Edinburgh Council paid lawyers over £15m in 3 years. THE CITY of Edinburgh Council has been forced to reveal a list of law firms and advocates involved in a staggering Council public cash spend of £15 million on lawyers - in only three years.
However, the Council only revealed the list - after initially refusing a request to disclose the identities of lawyers receiving millions in public cash for work which in some cases insiders allege is being used to keep law firms afloat in ‘difficult times’.
Among the list now disclosed via Freedom of Information legislation are law firms used by Edinburgh Council - who allegedly harassed & intimidated city residents for recovery of fees for dodgy construction work carried out on orders of the Council while staff from the Property Conservation Department took bribes from contractors & construction firms.
Edinburgh City Council was flooded with nearly 1,000 complaints about statutory repairs worth £30bn – yet despite a report saying lessons had been learned, law firms have continued to target residents over dodgy work orders.
The scandal prompted a Police Scotland fraud probe amid claims of bribery and billing for work not done. It was also discovered gifts & hospitality for staff in departments of the council was widespread.
However, Edinburgh Council has bitterly fought any moves to release exact figures for payments to individual law firms, and is now fighting a further Freedom of Information probe on legal fees and other expenses paid to a former Lord Advocate – Elish Angiolini – who was accused of undermining the judiciary by former Lord President Lord Hamilton.
The figures for Edinburgh Council’s spend on lawyers from 2014 to 2017, obtained via Freedom of Information legislation – reveal the Councils’ staggering £5 million a year spend on in-house, external lawyers and Advocates.
From January 2014 to 31 May 2017, the figure revealed by Edinburgh Council details some £15,265,175 spent on lawyers.
During the five months from 1 January to 31 May 2014, Edinburgh Council spending on lawyers alone was £1,016,252
The totals for each year since reveal: 2014-2015: £4,812,170, from 2015-2016: £4,104,736, from 2016-2017: £4,649,121 and in only two months from 1.4.17 to 31.5.17 a further £682,896.
In the same period Edinburgh Council also paid the sum of £229,107 to the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service (SCTS).
Initially, Edinburgh Council attempted to argue that the commercial interests of the Council, the solicitors, advocates and QC listed in the disclosure would be harmed by the disclosure of the withheld information.
However the identities of law firms involved in the payments, but not the exact payments to the actual law firms themselves were eventually disclosed.
The full list of law firms on the payroll of Edinburgh Council includes law firms which have also been subject to PoliceScotland investigations, firms subject to multiple complaints by clients accusing partners of fraud and dishonesty, and a law firm where a stolen £38m Leonardo da vinci painting was ‘found’ in a safe during a Police raid:
Law Firms and Solicitors:
Adams Whyte Solicitors, Aikman Russell Dunlop WS, Aitkens The Family Law Solicitors, Allan McDougall & Co SSC, Allingham & Co (Solicitors) Ltd , Anderson Strathern LLP, Arbuthnott McClanachan, Ashurst LLP, Balfour & Manson, BCKM Solicitors, Berwin Leighton Paisner LLP, Beveridge & Kellas SSC, Brechin Tindal Oatts, Brodies LLP, Burness Paull LLP, Campbell Smith WS, Clan Childlaw, Clyde & Co (Scotland) LLP, CMS Cameron McKenna LLP, Community Law Advice Network, Crown Office & Procurator Fiscal Service LINETS, Digby Brown Solicitors, Drummond Miller LLP, Duncan and Wallace SSC, Dundas & Wilson CS LLP, Edinburgh Law Seminars Limited, Edinburgh Law Solicitors and Notaries, Ennova Law, Eskhill and Company, F M McConnell SsC, Frances McChlery Consulting, Fraser Shepherd, FT & DC Wallace, Garden Stirling Burnet, Gibson Kerr Law and Property, Harper MacLeod LLP, Hay Cassels, HBJ Gateley Wareing Scotland LLP, Hughes Walker Solicitors, Iain Smith & Partners, Innes & Mackay Limited, J K Cameron, Jones Whyte, K W Law, Ledingham Chalmers LLP, Legal Services Agency Ltd, Lindsays W S Solicitor,s MacLay Murray & Spens Solicitors, LLP MacRoberts LLP, McCartney Stewart Limited, McKenzies Solicitors, McMillan Williams Solicitors, McNeill & Cadzow, Millar & Bryce Ltd, Morisons Solicitors, Morton Fraser Solicitors, Odonnells Solicitors Limited, Pinsent Masons LLP, Quinn Garland Associates Ltd, R.A Low & Company, RSC Solicitors, Scottish Child Law Centre, Scottish Public Services Ombudsman, Scutt Beaumont Solicitors Ltd, Sheehan Kelsey Oswald, Shepherd & Wedderburn LLP, Simpson & Marwick WS, Sinclair Court Solicitors, Somerville & Russell , T C Young, Thorley Stephenson SSC, Thorntons WS Solicitors, Tods Murray LLP in Administration, Trinity Chambers, Warners Solicitors LLP, William Hodge Shorthand Writers Ltd, Wilson Terris & Co SSC,
Advocates and QC's:
Rt Hon Dame Elish Angiolini DBE QC, Ruth Innes, David Jack, Morag Jack.
The Scottish Information Commissioner has now been approached to investigate the case and seek disclosure of the amounts of secret legal fees paid to former Lord Advocate Elish Angiolini – after Edinburgh Council claimed the payments of substantial sums of public cash amounted to ‘personal data’.
A separate approach to the SIC is to be made over exact payments to law firms, given the sheer size of payments of public cash – which some legal insiders contend are an indication of law firms generating work for themselves to keep them afloat.
Do you have an experience with Edinburgh Council and any of the law firms listed in the Freedom of Information disclosure? If so, DOI would like to hear from you by contacting us at scottishlawreporters@gmailcom