Wednesday, April 01, 2020

TOP JUDGE - SCRAP JURIES: Scottish Government’s attempt to abolish jury trials during coronavirus outbreak put on hold after outcry from legal profession & politicians

Lord Carloway - scrap most juries during virus outbreak. AN ATTEMPT by Scotland’s top judge and the Scottish Government to ‘temporarily’ axe jury trials as part of emergency Coronavirus legislation – was withdrawn from legislation passing Holyrood today - after the legal profession & politicians criticised the move.

However – the plan to axe juries in many trials – which Scotland’s Lord Justice General Lord Carloway attempted to justify as a method of ‘speeding up’ justice – has not been totally dropped by the Scottish Government.

Constitutional Relations Secretary Michael Russell told the Scottish Parliament that Ministers will revisit the issue of pushing through emergency reforms of the justice system at a later date.

Mr Russell  said further discussions would “allow an intensive and wide-ranging discussion by all interested parties, including victims, whose voice has not yet been fully heard, about the right way to ensure that justice continues to be done in Scotland”.

The emergency legislation being heard today (Wednesday) at Holyrood had proposed allowing judge-only trials for the most serious charges to “ensure that criminal justice systems can continue to operate during the coronavirus restrictions”.

Scotland’s top judge – Lord Carloway (real name Colin Sutherland) claimed axing juries would speed up justice and prevent a “monumental backlog”.

Lord Carloway said in a statement: “We will be facing a monumental backlog of solemn criminal trials once the current restrictions are lifted and trials can recommence. Unless action is taken to mitigate the impact of this, there will be substantial delays in bringing accused persons to trial. These are likely to stretch into years rather than months. The delays will be unprecedented in Scottish legal history. This will have many adverse impacts, including uncertainty for the accused, complainers and witnesses. Such delays will have a highly disruptive effect on their lives, and potentially on the wider system.”

However, the plan drew ire from many quarters, including even SNP politicians where Justice spokeswoman Joanna Cherry criticised the plan in a tweet – stating: "I don’t believe this is necessary. Trials being delayed is enough. This is the obvious compromise. The reality is that life is on hold for everyone."

Last night, John Mulholland, President of the Law Society of Scotland said: “We respect the fact that the public health threat posed by Covid-19 has presented government with an unprecedented challenge. However, it should not limit our responsibility for ensuring proper scrutiny of measures proposed and an understanding of the impact they may have.

“Juries have been an important principle of the Scottish Criminal Justice system for hundreds of years. To remove this provision for the most serious of crimes would be a significant step and have major implications. We fully appreciate the desire to avoid any backlog in cases which might interfere with the proper administration of justice. However, we have not reached that point and so there is not sufficient justification to warrant trials without jury for serious criminal offences. We believe the case for taking such an extraordinary measure has not been made.

“We have taken this view after consulting with many of the most experienced solicitors in criminal law and those with direct experience of serious criminal cases. There is deep concern, right across the legal profession, at the reform being proposed.

“We want to continue to work positively with the Scottish Government around the changes which are necessary to our justice system to deal with the spread of Covid-19. The past few weeks have proved that we need to be flexible and responsive to emerging situations and creative in our solutions. There are provisions within current legislation which allow flexibility and it is important that these are explored fully before additional measures are introduced.”

And in an updated statement today, the Law Society of Scotland President said: “I am reassured that the Scottish Government has listened to the concerns raised by the Law Society on behalf of our members about the possibility of allowing trials to take place without a jury in the most serious of cases. I would like to thank all our members who took the time to provide their views on this fundamental issue. We look forward to engaging positively with the Scottish Government and partners as they investigate practical ways to ensure that justice can continue to be carried out effectively during the outbreak."

responded to the withdrawal of the jury axe proposal, saying: “I am reassured that the Scottish Government has listened to the concerns raised by the Law Society on behalf of our members about the possibility of allowing trials to take place without a jury in the most serious of cases.”

The Scottish Government also took the opportunity to use the Coronavirus bill to extend deadlines for Freedom of Information responses – from 20 days to 60 days – however in another concession from the Scottish Government after criticism from the Libdems & Scottish Greens - Europe minister Jenny Gilruth announced amendments will be tabled to address concerns over the extension of the deadline for FOI requests.

The ‘temporary’ nature of the measures announced today can be legally enforced for the next 18 months, a term that would include the need for Parliament to agree to two separate six-month extensions.

Lord Carloway’s proposal to axe juries in most trials can be read in full, below: LJG response to Coronavirus Bill 

The Lord Justice General has made a statement in response to the Coronavirus (Scotland) Bill introduced in the Scottish Parliament today.

In his statement, the Lord Justice General said: "The Coronavirus (Scotland) Bill introduced in the Scottish Parliament today contains provisions relating to the justice system. Some of these measures impact on long-standing and well-established elements of the system designed, in normal times, to form part of a suite of protections and safeguards for all those participating in, or affected by, the administration of justice. They are not to be altered lightly.

"These are not normal times. My overriding concern is to ensure that, in these extreme circumstances, we can continue to preserve the fair, effective, and efficient administration of justice, in the hope that we can facilitate the return to normal operations as early as is possible.

"The most noteworthy proposal in the Bill is that which would allow for solemn trials to be heard without a jury; with the verdict determined instead by a judge or sheriff. This would represent a significant, if temporary, change to the way the courts conduct business.

"I would like to set out the rationale for this, from the perspective of the judiciary and courts. We will be facing a monumental backlog of solemn criminal trials once the current restrictions are lifted and trials can recommence. Unless action is taken to mitigate the impact of this, there will be substantial delays in bringing accused persons to trial. These are likely to stretch into years rather than months. The delays will be unprecedented in Scottish legal history. This will have many adverse impacts, including uncertainty for the accused, complainers and witnesses. Such delays will have a highly disruptive effect on their lives, and potentially on the wider system.

