Thursday, April 27, 2006

Scottish Parliament Justice 2 Committee evidence sessions begin on Legal Profession & Legal Aid Bill

Through the miracle of the modern age of internet and global communications, we can all watch the Justice 2 Committee oral evidence hearings into the Legal Profession & Legal Aid (Scotland) Bill.

The Scottish Executive kicked off the oral evidence on Tueday 25th April 2006, where the Committee took evidence on the Legal Profession and Legal Aid (Scotland) Bill from Louise Miller, Mike West and Chris Graham, Access to Justice Division, Scottish Executive.

Mike West .. now there's a name many people may be familiar with, who have had complaints against lawyers and experienced the full corruption of the Law Society of Scotland and who have felt it necessary to write in to the Scottish Justice Minister, or even the First Minister .

Mr West, a Civil Servant, and some of his colleagues such as Malcolm Pringle have fielded thousands of letters each year from ordinary members of the public who have been ripped off by solicitors ... with .. the same response ... 'The Executive cannot become involved, it's the Law Society of Scotland's duty to regulate the legal profession in law ... you may also take your case to the Scottish Legal Services Ombudsman .. etc ...' and of course, everyone who tries this route gets nowhere, and while all this is going on, the crooked lawyer gets a fat bonus for avoiding your complaint .. and the staff of the Client Relations Office of the Law Society of Scotland give themselves another medal for wiping out another ripped off client.

Even when you involve your politician - be it an MSP or MP ... the same tired old letters are fired back and forth between the Justice Department and clients of crooked lawyers ... the client ultimately gaining nothing from the experience ... but of course .. all the while the client is writing letters to the Scottish Executive in desperation on their cases ... the Law Society of Scotland can have access to anyone at the Justice Minister's office they so wish ... and they can do anything they wany .. while most people get absolutely nowhere.

The link for viewing the oral evidence submissions being held at the Justice 2 Committee is :§ion=22&title=Justice+2

Remember everyone ... if YOU have an issue with what is said at these hearings by the likes of the Scottish Executive, the Law Society of Scotland and it's great many allies who have been invited to give oral evidence, and others, then make sure you take note of what is said, and write into the Justice 2 Committee with your views ... because we don't want the legal profession to get away with any lies in front of the Justice 2 Committee now, do we ? ... and we can bet there will be some HUGE lies told to save their crooked skins.

The Law Society of Scotland should be up next Tuesday to give oral evidence - so stay tuned to hear some of the biggest lies ever told .... and make sure you let the Justice 2 Committee know your feelings on their testimony

Who knows ... if the Justice 2 Committee are brave enough to call me to give evidence .. then you might just see me there speaking about how the new legislation would improve the rights of clients against a highly manipulative and discriminatory regulatory system which the legal profession in Scotland have used for years against the public ... on the other hand of course .. it is highly unlikely that Justice 2 will risk having me before them ... so powerful is some of the things I have up my sleave which I will talk about in my own time.

In other news - the day after "Black Wednesday" in the Blairite Camp of Westminster politics, and beyond the realm of 'Prezza's affair, Charles Clarke's negligence in letting loose 1000+ foreign criminals onto our streets, and the rest of it... a new Scottish Legal Services Ombudsman was appointed .. Ms Jane Irvine ... who has held various posts relevant to investigating complaints in the past ... not much to tell yet, since she hasn't investigated any cases of complaint agains the Law Society of Scotland ... but I will be keeing an eye on this issue of course.

Here's the Press Release from the Scottish Executive ... typically understating matters of Linda Costelloe Baker's resignation to save political face ... really .. on a week like this in British politics .. I don't know why they even bother.

Legal Services Ombudsman

An interim Scottish Legal Services Ombudsman has been appointed with effect from April 26, 2006.

Jane Irvine takes over from Linda Costelloe Baker, who has resigned to take up post as the UK Visas Independent Monitor, until a permanent appointment can be made.

Proposals set out in the Legal Profession and Legal Aid (Scotland) Bill, currently at Stage 1 of the Scottish Parliamentary process, would see the abolition of the role of the Scottish Legal Services Ombudsman.

A Scottish Legal Complaints Commission, with a non-lawyer chair and a non-lawyer majority, would instead receive all complaints against legal practitioners which it has not been possible to resolve at source.

Jane Irvine has specialised in resolving consumer complaints and reviewing the manner of responses to consumer complaints since 1980. Jane acts as an arbitrator and conciliator in a diverse range of consumer issues from holiday to funeral and financial service complaints.

She also sits on the Disciplinary Board of the Institute of Actuaries, acts as a mediator in consumer and commercial disputes and works voluntarily as a Member of the Mediation Panel for Edinburgh Sheriff Court.

As a past HM Lay Inspector of Constabulary for Scotland Ms Irvine reviewed the manner of responses by Scottish Police forces to complaints by members of the public for three years between 2001 and 2004. She was also the elected Chair of the Scottish Branch of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators 2003-2005.

The appointment of Scottish Legal Services Ombudsman is made under Section 34 of the Law Reform (Miscellaneous Provisions) (Scotland) Act 1990. The post was advertised on March 31.

The post of Ombudsman is independent of both the Executive and the legal profession. The Ombudsman investigates concerns about the way a professional body, such as the Law Society of Scotland or the Faculty of Advocates, has handled a complaint against a practitioner.

The Ombudsman sends a report of her investigation to the complainer, the practitioner and the professional organisation. If the Ombudsman is not satisfied that the complaint has been handled fairly, efficiently and thoroughly she can make recommendations to the professional body, including payment of compensation for inconvenience or distress caused by the way the complaint was handled.

As Interim Ombudsman Jane Irvine will be vested with the same powers as a permanent Ombudsman.

