Thursday, August 21, 2014

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

Scotland’s judges prefer taxpayer funded jet travel to dull court duties. SCOTLAND’S wealthy, well connected judges are back on the jet set junket despite an alleged clampdown announced two weeks ago by Lord President & Lord Justice General Brian Gill after a controversy over justices of the peace trying to join the judicial travel circuit junket spree.

An investigation by the Scottish Sun newspaper has revealed Scotland's top judges spent £26,000 on thirty three international trips funded by taxpayers in the last year - including journeys to destinations such as Russia, Israel, Switzerland,Germany, France, Bulgaria, Lithuania.

The country’s top judge, Lord Gill – who is still refusing to appear before 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, and gave a sixteen page speech on judicial ethics.

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

The Scottish Sun reports:

LORDING IT ALL OVER THE WORLD

Beaks Trips on Taxpayer

Exclusive : By Russell Findlay 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.

JUDGES JUNKETS - Overseas Travel of Scotland’s Judges 2013-2014:

6-10 May 2013 Lady Clark  Anglo Israeli Conference in Tel Aviv £2,404.00
15-17 May 2013 Sheriff MacFayden ERA seminar in Brussels  £1,057.37
22 to 25 May 2013 Lord Eassie European Association of Judges meeting in St Gallen, Switzerland £373.30
7-9 June 2013 Lord Tyre ERA meeting in Trier £753.73
5-7 June 2013 Lord Hodge ENCJ GA in Sofia £863.26
5-7 June 2013 Sheriff Normand ENCJ GA in Sofia £775.63
January - June 2013 - - Reimbursement by ENCJ -£162.22
January - June 2013 - - Reimbursement by ENCJ -£162.23
21 - 27 September 2013 Sheriff Liddle CMJA Conference – Jersey £237.34
22 - 24 September 2013 Lady Scott Judicial and Academic Visit in Luxembourg £368.30
22 - 26 September 2013 Sheriff L Wood Commonwealth Law Conference – Jersey £106.71
22 - 26 September 2013 Sheriff Fletcher Commonwealth Law Conference – Jersey £1,445.02
24 - 28 September 2013 Lord Gill Attendance at CMJA Conference – Jersey £102.95
26- 28 September 2013 Lord Hodge Franco-British Judicial Colloque in Paris £425.73
4 - 12 October 2013 Sheriff J P Scott Conference IAJ Yalta £734.50
4 - 12 October 2013 Lord Eassie Conference IAJ Yalta £1,019.64
24 - 27 November 13 Lord Armstrong Meeting of Judges of Member States @ the Court of Justice of European Union: Luxembourg £294.80
24 - 27 November 13 Lord Boyd Meeting of Judges of Member States @ the Court of Justice of European Union: Luxembourg £294.80
24 - 27 November 13 Lady Dorrian Meeting of Judges of Member States @ the Court of Justice of European Union: Luxembourg £294.80
9 - 10 December 2013 Lord Tyre ENCJ Project Group meeting in Brussels £481.76
9 - 10 December 2013 Sheriff Normand ENCJ Project Group meeting in Brussels £514.48
July - December 2013  Reimbursement by ENCJ -£157.82
July - December 2014 - - Reimbursement by ENCJ -£157.83
7-9 February 2014 Sheriff Sheehan Four Jurisdictions Family Lawyers Conference 2014 £599.92
7-9 February 2014 Sheriff Crowe Four Jurisdictions Family Lawyers Conference 2014 £550.50
7-9 February 2014 Sheriff N Stewart Four Jurisdictions Family Lawyers Conference 2014 £817.11
7-9 February 2014 Sheriff McCartney Four Jurisdictions Family Lawyers Conference 2014 £576.03
16 - 18 February 2014 Sheriff Normand ENJC meeting in Warsaw, Poland £396.89
23 - 24 January 2014 Lord Tyre ENCJ project group meeting in Brussels £642.01
21 - 27 June 2014 Lord Carloway ISRCL Conference in Vancouver Canada £5,820.16
4 - 6 Feb 14 Lord Carloway European Conference,Dijon, France  £59.15
7 - 9 Feb 2014 Lord Brailsford Four Jurisdictions Family Lawyers Conference 2014 £167.56
24 - 26 Mar 14 Lord Carloway Evidence & Procedure Review Study Visit £232.93
23 - 26 March 2014 Sheriff Normand ENCJ Project Group meeting in Lithuania £451.81
23 -25 March 2014 Lord Tyre ENCJ Project Group meeting in Bucharest £631.58
23 - 26 March 2014 Sheriff Normand 23 - 26 March 2014 ENCJ Meeting in Lithuania £146.00
13 - 18 April 2014 Lord Gill Official visit to Qatar £2,855.52

Friday, August 15, 2014

JUDICIAL RICH LIST: Register reveals top judges investments in dodgy justice system providers, companies linked to international bribes scandals, mercenaries, tax avoidance & banks fined for financial markets manipulation

Judges shareholdings in companies guilty of breaking the law raise questions of ethical investments. DISCLOSURES of judges personal shareholdings obtained under Freedom of Information legislation from the Scottish Court Service have revealed a startling snapshot of the wealth of several key members of Scotland’s judiciary who sit on a controlling quango which flexes its muscle over the entire court structure in Scotland.

The declarations of the seven judicial members of the Scottish Court Service Board – including Scotland's top judge, the Lord President & Lord Justice General Brian Gill on £220K a year - reveal members of the judiciary benefit financially from shareholdings in companies who won huge public contracts to provide services to the courts & justice system, companies convicted of breaking the law around the world, companies involved in ‘industrial’ espionage against countries such as China, banks fined for international financial market manipulation, and companies involved in bribes, bid rigging, and tax dodging to name but a few.

The documents – handed over by the Scottish Court Service after officials initially denied holding the information in an effort to delay full publication, bring further revelations on top of reports in the Scottish Sun newspaper where it was revealed Sheriff Principal RA Dunlop holds shares in Weir Group - hit with a £13.9 million Proceeds of Crime fine for dodging UN sanctions by paying bribes to Saddam Hussein’s regime. The Sunday Herald also revealed Sheriff Principal RA Dunlop held shares in Tesco while presiding over a case involving the multi national supermarket giant.

