Tag Archives: SNP

YOUR BANK, M’LORD? The £40m trail of secretive judicial interests, billionaires, aristocrats & offshore trusts in Hampden & Co, Scotland’s latest bank

Judges, mega rich & offshore money mix in new Scots bank. A RICH LIST of investors in Hampden & Co – Scotland’s first new bank in 30 years – reveals members of the judiciary including a suspended judge – among the ranks of billionaires, aristocrats and anonymous offshore trusts who have pumped in £40 million into the financial institution – located in Charlotte Square, Edinburgh.

Among the ranks of investors in the new bank are figures from the judiciary such as the now suspended Sheriff Peter Black Watson – who was suspended from his current judicial duties by Lord President Lord Gill in February of this year – in relation to legal writs linked to the £400m collapse of hedge fund Heather Capital.

Other judicial figures include Court of Session judges and former EU judge, Scottish lawyer & academic Sir David Edward KCMG QC FRSE.

Today, the Judicial Office for Scotland refused to comment on, or confirm the identities of any judges who hold shares in the new bank.

Hampden & Co annual return reveals wealthy shareholder list. In accounts filed by Hampden & Co, Edinburgh, a Michael Scott Jones – is the registered as owner of 200,000 shares.

The Judicial Office refused to confirm or deny if this is the same Michael Scott Jones who is Court of Session judge Lord Jones.

The accounts for the bank also reveal Peter Black Watson is the holder of 400,000 shares.

While the Judicial Office refused to confirm if this is the same Peter Black Watson who was suspended by Lord President Lord Gill earlier this year “to maintain public confidence in the judiciary”, Watson’s identity as one of the shareholders of Hampden & Co has been confirmed in a report in The Scottish Sun newspaper earlier this week.

Speaking to the media today, the Judicial Office refused to be drawn on the issue of judges investments and the need for a register of judicial interests to enable the public to scrutinise judges interests and links to big business, banks and other vested interests.

A spokesperson for the Judicial Office for Scotland would only say : “Personal investment decisions are a matter for individual judicial office holders.

“Judicial office holders are bound by the Statement of Principles of Judicial Ethics and in the event of a case presenting a potential conflict of interests, by reason of an investment or otherwise, will recuse themselves. These recusal decisions are a matter of public record”.

However, it is a matter of public record not one Scottish judge has declared a financial interest in a case which has resulted in a published recusal, and one senior Sheriff – Sheriff Principal Alistair Dunlop – who held shares in Tesco – did not recuse himself in the case involving the supermarket giant.

No public record of any refusals or failures of judges to recuse themselves have appeared in the list of recusals published by the judiciary.

Neither have any financial details of members of the judiciary appeared in the list of recusals.

A petition currently under consideration by the Scottish Parliament – Petition PE1458: Register of Interests for members of Scotland’s judiciary – calls for the creation of a single independently regulated register of 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.

The petition has cross party support from msps who backed a motion urging the Scottish Government to create a register of judicial interests at Holyrood on 7 October 2014 – reported along with video footage and the official record, here: Debating the Judges.

In an investigation earlier this week by the Scottish Sun newspaper, it was revealed there are fears among some of Hampden & Co’s shareholders of a second independence referendum, tax rises and how the business climate in Scotland will fare under policies of the SNP Scottish Government.

The bank’s investor list reveals predominantly rich, unionist shareholders such as tycoon Alastair Salvesen, self-storage tycoon Alister Jack, Greenock-born financier Malcolm Offord, Dobbie’s garden centre chief James Barnes, Edinburgh art dealer Alexander Meddowes and Stirling-based construction tycoons Duncan Fletcher & Duncan Ogilvie, both worth over £50million. Aristocratic customers includes the Queen’s cousin David Bowes-Lyons and the Earl of Rosebery’s daughter Lady Caroline Primrose.

Euripides Investments Ltd, the new bank’s second largest shareholder, is based in Jersey — meaning its ownership is secret and that owners are likely to pay less tax on profits than individual UK shareholders.

Another major shareholder is Guernsey-based Kusapi Ltd.