"The scale of the potential backlog is very daunting. At a conservative estimate, the backlog will be over 1000 trials, on the optimistic assumption that the restrictions are lifted by the start of the summer. Before the current crisis began, measures were already being put in place to help the High Court process an unprecedented number of new indictments each year. The increasing levels of prosecution would have stretched the Court’s capacity to its limits. This new challenge threatens to overwhelm the system. Jury citation will prove difficult and take longer, in a country recovering from high sickness rates, schools and public services re-commencing, business recovering after lengthy staff absences and people taking missed holidays after lengthy restrictions.

"Anything that can be done, therefore, to address the forthcoming backlog will help avert a critical logjam in the system in the period of recovery once restrictions are lifted. Of course some form of time limitation on this measure is required, although it would be needed for all of the period during which the country recovers from the full effects of the current suspension of trial business in the courts. 

"Ultimately, Parliament must decide how it wishes to maintain public confidence in our justice system and allows the courts to continue to administer justice effectively. This means balancing the legitimate concerns about removing juries for a time-limited period against the potential for excessive delay and disruption of the system that the backlog will cause. My concern is that the potential delay and disruption, if mitigatory measures are not taken, may be so severe that it will compromise the effective administration of justice for some years to come."

Media Notes:

This is a Parliamentary Bill introduced by the Scottish Ministers and it will be for them to draft any regulations further to the Bill’s passage, including when and how the measure discussed in the statement might be used.

The Lord Justice General has explained that “ultimately Parliament must decide how it wishes to maintain public confidence in our justice system and allows the courts to continue to administer justice effectively”.

Thursday, March 12, 2020

JUDICIAL REGISTER: Holyrood Justice Committee to continue work on register of judges’ interests – MSPs to seek evidence from constitutional experts & report on conflicts of interest of key stakeholders in the justice system

MSPs to continue work on judicial register. THE Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee will continue work on a cross-party backed petition calling for the creation of a register of interests for all Scottish judges: Petition PE1458: Register of Interests for members of Scotland's judiciary.

On Tuesday, members of the Justice Committee voiced their support for the plan to create a judges’ register of interests – despite intense opposition from Scotland’s top judge Lord Carloway – who refused to face questions from MSPs on judges’ interests .

Justice Committee members also decided to seek evidence from constitutional and academic witnesses – and briefings on the extent of conflicts of interest relating to key stakeholders in the Scottish justice system.

During the hearing, John Finnie MSP said: “The debate seems to be polarised. The petition has been open for a considerable number of years, and an issue remains. The public would expect some measure of accountability.”

“I note the comments about intrusion into the independence of the judiciary, and I wonder if there is any opportunity to investigate that further as a way forward. I am conscious that the petition has been around for a long time.”

James Kelly MSP said: “Over the period for which the committee has been examining the issue, I have become convinced by the case for a register of interests for the judiciary.”

“I note the responses from the cabinet secretary and Lord Carloway; there is clearly a bit of a stand-off here. Members’ suggestions of taking additional evidence to take the issue forward are sensible. We should not park the issue; it is important and we should continue to press it.”

Rona Mackay MSP said: “It is a very important issue, and it will not just disappear. As a committee, we should investigate it further and take some wider evidence to inform our views. I would be in favour of doing that at this stage. Albeit that we have—as John Finnie says—reached an impasse, it is incumbent on us to take a wider look.”

The move by the Justice Committee comes amid strong and continued opposition to the judicial transparency proposal from Scotland’s top judge – Lord Carloway, and Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf who both oppose any moves to require judges to disclose their interests in the same way others in branches of government, boards and all 129 MSPs disclose and register their interests.

Earlier this week, MSPs were provided with evidence from a senior Justice of the Peace that the official Register of Judicial Recusals – created by former Lord President Lord Brian Gill – was an incomplete record of conflicts of interest in Scotland’s courts.

Writing in a letter to the Justice Committee Convener, Justice of the Peace Dennis Barr said: “We have been advised by Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service (SCTS) staff, that in instances where the JP has initiated the recusal themselves, it is treated as an informal administrative decision not to sit in a particular case, and as such is not recorded.”

The startling admission from Mr Barr - that judges were told by Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service (SCTS) staff - that any cases where Justices of the Peace stood down from a court case due to conflict of interest - would NOT be recorded - completely undermines assurances to MSPs from retired top judge Brian Gill, and current Lord President Lord Carloway – that the recusals register was an accurate register of Scottish judges standing aside from cases due to conflicts of interest.

Mr Barr’s evidence to the Justice Committee was reported in further detail here: INJUSTICE OF THE PEACE: Judge admits Scottish Courts concealed conflict of interest recusals - Justices of the Peace were told by Court staff any cases where JP judges decided to step down from court hearings - would NOT be recorded in official register of judicial recusals

Continued opposition from the Scottish Government to the judicial transparency proposal – in the form of a letter from Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf to the Justice Committee, is reported in further detail here: NO, MINISTER: Justice Secretary claims Holyrood transparency legislation for register of judges’ interests - would undermine top judge who refused to meet Justice Committee on EIGHT YEAR judicial register petition

The Justice Secretary claimed that adding the requirement of judges to declare their interests could undermine Scotland’s top judge and intrude on the judiciary’s independence – similar arguments which have been constantly put forward by the Scottish Government & judiciary to the Public Petitions Committee – who investigated the petition for over six years and backed the plan to create the judicial register.

Further reporting on the register of judges’ interests petition and conflicts of interest of Scottish judges can be found on STV News here: Judging for ourselves if conflict of interest in courts and here: Scots judges facing pressure to declare their interests

The cross party backed judicial register petition filed at the Scottish Parliament in 2012 – calls for the creation of a publicly available register of judicial interests – containing information on all judges’ backgrounds, figures relating to personal wealth, undeclared earnings, business & family connections inside & outside of the legal profession, membership of organisations, property and land, offshore investments, hospitality, details on recusals and other information routinely lodged in registers of interest across all walks of public life in the UK and around the world.

Minutes of the meeting of Tuesday’s Justice Committee reveal the following decision:

Public petition PE1458: The Committee considered various pieces of correspondence received in relation to its ongoing consideration of the petition. The Committee agreed to keep the petition open and to seek further oral evidence in due course, in round-table formal, from constitutional and academic witnesses.

