Well, time for the inevitable review of the year - and 2006 has certainly been an eventful year for those of us who have campaigned for independent regulation of the legal profession.
My blog too, approaches its one year anniversary ... which I started to help along the campaign for the Legal Profession & Legal Aid (Scotland) Bill . It certainly seems to have worked - because the Bill passed the Parliament, albeit with a few tweaks we would rather not have had. Still .. there's time to iron those out when the Law Society acts in it's usual prejudicial, biased & corrupt way .. and there will be plenty of us around to highlight that.
Note to crooked lawyers - don't think just because the LPLA exists, we won't be keeping an eye on your ever more inventive tactics to rip off clients.
Of course, 2006 started with a bang for others too ... and one of the examples of a legal profession completely out of control came with the attack on the ex Chief Accountant of the Law Society of Scotland - Leslie Cumming.
Twelve months on, no one has been caught for the vicious assault - but curiously, one of the theories worked on by the Police is alleged to have been that the Law Society were so incensed with critics, bad press & the upcoming LPLA Bill, they decided to carve up one of their own and implicate their enemies" ... words from someone close to the investigation, to a journalist ..... Makes you wonder, doesn't it ? Just how desperate had Douglas Mill and his merry bunch of gangsters become to retain control of complaints against their colleagues ?
The madness went so far as to take in private briefings to journalists & news editors on particular critics of the Law Society - myself among the most identified ... with 'suggestions' our campaigns had caused the attack on the unfortunate Mr Cumming (who some say had expired his use to Drumsheugh Gardens in the mortgage miss-selling scandal which also implicates many Scottish legal firms).
Several journalists were actually given notes of information on critics of the legal profession - as if stories had actually been written by the Law Society for the journalists to file ... but the plan backfired somewhat, when a certain Law Society senior official asked a television journalist "if it was possible to have campaigners against lawyers called terrorists".
I kid you not on this one ... but if anything killed Drumsheugh Gardens attempt to use the Leslie Cumming attack in their favour against critics of crooked lawyers - that statement was it .... and I had calls from a few journalists to back up what was said about those opposed to self regulation of the legal profession...
The newspapers ran the stories on the attack, but refused to implicate anyone the Law Society wanted framed ... so it was left to Scotland on Sunday to officially contact me for a quote - which also saw the first mention of this blog in the mass media.
Fortunately I had been alerted to what was going on ... and my words reflected that. You can read the article yourself, and give your mind some thought as to why no one has been caught on this one ...
What lay behind that article was a typical opportunistic,vicious attack on myself & other critics of the legal profession .. but when I talked to the Scotsman .. they were having none of it because simply .. they couldn't get anyone to make a salacious comment .. such as .. well .. you can guess what ... and I was much too diplomatic to fall into that one.
2006 progressed with the call for submissions to the Justice 2 Committee of the Scottish Parliament on the LPLA Bill ... which I covered on the blog and made my submission along with many others.
The many submissions from the legal profession turned out to come from a template circulated by the Law Society of Scotland ... several legal firms were so incompetent in their 'editing' of the template, they left in the same paragraphs, phrases & spelling mistakes ... but again, it demonstrated the central control over policy related to complaints - and the great desire to retain management of complaints against colleagues - for that eternal feeling of fiddle ...
I went on to cover & comment on many other items in the news - related to Law & Politics ... so many, you will just have to look through the archives and have a read for yourselves ! ... but trust me .. they were certainly all linked to the legal profession, in some way or another.
Some of the more recent powerful articles I did, related to Law Society censorship of the Scottish media. I think you can tell, yourselves, by looking back at the coverage I got on my case in the national media, along with the Scotland on Sunday article on the Cumming attack, just how much the Law Society value control of the media ... and to what lengths they will go to block public publication of criticism .. which recently saw Douglas Mill even threaten the Parliament with Court action if they fully gave in to demands for complete independent regulation of the legal profession ...
I think this was summed up in an email I received recently from a television journalist I know quite well. His name I will leave out, to protect him from Law Society threats to his career, but here are some excepts from what he writes :
Have you never thought about why every major investigative current affairs programmes on Scottish Television has refused to cover the issue of the failings of the Law Society to protect the public from "crooked lawyers" ? Even the Broadcasters have been prevented from taking on the issue for a programme, by the Law Society of Scotland. Please don't think it's only you who have written in, asking for an exposure of "crooked lawyers". there is a huge pile of letters at the BBC which have piled up over the years since you were contacted by Frontline Scotland in 1999.You are one of many people in the same boat, if obviously one of the Captains of that boat, but as long as the Law Society of Scotland send in written protests, demand private briefings with programme makers & journalists, and remind the in-house lawyers to advise against airing the dirty laundry of the legal profession, the issues of "crooked lawyers" and a "crooked regulator" will never see the television screens of the public.
e.g. for you to chew on.