Hampden & Co are refusing to reveal the identity of a major Chinese investor – Cai Dang Fang – listed in Companies House records as Hampden’s fourth largest shareholder. But it’s not known whether that is a person or a company — and the bank won’t say if they are based in the UK or overseas.

The private bank’s headquarters in Charlotte Square, Edinburgh, are just a few doors away from First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s Bute House residence.

However, many of Hampden’s super-rich backers are staunch unionists who fear their savings may be hit by a rampant SNP push for full fiscal autonomy and another independence referendum.

Speaking to The Sun – Founder & Chairman Ray Entwistle (70) insisted “we have absolutely no intention of racing into any kind of decision”.

But referring to the SNP’s election success he warned: “I suspect a host of businesses that were anxious over the referendum last year remain partially anxious about what happened last month.

“This bank is registered in Scotland, the head office is in Edinburgh and we have a large number of friends we want to do business both in Scotland and in London.

“We are going to wait and see what happens over the next few months. “And I suspect that a lot of other businesses are waiting to see what transpires politically.”

Commenting on the bank, Deputy First Minister & Finance Secretary John Swinney said: “We have a world-leading financial services sector and a talented workforce, making Scotland a great place for new businesses to locate. The Scottish Government has been clear about its approach to taxation. This will be based on ability to pay, certainty, convenience and efficiency of collection.”


Lord Gill (73) suspended Sheriff Peter Black Watson (61) after demanding sight of a multi million pound writ against Glasgow law firm Levy & Mcrae – Watson’s former law firm –  which is one of several companies being sued by Heather Capital’s liquidator, Ernst & Young, after the fund’s collapse in 2010. Watson was a director of a company called Mathon Ltd, and another – Aarkad PLC – key parts of the Heather empire.

The collapsed hedge fund Heather Capital – run by lawyer Gregory King is now the subject of a Police Scotland investigation and reports to the Crown Office. Gregory King – a lawyer – is named along with three others – lawyer Andrew Sobolewski, accountant Andrew Millar and property expert Scott Carmichael in a police report.

An earlier statement from the Judicial Office for Scotland on Watson’s suspension reported: Sheriff Peter Watson was suspended from the office of part-time sheriff on 16 February 2015, in terms of section 34 of the Judiciary and Courts (Scotland) Act 2008.

“On Friday 13 February the Judicial Office was made aware of the existence of a summons containing certain allegations against a number of individuals including part-time sheriff Peter Watson. The Lord President’s Private Office immediately contacted Mr Watson and he offered not to sit as a part-time sheriff on a voluntary basis, pending the outcome of those proceedings.

Mr Watson e-mailed a copy of the summons to the Lord President’s Private Office on Saturday 14 February. On Monday 16 February the Lord President considered the matter.  Having been shown the summons, the Lord President concluded that in the circumstances a voluntary de-rostering was not appropriate and that suspension was necessary in order to maintain public confidence in the judiciary.

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


Today, 18 June 2015 – Hampden & Co., the first private bank to come through the new process to obtain a banking licence, has opened its doors to clients after securing final regulatory approval at the beginning of June. It is the first private bank to be set up in the UK for 30 years and will address the significant demand in the UK for a new, high quality banking service.

Founded in 2010 by Ray Entwistle, the former Chairman of Adam & Company, the bank has recruited an impressive team of over 50 qualified professional bankers and support staff, headed up by Chief Executive Graeme Hartop, formerly CEO of Scottish Widows Bank.

The bank will deliver a traditional private banking service built on long-term client relationships and personal service from offices initially in Edinburgh and London. Capital of nearly £50 million has been raised for the launch, which demonstrates the confidence investors have in the business opportunity.

Ray Entwistle commented: “There is strong demand for a new private bank which delivers the right quality of service with long-term continuity of personnel and speed of decision making. Over 250 shareholders have come to the same conclusion and they have been prepared to back our experienced team with the capital required to launch our new bank.”

Graeme Hartop added: “The timing for launch is ideal as we continue to experience an improved economic environment, strong client demand and a favourable competitive landscape as a large number of the existing banks continue to deal with significant legacy issues. We will deliver a traditional client-led private banking service, fully focussed on client needs and not product sales targets, which will lead to strong client-to-banker relationships. We are delighted to be welcoming clients on board.”