Ms Irvine was chosen by Scottish Ministers for the post. Her appointment is part-time (30 hours per week), with an annual salary of £55,000. Her office is situated in 17 Waterloo Place, Edinburgh, EH1 3DL.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Law Society of Scotland organises Academics attacks on new legislation to create independent Commission to investigate the Scottish Legal Profession

The attacks keep coming on the more honest concept of independent regulation of Scottish lawyers & advocates, compared to the present system of prejudicial self-regulation where lawyer investigates lawyer, widely viewed as being corrupt and being consistently biased in favour of a crooked lawyer.

The latest attempt in the Law Society of Scotland's highly organised and long planned public and media campaign to wreck the contents of the "Legal Profession & Legal Aid (Scotland) Bill", hits the media in the form of yet another report from an Acedemic signed up by the Law Society of Scotland to do a report in their favour, where this time, Professor David McCrone, the co-director of Edinburgh University's Institute of Governance claims, in a report commissioned by the Law Society of Scotland (and probably paid for by them of course), the "Scotsman" reports that he states the Legal Profession and Legal Aid Bill is based on a "quick and dirty" consultation exercise'.

Personally, of course, I take great offence to Mr McCrone's assertions, since several crooked Scottish lawyers ripped off me & my family, and they were supported by that pack of hyenas at the Law Society of Scotland, who ripped through the files sanitising as much information as possible (even planting some against me to try and make me look bad), conducted a highly personal & vindictive campaign against self & my family, and did everything they could to finish me off and stop my complaints succeeding against the likes of Andrew Penman of Stormonth Darling Solicitors, Kelso (the one who ripped off my dead dad's will) .. details of which you have read on this site ...

I'm sure David McCrone doesn't give a damn that people like myself have been ripped off and put through a torture by his pals in the legal profession for 12 years, or much more for others .... probably, it is a humour, almost, a laughing point, or after-dinner joke, to the acedemics and the cream of the Scottish legal profession, that the likes of us, the ordinary people of Scotland have been targeted and mostly wiped out by his paying pals at the Law Society of Scotland.

The likes of McCrone will never feel sympathy for the likes of us, or myself, so it's not much loss ... I don't have millions of pounds to throw at Universities or pay academics to produce favourable reports for my own use ... that's the realm of the legal profession - and my, how they are spending the money and using the media influence with stories like this just now to attack the Scottish Executive Consultation and clients of crooked lawyers like myself, ahead of the Justice 2 Committee hearings on this subject, which being today.

Tell me, Mr McCrone - what is 'quick and dirty' about a 12 year hell brought on by the likes of Andrew Penman, Douglas Mill, Philip Yelland, James Ness, and the rest of the dirty tricks brigade of the Law Society of Scotland ? ... what is "quick and dirty" about 8 legal firms continually letting down a single client and conspiring to fiddle & fake files, disrupt cases, interfere with witnesses & instructions to other solicitors, use the likes of the Police & other agencies against clients to wipe them out ... harrass people at will, even killing off some ... what is "quick and dirty" about that then, Mr McCrone ?

I played a part in the Scottish Executive Consultation - as did plenty of other people who have been ripped off and ruined by the Law Society of Scotland and it's crooked solicitor membership ... some people having problems with lawyers for nearly 20 years and the issues going unresolved to this day ... so, what exactly, Mr McCrone, is "quick and dirty" about that ?

Mr McCrone - would you like to do a report on my case for me ? perhaps write about how my family have been ripped off for 12 years by crooked lawyers and their legal firms - and how the complaints have been fiddled at the Law Society of Scotland, with even it's Chief Executive, Douglas Mill, caught fiddling my case and legal aid funding ? ... how about it ? maybe you could then go back before the Justice 2 Committee and tell them all about it, ... but, of course, how could I be sure you would write an impartial report ? I can't pay you .. and you already seem to be of the opinion that campaigners and clients who have been totally ruined by the legal profession fall into the "quick & dirty" category ... unlike yourself of course .... well studied, and never ripped off by lawyers I would guess.

As far as my opinion goes on this - I'd make sure the legal profession foot the entire bill for the new Scottish Legal Complaints Commission - part of their punishment for being so dirty and crooked towards clients in the past, in the present, and no doubt - also in the future.

Read on for the news report on this from "The Scotsman" at :

Warning on 'costly' legal complaints body

A LEADING political expert has warned ministers that creating an independent body to handle complaints against solicitors could prove a costly "hammer to crack a nut".

A report written by Professor David McCrone, the co-director of Edinburgh University's Institute of Governance, also claims that the Legal Profession and Legal Aid Bill is based on a "quick and dirty" consultation exercise.

The society is calling on the Scottish Parliament's Justice 2 Committee to correct flaws in the bill, which includes proposals to set up the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission (SLCC), when it begins taking oral evidence today.

Prof McCrone's report, which was commissioned by the society, says: "The political system should be very careful of landing the profession and their clients with an over-elaborate and costly system, something of a 'hammer to crack a nut'."

He concludes: "There seems to be a serious lack of articulation between the system of regulating the legal profession in Scotland and how it is paid for."

The society has already argued that the bill lacks detail on how the SLCC, which the Executive estimates will have annual running costs of £2.4 million, will be funded and what levies will be imposed on solicitors.

It also has doubts over the estimates given for recruitment and training, property, IT, publicity, National Insurance and pension contributions.
Prof McCrone also claims the Executive's consultation contained "elementary howlers".

He says the figure claiming that 81 per cent of people who support ministers' favoured option for reform was only based on those who answered that specific question and could also have been described as only 25 per cent of all respondents.

The society has already warned that the costs of the new body - and compensation penalties of up to £20,000 facing lawyers found guilty of poor service - could create a "legal desert" in towns across the country, with small firms being forced out of business.