The Committee also agreed to seek further written briefings from the Scottish Parliament Information Centre (SPICe) in relation to other potential conflicts of interests relating to key stakeholders in the Scottish judicial system. The Committee will consider the scheduling of this work as part of its work programming up to spring 2021.

Video footage of Tuesday’s hearing can be viewed here:

Register of Judges Interests Petition PE1458 Justice Committee 10 March 2020

Judiciary (Register of Interests) (PE1458)

Margaret Mitchell (Central Scotland) (Conservative) Convener:  Agenda item 7 is consideration of petition PE1458, which is a proposal to establish a register of judicial interests. I refer members to paper 4, which is a note by the clerk. Do members have any questions or comments?

John Finnie (Highlands and Islands) (Green): We have had some very interesting contributions from the Cabinet Secretary for Justice and from various representatives of the judiciary, as well as comments on each of those from the petitioner.

The debate seems to be polarised. The petition has been open for a considerable number of years, and an issue remains. The public would expect some measure of accountability. I note the comments about intrusion into the independence of the judiciary, and I wonder if there is any opportunity to investigate that further as a way forward. I am conscious that the petition has been around for a long time.

I am supportive of the principle, and I note everything that has been said. However, we seem to have hit an impasse. I am keen to hear the views of different people—constitutional lawyers, for example.

Liam McArthur (Orkney Islands) (LD): I agree with John Finnie. Intuitively, I am supportive of the idea of a register. However, I do not underestimate some of the concerns that have been raised by the cabinet secretary and representatives of the judiciary—particularly on the independence of the judiciary.

The debate is rather polarised, and it is difficult to see where compromise might be possible. However, I wonder whether we might proactively elicit views from academics in the area, with a view to testing some of the arguments that they made to us in their helpful evidence.

Rona Mackay (Strathkelvin and Bearsden) (SNP): It is a very important issue, and it will not just disappear. As a committee, we should investigate it further and take some wider evidence to inform our views. I would be in favour of doing that at this stage. Albeit that we have—as John Finnie says—reached an impasse, it is incumbent on us to take a wider look.

Dr Alasdair Allan (Na h-Eileanan an Iar) (SNP): It is clearly an important issue, which merits our having a conversation or a discussion about it in the committee.

On principle, as the petition has been in the system for eight years, we should take evidence with a view to bringing the matter to a conclusion. It is not fair to have petitions in the system for that length of time without bringing them to some kind of conclusion. However, I would be happy to hear evidence on it.

James Kelly (Glasgow) (Lab): Over the period for which the committee has been examining the issue, I have become convinced by the case for a register of interests for the judiciary. I note the responses from the cabinet secretary and Lord Carloway; there is clearly a bit of a stand-off here. Members’ suggestions of taking additional evidence to take the issue forward are sensible. We should not park the issue; it is important and we should continue to press it.

The Convener: I should note that there is a petition that we have been dealing with for in excess of eight years—the Megrahi case petition. However, as members have said, it is not an ideal situation. Given the impasse and the diametrically opposed views, does the committee wish to seek further information on the record in a formal meeting with constitutional lawyers and others, in an effort to move forward and with a view to looking at the pros and cons of the petition? We could then take a formal decision on it. We could also ask the Scottish Parliament information centre and the clerks for a note on the wider issues, perhaps even taking into account any conflict-of-interest issues that might have a bearing on how court decisions are taken.

Liam McArthur: I agree with that. Such an evidence session might be better using a round-table format, rather than having a more traditional evidence session. Due to the fact that the cabinet secretary and, previously, the petitioner referred to the situation in New Zealand, which has now taken a different course, it would certainly be useful in the information that is to be provided by SPICe to have an understanding of the thought process that the New Zealand Parliament went through to arrive at the decision that it reached in relation to the same issue.

The Convener: Are we all agreed that that is the way forward?

Members indicated agreement.

The National reported on developments at the Justice Committee here:

 Scottish judges and government on collision course over interests register

By Martin Hannan The National 11 March 2020

THE Justice Committee of the Scottish Parliament is on a collision course with the Scottish Government and leading Scottish judges after the Committee voted to continue its inquiries into the possibility of legislation to set up a register of the financial and other interests of judges.

Lord Carloway, Scotland’s senior judge, and justice secretary Humza Yousaf both told the committee by letter yesterday that they were opposed to such a register, indicating that the petition for such a register raised in 2012 by journalist and law blogger Peter Cherbi should now be dropped.

The Committee decided otherwise, however, and agreed to keep the petition open and to “seek further oral evidence in due course, in round-table formal, from constitutional and academic witnesses”.

The Committee also agreed to seek further written briefings from the Scottish Parliament Information Centre (Spice) in relation to “other potential conflicts of interests relating to key stakeholders in the Scottish judicial system”.

In a surprise move directly against the wishes of Yousaf and Carloway, the Committee agreed to consider the scheduling of this work as part of its work programming up to spring 2021.

Yousaf had told the Committee: “I would caution however that if such a register were to be established by way of legislation, rather than through the powers of the Lord President, this may be perceived as undermining the principle of judicial independence and the separation of powers between the judiciary and other branches of government.”

Yet Carloway, the Lord President and Lord Justice General, has long made known his opposition to such a register, and he told the Committee in his letter that he would not be attending to give his views.

Speaking at yesterday’s meeting, John Finnie MSP said the debate on the issue had become “polarised”.

He said: “There is an issue here that remains to be dealt with and I think the public would anticipate that there is some measure of accountability.”

Peter Cherbi told The National: “Noting the Justice Committee meeting today I am grateful to those MSPs who declared their support for the register of judicial interests – and all the MSPs who have previously worked on this petition to support it and advance the issue of judicial transparency

“Clearly the debate has become very polarised as John Finnie said during the hearing. This polarisation has come about because the judiciary are entrenched in their opposition to the same level of transparency which applies to all other branches of the executive.

“It is no accident this petition has lasted eight long years, where at every turn the judiciary have sought to undermine the petition at every hearing, invoke anyone, from government ministers to vested legal interests in an effort to shut down the petition and any debate on judicial transparency.