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

THE JUDGES’ MAN: Sacked Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill replaces transparency crusader Chic Brodie on Scottish Parliament’s Public Petitions Committee

Ex Justice Secretary heads to Holyrood Petitions Committee. FORMER Cabinet Secretary for Justice Kenny MacAskill, who was sacked by Scotland’s new First Minister Nicola Sturgeon in her recent cabinet reshuffle, has been moved to the Scottish Parliament’s Public Petitions Committee, replacing transparency crusader Chic Brodie MSP.

The move was announced last week with little fanfare – Motion S4M-11738: Joe FitzPatrick, Dundee City West, Scottish National Party, On Behalf of Parliamentary Bureau, Date Lodged: 27/11/2014 – that Kenny MacAskill be appointed to replace Chic Brodie as a member of the Public Petitions Committee.

The former Justice Secretary, who has been the star of many controversies in Scotland’s justice system, from the ‘compassionate’ release of AbdelBaset Al Megrahi – convicted for the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland in December 1988, to presiding over faked-up crime figures, massive hand-outs of £1 Billion in legal aid to lawyers since the financial crash of 2008, continuing scandals at Scotland’s Crown Office & Procurator Fiscal Service, failed reforms of Scotland’s civil & criminal justice system, court closures, attempts to remove requirements of corroboration of evidence in criminal trials, and the destruction of local Policing across Scotland, is now set to pass verdict on motions proposed by members of the public attempting to make Scotland a better place.

The unexpected move to slot MacAskill on the Petitions Committee comes after the same Committee agreed in late October to call MacAskill to give evidence on a proposal to create a register of judicial interests as called for in Petition PE1458: Register of Interests for members of Scotland’s judiciary.

However, MacAskill refused to show up to the Committee Convener’s invitation, instead putting forward then Legal Affairs Minister Roseanna Cunningham – who urged the Scottish Parliament to reject judicial transparency during a debate in the Scottish Parliament’s main chamber on the petition held on 9 October 2014.

Since then, Ms Cunningham has also been replaced in her legal affairs portfolio, now handed to Paul Wheelhouse who will appear before the Petitions Committee and, ironically – Kenny MacAskill – next Tuesday, December 9 and answer questions on why the Scottish Government has sided with secrecy and judges who are worried exposure of their mega riches and connections may damage their judicial privacy.

Petition PE1458 – a proposal to increase judicial transparency and submitted to the Scottish Parliament’s Public Petitions Committee in late 2012 envisages the creation of a single independently regulated register of 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.

The proposal to create a register of judicial interests is also widely supported in the media, and has the backing of Scotland’s first Judicial Complaints Reviewer, Moi Ali – who gave her support for the petition during an evidence session before MSPs at the Scottish Parliament’s Public Petitions Committee last September, 2013.

However, top judge Lord Gill has waged a bitter two year war against the proposal. The Lord President branded media as “aggressive” and complained court users would end up invading the privacy of judges – who have since been revealed to have criminal records, offshore interests, and investments in companies convicted of bribes, industrial espionage, bid rigging and other offences around the world.

During the Petitions Committee’s meeting of 28 October, MSPs also demanded to see the unredacted 2014 annual report of the Judicial Complaints Reviewer (JCR), Moi Ali – who has since quit the judicial investigator role – comparing it to “window dressing”. The JCR’s anuual report has still not been passed to the Committee.

Mr MacAskill has previously stated his opposition to the creation of a register of judicial interests in letters to the Public Petitions Committee which always followed similar letters from Lord Gill.

MacAskill opposes register of judicial interests & judicial complaints reforms. IN previous letters to the Public Petitions Committee, Mr MacAskill slapped down the need for a register, and followed top judge Lord Gill’s line on judicial oaths, writing: “You ask whether the Scottish Government will review its position on whether members of the judiciary ought to register their interests. I note the evidence the Committee has gathered on this issue and, in particular, the arguments presented by the Judicial Complaints Reviewer (JCR) that a register of interests would increase transparency and public trust in the judiciary.