Douglas Mill, the society's chief executive, said: "The costs lack specification and foundation and they are likely to impact markedly on the high street of Scotland - the very area of 'people law' which is under most financial pressure."

A Scottish Executive spokeswoman said the new body's budget would be discussed with the legal profession each year, and she added that cost estimates had been "carefully prepared".

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Peter Cherbi comments on top Scottish Lawyer revealed by the Sunday Mail newspaper to be at centre of 12 Negligence Claims by clients

Well done to the Sunday Mail newspaper for exposing Scottish solicitor John O'Donnell, of John G O'Donnell & Co in Cathcart, Glasgow, who is at the centre of 12 negligence claims from clients.

This article, and the report, exposes something which I have been saying for years now - solicitors can go about their business, supported by the Law Society of Scotland and the rest of the legal system, while they have disgraceful regulatory histories ... all covered up of course by their colleagues at the Law Society of Scotland, and their allies at the Scottish Executive, so we, the Scottish public, never get to know ...

Solicitors up and down the length of Scotland - and the rest of the UK, can, and frequently do, have long records of client complaints ranging from negligence, embezzlement, theft, faking up files, overcharging bills, drawing out legal disputes & business just to bump up their own fees, stealing from deceased's wills & estates so that family get nothing, selling clients houses to lower bids from colleagues in the legal & financial profession for favours .. and much much more ... and while Scotland's 10,000 solicitors accumulate even more complaints on a daily basis, the Scottish public never gets to know about this ..... so literally, a solicitor can (and does) rip off hundreds of clients for the same thing, each client never knowing about the other (unless of course they know each other or see a press report on their crooked solicitor - like today's Sunday Mail article)

Mr O'Donnel has so many other complaints of negligence against him .. and clients were going to him for services while he and his Master Insurance Policy Insureres (Royal Sun Alliance) were settling (probably with great attrition against the pursuers). is actually, quite common.

In my own experience of dealing with the legal profession & Scottish solicitors, being contacted by many people to look into paticular solicitors, and of course, the complaints I have filed with the Law Society of Scotland, I have discovered that ALL the solicitors have poor regulatory records, which is why I am asking for the Cathy Jamieson to revoke the exemption of the Law Society of Scotland from the Freedom of Information Act, and further, for the Justice 2 Committee and the Scottish Executive to attach wording to the Legal Profession & Legal Aid (Scotland) Bill, which would grant Regulatory Disclosure as a matter of course to existing and new clients of solicitors.

This is as simple as someone going into a supermarket and looking at a can of baked beans - if there are too many artificial additives, etc ... or if it says - genetically altered - mostly people avoid it .. .similarly, people should have the same choice with legal services and those who are trusted with what is often the most important parts of our lives - dealings with the law, which if they go wrong, can prove disasterous.

If I had known the regulatory history of the lawyers I had used - i would never have touched them with a barge pole - and likewise - anyone else would do the same ...

For instance, would Mr X use a lawyer to invest money if his neighbour had used the same lawyer, who had embezzled his money & ruined his life, and the neighbour had told Mr X ? No way !

... so everyone should have the right to know what these lawyers are up to, how many complaints they face/have faced, how many times they have had to settle, etc ..

I am also of the opinion that there should be some kind of solicitor rating system similar to the Driving license put in place, to give clients a quick indication as to a solicitor's current status in regulatory terms ..

Such a system could warn prospective & existing clients where having so many points on a lawyers practicing certificate should restrict a lawyers qualifications, ability to represent clients in particular matters, and if too many points exist against them due to bad legal practice against clients, they should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, and kicked out the legal profession for good, because at the moment - as things stand, this case of Mr O'Donnell being actually quite common, a lawyer could be in a position where they have 50 or a hundred or even more complaints against them, for the same kinds of offences, or even more serious, possibly have settled small financial amounts with clients in 30 or 40 cases, and still go on practicing and ripping people off for the same thing, over & over again .... that is certainly not a good thing for the consumer's point of view - and after all, it is the consumer who is keeping the legal profession in business ....

A good statistic and a sobering thought for us all - there were about 5000 complaints against lawyers last year - and since I took up the campaign against self regulation of lawyers in 1994 there have been about 2000 - 3000 ++ complaints a year against lawyers (although usually the figures are fiddled down by the Law Society of Scotland & the Faculty of Advocates, to keep complaints statistics low, of course) .

There's under 10,000 lawyers in Scotland - so the FACT is that there isn't a legal firm or lawyer in Scotland who hasn't had serious client complaints made against them ...something EVERYONE and even the Corporate sector in SCOTLAND should think about BEFORE employing a Scottish lawyer to do work.

Link to the Sunday Mail article at :

EXCLUSIVE Brief who's making a career out of failure
By Russell Findlay

THIS is the high-flying solicitor at the centre of a remarkable 12 negligence claims.

John O'Donnell, 54, makes a comfortable living from conducting complicated property transactions.

But we can reveal insurers Royal & Sun Alliance have already been forced to pay out £350,000 on seven negligence claims against him. And at least five more worth £200,000 are still being contested. His firm, John G O'Donnell & Co, is based in Cathcart, Glasgow. The Law Society for Scotland, who govern the conduct of lawyers, keep his record of complaints a secret.

O'Donnell has also been accused of misconduct but the Law Society, รข„¢ has not brought any cases to the Scottish Solicitors' Discipline Tribunal. The claims centre on complicated transactions involving property and mortgages. 9 One case settled with an £81,000 payout involved Glasgow boxing promoter Alex Morrison, 67, for whom O'Donnell acted in the 2002 sale of his Sydney Street gym to Scottish Enterprise for £130,000. The sale money should have gone to Morrison's offshore firm, Decafarm Ltd, but was instead issued to O'Donnell's.