Shareholdings of top judges on Scottish Court Service Board:

Lord President Lord Brian Gill: Henderson UK Growth Fund Retail Class Acc, Newton International Growth Fund, Aviva Investors UK Equity Fund, Terrace Hill Group, Vestry Court Ltd

Sheriff Principal R A Dunlop QC: Astrazeneca, BHP Billiton, Blackrock AM UK Gold & General, Bluescope Steel, BNY Mellon Newton Global, CG Real Return Inc, Close Brothers Group, Diageo, Findlay Park FDS American Smaller Cos., G4S, Henderson Global Invs, ING Global Real Estate Securities, Intercontinental Hotels, JP Morgan Private Equity, Lomond Shipping Co, Lloyds Banking, M&G (Guernsey) Global Leaders, National Grid, Oakley Capital Investments, Origo Partners, Pernod Ricard, Prudential, Rio Tinto, Royal Bank of Scotland, Royal Dutch Shell, Scottish Oriental Smaller Cos, Tesco, Vodafone, Weir Group

Sheriff Iona McDonald: Glaxosmithkline, Royal Dutch Shell, Unilever, Equiniti, Barclays, Standard Life, HBOS

Johan Findlay OBE: Aviva, Vodafone, Santander, Unilever, Norwich Union, Legal & General, Fidelity Funds Network, Scottish Widows, Lloyds Banking Group, Thus Group, HBOS, Trafficmaster, Standard Life

Sheriff A Grant McCulloch: “None significant”

Hon Lord Bannatyne: None

Lord Justice Clerk - Lord Carloway: None (and no declarations of any kind whatsoever)

The registers reveal more of the judges shareholdings in companies with questionable histories - Sheriff Dunlop is also a shareholder in G4S who were fined £335,000 for court delays in Scotland after it was revealed the company brought prisoners to court late - on at least 21,735 occasions.

In March 2014, G4S agreed to repay £109 million to the UK government after a scandal involving overcharging on contracts to tag offenders. The overcharging is believed to include billing for monitoring the movements of 3,000 "phantom" offenders, including some who had been sent back to prison and even some who had died.

And the firm was also implicated in several scandals in Iraq where the company operate as ArmorGroup, supplying armed guards & security. A BBC Scotland investigation into G4S revealed the company had been warned not to employ a former British paratrooper who went on to kill two colleagues including Private security guard Paul McGuigan, from the Scottish Borders.

Dunlop also has shares in mining giant BHP Billiton – embroiled in an anti-corruption investigation by the US authorities into a lobbying scam aimed at defeating the landmark US climate change bill involving forged letters sent to US congressmen. BHP Billiton is also under investigation in another anti-corruption investigation in Australia over its major sponsorship of the 2008 Beijing Olympics and the alleged payment of "tea money" to secure rights to a since-abandoned bauxite exploration project in Cambodia.

Another mining giant on Sheriff Dunlop’s extensive share portfolio is Rio Tinto - caught up in a spying and corruption scandal in China where four of the firm’s executives admitted bribery and were jailed. Sheriff Dunlop is also listed in the documents as holding shares in Vodafone - which paid no UK corporation tax for the past two years despite massive profits and sales of £5 Billion in Britain last year.

And, in what must be a humiliating slap in the face of the Scottish Government, documents show Sheriff Principal Dunlop also holds shares in drinks giant Diageo, who are supporting the drinks industry’s legal challenge against the Scottish Government’s minimum alcohol pricing policy.

Another judge, Sheriff Iona McDonald who also holds the position of Deputy Lieutenant for Ayrshire and Arran, is revealed to invest in pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline. GSK are also caught up in a huge corruption scandal in China over allegations it’s sales team targeted influential doctors with bribes, expensive gifts and cash to win business.

Among the list of other investments of SCS Board members are banks such as Lloyds - fined £218 Million for manipulating the Libor rate and Barclays - recently fined £26 Million for gold price fixing. Barclays were also fined £290 million over their part in the Libor rate rigging scandal.

Also on the list are insurance firms who do business with law firms all across Scotland and are directly linked to the Law Society of Scotland’s Master Insurance Policy - which protects corrupt solicitors from damages claims by clients who have been ripped off. A Research Report by the University of Manchester School of Law linked the Law Society’s Master Policy to suicides of court litigants & clients of Scottish solicitors.

Speaking to Diary of Injustice, a legal insider said: “While it may not be of concern to members of the judiciary which firms they choose to invest in, it should be of concern to the public, as many of these companies and their subsidiaries are regulars in the courts where judicial recusals are historically hard to come by on financial grounds.”

The SCS Board register of interests, which date back to 2010 – also list the shareholding portfolio of the then Lord President - Lord Hamilton. Additional declarations in the register reveal a snapshot of current SCS Board members directorships, trusteeships, links to businesses and relationships with shady regulators of the accountancy profession:

Lord President Lord Gill: Director of Scottish Redundant Churches Trust, a company limited by guarantee registered in Scotland (SC162884). Director of the Royal School of Church Music, a company limited by guarantee registered in England (Reg'd No 250031). Trustee of the Carmont Settlement: a trust for the support of retired priests of the Roman Catholic Church. Trustee of the Columba Trust: a trust for the benefit of the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland.Trustee of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland Endowment Trust: a trust for the benefit of RCS and its students. Trustee of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland Trust: a trust for the benefit of the RCS and its students. Trustee of the Royal School of Church Music, a registered charity for the promotion of church music in the Christian Churches (Reg No 312828). Vice President of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.

Sheriff Principal R A Dunlop QC: Member of Stirling University Conference. Chair of Local Criminal Justice Boards in Tayside Central and Fife. Commissioner of Northern Lighthouses. Trustee of St John's Kirk of Perth Trust. Elder of Gorebridge Parish Church of Scotland. Member of Royal Northern & Clyde Yacht Club. Member of the New Club, Edinburgh.

Sheriff Iona McDonald: Deputy Lieutenant for Ayrshire and Arran. Partner in property rental firm.

Johan Findlay OBE: Honorary Sheriff & Justice of the Peace

Sheriff A Grant McCulloch: Chair West Fife Education Trust. Chair Relationship Scotland- Couple Counselling Fife. Chair - Discipline Committee ICAS (Institute for Chartered Accountants of Scotland – Accountants self regulator). Committee Member Cammo Residents Association.