Sadly, the effort expended by judges against this petition, is an indication judges have something to hide and fear disclosure.”

UNCONVINCING TOP  SCOTS JUDGES WHO REFUSED TO BE TRANSPARENT:

Scotland’s recent two top judges failed to convince MSPs that a register of interests is not required for Scotland’s judiciary

Former Lord President Brian Gill, and current Lord President Lord Carloway consistently argued the existence of judicial oaths and ethics – which are both written, and approved by  judges negate any requirement for further transparency in the judiciary.

However, both the Scottish Parliament’s Public Petitions Committee – who investigated the judicial interests petition for six years, and the Justice Committee – who have considered the petition since 2018, found the judiciary’s arguments against transparency to be “unconvincing”.

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

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

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

Sunday, March 08, 2020

INJUSTICE OF THE PEACE: Judge admits Scottish Courts concealed conflict of interest recusals - Justices of the Peace were told by Court staff any cases where JP judges decided to step down from court hearings - would NOT be recorded in official register of judicial recusals

Court staff concealed judges’ recusals from register. AN ENTIRE TIER of Scotland’s judiciary were told by Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service (SCTS) staff that any cases where Justices of the Peace stood down from a court case due to conflict of interest - would NOT be recorded in an official Register of Judicial Recusals – according to papers released by Holyrood’s Justice Committee in relation to Petition PE1458: Register of Interests for members of Scotland's judiciary.

The recusals register - set up by a former top judge to record conflicts of interest leading to judges standing aside in court hearings - has until this year failed to publish recusals by Justices of the Peace – according to an admission by the Secretary of the the Scottish Justices Association (SJA) to Holyrood’s Justice Committee.

Writing in a letter to the Justice Committee Convener, Mr Barr – who is also a Justice of the Peace - admitted to unrecorded instances where he personally has stood aside in court cases – said “We have established that recusals by JPs do happen occasionally, but to date all such instances have been initiated by the JP themselves.”

Mr Barr also claimed in his letter Court staff had informed the Scottish Justices Association that any recusals by Justices of the Peace in cases of conflicts of interest - would not be recorded.

Mr Barr said: “If I may use myself as an example, I have recused myself on three separate occasions, sitting in the JP Courts in Glasgow over the past ten years, as I have personally known the accused. We have been advised by Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service (SCTS) staff, that in instances where the JP has initiated the recusal themselves, it is treated as an informal administrative decision not to sit in a particular case, and as such is not recorded.”

The admission from the Scottish Justices Association comes amid an EIGHT YEAR probe by the Scottish Parliament in moves to create a register of judges’ interests.

The cross party backed judicial register petition filed at the Scottish Parliament in 2012 – calls for the creation of a publicly available register of judicial interests – containing information on all judges’ backgrounds, figures relating to personal wealth, undeclared earnings, business & family connections inside & outside of the legal profession, membership of organisations, property and land, offshore investments, hospitality, details on recusals and other information routinely lodged in registers of interest across all walks of public life in the UK and around the world.

The Register of Judicial Recusals was created in April 2015 by the then Lord President – Brian Gill – in an attempt to persuade to drop their investigation of a proposal to create a fully published register of judges interests.

However, Lord Gill deliberately excluded all Justices of the Peace (numbering around 300 judges) from the recusals register in 2014.

To this day, no convincing explanation has been offered as to why a significant number of members of Scotland’s judiciary were allowed to keep all their conflicts of interest secret from the public during court hearings.

And - only one recusal by a Justice of the Peace has since been recorded – coincidentally, just after the date of the Scottish Justices Association letter to Holyrood’s Justice Committee.

The recusal is listed as occurring on 04 February 2020 at Dumfries JP Court as "Of member's own accord - accused's family are known to the Justice"

The Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee will hear Petition PE 1458 on Tuesday 10 March 2020, and will consider evidence submitted from the Scottish Justices Association.

Letter from the Scottish Justices Association to Margaret Mitchell MSP, Convener, Scottish Parliament Justice Committee

Dear Ms Mitchell,

Petition 1458 - Proposal to establish a register of judicial interests

With reference to both your letter to Mr Gordon Hunter, the Chair of the Scottish Justices Association, on 22nd November 2019, and his reply dated 24th November 2019 on the matter of Justice of the Peace (JP) recusals, I can now advise that we have investigated this matter further.

We have established that recusals by JPs do happen occasionally, but to date all such instances have been initiated by the JP themselves. If I may use myself as an example, I have recused myself on three separate occasions, sitting in the JP Courts in Glasgow over the past ten years, as I have personally known the accused. We have been advised by Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service (SCTS) staff, that in instances where the JP has initiated the recusal themselves, it is treated as an informal administrative decision not to sit in a particular case, and as such is not recorded.

If, however, the court receives a formal motion from either the Procurator-fiscal or the defence agent then it must be recorded by the Clerk of the Court and details must be sent to the Judicial Office, where the information is collated on behalf of the Lord President. This formal notification is recorded irrespective of whether the motion for the recusal was granted or refused. This arrangement has been in place in the JP Courts since 2018.

It is evident from the pro-forma used by SCTS staff acting as Clerk of the Court, for recording such motions, that use of the pro-forma applies to all levels of the Judiciary in Scotland, including JPs. In discussions with SCTS in each of the six Sheriffdoms it became clear that nobody could recall the use of the pro-forma in any Scottish JP Court over the past two years.

I do think it important to stress that in principle JPs do consider themselves to be fully integrated members of the Scottish Judiciary and would seek to be subject to the same processes and procedures as other members. The lack of formal motions for the recusal of JPs is, we believe, more reflective of the fact that JPs are representative members of the community they live within and serve; and clearly wish to demonstrate their impartiality in the cases that come before them. The relative minor nature of the criminal cases heard by JPs may also be a factor, notwithstanding the fact that some cases may have a relatively high public profile.

I can assure you that all of the Sheriffdom Legal Advisors (SLAs), who sit alongside JPs in court, are aware of the requirement to use the standard pro-forma when a formal motion for a recusal is made. I am not aware of any formal recording of instances where a JP has recused themselves from a case, and thereby it would not be possible to provide the public with such details.