Decafarm complained to Strathclyde Police fraud squad but the procurator fiscal decided not to prosecute. 9 In other cases, his clients took out two mortgages on property and sold the property, paying off one mortgage. The others lender then had to pursue the solictor for negligence to get their money back - and his insurance paid out.

Last night, ex-SNP leader and legal reform campaigner John Swinney said:

"This appears a clear example of why a robust and independent complaints handling system is required.

"I hope forthcoming legislation to be considered by Parliament will address these issues."

Peter Cherbi, of Injustice Scotland, said: "If you buy a tin of beans, you can see the ingredients on the label. If you're paying a solicitor, you should be aware of what he or she has been up to.

"I'm also asking Justice Minister Cathy Jamieson to revoke the exemption of the Law Society ofScotland from the Freedom of Information Act."

Last month, it emerged that complaints against lawyers had risen 30 per cent in a year to almost 5000.

But a Law Society of Scotland spokesman said: "The consumer protections for clients of Scottish solicitors are second to none."

Last night, a legal firm issued a statement on his behalf. It read: During 2000-2002, John O'Donnell received treatment for a mental illness. He was diagnosed with clinical depression. During those dark days, Mr O'Donnell accepts his own high standards slipped.

"Indeed, when making a determination, the Law Society of Scotland makes reference to his illness, citing this as 'extenuating circumstances'.

"In 2003, Mr O'Donnell started a new legal practice and has many loyal and satisfied clients."

Two years ago, the Sunday Mail revealed that O'Donnell's office was searched by police as part of a money-laundering probe into McGovern crime family lieutenant, Russell Stirton, 46.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Adviser on public submissions to Scottish Parliament Justice 2 Committee revealed to be a lawyer !

A significant problem has arisen within the Justice 2 Committee's consideration of the "Legal Profession & Legal AId (Scotland) Bill - with the revelation that the adviser to the Justice 2 Committee, Mrs Margaret L Ross, who is to advise on who to call for evidence and on the content of the oral evidence session & written submissions .. turns out to be a lawyer, and member of the Law Society Scotland, who, sits on several key Law Society Committees.

While of course, it would most certainly be difficult to critisise Mrs Ross' qualifications in the legal field, she did of course, make a submission to the previous Justice 1 Committee "Regulation of the Legal Profession" inquiry, in support of self-regulation, arguing that in fact, it was more like independent regulation as it currently stands ... (that's why, no doubt, there are 5000+ complaints a year against solicitors).

Mrs Ross submission to the Justice 1 Committee can be found in adobe acrobat format (pdf), here:

Mrs Ross University of Aberdeen Profile can be found here, along with her many accolades, and Committee memberships & more at :

I would have to say, given the precedent which Annabel Goldie set this consideration of the new legislation affecting regulation of lawyers, when she resigned her position as Convener of Justice 2, out of 'conflict of interest' issues, the position of the adviser to the Justice 2 on who gives evidence should surely be occupied by a much more neutral individual than someone who has already stated their opposition to the changes which individuals like myself, campaign groups, and politicians have campaiged for over the years.

I note, for instance, Margaret Ross sits on the "Access to Justice" Committee of the Law Society of Scotland, the name of that Committee being probably one of the biggest jokes in Scottish Law .. "Access to Justice" ... but, what happens when the case is against a fellow member of the Law Society of Scotland .. and thousands of clients throughout Scotland find themselves DENIED 'Access to Justice" ... ? I'm sure Mrs Ross knows all about that side of matters then ... but given her stated support for the legal profession & the Law Society of Scotland in terms of their own model of self-regulation ... it cannot be said that her position as adviser to the Committee as to who is called to give evidence - or to decide on the content of written submissions, etc .. would be a position of total transparency ....would it ?

Member of the Law Society screens submissions to the Justice 2 Committee on new legislation to independently regulate members of the Law Society of Scotland & others in the legal profession ? surely, that is, a conflict of interest ... yes ?

Sadly, this Justice 2 Committee inquiry seems to be turning the way of the Justice 1 Committee version - where the legal profession and their political allies, within the Scottish Parliament, and the Scottish Executive, wreck the terms of the inquiry, limit and restrict the testimony from the public on their dealings with lawyers .. and eventually, of course .. fiddle the outcome, so nothing really happens, and the likes of the Law Society of Scotland are left in charge again .. to leave their membership to plunder and steal from the Scottish public at-will ....

Stewart Mackenzie, who has probably the worst case of difficulties with multiple solicitors & legal firms in Scotland, has asked the Justice 2 Committee to consider Mrs Ross position in the light of this information (as have I), and of course, I will publish the response from Justice 2 when it comes in ... but of course, given the tradition of arrogance within the Scottih Parliamentary Committee system on who does what, I expect no budge on this but with Annabel Goldie's own resignation on grounds of possible conflict of interest (Ms Goldie is a lawyer & therefore a member of the Law Society of Scotland), I don't see how the Justice 2 Committee can justify having additional members of the Law Society of Scotland who are in key positions to determine who gets access to the current Justice 2 inquiry on this Bill .. or, was it set up that way from the very start ? ......

Incidentally, you can read Stewart Mackenzie's Justice 1 Committee submission here : .. and see for yourselves, how the legal profession in Scotland wrecked his life, health, wealth, etc . and how top Law Society officials such as the Chief Executive, Douglas Mill, conspired with others to fiddle the outcome of settlements & complaints Mr Mackenzie had against lawyers & legal firms ... just in the same way the same Douglas Mill & his cohorts did against my family .. which you have read in earlier posts on this blog ....