Hon Lord Bannatyne: Chester Street (Limited Partner) Ltd on behalf of the Board if the Cathedral Church of St Mary the Virgin, Palmerston Place, Edinburgh. Member of the Board of the Cathedral Church of St Mary the Virgin, Palmerston Place, Edinburgh. Shareholder as Trustee for the Cathedral Church of St Mary the Virgin, Palmerston Place, Edinburgh, in Chester Street (General Partner) Ltd. Member of the Clergy Disciplinary Tribunal of the Episcopal Church.

Lord Justice Clerk - Lord Carloway: No declarations of Directorships or other positions.

Multiple property ownership and interests in real estate, buy to let and property companies is big business for members of the judiciary and their family members – however there are no details or disclosures of any property directly owed by the SCS Board members contained in the declarations released by the SCS. It is as if Scotland’s top judges are on the homeless register – but it is clear from their wealth, they don't use food banks.

The limited disclosures of SCS Board members contain no references to outside earnings & work, relationships to law firms, big business and others more detailed declarations which may be picked up by a fully published register of judicial interests as is currently being investigated by the Scottish Parliament’s public Petitions Committee.who are considering proposals contained in Petition PE1458: Register of Interests for members of Scotland's judiciary.

The registers as released by the Scottish Court Service have now been handed to MSPs who are to be asked to consider the question of ethical investments of the judiciary as part of their on-going debate on proposals to create a full register of judicial interests for all Scottish 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 earlier debates at the Scottish Parliament’s Public Petitions Committee on Petition PE1458 can be found here: A Register of Interests for Scotland's Judiciary.

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

COURT SECRETS: Scotland’s anti-transparency top judge Lord Brian Gill threatens media censorship in row over reporting access to court papers

Top judge Brian Gill warns media will be blocked from access to courts. SCOTLAND’S top judge, Lord President & Lord Justice General Brian Gill has issued an UNPRECEDENTED Judicial ‘notice’ warning the media they will be blocked from access to reporting on court cases because of “significant concerns” relating to public disclosures of cases going through Scotland’s hugely expensive yet slow moving courts system.

The move by Lord Gill to censor media access to court documents and public reporting of criminal or civil cases often stuck in courts for years at huge expense to taxpayers and litigants, comes after increasing questions from the media and the Scottish Parliament on the inadequate state of Scotland’s justice system, and the secret undeclared interests of top judges on huge salaries who head our publicly funded courts.

What is little short of a judicial proclamation from Lord Gill, originally marked ‘not for publication’ but now available HERE on the Scottish Court Service website, states “For some time the Court has been reviewing the practice of allowing journalists an opportunity to see complaints and indictments for note-taking purposes before cases call in court.” 

The judge goes on to claim court staff have disclosed “excessive” amounts of information to journalists on cases citing unspecified “recent breaches” of the current understanding between courts and the media on how cases are reported in the press. The judge then makes reference to the Data Protection Act 1998 as an excuse for blocking transparency in court activities.

Lord Gill concludes his edict on press freedoms by stating “the media are reminded of their responsibilities in the matter.”

This latest anti-transparency move by Lord Gill, who signed the media order as Lord Justice General, has drawn criticism from legal insiders who accuse the top judge of creating a de facto media law which may considerably affect or even alter the outcome of cases in court.

It is also clear Lord Gill’s sweeping judicial notice - widely being interpreted as a major policy statement from Scotland’s top judge, has come about with little open debate, discussion or consultation with Parliament.

A solicitor speaking to Diary of Injustice criticised the secrecy move by Scotland’s top judge, claiming Lord Gill’s threatened ban on the press may alter the course of justice where media attention and public interest in how the courts handle cases is both desirable and a necessity in a democratic society.

He said: “If the Lord President is minded to ban the media from court access to cases, does this also have implications for litigants and legal teams who may also be prevented in the future from securing necessary access to information and evidence crucial to a person’s right to a fair hearing?”

Lord Gill’s media policy statement:

NOTICE: ADVANCE ACCESS OF THE MEDIA TO COURT DOCUMENTS

1. For some time the Court has been reviewing the practice of allowing journalists an opportunity to see complaints and indictments for note-taking purposes before cases  call in court.The review was necessary because of significant concerns arising from the  Data  Protection Act 1998 (“DPA”) in relation to the disclosure of personal data and sensitive personal data in these documents.

2.  The current  practice  gives  journalists  an  opportunity to attend and report  on noteworthy cases; but  it is now clear that the information being disclosed is excessive for this purpose.

3.  In due course the courts will  move to an electronic  portal-based system  that will enable the media  to access  securely  information about  forthcoming  cases and,  in  time,  other  information  such  as  reporting  restrictions.  This  will provide sufficient information for reporting  purposes  but will ensure that  the court will comply with the requirements of the DPA.

4.  In  the  interim  the  current  practice  will  continue,  but  on  the  strict understanding that no information obtained from a complaint or indictment is to be published before a case calls in court.  In the light of recent breaches of that  understanding,  the  media  are  reminded  of  their  responsibilities  in  the matter.

Brian Gill Lord Justice General Edinburgh 30 July 2014

SCOTLAND’S ANTI TRANSPARENCY TOP JUDGE :

Scotland’s top judge Lord President Lord Brian Gill fiercely opposes calls for any form of transparency & public accountability of the judiciary and Scotland’s Courts.

Over the course of nearly two years, Scotland’s top judge Lord Gill has focussed his anger on a Scottish Parliament investigation into calls for a register of judicial interests. The register proposal would reveal the judiciary's vast personal, undeclared wealth, extensive family and business connections throughout the legal profession, links to big business, offshore trusts & investments, ownership of numerous and high value properties through a variety of ‘creative’ arrangements, directorships, shareholdings, and even unpublished criminal records of members of the judiciary.

Lord Gill refused at least two invitations to appear before the Scottish Parliament to give evidence and face questions on his opposition to the proposal to create a register of judicial interests. The top judge has also used the Scotland Act as a loophole to avoid further scrutiny on the matter.

Lord Gill’s challenge to MSPs declared judicial opposition to transparency. In Lord Gill’s opening letter to MSPs on the call for a register of judicial interests, the judge claimed “In practical terms it would be impossible for all judicial office holders to identify all the interests that could conceivably arise in any future case. The terms of the Judicial Oath and the Statement of Principles of Judicial Ethics ensure that such a difficulty does not arise and that the onus is on the judicial office holder to declare any interest at the outset.”