The JCR considers that there is merit in a register of interests for members of the judiciary. I do not think it necessary to establish such a register. I continue to be of the view that there are already sufficient safeguards in place to ensure the impartiality of the judiciary. These have been set out in previous correspondence and comprise the judicial oath, the Statement of Principles of Judicial Ethics and the rules made under the 2008 Act. I do not consider that the case has been made that these existing safeguards are not effective.”

In another letter to the Petitions Committee Convener, David Stewart, Kenny MacAskill also refused to acknowledge the need for amendments to the powers of the Judicial Complaints Reviewer role, writing: “In advance of any debate you have asked for comments on the letter from the Judicial Complaints Reviewer (JcR) to the Committee of 23 April 2014. In that letter the JCR states that she considers it likely that the number of complaints against the judiciary would fall if there was a published register of interests for the judiciary. As I have said previously, it would be for the Lord President to establish such a register of interests in his capacity as Head of the Scottish judiciary. However, the Scottish Government does not consider there is currently any evidence to suggest that the existing safeguards – the judicial oath, the Statement of Principles of Judicial Ethics and the Rules made under the Judiciary and Courts (Scotland) Act 2008 – are not effective and does not therefore consider that such a register is necessary.

The JCR expresses a concern that the rules about complaints against the judiciary are not fit for purpose. As you know, the complaints and discipline process created by the 2008 Act has been running for a relatively short time. The Complaints About the Judiciary (Scotland) Rules have been in operation for just over 3 years, and the Lord President is currently considering amendments to these rules following a consultation last autumn to which the JCR contributed.”

Mr MacAskill is also reported to have made private comments to msps against the creation of a register of judicial interests while he was Justice Secretary. Mr MacAskill also refused to grant further powers to the role of Judicial Complaints Reviewer, even after a stinging rebuke from Scotland’s first JCR – Moi Ali.


JCR should have more powers – Moi Ali told Scottish Government. In her second annual report as Judicial Complaints Reviewer, Moi Ali called for the Scottish Government to give more powers to the JCR’s office to deal with errant judges. Ms Ali said: “I think fundamentally the problem is the legislation. “The way it’s created, it’s about self- regulation so you have judges judging judges’ conduct. There isn’t really an independent element.“I’m presented as the independent element but, without the powers, I can’t be independent. We have the appearance of independent oversight but not the reality.”

In response to calls for greater powers for the JCR, Justice Secertary MacAskill refused to grant any extra powers, and First Minister Alex Salmond supported MacAskill’s refusal during questions at FMQ’s by John Wilson MSP at the Scottish Parliament.

However, it can now be revealed Alex Salmond himself had a legal relationship with Francis Gill – the son of Scotland’s top judge, Lord Gill – the same man politicians including the First Minister must consult and seek approval of, before changes to any powers of the office of Judicial Complaints Reviewer can be implemented. Mr Salmond made no mention of his relationship with Gill junior – which also involved representation on a complaint to the Press Complaints Commission – while he answered questions from MSP John Wilson during FMQ’s on 30 January 2014.

After MacAskill refused to consider new powers for the office of Judicial Complaints Reviewer, Moi Ali signalled she was standing down from the role, reported here: No powers to make things better: Judicial Complaints Reviewer to stand down from MacAskill’s “window dressing” justice watchdog over errant judges

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


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

A £2.2 billion rip-off for YOU while Law Society Chiefs follow Salmond in ‘grubby’ Dubai tour promoting Scots legal market for vested interests

Seeking business for bent lawyers : Law Society of Scotland in Dubai to promote Scots Law as a safe haven for crooked vested interests. AS SCOTTISH CONSUMERS begin to wise up to the rife corruption in Scotland’s legal profession, where dealing with a lawyer on virtually ANY legal matter means a client is going to be ripped off one way or another, with no hope of recompense or resolution to a complaint, the Law Society of Scotland’s Chief Executive Lorna Jack & current President Cameron Ritchie tagged along on the coat tails of the First Minister’s recent trip to the Gulf States promoting Scots law firms with their own lobbying trip to DUBAI, one of those places in the world where even its own Police Chief reckons state firms are rotten to the core and one would surely expect to find an organisation as dirty & corrupt as the Law Society of Scotland.