In another development I also noticed today, Ameer Anwar has been censured by the Law Society of Scotland for comments he was alleged to have made on a radio phone in ..... you can read about this story in "The Scotsman", here at : article titled "Lawyer fights censure over radio phone in", by John Robertson - Law Correspondent at "The Scotsman"

I have to say I am kind of ... mystified about this ... the Law Society of Scotland will censure Ameer Anwar for what he is alleged to have said on a radio show, but they let their top brass like Joseph Platt and public stars such as Austin Lafferty come on to a BBC radio show with me and lie their guts out ? .. or .. they will come down on Ameer for what he is alleged to have said to a caller, but yet the Law Society will let plenty other lawyers off for faking up files, fiddling & stealing legal aid, robbing the dead, embezzling funds, conning people out of their homes and selling bent mortgages, etc ... it's a bit strange, isn't it .. or is there another motive ? .. maybe if Ameer Anwar is going to make a submission to the Justice 2 Committee on the new Legal Profession & Legal Aid (Scotland) Bill .. they might even want to discredit him a bit just in time for the hearings .....

Having read the "Scotsman" article on Ameer Anwar - I wish him "Good Luck" with his Judicial Review against the Law Society of Scotland .. and well, given Ameer's representation of perhaps .. controversial clients, who shouldn't really be controversial at all, I would think the likes of the Scottish Executive and the big wigs at the Law Society must be looking for any excuse at all to get rid of him ... so this case, is probably s symptom of that ... and the Law Society have went in to get him at all costs ... on something they let their own away with ....

..... tough isn't it ... speak out, or represent the Human Rights of those who are now arbitrarily declared in Society by our 'leaders' & 'spin doctors' not to have such rights .. and you become a target yourself .... well, I know about that of course ... I've been through the mill with the Law Society and all their allies, who used every trick and dirty tactic against me to ruin my life ... so, anyone who takes the same course gets the same treatment ..... so I bet I get a belly full from the Justice 2 Committee once again ....

Just to recap on my case so you understand some of what I have faced ...
A total of 7 firms of lawyers ripped off my famly and conned us over the years, as you have read from papers on this site and my articles :

Andrew Penman, Stormonth Darling Solicitors, 5 The Square, Kelso, Scottish Borders.

David Sturrock, Turnbull Simpson & Sturrock, 31 High Street, Jedburgh, Scottish Borders.

Nigel Hall, Haddon & Turnbull Solicitors, 55 High Street, Hawick, Scottish Borders.

David Reid, Alex Morrison & Co, Edinburgh.

David Reid, Morrison Bishop WS, Erskine House, Queen Street, Edinburgh.

David Reid, Campbell Smith WS, 21 York Place, Edinburgh.

Michael Robson, Robsons WS, Ratho, Edinburgh.

Several other legal firms also came along to interfere in my case and make sure I got nowhere - these being :

Simpson & Marwick, Albany House, Edinburgh. (represented crooked Andrew Penman of Stormonth Darling Solicitors, Kelso, and made sure my case never got to court)

Tods Murray Solicitors, Edinburgh, (also represented crooked solicitor Andrew Penman and made sure he was saved from court)

Balfour & Manson Solicitors, Edinburgh. (did a hatchet job on the case involving the death of my mum and the negligence of the lawyers involved in it to save them from any punishment .. real dirty tricks here)

These are all .. crooked lawyers and crooked legal firms - don't touch them with a barge pole ... complaints were put in against them all, ranging from embezzlement to fraud, to legal aid fraud, to falsifying paperwork, fiddling accounts, faking files, stealing, lying, and a lot more - all fully supported by paper evidence - but all were let off the hook .. by the crooks at the Law Society of Scotland ... real .. crooks ... and that is why they have to go .... and we have to get this new legislation on the statute books to independently regulate and investigate lawyers and members of the legal profession in Scotland.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Freedom Of Information in Scotland - In Reality, Access Denied.

While many organisations throught Scotland who ARE covered by the Freedom of Information Act are blatantly stalling or even denying requests by individuals for information .... organisations such as local councils, bodies of the Scottish Executive, etc .... there are still some key organisations which aren't even covered by the FOI act at all .. such as, the Law Society of Scotland.

With the supposedly impending removal of self-regulation of the legal profession in Scotland by the new Legal Profession & Legal Aid Bill which is now before the Justice 2 Committee of the Scottish Parliament (for fiddling and bartering with the legal profession) ... is it not time now to revoke the exemption of the Law Society of Scotland from the FOI act ? ... surely clients have the right to know just what is going on at the Law Society when it comes to what information is gathered on them ... but of course, the Law Society of Scotland can't really afford for that kind of information to get out ..

Just imagine the following scenario which comes from an actual case of complaint against a well known crooked lawyer

1. Client of a lawyer discovers his lawyer is ripping his family off.

2. Lawyer becomes aware of client discovery so sets about faking up file notes and destroying evidence.

3. Client makes a complaint to the Law Society of Scotland and makes the story public.

4. Lawyer uses his regional contacts to make the client's life hell and gets associates to intimidate the client's family.

5. Campaign against the client started by Law Society officials with briefings & memos / inquiries in the form of accusatory letters / phone calls / meetings against the client to local authorities such as Police, Benefits Agency, Social Services, Local Health Trust, Inland Revenue, etc ...who all willingly play along - some officials seemingly even being paid off by the lawyer & their associates to do their bidding against the client ....

6. Client pursues complaint with Law Society for several years.

7. Lawyers & Law Society of Scotland staff conspire to fiddle the complaint and do nothing to the crooked lawyer.

8. Client writes to Scottish Executive & politicians for help against crooked legal profession.

9. Scottish Executive turn Police and judicial system on the client at the behest of Law Society contacts, in the hope of finding something on the client to get rid of them and any information then relayed back to Law Society contacts for further use.

10. Client is denied the right to air his dealing with the legal profession at the Scottish Parliament - due to lobbying from the legal profession, the Parliament's own legal team, and 'friends & associates' of Committee members & staff ....