As far as the S JA believe, this policy of regarding self-recusals as informal administrative decisions, and thus not recorded, applies to all levels of the Judiciary in Scotland. To this extent we understand that we are treated in the same manner as Sheriffs, and indeed Senators, and it is an approach that we would vigorously support.

I hope that this clarifies the position, but if you do require any further information then I and all other members of the SJA Executive Committee would be very happy to assist.

Yours sincerely Dennis W Barr

Responding to Mr Barr’s letter to the Justice Committee, the petitioner provided further information to MSPs of the variance in how recusals of Justices of the Peace have not been recorded – and evidence where senior figures at the Judicial Office had misled enquiries on the issue of Justice of the Peace recusals.

Response to letter from Scottish Justices Association 27 January 2020

The Scottish Justice Association's view of how Justices of the Peace recuse themselves and how recusals are recorded, appears to contradict information previously provided on recusals by Justices of the Peace - by the Head of Strategy and Governance for the Judicial Office in material which I have previously provided to the Public Petitions Committee, and which has also been reported in the media.

In a query to the Judicial Office, I was informed on 21/12/2017:

"The JP courts will start reporting any recusals to us (Judicial Office) come January.  When we may see the first we don’t know until we get one of course.  But January we have asked them to start sending us any notes of recusals and that will be reported on our website.

I am in touch with the tribunal presidents but don’t yet know when we will be able to start reporting in this area.  I’ll hopefully have an update for you re timescales come mid-January on tribunals"

There are admissions in the SJA response of Justices of the Peace, including the author of the letter Mr Dennis Barr - recusing themselves from cases.

In the case of Mr Barr - he states "If I may use myself as an example, I have recused myself on three separate occasions, sitting in the JP Courts in Glasgow over the past ten years, as I have personally known the accused"

Mr Barr goes on to state: "We have been advised by Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service (SCTS) staff, that in instances where the JP has initiated the recusal themselves, it is treated as an informal administrative decision not to sit in a particular case, and as such is not recorded."

I draw members attention to my submission of 29 November 2017 - PE1458/JJJ to the Public Petitions Committee on the issue of Justice of the Peace which refer to communications between myself and the Judicial Office on JPs recusals. The Justice of the Peace issue was also reported in the media: Campaigner calls on Scotland's top judge to extend register of recusals

Justices of the Peace were excluded from the creation of the Register of Recusals in 2014 - despite making up the largest membership of Scotland's judiciary. No reason has been given for their exclusion.

Successive hearings by the Public Petitions Committee and requests for my response to Committee hearings, improved the coverage and content of the Register of Recusals over the course of this petition, however, not until 2018 and after communications with the Judicial Office were Justices of the Peace included in the recusals register,

There is only one single published recusal of a Justice of the Peace - coincidentally - which was published in the recusals register at Judicial-Recusals - Judiciary of Scotland after the SJA's letter to the Justice Committee of 27 January.

The recusal is listed as occurring on 04 February 2020 at Dumfries JP Court as "Of member's own accord - accused's family are known to the Justice"

Mr Barr states in his response to the Justice Committee: "I do think it important to stress that in principle JPs do consider themselves to be fully integrated members of the Scottish Judiciary and would seek to be subject to the same processes and procedures as other members."

I feel the time has come to ensure JPs recusals are formalised and properly published in the same way as recusals of other members of the judiciary which have been published since April 2014..

Justices of the Peace - who comprise a significant number in the total membership of Scotland's judiciary, should be included in a publicly available register of judicial interests.

In January 2019, DOJ reported on the lack of any published recusals involving Justices of the Peace in Scotland, the article can be found here: THE UNRECUSED: Mystery as 450 Justices of the Peace fail to register one single recusal in a full year after conflict of interest rules change for Scotland’s secretive army of lay magistrates

In response to media enquiries last year - the Judicial Office claimed it had not been informed of any recusal motion by any of Scotland’s Justices of the Peace.

The Judicial Office said: “We have received no notification of a JP recusing themselves from a case since the guidance came into force, which was in January 2018”

In response to further enquiries for information relating to any refusals of Justices of the Peace to recuse, the Judicial Office stated: “We are to be informed if a formal motion for recusal is granted or refused, or if the Judicial Office holder decides at their own accord to recuse.  Nothing has yet been reported to us.”

However – the admission in the letter from the Scottish Justices Association to the Justice Committee throw previous claims of not being informed of judicial recusals into doubt.

Guidance requiring Justices of the Peace to declare conflicts of interest and recuse themselves from court hearings came into force in 2018 after calls for JPs to be brought into line with rules of recusals which apply to the remainder of Scotland’s judiciary.

This guidance was created after a report on DOJ here: DECLARE YOUR JUSTICE: Judicial Office consults with Lord Carloway on including Justices of the Peace in Register of Judicial Recusals - as questions surface over Lord Gill’s omission of 500 JPs from judicial transparency probe.

In an UPDATE to this article, the National featured a report on evidence submitted to the Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee ahead of the hearing on Tuesday 10 March.

Battle for Scottish judges to register interests in court cases

By Martin Hannan The National 10 March 2020

ALMOST eight years since it was registered, a public petition to the Scottish Parliament calling for a system in which judges must register their financial and other interests reaches a crunch point today.

Journalist and law blogger Peter Cherbi first registered his petition in 2012 and it has been supported by both the Petitions and Justice Committees at Holyrood.

It is the latter committee which will meet today to discuss comprehensive refusals to start such a register made by both Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf and Scotland’s most senior judge and head of the judiciary, Lord Carloway, the Lord President of the Court of Session and Lord Justice General.

The latter’s predecessor, Lord Gill, agreed in 2014 that a register of judges’ recusals – when a judge stands aside because of a perceived or actual conflict of interest – would be kept.

The National can reveal, however, that this register has NOT been kept for Scotland’s 250-plus Justices of the Peace (JPs) despite assurance by the Judiciary Office that it would be. According to a leading JP, that’s because they don’t have to.