Alas, with the Law Society’s core Scots membership beginning to run out of clients back home in Scotland to fleece & ruin, due in part to the recession and in part because consumers are finally waking up to the perils of even walking past a lawyer’s office, a Press Release was issued by the Law Society of Scotland covering Mr Ritchie & Ms Jack’s trip to Dubai to promote the Scottish legal profession and its ranks of paid up & not necessarily honest ‘expert witnesses’ who will sell or twist their testimony to the highest bidder at the top of the vested interest feeding chain.

Law Society of Scotland promote Scots legal system for vested interests : An event held for over 100 delegates in Dubai last night, Thursday 3 November, marked the end of a successful week for the Law Society of Scotland at the IBA annual conference.

Banging the drum for lawyer lobbying in Dubai : Cameron Ritchie, current Law Society President & ex Crown Office Procurator Fiscal. The Law Society’s president, Cameron Ritchie, and chief executive, Lorna Jack, have spent time promoting Scotland as a hub for expert legal services at the week-long international conference. Mr Ritchie said: “This has been an excellent opportunity for us to promote the Scottish solicitor profession and emphasise that our legal system sits within an excellent business environment, with over 1,500 overseas companies investing and operating in Scotland. More than 100 guests attended our event, including a number of our members who are working in the Middle East and IBA conference delegates from several overseas law societies and bar associations.”

Mr Ritchie continued : “Scotland has a modern, progressive legal system with a reputation for honesty, integrity and fairness. We provide a flexible and cost effective location for international legal services and, with the passing of the Arbitration Act and establishment of the Scottish Arbitration Centre, can offer a globally competitive place for dispute resolution.We have met a great number of delegates from jurisdictions around the globe this week and been able emphasise the breadth and depth of experience across our legal firms who also provide value for money, have multi disciplinary capability, access to global networks and particular expertise in financial services, oil and gas, renewable energy and life sciences.”

A modern, progressive legal system, as in one easily twisted to the requirements of vested interests, and as far as having any reputation for honesty, integrity or fairness goes, well, the years long battle over asbestos compensation payouts for pleural plaques along the multitude of lawyers trying to justify the use of tainted blood products and the Lord Justice Clerk Lord Gill’s own takedown of justice in the Civil Courts Review seems to sum up the civil justice system quite well, while the Lockerbie Trial and all its attendant fit ups with bribed witnesses & tampered evidence will do for the Scottish criminal justice system, matters which Mr Ritchie will know very well as he is a former employee of the Crown Office, that institutionally closed-ranks organisation which protects its own from prosecutions, even when deaths are involved.

Lorna Jack, Chief Executive of the Law Society of Scotland, replaced the ‘more fun’ Douglas Mill who resigned after staff interfered in court cases & claims against crooked lawyers. Chief executive Lorna Jack said: “We have had a great reception at the conference this year and it was especially pleasing to be able to attend the opening of one of our most successful firms, McGrigors, new office in Qatar. We shouldn’t underestimate the contribution of Scottish solicitors’ profession either at home, where it is estimated to bring £2.2 billion to our economy and employ approximately 18,000 people, or the role it can play on an international stage. Despite the current and ongoing financial difficulties, there are opportunities for our members which we want to encourage and support.”

Needless to say, while the £2.2 billion estimate may be a little more than reality, a great deal of client’s money well over a billion pounds flowing into the coffers of the Scottish legal profession is one of the main reasons there is no regulation of lawyers who are free to rip anyone off, and by the dozen. It was exactly the same with the bankers, who bought politicians, and bought the regulators. As we saw earlier in the year, even the lawyers who commit legal aid fraud, running into millions are not prosecuted for stealing from the public, such is the influence and lobbying power of the Law Society of Scotland over all in authority.

However, at least with the Law Society promoting Scottish Arbitration (recently exposed as little more than a platform for vested interests, corrupt insurers & disgraced judges who fell from grace in scandals) and ‘so-called’ expert witnesses who will alter their testimony to suit vested interests for a price, clients & consumers in Scotland and abroad are well warned to avoid litigating in the Scottish justice system, where injustice is a business and corruption, from the judiciary down to the High Street lawyer is an unregulated money making enterprise of criminal proportions.