In what was a hint of the sheer hostility felt by the judiciary against a call to bring transparency to judges interests, Lord Gill went onto accuse the media, press, litigants, court users and just about everyone else with an interest in transparency of being potentially hostile and aggressive, simply because someone may wish to raise questions of judges interests similar to the same kinds of questions which are raised of interests in other public officials and those in public life, politics & government.

And, if MSPs were unsure of the depth of Lord Gill’s attitude towards transparency, the top judge went on to refuse to appear before the Scottish Parliament, and used a loophole in the Scotland Act to justify his sweeping declaration he did not require to answer questions from Scotland’s democratically elected politicians.

Lord Gill’s use of Scotland Act against MSPs was reported in the media. Writing in a letter to msps, Lord Gill implied cooperation with Parliament would be withdrawn over calls to make judges more transparent in register : “Section 23(7) of the Scotland Act provides inter alia that the Parliament may not require a judge to attend its proceedings for the purposes of giving evidence. This is not a loophole. It is a necessary part of the constitutional settlement by which the Parliament is established. Its purpose is to protect the independence of the judiciary, a vital constitutional principle that is declared in section 1 of the Judiciary and Courts (Scotland) Act 2008”

The judge continued: “When a committee invites a judge to give evidence before it, I have to decide whether the subject matter might infringe the principle of judicial independence; and whether the evidence required could be satisfactorily given in writing.”

At a time when questions are being asked as to why Scotland’s antiquated, slow moving and expensive justice system has not kept pace with reforms to other public services, Lord Gill’s attempt to cover over the failures of Scots justice by closing down media access to the courts raises questions over the honesty of proposed changes contained in legislation currently going through the Scottish Parliament, changes which are derived from many recommendations Lord Gill once made in his Civil Courts Review.

Lord Gill’s latest Victorian venture has no place in a modern society in 2014, where courts funded by the public purse to the tune of enormous sums of money must be transparent, accountable and open to all, instead of being run by an ageing judiciary as a symbol of personal power, secretive wealth & undeclared interests and ultimately, nothing short of a business venture for the legal profession.

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 deliberations on Petition PE1458: Register of Interests for members of Scotland's judiciary can be found here : A Register of Interests for Scotland's Judiciary

Thursday, July 31, 2014

SNOOPED OFF: Lawyer involved in £500K public contract industrial espionage complaint struck off by Scottish Solicitors Discipline Tribunal

Lawyer copied details of rival law firm’s bid to win £500K public contract. A SOLICITOR from the Edinburgh based law firm Dundas & Wilson has admitted stealing details from rival law firm Brodies LLP in order to win a £500,000 public contract involving five Scottish local authorities who proposed to share services for waste management and recycling.

Lawyer Keith Armstrong (41) who resigned from Dundas & Wilson in July 2012 after representatives of Renfrewshire Council contacted the law firm over the similarity of details contained in competitive bids, admitted in evidence to the Scottish Solicitors Discipline Tribunal he stole details from rival law firm Brodies LLP in order to help win the contract.

It transpired from the tribunal hearing that documents which Armstrong had ‘acquired’ came from papers held by his partner, Kate Mayor (36) who was at the time business development manager for Brodies LLP.

As a result of the tribunal hearing, Keith Armstrong has subsequently been struck off the roll of solicitors. He now works for energy giant SSE PLC, (formerly Scottish & Southern Electricity), who were recently fined £10.5m by industry regulator Ofgem for mis-selling gas & electricity contracts

The Scottish Sun reports:

LAWYER SWIPED FILES FOR £500K DEAL PLOT

Exclusive: By Russell Findlay 13 July 2014 Scottish Sun

A TOP lawyer stole secret files from a rival in a plot to win a £500,000 contract. Dundas & Wilson partner Keith Armstrong. 41. copied a draft bid belonging to blue chip competitor Brodies.

He admitted swiping the document from under the nose of innocent missus Kate Mayor, 36 - then Brodies business development manager before “fraudulently and deceitfully” using it in his own firm's tender.

A source said yesterday: "For a partner to commit what amounts to industrial espionage is unprecedented. The scandal has rocked the legal establishment."

The Edinburgh companies with combined turnover of £100million were battling for the contract from North Lanarkshire. North Ayrshire. East Dunbartonshire. East Renfrewshire and Renfrewshire councils in 2012.

Armstrong was rumbled after officials noticed 27 parts of the two rival bids were identical. He owned up to his bosses and quit before the contract was eventually won by Pinsent Masons.

Armstrong, right, of Edinburgh. was struck off following a probe by the Scottish Solicitors' Discipline Tribunal. Chairman Alan McDonald ruled: "His conduct is so grave it is very likely to bring the profession into disrepute."

The divorcee, now working for power giant SSE. last night refused to comment at the £615.000 home he shares with Ms Mayor in Morningside. Brodies also declined to comment.

SSDT REPORT CENSORED IDENTITIES OF LAW FIRM:

Curiously, the opinion published by the SSDT directed that neither Brodies LLP or Mr Armstrong’s current employer Scottish & Southern Energy should be mentioned by name or identified in any way in the report …

Tribunal heard lawyer ‘copied’ terms of bid from competitor. On or around 22 May 2012 a representative of RC (Renfrewshire Council) contacted D&W (Dundas & Wilson), noting that some concern had arisen in respect of certain similarities between the Tenders submitted by D&W and that submitted by another Tenderer. RC had compiled a comparison document setting out the relevant text of concern and by email of 22 May 2012 invited D&W to attend a meeting on 24 May 2012  to  discuss  matters. 

The  other Tenderer, namely  Firm  X (Brodies LLP), was  also invited to a similar  meeting  on that  date. D&W immediately  commenced  an internal investigation. In the course of said investigation the Respondent admitted to D&W that  he  had  been  responsible  for  the  text  that  had  been highlighted and  that  he  had  plagiarised  these  from  another Tender document for the project belonging to Firm X.

In  particular  the Respondent accepted that on 28 or 29 April 2012 at his dwelling  house, without the permission or consent of  his  partner,  Ms  B,  who  was  at  the  time  a  Business Development  Manager  at  Firm  X, he accessed  the Tender as prepared  by  Firm  X  for  the  project,  copied  parts  of  said  draft Tender  and  made  use  of  that  information  when  completing D&W’s  Tender  for the project.

Amstrong was represented at the hearing by William Macreath of the Legal Defence Union & Levy McRae, the Law Society of Scotland was represented by Elaine Motion QC.