11. Client fails to find lawyers to sue the crooked lawyer for negligence because lawyers don't sue lawyers - and even if they do, they only take the case on to ruin it or diminish any final settlement, by secret arrangement with the Law Society of Scotland and the Professional Insurers of the lawyers.

12. Client is added to "Client Blacklist" which warns ALL Scottish lawyers & legal firms not to represent the client unless first contacting the Law Society of Scotland for "reference" - usually this results in Clients who complain against lawyers never beng able to get proper representation again.

13. Client's life is totally destroyed in some cases of serious complaint - loses home, business, family, health, future, and the crooked lawyer & legal firm who caused it all in the first place gets a big fat bonus and continues to prosper.

You see now exactly why the Law Society of Scotland doesn't want to be part of the Freedom of Information Act .... imagine the likes of this kind of information getting out into the public domain ... memos from senior Law Society officials ordering secret investigations into complaining clients, memos of telephone calls to Scottish Executive Ministers asking for information on clients in return for other favours or even political donations, memos of telephone calls to the Police & other organisations from Society officials & lawyers giving mis information about a complaining client in order to use the authorities against them ... quite strong stuff isn't it ... and something certainly anyone would want kept secret from a Freedom of Information Act request or investigation ...

So, why does all this happen then, you ask yourselves ? How come the legal profession in Scotland have SO MUCH influence with public authorities and more ? ... well .. the answer lies in the size of the business we are talking about here ... Billions of pounds each year in Scotland flow to the legal profession .. for instance, just look at how much the Royal Bank of Scotland spends of legal business - some £150million pounds ...

The size of the legal industry in Scotland in financial terms, buys a LOT of influence - political, personal, and otherwise .. and particulaly when it comes to the deep dark local regions of Scotland - such as the likes of the Scottish Borders, stuck in the 19th century by the looks of it .. going up against a lawyer there can be fatal - with almost the entire services of the region, local government, police, medical, everything .. turned on any individual who dares to question why a lawyer has got off from serious charges of corruption.

So, it's certainly time to revoke the exemption of the likes of the Law Society of Scotland from acts such as the Freedom of Informatio Act ... because when such sinister things happen to so many people in Scotland - go unnoticed, unreported, or unpunished - the only people who gain from this kind of twisted culture of secrecy & corruption - are the crooked among us .. and for the purposes of this article, that finger is squarely pointed at the legal profession ....

Link to the following article from "The Scotsman" who report this issue, at :

Complaints soar as public's right to know is denied

* Rising complaints about failure of public bodies to disclose information
* Inquiry to be launched into poor performance
* Those who show 'wilful disregard for the legislation' may even face jail

Key quote "It's completely unacceptable that public bodies are flouting the FoI Act which they are duty-bound to honour under law. They are public bodies, paid for by the public purse and must be transparent as well as accountable." - The SNP's John Swinney

PUBLIC bodies that consistently fail to comply with Freedom of Information legislation are to be named and shamed as part of a crackdown on the way they operate, The Scotsman can reveal.

Amid a rising level of complaints about councils, police forces and other authorities not responding to demands for data, Kevin Dunion, Scotland's Information Commissioner, is to launch an inquiry into their performance. Those public bodies which do not meet strict targets will be identified and, in cases where they are guilty of extreme negligence, enforcement powers will be used to implement change.

Under the Freedom of Information (FoI) Act, chief executives who show a wilful disregard for the legislation can be held in contempt of court and even jailed, although Mr Dunion said he was far more likely to apply political pressure on such organisations by, for example, making them the subject of damning parliamentary reports.

The Scotsman has learned that appeals to the commissioner about organisations not responding to legitimate demands for information under the act are rising steadily, more than a year after the law came into force. Nearly a quarter of the 158 complaints this year were about a complete failure by public authorities to answer requests - up from 18 per cent of all appeals last year.

With complaints running at twice the highest predicted level, the commissioner's own team is struggling to fulfil its role as enforcers. After the body failed to meet its target of settling appeals within four months in one fifth of all cases, the commissioner, who has a budget of £1.2 million, is to hire an extra three investigators and will call on the Scottish Parliament for more funding.

The act imposes a duty on public authorities to respond to requests for information within 20 working days. If the person seeking the information is unhappy with the response, he or she can demand a review by the authority which must be completed within another 20 working days.

But an increasing number of organisations are failing to comply with the law. Among those held by Mr Dunion to be culpable on at least one occasion since the act was introduced are the Scottish Executive, the Strathclyde, Tayside and Grampian police forces, the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman, the Crown Office, Audit Scotland, Scottish Water, the Scottish Prison Service and 14 councils, including Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Part of the reason for the growth in complaints is the increasing number of requests for information. But Mr Dunion has also found some organisations do not have proper procedures in place.

One public official said he was not even able to look at requests within 20 working days. "It is impossible. I've got a massive pile to go through and the boss refuses to pay for anyone else to help out," he said.

Mr Dunion told The Scotsman: "This is just not acceptable. I was already concerned about the 18 per cent of complaints I received last year that were about mute responses. That figure has now risen to 23 per cent.

And these are only the cases that reach me. It requires a fair degree of persistence by the individual who wants the information before it gets as far as myself."

He is so concerned about the number of cases where authorities are failing to comply that he will later this year undertake a "systematic review" of complaints to identify the worst-performing bodies. He will seek to offer guidance to authorities and, in cases where they are guilty of extreme negligence, use powers to implement change.

The tough line was welcomed by the SNP's John Swinney, who said: "It's completely unacceptable that public bodies are flouting the FoI Act which they are duty-bound to honour under law. They are public bodies, paid for by the public purse and must be transparent as well as accountable."