Remember where we all live, in a country where expert witnesses and even doctors from the legal profession will argue that “asbestos is good for you” and be happy to say it in front of our own elected politicians in the Scottish Parliament because they know their profession carries too much influence and power for all our own good.

When the legal profession gets to such a stage as the Scottish legal profession have now become, common sense should tell you to save some money and walk out of your lawyer’s office along with all your papers, wills and titles. You, the consumers & clients across Scotland really are better off looking after your own.


Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

MSP says Justice system must be ‘open & representative’ as QC Paul McBride calls for reform of jury selection, tests & declarations for jurors

Top QC Paul McBride calls for jurors to sit tests to establish their suitability to be on a jury. REFORM of the current system of juror selection is a must if their verdicts are to be respected, says top Scots QC Paul McBride who believes jurors should be made to sit tests to establish their suitability for sitting on juries in Scotland’s courts. Mr McBride’s remarks come after the puzzling verdict in the Neil Lennon assault case, where a Hearts fan was acquitted of a sectarian assault after the jury removed the reference to making a sectarian remark from the charge relating to breach of the peace, and returned a not proven verdict for ‘aggravated by religious prejudice charge’.

Currently, the only requirements for people to serve on a jury in a Scottish Court are that they be over 18, be registered to vote and have lived in the UK for at least five years. However, the perception these requirements are somewhat lacking has been considered & debated for some time by leading law figures & observers of the way the courts operate, although many of those attending courts have observed over the years there are significant problems throughout the entire courts system from the judiciary down, not just with how juries are selected.

Scottish Justice in the dock as QC calls for juries to be reformed : Paul McBride QC on Neil Lennon Celtic v Hearts assault verdict (click image to watch video)

Mr McBride, speaking to the Herald newspaper, said he would like to see jurors be required to disclose their employment and whether they have been a victim of crime. The Herald reported : “This is an area that lawyers have been discussing for some time. Judges and lawyers undergo a high standard of training. The only area where there is no scrutiny at all on the people who actually make the decision, which is baffling. “You don’t have to be able to read or write or speak English. “We have got 15 people deciding whether a person is guilty and we know nothing about them.”

Mr McBride continued : “In Scotland, unlike any other country on the planet, a person can be convicted by one vote. Following the Lennon verdict a lot of people, and newspapers were asking about the selection process for juries. In every other country there is some kind of jury selection process to determine whether they have got the basic skills and whether they have committed a crime. A lot of trials are conducted by police statements. If a member of the jury can’t read or speak English that’s a bit of a disadvantage.”

It is noteworthy these calls for jury reform have only re-entered the arena of public debate after a case involving sectarian charges pursued by the Crown Office against a Football fan were found not proven by a jury, while coincidentally, the Scottish Government are pursing legislation in the form of the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Bill which it is claimed, will give the Police more powers to deal with sectarian offences and threatening behaviour. Scottish Law  Reporter covers the issue in more detail HERE.

However, legal observers note there are arguably many more problems in the justice system relating to sectarianism than solely with jurors who might not manage a verdict which happens to be favourable to current legislative plans. Earlier this year, Scottish Law Reporter featured coverage on a report which the Scottish Parliament’s Petitions Committee had debated whether to publish or keep secret, academics had established there was evidence to suggest the courts system itself was sectarian due to studies on sentencing statistics involving religious minorities. The report, by Dr Susan Wiltshire of the University of Glasgow can be read online or downloaded here : OFFENDER DEMOGRAPHICS AND SENTENCING PATTERNS IN SCOTLAND AND THE UK and readers can draw their own conclusions.

John lamontJohn Lamont MSP, Scottish Conservative. Asked for comment on Mr McBride’s calls for jury reform, John Lamont MSP, the Scottish Conservative’s Justice spokesman said : “Jurors have a vital place within our justice system and it is important that we take the greatest care in choosing them. The idea of having more detailed information to help select juries is worthy of further consideration.”

Mr Lamont continued : “However, we must not undermine the principle behind trials by jury. We need to ensure that the privacy and impartiality of juries is maintained as they must always continue to represent all sectors of society if they are to provide a balanced judgement. The right to jury trial ensures that one class of people don’t sit in judgment over another. The public must have confidence in an open and representative justice system.”


Tags: , , , , , ,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,