Tribunal Decision : The Tribunal having considered the Complaint at the instance of the Council of the Law Society of Scotland on behalf of Firm X against Keith Guy William Armstrong, formerly of Dundas & Wilson, Solicitors, Saltire Court, 20 Castle Terrace, Edinburgh and now c/o Levy McRae Solicitors, 266 St Vincent Street, Glasgow;

Find the Respondent guilty of Professional Misconduct in respect of his having accessed confidential information belonging to another firm of solicitors in relation to a project, having copied and thereafter used part of that firm’s Tender document in his own firm’s Tender and his fraudulently and/or deceitfully having allowed it to be submitted as his own firm’s work bringing his integrity into question;

his actions being deliberate and wholly inconsistent with the requirements to maintain mutual trust and confidence with his fellow solicitors in allowing a Tender to be submitted, part of which had been plagiarised from another firm’s Tender which he knew or ought to have known, was not only confidential but was of a commercially sensitive nature and his actions drawing the profession at large into disrepute;

Strike the Respondent Keith Guy William Armstrong from the Roll of Solicitors in Scotland;

Find the Respondent liable in the expenses of the Complainers and of the Tribunal including expenses of the Clerk, chargeable on a time and line basis as the same may be taxed by the Auditor of the Court of Session on an agent and client, client paying basis in terms of Chapter Three of the last published Law Society’s Table of Fees for general business with a unit rate of £14.00; and Direct that publicity will be given to this decision and that this publicity should include the name of the Respondent but will not include the name of Firm X or the Respondent’s current employer or otherwise identify them.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

RISING SON: Scotland’s top judge Lord Gill forced to stand aside from Court of Session case because QC “relative” on respondent’s legal team is judge’s son

Top judge Lord Gill steps aside from case due to son’s involvement. SCOTLAND’S top judge, the Lord President Lord Brian Gill has been forced to stand aside from hearing an unidentified case in the Court of Session because “ a relative” - who turned out to be one of Lord Gill’s sons, represented a party involved in the court case.

The move by Lord Gill comes after a deal was reached with MSPs to publish reasons for judges standing aside in cases - reasons which have for the main, remained secret and unrecorded until the Scottish Parliament’s Petitions Committee began an investigation into proposals to create a full register of judicial interests, as called for in Petition PE1458: Register of Interests for members of Scotland's judiciary.

However, the first ever recoded recusal of the country’s top judge published by the Judiciary of Scotland in the new recusal list available here: Judicial Recusals, vaguely describes Lord Gill’s withdrawal from the case as due to a “Relative of Senator acts for the respondent” - whereas in fact it can now be revealed the “relative” turned out to be the Lord President’s son, Brian Gill QC.

At first, the Judicial Office refused to confirm the identity of Lord Gill’s “relative”.

A spokesperson for the Judicial Office stated: “We cannot provide any comment or further details in addition to what has already been published, but we can confirm that the advocate is one of the Lord President’s sons.”

The identity of Lord Gill’s son, Brian Gill QC - referred to as a “relative” in the official version was later confirmed by the Judicial Office but no details of the case being heard in Scotland’s top court which prompted the recusal were released.

Speaking to Diary of Injustice earlier today, a legal insider said: “Clearly it is of limited value to the public and court users if no one is able to find out the real reason the Lord President himself was forced to step aside from a case, and who exactly that person is and why it prompted a recusal.”

He continued: “When it comes to business links and family relationships of the judiciary impacting on litigation, it is clearly in the public interest the precise relationship of the judge to the individual, law firm, expert witness or otherwise and their identity should be published by the Judicial Office and made a matter of public record.”

In February 2014 the Lord President and Lord Justice General, Lord Gill gave an undertaking to make publicly available information about cases in which a judge or sheriff formally recuses him or herself from hearing a case. MPs were promised the fact of recusal and the reason for it will be published by the Judicial Office as notification of recusal is received.

However,it is noticeable from the current published list of judicial recusals there has not been one single recusal by a member of the judiciary on financial related grounds.

The lack of recusals by judges on financial related matters comes even though a considerable number of cases are in the Scottish courts where matters such as personal investments, creative finances & property ownership of members of the judiciary would certainly prompt cause for concerns if they were made public - some of which have already been highlighted by the media in previous reports.

Judicial Recusals to 26 June 2014:

24 March 2014 Livingston Sheriff Court Sheriff Edington Civil Court report prepared by spouse of a resident sheriff.
8 April 2014 Forfar Sheriff Court Sheriff Veal Criminal Sheriff personally known to a witness.
10 April 2014 Selkirk Sheriff Court Sheriff Paterson Civil Sheriff had previously acted for a client in dispute against Pursuer.
23 April 2014 High Court Lady Wise Criminal Senator had previously acted for a relative of accused.
16 April 2014 Glasgow Sheriff Court Sheriff Cathcart Criminal Sheriff personally known to a witness.
13 May 2014 Haddington Sheriff Court Sheriff Braid Civil Known to pursuer's family.
14 May 2014 High Court Judge MacIver Criminal (appeal) Conflict of Interest.
20 May 2014 Court of Session Lord Matthews Civil Senator personally known to a witness.
19 June 2014 Dingwall Sheriff Court Sheriff McPartlin Criminal Sheriff presided over a trial involving the accused, where the issue to which the new case relates was spoken to by a witness.
20 June 2014 Elgin Sheriff Court Sheriff Raeburn QC Criminal Accused appeared before Sheriff as a witness in recent trial relating to same incident.
24 June 2014 Glasgow Sheriff Court Sheriff Crozier Criminal Sheriff personally known to proprietor of premises libelled in the charge.
26 June 2014 Court of Session Lord President Civil Relative of Senator acts for the respondent.

With no recusals on financial grounds - due to judges refusing to disclose hidden investments, secret wealth, work for law firms & offshore tax trusts among other interests … the current way the recusal data is presented is worth little to the public or court users and does not promote increased transparency of Scotland’s judiciary.