In a letter to the Justice Committee, Dennis Barr, secretary of the Scottish Justices Association states: “If I may use myself as an example, I have recused myself on three separate occasions sitting in the JP courts in Glasgow over the past ten years, as I have personally known the accused.”

Barr goes on: “We have been advised by Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service (SCTS) staff, that in instances where the JP has initiated the recusal themselves, it is treated as an informal administrative decision not to sit in a particular case, and as such is not recorded.”

Peter Cherbi commented: “I was assured in 2017 that such a register would be kept. The register of recusals was created in April 2015 by the then Lord President – Brian Gill – in an attempt to persuade MSPs to drop their investigation of a proposal to create a fully published register of judges interests. However, Lord Gill deliberately excluded all Justices of the Peace.

“To this day, no convincing explanation has been offered as to why a significant number of members of Scotland’s judiciary were allowed to keep all their conflicts of interest secret from the public during court hearings.”

Cherbi is adamant that a register of interests is necessary and is hopeful the committee will carry on with it despite Humza Yousaf ‘s opposition. Yousaf says that it is “not necessary”, while Lord Carloway stated: “I remain of the view that, from the constitutional perspective, the extent of any monitoring of judicial conduct, including judges’ interests relative to the performance of their duties, should remain a matter for the Judiciary and not for Government or Parliament.”

Cherbi told the Committee in a letter: “While noting the Lord President’s repeat of his earlier comments in relation to issues involving the Council of Europe, and the Judicial Council in Scotland, Lord Carloway has not provided any convincing argument against creating a register of judicial interests. It is also very clear from Lord Carloway’s letter, the judiciary continue to maintain resistance to the very notion of a register of judicial interests, and will not create one on their own.

“I urge members to take the petition forward and advance PE1458 to primary legislation, to ensure all members of Scotland’s judiciary declare and register their interests in the same way as all others in public life, including all 129 MSPs of the Scottish Parliament.”

A report in the Scottish National newspaper in 2017 also featured the calls for JPs to register recusals, which can be viewed here:

Campaigner calls on Scotland's top judge to extend register of recusals

Exclusive by Martin Hannan Journalist The National 3rd October 2017

SCOTLAND’S Justices of the Peace should have to register their recusals when they step aside from cases in their courts due to conflicts of interests, according to the man who is leading a campaign on judges’ interests.

The judicial register of recusals was established by Scotland’s most senior judge in April 2014, former Lord President Lord Gill, and the judiciary website shows all such recusals by judges and sheriffs and the reasons why they stepped away from a case.

Now legal campaigner Peter Cherbi has called for the register to be extended to Justices of the Peace, who are lay magistrates dealing with less serious cases such as breach of the peace or minor driving offences.

For five years Cherbi has been petitioning the Scottish Parliament on the issue of judges’ interests, and he sees a register of recusals as vital for public confidence in all the judiciary.

Cherbi said: “Given there are nearly 500 Justices of the Peace in Scotland who must act in accordance with the same rules laid down for other members of the judiciary, JPs should now be included in the Register of Recusals.

“I am surprised Lord Gill omitted Justices of the Peace when he created the Register of Recusals in April 2014. This was a significant omission, given the numbers of JPs across Scotland, and Lord Gill should have corrected this flaw before he left office in May 2015.

“I note Lord Carloway (left) has not attended to this glaring omission since taking office as Lord President in January 2016 until now being asked to do so.

“The omission of Justices of the Peace from the Register of Recusals has left out a significant portion of the judiciary and therefore concealed a more truer representation of numbers of recusals and interests across Scotland’s judges and courts, which are of significant public interest.

“I shall be informing the Public Petitions Committee of this development and if the need should arise, I will request MSPs write to the Judicial Office and Scottish Justices Association to make enquiries as to when JPs will be added to the Register of Recusals, and to seek an explanation why they were originally left out from the data, despite it being a relatively simple operation to include JPs in the recusals statistics.”

The National contacted the Scottish Justices Association, which represents the Justices of the Peace, but no reply had been received by the time we went to press.

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.

Saturday, March 07, 2020

NO, MINISTER: Justice Secretary claims Holyrood transparency legislation for register of judges’ interests - would undermine top judge who refused to meet Justice Committee on EIGHT YEAR judicial register petition

Justice Sec. Humza Yousaf opposes judicial transparency. SCOTLAND’S Justice Secretary has attempted to block further action in an EIGHT YEAR Holyrood judicial transparency probe – by claiming any primary legislation created by MSPs to require judges to declare their interests – could undermine Scotland’s top judge – who is also opposed to Petition PE1458: Register of Interests for members of Scotland's judiciary.

Writing in a letter to Margaret Mitchell MSP - Convener of the Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee – Justice Secretary Humza Housaf claimed: “I would caution however that if such a register were to be established by way of legislation, rather than through the powers of the Lord President, this may be perceived as undermining the principle of judicial independence and the separation of powers between the judiciary and other branches of government.”

The cross party backed judicial register petition filed at the Scottish Parliament in 2012 – calls for the creation of a publicly available register of judicial interests – containing information on all judges’ backgrounds, figures relating to personal wealth, undeclared earnings, business & family connections inside & outside of the legal profession, membership of organisations, property and land, offshore investments, hospitality, details on recusals and other information routinely lodged in registers of interest across all walks of public life in the UK and around the world.

Mr Yousaf also told the Justice Committee that recent details of Scottish judges working in the Gulf States while serving in Scotland were not relevant because since the judge was allegedly acting as a judge on a temporary basis – the rules did not apply to him.

However court opinions previously provided to MSPs confirm Scottish judges heard cases in the Court of Session while also working in the United Arab Emirates.

The Justice Committee previously considered material in relation to Scottish judges serving in the Gulf States & United Arab Emirates – reported in further detail here: JUDICIAL REGISTER: Justice Committee to hear evidence from ex-Judicial Investigator, top judge on judicial interests register, MSP says Scottish judges should not be involved with Gulf States implicated in unlawful wars, mistreatment of women's rights

John Finnie MSP - Scots Judges serving in Gulf States - Justice Committee 28 May 2019

During a hearing on 28 May 2019, Justice Committee member John Finnie MSP said “I do not agree with the idea that anyone connected with the Scottish judiciary could have any role whatsoever in the United Arab Emirates.”