A Scottish Executive spokesman said: "We make every effort to be as open and transparent as possible through FoI legislation and other means. But we are occasionally unable to provide as much information as respondents would like.
This could be because the request exceeds the cost limit, because information is confidential or because it is commercially sensitive."'Human error - not intentional obstructiveness'

E-MAIL accounts that staff have forgotten to check and over-zealous computer firewalls are among the reasons given for public authorities breaking the Freedom of Information laws.

The Information Commissioner, Kevin Dunion, said the failure to reply to FoI requests was usually down to "human error" rather than officials being intentionally obstructive.

He said: "In some cases, I've found that IT systems have over-vigorous firewalls which filter out e-mail requests. One authority said they had set up a special e-mail, but staff simply forgot it existed. When I approach them to find out why they haven't responded, they usually put their hands up and say they didn't recognise that it was a request under the act."

In other cases, however, managers have been unwilling to provide enough staff to deal with FoI requests, something he said was "totally unacceptable".

Friday, April 14, 2006

Disclosing the regulatory history of lawyers in Scotland to help give choice to the consumer

The Scotsman 'obtained' a Freedom of Information request showing how many Police officers in Scotland had criminal records .... answer - at least 158 Scottish Police officers have criminal records - or more truthfully - the158 cases are the ones they were prepared to admit to .... so, who really knows ....

But of course .. how about making a request under the Freedom of Information Act to see how crooked your lawyer is, or how many lawyers in Scotland have had serious complaints made against them - or how many lawyers have criminal records, or have ripped off their clients - well - there's no chance of that one being answered - because the Law Society of Scotland secured immunity from the Freedom of Information Act for the legal profession ..... how do you feel about that then ? .... and how do you feel about that ? Policemen of Scotland ? .... one rule for you, another rule for the people who infrequently ruin your arrests & cases ? .....

Well, wouldn't you, a member of the public, want to know if a lawyer is a crook, or a criminal, or even a sex pervert or child molester ? ... damn right you would ! ... and you know what, you SHOULD have the right to know too .... what with lawyers up and down the length of Scotland being caught & arrested for molesting & abusing children, downloading illegal porn, indulging in public sex acts, embezzlement of client funds, stealing from charities & the dead, ruining firms for personal gain even, allegedly taking out murder hits on colleagues ... etc .... would YOU want such a person handling your legal affairs or having access to your family ? .. I wouldn't ...

Remember what the statistics say about lawyers in Scotland - 5000+ complaints a year .. and a lot more which the Law Society of Scotland denies ... and since there are only around 10,000 solicitors in Scotland, that means every one of them has probably had a complaint made against them - and their firms too .... many of those complaints of a VERY SERIOUS nature ....

.... so, don't you think you should have the right to know if lawyers have a history of being crooked or have criminal records, just as we have found out about the Police ? well, for me, at least, the answer to that is obviously YES .. these are people who, like the Police, are trusted with upholding & respecting the law - and acting in legal matters .. so we need to know the regulatory history of lawyers, for such information to be available to any client who wishes such a disclosure, and for that diclosure to a client to be a matter of course when a client wishes to give a solicitor work ...

This should be something which was in the new Legal Profession & Legal Aid (Scotland) Bill .. but of course, it was omitted - because the Law Society of Scotland don't want us, the general public, to know how crooked Scottish lawyers have been in the past - probably because if we found out the truth, we wouldn't trust them with a bag of bird seed ....but there is still time for all of you to write into the Justice 2 Committee of the Scottish Parliament and suggest this insertion into the new legislation ...

Here's the article from "The Scotsman" on the Police story - with another from the "Daily Record" to follow, on a senior lawyer in Linlithgow on charges of exposing himself to a young boy in a public bathroom ..

158 Scots officers have criminal record

* Police dismay as figures show 1 in every 100 officers convicted of a crime
* Two inspectors and nine sergeants of Strathclyde police have records
* Chief police officers vow to establish national vetting procedure

Key quote "You cannot have someone who has been convicted of drink-driving arresting a member of the public for the same thing" - senior police source

Story in full

AT LEAST 158 serving police officers in Scotland have convictions for offences ranging from assault and drink-driving to attempting to pervert the course of justice, The Scotsman can reveal.

The figures - obtained under the Freedom of Information Act - reveal six of Scotland's eight forces employ officers convicted of criminal offences, including inspectors and sergeants.

Politicians and police board members yesterday expressed their surprise at the high figure and pledged to ask questions of chief constables. And senior officers told The Scotsman of their concerns that some forces were being too lenient on some crimes committed by their staff.

The Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland (ACPOS) is so concerned by the issue it is now drawing up a set of national vetting rules which is likely to list convictions that will automatically bar someone from joining the service.

The issue was thrown into the spotlight by Fabian Wright, a former constable with Grampian, who was jailed last month for dangerous driving for his part in an off-duty accident that killed 16-year-old Lisa Marie Wyllie in Aberdeen last year.

Following his trial, the force admitted the 28-year-old had a previous conviction for theft before he joined the police.

Deputy Chief Constable Pat Shearer revealed another 24 serving officers in Grampian have convictions for offences committed before and during their police career, but insisted the force had introduced stringent new vetting procedures to weed out unsuitable candidates.

But the figures obtained by The Scotsman show the issue goes far further than one force. In Strathclyde, 82 police officers have records - 24 of whom had convictions before joining the force. Of the 82, two are inspectors, nine are sergeants and 71 constables, including six "specials".

Lothian and Borders would only give details about officers who had gained convictions since 2000, of which there are nine - three of whom were guilty of assault and six of breach of the peace.

Scotland has about 16,000 police officers, which means about one in every 100 has at least one criminal conviction. In at least 38 of the 158 known cases, the convictions were gained prior to the officer joining the service. At the moment, while every police officer is obliged to declare a criminal conviction, each of Scotland's eight police forces takes its own decisions on recruiting officers and for discipline if an offence is committed while serving.