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 deliberations on Petition PE1458: Register of Interests for members of Scotland's judiciary can be found here : A Register of Interests for Scotland's Judiciary

Thursday, June 19, 2014

LORD FLY-BYE: Scotland's courts in the slow lane as judges prefer law conferences, business & 'diplomatic' trips to life on the bench

Slow day in Court? Judges prefer international travel to dull legal hearings. AMID suspicions some of the wealthy, well connected members of Scotland’s judiciary who regularly fly around the world at taxpayers expense to attend ‘law related events’ have been using trips abroad to mix their official duties with private business, and apply a little soft power on behalf of Governments, the Scottish Court Service (SCS) are currently fighting a battle against publishing any further information in connection with the travels of Scotland’s elite, secretive judiciary.

The move by the SCS to stall the flow of information on what Scottish judges are up to outside of their role in court comes amid increased public debate on what judges actually do for the community and why, in spite of claims by Scotland’s top judge Lord Gill that the Civil Justice system is “failing society”, reforms which Gill himself proposed over five years ago never see the light of day while judges, lawyers and the justice system itself soak up billions more from clients, court users trapped in litigation hell, & taxpayers every year.

In previous information published by the media, it was discovered Scottish judges & sheriffs were also taking their wives on expensive trips abroad at public expense.

And in some expenses claims alongside the trips, members of the judiciary who are typically on salaries of over £140K a year with handsome pensions and numerous other ‘unspecified financial benefits’ also scooped up extra public funds for the hire of dinner suits, taxi expenses, and even malaria injections - while the rest of the country was being told to buckle down and public services including the National Health Service were being cut to the bone.

Judicial trips & extra expenses claims 2010-2013

17/06/10  Lord Hamilton Meeting European Court of Human Rights Strasbourg £100.90
17/06/10 Lord Reed Meeting European Court of Human Rights Strasbourg £103.53
24/06/10 Lord Hodge European Commercial Judges Conference Rome £765.39
25/06/2010  Lord Pentland Reform of criminal law event, Lisbon £1083.34
08/09/2010  Sheriff MacNeill Anglophone conference Berlin £382.57
12/09/2010  Sheriff Normand European Network of Councils of the Judiciary Meeting Brussels £136.72
12/09/2010  Lord Hodge European Network of Councils of the Judiciary Meeting Brussels £46.08
16/09/2010  Sheriff Baird  OPG Conference Dublin  £367.84
16/09/2010  Nikola Milne  OPG Conference Dublin  £245.77
03/10/2010  Lord Gill Opening of Legal year Dublin £362.16
07/10/2010  Lord Reed Meeting of UK judges Conseil d'Etat Paris £376.66
11/10/2010 Sheriff Normand European Network of Councils of the Judiciary Brussels £314.21
15/10/2010  Lord Gill Commonwealth Law Conference India  £3724.66
06/11/2010  Sheriff Ireland International Association of Judges Conference Senegal  £1331.02
06/11/2010  Lord Eassie International Association of Judges Conference Senegal  £1223
12/12/2010  Lord Woolman Judicial Conference cross-border protection of children & families in Morocco  £1158.78
12/12/2010       Sheriff Normand European Network of Councils of the Judiciary Meeting Brussels £224.61
16-19/09/2010  Sheriff Welsh  OPG Conference Dublin  £349.48
23-27/06/2010 Lord Glennie European Commercial Judges Conference Rome  £621.17
24-29/06/2010 Sheriff Normand Reform of criminal law event, Lisbon  £992
31/01-12/02/2011  Lord Tyre  ERA Academy I & II Trier £177.90
8-10/12/2010   Sheriff Noble EU Seminar on Mutual Recognition and Trust in Amsterdam  £178.84
8-10/12/2010   Sheriff McColl EU Seminar on Mutual Recognition and Trust in Amsterdam  £163.84
10/04/2011      Lord Hodge  ENCJ Bucharest £181.17
12-14/5/2011 Sheriff M  Neilson Franco/British/Irish Colloque Dublin £367.89
12-15/5/2011 Sheriff T Welsh Franco/British/Irish Colloque Dublin £391.85
12-14/5/2011 Sheriff C Cunninghame Franco/British/Irish Colloque Dublin £493.79
12-14/5/2011 Sheriff K Ross Franco/British/Irish Colloque Dublin £770.91
10-12 April 2011     Sheriff A Normand ENCJ working Group - Barcelona £176
6-7/7/2011           Lord Woolman Hague Conference on PIL £284.67
7-11 June 2011    Lord Hodge General Assembly of the ENCJ Vilnius, Lithuania £295.59
7&11/6/2011      Sheriff Normand General Assembly of the ENCJ Vilnius, Lithuania £806.53
7-11 August 2011  Lord Gill ISRCL Conference, Ottawa, Canada £1053.39
14-22 July 2011 Sheriff Fletcher  CMJA Kuala Lumpur £4659.41
4-8 Sept 2011  Sheriff L Wood International Association of Judges, Istanbul £1815.08
15-16 Sept 2011  Lord Hodge ENCJ, Hague, Amsterdam £733.85
25 - 27 Sept 2011  Lord Reed European Court of Justice, Conference £380.74
6-12Aug 2011 UKIJSC Sheriff McFadyen ISRCL Conference, Ottawa, Canada £4010.29
12-15May2011  Lord Uist Franco-British-Irish Judicial Cooperation Conference 0
9-10 Oct11     Lord Hodge ENCJ Steering Committee meeting £80.34
30 Sept-3Oct11 Lord Hardie Opening of the Legal Year: Dublin £677.29
9-10Oct11       Sheriff A Normand ENCJ Steering Committee meeting, Brussels £830.50
20-23Nov11      Sheriff A McCulloch European Court of Justice, Luxemburg £37.90
20-23Nov11    Lord Hodge European Court of Justice, Luxemburg £1342.99
17-22July11  Sheriff N Morrison  CMJA Kuala Lumpur £4850.07
25-28Jan 2012   Lord Woolman Scottish Hague Network Judge, The Hague, Netherlands £1100.65
22-23Jan 2012   Lord Hodge ENCJ Steering Committee, Brussels £296.25
6-7May 2011      Lord Eassie European Association of Judges, Malta £996.31
4-8 Sept 2011   Lord Eassie International Association of Judges, Istanbul £1996.11
15-16 Jan 2012   Sheriff A Normand ENCJ Project Group meeting, Brussels £397.55 
22-23 Jan 2012    Sheriff A Normand ENCJ Steering Group meeting, Brussels £148.30
3-7March 2012    Sheriff A Normand ENCJ Project Group meeting, Palma Majorca £553.60
31Oct-3Nov 2011  Lord Malcolm Bordeaux to attend IOJT Conference £1245.58
31Oct-3Nov 2011  Sheriff Duff Bordeaux to attend IOJT Conference £1289.07
31Oct-3Nov 2011  Sheriff Welsh Bordeaux to attend IOJT Conference £1163.22
23-27Nov 2011     Lord Gill Ljubljana on official business £251.50
21-22June 2011  Sheriff Welsh QC non funded delegate EJTN General Assembly, Budapest  £672.56
25-26 Oct 2011  Lord Brodie  UKRIJSC Meeting £221.13
25-26 Oct 2011  Sheriff Duff  UKRIJSC Meeting  £240.43
9-13 May 2012   Sheriff A Normand ENCJ General Assembly, Dublin  £399.20
9-11 May 2012   Lord Hodge ENCJ General Assembly, Dublin £394.59
10-16Nov2012  Sheriff G Liddle IAJ Conference, Washington (USA) £3953.32
29-31 May 2012  Lord Brodie EJTN General Assembly, Copenhagen  £44.50
18/07/2012  Sheriff David Mackie Commonwealth Magistrates & Judges Association Conference Kampala  £2182.38
27-29June 2012           Sheriff K Maciver Extradition Seminar, Madrid £121.88
22-26 Nov 2012  Sheriff N McFadyen ISRCL Conference, Washington DC £2173.44
8-16 Sept 2012     Lord Gill CMJA Conference, Kampala Uganda £3519.97
7-16 Sept 2012     Sheriff Fletcher CMJA Conference, Kampala Uganda  £3781.14
17-18 Sept 12  Sheriff Normand  ENCJ - Brussels £120.00
18-20 Oct 2012  Lord Tyre ERA Conference in Trier £505.45
9-16 Nov 2012  Lord Eassie IAJ Conference, Washington (USA)  £2695.56  
17-Sep-2012          Sheriff A Normand ENCJ project meeting in Brussels £360.24
29Sep-1Oct 2012   Lord and Lady Brodie Opening of Legal Year Dublin £561.96
23-Sep-2012          Lord Doherty European Courts of Justice -Luxembourg  £114.96
29-Sep-12          Lord Doherty Opening of Legal Year - Dublin  £81.00
18 20 Oct 2012  Lord Tyre ERA Conference in Luxembourg  £72.77
26-29 Sept2012 Lord Malcolm Attending the European Forum of Commercial Judges, Warsaw £483.75
9-10Dec 2012   Lord Hodge attend working group of ENCJ in Vilnius £1070.02
29-30Sept 2012  Lord and Lady Doherty attend opening of the Legal year in Dublin (in place of LP and LJC) £721.48
12-20 April2013  Lord Carloway Attendance at Commonwealth Law Conference £5541.37
Apr-13                 Lord Gill Attendance at Commonwealth Law Conference £3233.31
8-12 Feb 2013     Lord Hodge Attendance at ENCJ working group Rome 10 & 11 Feb £556.91
Jan to Aug 2012 reimbursement by ENCJ -£320.59
Sept to Dec 2012 reimbursement by ENCJ -£166.47
29-May 2012           Lord P Brodie EJTN General Assembly, Copenhagen £391.50
15 & 22 June 12  Sheriff T Welsh EJTN Conference, Rome £584.99
17-21 Oct 2012      Sheriff T Welsh ERA 20th anniversary, Trier  £476.28
26-28 Nov 2012      Sheriff T Welsh EJTN meeting, £0
31Jan- 1Feb 2013   Sheriff  T Welsh UKIJSC Meeting, £407.21
31Jan –1Feb 2013  Lord Malcolm UKIJSC Meeting, Dublin £464.90

