Judges’ Association.

Speeches included “building public confidence through judicial accountability” and “identifying and eliminating corruption in the legal system”.

The event was held at a hotel by the Victoria Falls and ended with a sunset cruise on the Zambezi.

Before retiring this year as Scotland’s top judge, Lord gill ordered a clampdown on overseas trips by sheriffs and judges.

But legal campaigner Peter Cherbi said: “The list of judges on the jet set circuit at taxpayers’ expense does not seem to have decreased”.

The Judicial Office for Scotland’s spokesman said: “Conferences provide judges with opportunities to share knowledge and good practice with practitioners in over jurisdictions.

Judges wishing to attend conferences must first apply for funding and make a business case.

“We hold a budget for conferences and overseas business travel and  guidance exists to ensure that costs are controlled and maximum benefit is gained”

JUDICIAL PROMISE TO CUT BACK ON JETS TAKES FLIGHT:

Late last summer, Lord Brian Gill issued a travel advisory in an attempt to clamp down on judges demanding taxpayer cash to fund jet junkets.

The edict issued by Gill stated that costs of travel, numbers of judges attending, an explanation of the wider benefit of the trip to the judicial system and details of what may be learned – must feature in documents required to be written up by judges and submitted to the Lord President for approval.

Attendance at conferences and authorisation of overseas travel From the Lord President:

I have been reviewing the arrangements to control expenditure to meet attendance at conferences by the judiciary, especially where the conference is taking place outwith the United Kingdom. I have also been considering the arrangements for the authorisation of all other overseas travel to be paid from public funds. With immediate effect the following arrangements are to apply to future requests.

Requests for funding for attendance at conferences and for all other overseas travel should be sought only from the Judicial Office [1] . No request for support to meet attendance at conferences, or other overseas travel should be made to any other part of the Scottish Court Service.

In all cases where funding is being sought I require a business case to be produced by the judicial office holder or the judicial representative body that is seeking funding. The business case does not need to be long, but it must:

(i) identify the nature of the conference;

(ii) the number of judicial office holders it is suggested should attend;

(iii) why that number is necessary if it is more than one;

(iv) the benefit either to those attending or to the judiciary more widely from attendance at the conference;

(v) the likely costs of attendance [2]; and

(vi) the likely impact on the efficient administration of business.

The business case should be sent to the Executive Director of the Judicial Office for Scotland, Stephen Humphreys. He will assess whether funds are available to meet the costs of attendance and if so pass the business case to me.

I will then consider all requests and respond directly to the judicial office holder. I will need a clear justification for any overseas travel. As a general rule it should only be necessary for one judicial office holder to attend a conference overseas. It will only be in exceptional cases that I am likely to consider it necessary for more than one person to attend.

Where support is provided to attend a conference a report is to be prepared and sent to the Executive Director within one month of the end of the conference. The report will be placed on the Judicial Hub and the Judicial website. It is important that as many of the judiciary as possible are able to benefit from the investment of public money in attending the conference.

[1] In respect of attendance at events by Sheriffs, the Sheriffs Association will continue to consider the need for attendance by sheriffs at conferences before preparing the business case and seeking funding. The Association undertakes this activity on behalf of all sheriffs and it considers applications equally from both its members and non-members. If a sheriff wishes to attend a conference he or she should in the first instance contact the Secretary to the Sheriffs’ Association. I am grateful to the Association for undertaking this function.

[2] When considering the costs of attendance at a conference, Judicial Office Holders should consult the Judicial Office for an estimate of the likely travel and accommodation costs, if required. Travel and subsistence rules apply to all travel whether inside or outside the UK.

Now,  a year on from the Lord President’s travel guidance – the evidence suggests Lord Gill’s move to make judges more prudent with public cash for travel junkets – has clearly failed.

And – suspiciously – the Judicial Office for Scotland and Scottish Court Service refused to reveal any details of hundreds of taxpayer funded trips taken by Scottish judges around the UK.

When further enquiries were made regarding domestic UK destinations of Scottish judges, staff at the Scottish Court Service switched destinations of Scotland’s second most powerful judge – Lord Carloway from Bristol in England, to Dublin in the Republic of Ireland –  in an attempt to avoid having to disclose the information on UK judicial travel via Freedom of Information legislation.

Full details of trips undertaken by Scottish judges were previously published here: LORD JET SET: Investigation reveals judiciary’s international travel junkets spree & LORD FLY-BYE: Scotland’s courts in the slow lane as judges prefer law conferences, business & ‘diplomatic’ trips to life on the bench

 

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