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

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

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

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

Earlier in April 2019, Mr Yousaf wrote to the Justice Committee, claiming ““no further evidence has been provided to the Justice Committee that strengthens the arguments already put forward in favour of the introduction of the register.”

However, the 2019 letter from the Justice Secretary was found to have copied much of it’s content from a letter dated April 2014 – from the then Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill to the Public Petitions Committee – reported in more detail here: COPY MINISTER: ‘Copied’ content from ex Minister sent by Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf to Holyrood MSPs - Public must rely on judges judging judges for transparency, Scottish Government will not create register of judges’ interests

The latest attempt by the Scottish Government to scupper the eight year probe of a cross party supported petition to create a register of judges’ interests comes after a previous Minister for Legal Affairs - Paul Wheelhouse told the Public Petitions Committee in 2014 the judiciary were concerned gangsters could see their interests.

It later transpired Mr Wheelhouse was accused of misleading MSPs after files obtained via Freedom of Information revealed there was no basis for such claims, and Ministerial advisers had attempted to hunt down any leads to back up Mr Wheelhouse - without success.

And, despite Mr Wheelhouse misleading claims of gangsters & judges – a probe by journalists uncovered instances of members of Scotland’s judiciary representing some of the country’s top gangsters in the same courts in which they serve as judges.

Former Legal Affairs Minister Paul Wheelhouse evidence to the Public Petitions Committee can be found here: TOO MANY SECRETS: Legal Affairs Minister ‘anti-transparency’ evidence to MSPs a ‘poor substitute for top judge’ as Scottish Parliament Petitions Committee consider next move on proposal to create a register of interests for judges

Mr Wheelhouse’ evidence to MSPs came during a concerted attempt by Scotland’s then top judge – Brian Gill – to block MSPs from continuing to investigate plans to create a register of judges’ interests – which – later in October 2014 – saw a full debate at the Scottish Parliament, resulting in cross party support for Petition PE1458.

In 2015, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon also intervened in the petition, demanding the petition be closed due to the judiciary’s concerns of media and public scrutiny of judges interests – reported in further detail here: INTERESTS INTERVENE: First Minister joins top judge in bid to block register of judicial interests as MSPs consider recalling Legal Affairs Minister over dodgy evidence & private meeting with Lord Gill

Despite a barrage of opposition from Scotland’s judiciary and vested legal interests, the Public Petitions Committee continued work on Petition Pe1458 for a number of years, concluding a register of judges’ interests could, and should be created.

The decision by the Public Petitions Committee to endorse the petition was reported in further detail here: JUDICIAL REGISTER: Holyrood Petitions Committee calls for legislation to require Scotland’s judges to declare their interests in a register of judicial Interests

MSPs on the Public Petitions Committee also looked at a model used by Norway for declarations of judges’ interests, supporting the introduction of a similar register in Scotland.

In Norway, judges must complete a register of interests listing honorary posts, investments, memberships of political parties, companies, religious communities and charities among others.

The Norwegian model of judicial interest disclosure was hailed by the Public Petitions Committee as model for Scotland’s judges to follow.

More on Norway’s register of judges’ interests can be found here: NORWAY, M’LORD: Judicial interests register of Norway cited as example to follow for Holyrood MSPs six year investigation to create a register of judges’ interests in Scotland

And in November 2019, the Convener of the Justice Committee wrote to Lord Carloway informing the top judge MSPs were minded to support the petition as the judiciary had not put forward any convincing arguments against the creation of a register of judges’ interests p reported here: JUDGES MUST DECLARE: Holyrood Justice Committee back cross party supported proposal to require Scotland’s judges to declare all financial interests and other links in a publicly available register of judicial interests

Scotland’s top judge Lord Carloway also wrote to the Justice Committee in late January, refusing a second request from the Justice Committee to face questions on his opposition to the creation of a register of judicial interests.

Lord Carloway’s most recent refusal to give evidence and his letter are reported in further detail here: JUDGE JUDGES: Scotland’s top judge refuses to face MSPs on judiciary’s EIGHT YEAR battle against register of judges’ interests – Lord Carloway says he will not attend Holyrood to ‘rehearse the same arguments which have not apparently found favour’

Letter from Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf to Margaret Mitchell, Convener Justice Committee 07 February 2020

Public Petition PE 1458: Register of interests for members of Scotland’s judiciary

Thank you for your letter of 22 November asking me to review the evidence you heard on 19 November and the previous evidence taken regarding this petition and to then set out in detail why I do not think it is necessary to establish a register.

The evidence of 19 November: Written Evidence

On the 19 November, the Committee considered written evidence in the form of a letter from the petitioner. I think it is important to address a number of issues with the evidence contained in his letter. The Lord President does not appoint judges or sheriffs to the bench. Judicial appointments are made by the Scottish Ministers on the recommendation of the Judicial Appointments Board for Scotland (JABS). JABS are an independent statutory body and carry out a rigorous recruitment process which involves written application, tests, interview, references and background checks carried out before recommendations are made based on merit from candidates who meet statutory criteria.

The petitioner highlights the press coverage of two former Scottish judges sitting in other jurisdictions. One of these judges was retired, the other was still a temporary judge at the relevant time. Once a member of the judiciary has retired, the individual would not be included in any proposed register of interests. Temporary judges are not full time salaried judiciary. These are judges who can be called on to cover gaps in the court rota and therefore not covered by the restrictions on other employment which full time judiciary are. Whilst a register of interests would have disclosed this additional work, it would not have prevented it being carried out.

Since the Petition was originally introduced to the Parliament, a register of recusals was introduced in 2014 and, I understand, is being used by both the judiciary and those appearing in court. From 1 February 2018, the register was extended to also include members of the Scottish Tribunals. The reasons for recusal tend to relate to personal knowledge of a litigant or witness or previous involvement in another relevant case. The register of recusals does not appear to have highlighted the sort of problems with conflicts of interest of the nature that the petitioner is concerned about. For clarification also, there are 277 justices of the peace, rather than 450.