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

GOLD SWAGGER: Police Swoop at Edinburgh law firm sparks legal fight by Chief Constable for ownership of £1Million ancient gold crown

Top cop goes for gold after top prosecutor dropped case. A POLICE STING culminating in arrests of persons negotiating the sale of a 2,500 year old gold crown at the premises of Edinburgh law firm Balfour & Manson has led to a court fight involving Chief Constable Sir Stephen House of Police Scotland who wants to establish ownership of the ancient relic. The increasingly political case, heard by judge Lord Brailsford comes even though the Lord Advocate dropped any prosecution against the Turkish cafe owner who claims ownership of the gold artefact and is adamant the item is a family heirloom.

Chief Constable House has hired private law firm Morton Fraser to pursue the case at taxpayers expense, in an effort - legal experts say appears to be solely focused on handing back the treasure to the Turkish Government - even though Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland ordered the item returned to Murat Aksukalli after all charges relating to the swoop on the lawyer’s office in 2010 were dropped.

AND. in spite of attempts by vested interests to hinder public access to information of the court case, a Fife based transparency campaigner & amateur historian - Tom Minogue, has identified the wreath as one looted from a Greek tomb by the Earl of Elgin, famous for the Elgin Marbles. Mr Minogue has submitted evidence to the court and has written about it on his website here: The Gold Wreath riddle

The Scottish Sun newspaper published a highly detailed investigation into the affair:

CROWNED OFF: Cops nab Turk selling £1M relic, Legal fight for Golden Treasure : Ancient Trinket was looted from Tomb

EXCLUSIVE By RUSSELL FINDLAY Investigations Editor Scottish Sun 15 June 2014

UNDERCOVER detectives nabbed a Turkish cafe boss as he tried to sell them a 2,500-year-old gold crown — worth a staggering £1million. Murat Aksakalli claimed the stunning ancient relic had been left to him by his grandfather.

But police believe the precious artefact known as the Edinburgh Crown was looted from Turkey and should be returned. They launched a sting operation and Aksakalli was held as he tried to flog the intricate decorative wreath at a lawyers office in Edinburgh.

A source said they could make a movie out of this and call it Indiana Jones and the Edinburgh Crown. "Its an incredible saga involving a Turkish wheeler dealer, an undercover police sting, the chief constable and the Lord Advocate. The crown is now being held at Police Scotland's Edinburgh HQ as a legal battle is fought over its future.

A Turkish government report claims the treasure may have been plundered from a tomb in the ancient city of Milas between 2000 and 2010.

But 50 year old Aksakalli insists he inherited the controversial antiquity from his grandfather Fazil Aksakalli who died in rural Cemisgezek. And he claims he can prove he had the relic before the ancient tomb was raided.