Earlier this year you were contacted by a Sunday asking for comment on a case where a lawyer was alleged to have been negligent, several times over. You were eventually quoted in the story they run. You will never get another word printed in that newspaper now, because the Law Society of Scotland contacted them in a "rage", as one member of staff put it, demanding you were no longer used as a source on such stories. One of their reporters I spoke to actually told me the Law Society had offered a consultation directed against you, to discredit you. The Law Society are adamant that you, and people like you, are not given a chance to speak about your problems with "crooked lawyers", and threatening media organisations has been one of the ways the Law Society of Scotland has kept this issue away from television.It's a disgrace to read Law Society letters sent in to programme staff claiming they have the full support of the Scottish Executive in their role as regulator of the legal profession, then demanding that people like yourselves are kept off the airwaves.You were spot on. The Law Society of Scotland censors the Scottish media from any adverse publicity to the legal profession. I am sympathetic to your problems, Peter. I think there is a great deal of respect for you from talking to others, but there are powerful legal forces at work trying to maintain a silence on what must be one of the most damaging stories to our legal system in Scotland. ...
Well, that says it all I suppose, so I must have hit home on that one then, because never have I received so many emails from journalists in agreement in what I wrote. I also received a few emails & comments from lawyers who it seems, were ordered to have a go at me (they never tire of this). Nothing happened of course - I'm still here to write about it . and Douglas Mill is still foaming at the mouth like some rabies infested dog out for a kill ... calm down Mr Mill - it's all your own doing, you know ...
I must protest though, at this vicious hold the legal profession have over the Scottish media. That has to be ended .. why should the legal profession be able to censor the press over articles regarding their own crooked colleagues, just on the threat of pulling advertising or legal business ... that's not the mark of a free press, is it ?
During 2006, I also got to nominate Drew Penman of Stormonth Darling Solicitors, Kelso, as Scotland's Most Famous Crooked Lawyer in : Scottish Legal Awards - Lawyer Lawyer on the wall, who is the most crooked of us all ? ... a nomination Penman richly deserves Well, Mr Penman, you can sweat a little more at all this coverage on the web over you crooked dealings ... along with you crooked accountant friend Norman Howitt of Borders Accountants firm Welch & Co Accountants, Hawick & Galashiels .. who are always ready to rip off clients & get away with it...
Since Google seems to like Drew Penman's nomination as Scotland's Most Famous Crooked Lawyer, let me also nominate Norman Howitt as Scotland's Most Famous Crooked Accountant. A matched pair of crooks indeed.
The past year also highlighted the willingness of the Law Society of Scotland to lie at the Scottish Parliament - even when faced with evidence they were involved in full scale management of claims against lawyers. The scene between Douglas Mill & John Swinney, arguing over the content of the secret "Mackenzie memos" written by Douglas Mill himself .. sticks in the minds of many, as an appalling example of Law Society corruption.
2006, of course, internationally, ends with the execution of Saddam Hussein .. which will blot out the headlines on just about anything else for a few days, pleasing some, of course.
For me, however, I think 2006 ends with a step forward in the fight against crooked lawyers - something I've campaigned on since 1994, although thinking about it, the first complaint I put in against a crooked lawyer was in 1990 against a drunken Mr William Craib Anderson, of Charles & Rb Andersons WS, Jedburgh.
I think we have to build on the success of the campaign to bring the LPLA Bill into law .. and now also campaign for a full review of the conduct of the Law Society over the decades against clients - which has seen many injustices take place and many lives & livelihoods destroyed, simply to protect crooked lawyers from justice.
Lastly, I was slightly saddened to see the ending of the McKie campaign for a public inquiry - not that there will ever be an effective one of course, because there never has been a transparent, independent clean public inquiry in the history of the British Isles yet.
Slightly saddened on this one, because, well ... when you enter a campaign such as that .. I don't really see that there is a chance to step away from it, until the final outcome is realised.
I'm not saying that in a selfish way .. because I do understand the need for people to have a life - a life which the likes of crooked lawyers, or crooked officials take away from you to protect their own colleagues from investigation ... but I do think there is a measure of responsibility on the part of a campaigner to see something through to the end .. otherwise, well, there isn't much point in starting it in the first place, is there ? I'm afraid, that 'having a life' is one of the sacrifices that one must make a little, to campaign to such a degree on an issue of such importance.
Having said that, what McKie demonstrated is that the Scottish Executive have a significant degree of guilt attached to them, as the 'bystander' to a lot of corruption, not just in the criminal legal world .. but also in the civil legal world - and one of those charges of guilt, I believe - is a measure of guilt over allowing the Law Society of Scotland and the rest of the legal profession to damage so many lives in their quest to protect their own colleagues. After all .. it's not as if the Scottish Executive hadn't known about it ... for, lets say ... well over 16 years ?
Time for the Scottish Executive to put that one right too then, and compensate all those victims of the legal profession ... because there are a lot of Shirley McKies out there, who have had to endure frame ups, fit ups, rip offs, fiddles & much more .. just so that a crooked lawyer can remain in practice and the Law Society could continue to regulate the legal profession.
Anyway .. as I have already wished you all a Happy New Year ... let's all have a rest for a few days .. and see what 2007 brings ...