The proposed reforms to the law of corroboration in Scotland, which the petitioner refers to, were aimed at addressing the difficulty in prosecuting certain types of criminal cases . These proposals were based on detailed research and analysis conducted by Lord Carloway and set out in a published report. It is difficult to see the relevance of this as evidence in support of a register of judicial interests.

The petitioner cites extensive written submissions of evidence in relation to this petition and the Committee have asked that I review all previous evidence. In doing so, I can see that almost half of those submissions are from the petitioner and over one third are either correspondents declining to make a submission or from the Scottish Government, the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service or the Lord President and present evidence which is not in support of the register. The petitioner’s submissions do not always raise new evidence and cover some matters that would be outwith the scope of this petition.

Oral evidence: In terms of the oral evidence taken, a considerable part of this discussion focussed on the system for complaints about members of the judiciary. I note the point raised that Scotland differs from other jurisdictions in that upheld complaints are not published. I agree that this is a matter that consideration could be given to as it is transparent and consistent with the complaint process for many professions, however complaints against the judiciary are the responsibility of the Lord President and there may be valid reasons why complaints are not published. I also note the distinction that was explained by Ms Ali between judicial decisions and service complaints about the judiciary. This was followed by discussion on independence and accountability.

I have also considered the written and oral submissions from Professor Alan Paterson, the academic who has contributed views on this petition. I note that Professor Paterson told the Public Petitions Committee that he had not reached a concluded opinion on a register of interests for the Scottish judiciary. He explains that this question comes back to the role of the judiciary in a democracy and there is a need to balance judicial independence and accountability. Professor Paterson told the Public Petitions Committee that he considers transparency as part of accountability. I would agree with this point and I’m of the view that the judiciary’s decision making is transparent and subject to appeal.

International factors: At the time the Petition was lodged, and in a number of the petitioner’s subsequent written submissions, reference is made to the New Zealand Parliament’s consideration of a judicial register of interests. By a large majority, the New Zealand Parliament voted down a Bill to create a register after considering the whole issue and its difficulties. Few analogous jurisdictions to Scotland have legislated for a judicial register of interests, and those that have did so in response to evidence of challenges specific to those jurisdictions. South Africa, for example, created one as part of cementing its new democracy.

The Council of Europe Group of States Against Corruption (GRECO) is an independent international body tasked with monitoring and advancing anti-corruption measures in countries across the world. It has examined the need for a judicial register of interests twice in Scotland and the most recent report of the Fourth Evaluation Round concluded that there was no evidence of corruption in relation to the judiciary in Scotland or of judicial decisions being influenced inappropriately. They do not recommend the introduction of an asset declaration scheme.

Ways to introduce a scheme: Your letter also asked for the Scottish Government’s view of what would be involved in establishing such a register and whether this would require primary legislation or could be achieved by some other means.

At present, and in line with the requirement to uphold the continued independence of the judiciary, set out in section 1 of the Judiciary and Courts (Scotland) Act 2008, Scottish Ministers do not have existing powers to establish such a register, whether voluntary or mandatory. Accordingly primary legislation would be required to implement any such register.

I would caution however that if such a register were to be established by way of legislation, rather than through the powers of the Lord President, this may be perceived as undermining the principle of judicial independence and the separation of powers between the judiciary and other branches of government.

Conclusion: My predecessors set out in detail in earlier correspondence the safeguards in place. These safeguards are the judicial oath, the statement of principles of judicial ethics and the various rules made under the Judiciary and Courts (Scotland) Act 2008 which concern complaints about the judiciary and judicial conduct. I would draw particular attention to the statement of principles of judicial ethics. This is some thirty five pages long and sets out clearly the standards judicial office holders are expected to meet. Breach of the ethics can result in serious consequences for a judicial office holder. Having considered the evidence, I share the views of both of my predecessors that there are sufficient safeguards in place to ensure the impartiality of the judiciary.

As mentioned previously, in the time since this petition was lodged with the Parliament, further measures have been introduced for, and by, the judiciary; such as the register of recusals and publication of judicial expenses and overseas travel. I believe that these measures have increased the transparency of the judiciary.

I am also mindful of the statutory requirement within the Judiciary and Courts (Scotland) Act 2008, that Scottish Ministers and Members of the Scottish Parliament must uphold the continued independence of the judiciary.

I have given further consideration to the matter and have considered the evidence before the Justice Committee. I remain of the view that it is not necessary to establish a register of interests. I hope the detail of this letter explains my reasons for that

EIGHT YEAR JUDICIAL INTERESTS PROBE:

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

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

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

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

The Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee has consistently supported calls for a judicial interests register over multiple hearings – where MSPs have spoken out on Scottish judges involvement in the Gulf States, reported here: JUDICIAL REGISTER: Justice Committee to hear evidence from ex-Judicial Investigator, top judge on judicial interests register, MSP says Scottish judges should not be involved with Gulf States implicated in unlawful wars, mistreatment of women's rights

A report on the Justice Committee’s consideration of the Judicial Interests Register Petition in May 2019 – where MSPs backed the petition - can be found here: JUDICIAL REGISTER: Justice Committee investigate approach to judges’ interests in other countries – MSPs say ‘Recusals register not comprehensive enough’ ‘Openness & transparency do not contradict independence of the judiciary’

A report on the Justice Committee’s consideration of the Judicial Interests Register Petition in February 2019 – where evidence in relation to Scottish judges swearing dual judicial oaths and working for Human Rights abusing Gulf States dictatorships - can be found here: JUDICIAL REGISTER - MSPs urged to take forward SEVEN year petition to create a Register of Judges’ Interests as Holyrood Justice Committee handed evidence of Scottish Judges serving in Gulf states regimes known to abuse Human Rights

TWO TOP SCOTS JUDGES FAIL IN HOLYROOD JUDICIAL TRANSPARENCY PROBE:

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

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

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

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