He said: "I kept it tor years and forgot about it" "The police said that I went to Turkey in 2010 and just started digging and found it"

His lawyer Aamer Anwar added "Just because the Turkish Government say anything remotely connected to them belongs to them doesn't mean that's right in our legal system"

Aksakalli decided to sell the beautifully crafted crown when his cash and carry company hit financial problems. And two of his business associates Ali Sanal and Hakki Ozbey also helped in the attempt to find a buyer. They approached experts at posh auction houses Sotheby's and Bonhams in Edinburgh.

And Aksakalll claims that a police officer friend of his, Lawson Porter also spoke to the National Museum of Scotland about the ancient head decoration on his behalf.

But their activity caught the attention of the now defunct Serious Organised Crime Agency and an undercover cop was deployed in a sting operation. The officer going under the name Ahmed Shakur met Aksakalli it the Hilton and Marriot hotels in Edinburgh and asked to see the crown.

A third meeting was then arranged at the office of bluechip law firm Balfour & Manson in October 2010. Police swooped on the talks in in the city centre and Aksakalli, Sanal and Ozbey were held and the crown taken by detectives.

One source revealed "The official valuation for the purpose of the court action is £225,000 but the true value is thought to be £1million". "It's become known as the Edinburgh Crown because it was found in the capital".

There is no suggestion Balfour-Manson were involved in any wrongdoing. Following the raid Turkish embassy officials met with Detective Superintendent David Gordon and Lindsay Miller, head of the Crown Office 's organised crime division. They claimed the valuable object belonged to their country and demanded its return.

In December 2012, Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland decided there would be no criminal proceedings against Aksakalli. But months later he agreed to send the crown to Turkey for seven days to undergo forensic analysis. An expert there concluded that the ornate metal wreath - which his decorated with 50 myrtle leaves and flowers - probably came from a Milas tomb and dated to around 350BC.

But in another twist, an amateur historical claims the golden crown may have been looted from Greece in the 19th century by the Earl of Elgin - famous for taking the sculptures from the Parthenon in Athens now known as the Elgin Marbles. Campaigner Tom Minogue found Elgin had bragged about discovering a golden wreath matching the description of the disputed relic seized in Edinburgh,

He has now joined the legal battle being fought over the crown, claiming it could be the same ancient artefact which was mentioned by Elgin. And he is demanding that the experts in Greece be allowed to examine the antiquity as well - just like the Turkish have already done.

Retired engineering businessman Tom said "There seems to have been a rush to judgement by the Police and the Lord Advocate who determined that a gold wreath was Turkish for no other reason than because the person in possession of it said so and happened to be a UK national of Turkish birth.

"There was no claim of any such gold wreath having been plundered from Turkey other than an unspecified generalisation. "This airy-fairy reasoning by the Turks has caused the Scottish authorities to send the gold wreath to Turkey, during which the Turks were allowed to do anything with it as they wished, without hinderance".

"The question of ownership of the golf wreath should be dealt with in an open, fair and unbiased manner, recognising the fact that Greece, the country that taught the world the meaning of democracy, deserves equal treatment to Turkey in the eyes of the law"

Last night Police Scotland confirmed the crown was still being held while the legal battle over its future continues. A spokesman said: "This item was seized in 2013 during a police operation at business premises in Edinburgh. "It is being held until ownership can be determined by the court"

RIDDLE OF LOST ROYAL WREATH

By Russell Findlay

THE intricate golden artefact dubbed the Edinburgh Crown is thought to date from around 35OBC. It features thin branches wound around a wreath with around 50 deli­cate myrtle leaves and rosettes.

The relic is crafted from 98 to 99.5 per cent pure ancient gold and would have been placed in a tomb in either Greece or Turkey. And experts believe the treasure could be worth up to £1 million.

The Edinburgh Crown is very similar to one unearthed in the Piraeus in Athens by the Earl of Elgin in the 19th century.His discovery was recorded in a book about the aristocrat’s travels in Greece.

Elgin presented to parliament a list of the items that he had removed from the country.But missing from this list in 1811 was the gold wreath. The Earl speculated that the crown may have come from a site known as the tomb of Aspasia.

HISTORY & MYSTERIES 350BC Gold crown is buried in royal tomb in Greece or Turkey.

1816 Lord Elgin sells Greek artefacts to the UK but a gold wreath he discovered is missing. 1982 Aksakalli claims he inherits gold wreath from grandfather. 1989 He moves from Turkey to Scotland and claims he later brings over the treasure. 2000-2010 Looting takes place at archaeological ruins in ancient Milas, Turkey 2004 Campaigner Tom Minogue urges Fife Police to probe items taken from Greece by Elgin, including a gold wreath. 2007 Aksakalli begins exploring attempts to sell the crown. SEPT 2010 He meets potential buyer who is actually an undercover cop. OCT 2010 Aksakalli is arrested. 2011 Scots police and prosecutors meet Turkish officials. 2012 Lord Advocate drops case against Aksakalli. MAR 2013 Crown sent to Turkey for analysis, then returned. MAR 2014 Police go to court to try to legally obtain wreath and hand it to Turkey. APRIL 2014 Minogue lodges legal claim that crown may be the one taken by Elgin.

CHIEF CONSTABLE IN COURT:

Top Cop goes for gold. Redacted documents relating to the civil action raised by the Chief Constable of Police Scotland over the gold wreath have now been released by the Scottish Courts.

The Chief Constable’s pleadings in court revealed: “In or around July 2010 Lothian and Borders Police received information that two men were believed to be in possession of a stolen golden wreath of Turkish origin and were attempting to sell it. On 5 October 2010 the first defender, along with Ali Sanal and Hakki Ozbey, was detained at the offices of Balfour & Manson, solicitors, 54-66 Frederick Street, Edinburgh on suspicion of reset. The three suspects were in possession of the fund in medio and were attempting to secure its sale. All three are Turkish nationals.”

“At interview the first defender asserted ownership of the fund in medio. The first defender and said Sanal and Ozbey were released without charge pending further inquiries. A report was submitted to the Procurator Fiscal. The pursuer retained possession of the fund in medio on the instructions of the Procurator Fiscal.”

“On 27 December 2012 the Lord Advocate instructed that no criminal proceedings would be taken against the first defender, or any other person, in respect of the fund in medio due to an insufficiency of evidence. The Lord Advocate instructed that the fund in medio should be returned to its owner.”