A senior source within one force said: "We take pretty much a zero-tolerance attitude towards officers who are guilty of drink-driving. You cannot have someone who has been convicted of drink-driving arresting a member of the public for the same thing. Other forces may not take quite such a clear approach."

Jean McFadden, the convener of the Strathclyde Joint Police Board, said she was alarmed that police officers convicted of assault were still serving, and pledged to raise the matter with Chief Constable Willie Rae.

She said: "I'd be very surprised if someone convicted of assault isn't dismissed from the force. What I say to new recruits when they are sworn into the service is that a higher standard of conduct is expected of them than in other jobs, both on and off duty."

Kenny MacAskill, the SNP's justice spokesman, said: "It does seem a very high number. There are some offences where it would be very surprising if officers were able to serve, but a degree of discretion for more minor offences should be shown."

Deputy Chief Constable Garry Sutherland, chairman of the ACPOS professional standards business area, said that when considering applicants, forces must "take a balanced view and consider each individual on their merits".

now, to compare, here's a little story from "The Daily Record" .. reporting on an Advocate ! who was caught exposing himself to a 13 year old boy and charged ! .. and he's an Advocate ! from the Faculty of Advocates ! - imagine if he was on a case where he had access to children ? shouldn't it be the case that clients have the right to know such information about lawyers too ??

Apr 13 2006
By Derek Alexander

A SENIOR lawyer has been accused of exposing himself to a 13-year-old boy in a shopping centre toilet.Married advocate Mark Strachan, 47, appeared in court this week charged with committing an indecent act. He could face a jail sentence if convicted.

It is understood Strachan is still working in the courts despite the sex allegation. His lawyer, Iain Smith, said last night: "My client denies the charge against him."Police were called to the McArthur Glen designer outlet in Livingston, West Lothian after the alleged incident in a public toilet on the afternoon of February 13.

Strachan appeared at Linlithgow Sheriff Court on Tuesday, charged with lewd, indecent and libidinous behaviour. He made no plea or declaration and was freed on bail.A legal source said: "He will be very aware of how serious the charges are and the consequences of being found guilty."

Strachan earned £11,500 from the taxpayer for Legal Aid work last year, but is understood to make significantly more from private clients.He studied law at Aberdeen University in the 1970s before completing his legal diploma. After working as a solicitor in Aberdeen, he became an advocate in 2004.

Strachan's entry on the website of his professional body, the Faculty of Advocates, says he works in the appeal court, in criminal trials, and in employment and industrial relations cases.The advocate owns a modern flat in Linlithgow, West Lothian, overlooking a loch, after buying the property for £135,000 in 2003. He also has a home in Old Leslie, near Insch, Aberdeenshire.

The legal profession has faced a number of scandals in recent months.In February, Glasgow-based solicitor Angela Baillie admitted smuggling £1600 worth of heroin and valium to a client inside Barlinnie Prison.The 32-year-old solicitor handed a cigarette packet stuffed with drugs to the prisoner in an interview room.

Baillie is now understood to be in a drug rehab centre in England.She will be sentenced next week. Prosecutors are also trying to recover a total of £52,000 from her, claiming she made the cash from crime.Last year, a senior Glasgow prosecutor and a prostitute were charged with public indecency after allegedly indulging in a sex act in the city centre.

Procurator fiscal Stuart MacFarlane, 37, and Joanne Crane, 27, were arrested after the alleged incident in Bothwell Street, Glasgow in November.MacFarlane is also said to have resisted arrest.A legal insider said last night: "It's been a very embarrassing year for us. There seems to be one scandal after another at the moment."

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Law Society of Scotland & Lord Lester QC challenge new legislation to protect Scottish public against crooked lawyers


How did I find that out ? Simple.

The Law Society of Scotland issued a press release for Tueday 11 April .. and here we have the article accusing the new law watchdog to be formed in 2007/2008 as being "in breach of Human Rights Law" by the Liberal Democrat Lord Lester QC - so it seems, the Lib Dems are showing again, their posture against the electorate which also showed itself in their vote against an inquiry into the McKie fake fingerprint scandal (they voted to keep things secret from the public) ... so, Lib Dems = against transparency and fairness to the consumer .... a simple statement with valid evidence to support it ...

Of course, since this bill is directed against the legal profession, and Lord Lester is after all, a QC and therefore a member of the legal profession, he won't like independent agencies probing crooked lawyers (the Law Society uses the word quango - only because it suits them here to do so) .. and even though the Law Society of Scotland has supported the Bill so far, their support has and always will be, a SHAM - because their real intention has always been to undermine the bill at whatever cost it takes ..

According to a source from within the Law Society, there have been extensive discussions on how to delay the bill as long as possible, so it would fall into a General Election period and not become law ... strategies have also been put in place to allegedly "confuse" the Justice 2 Committee into calling for delays in the legislation to further consider the effects of certain parts of the bill, and 'in house' trial Committee Hearings by the lawyers have already taken place on this matter, confronting those who are going to be put in front of the real Justice 2 Committee with remarkably similar questions as they will face in the Scottish Parliament .. so that they get their answers & responses right for the day - or in other words - the lawyers are making sure their lies & fiddles are all the same so there's no holes to poke through ... just like what happened with the Justice 1 Committee back in 2001...

We all have to be careful of these types of opinions given out by the so-called experts, to interfere with legislation which the consumer requires .... and since this opinion is sponsored by the Law Society of Scotland itself, who are determined to ruin the legislation at any costs - and ruin YOUR chances of ever getting a fair hearing against a lawyer who is ripping you off ... we have to make this matter as public as possible, make the campaign to bring it into law as public as possible, and expose this sordid dirty attempt to scupper the new Bill .... but be on your guard everyone, because this is just the beginning of the war for this legislation to come into law ....

... but while such a so-called expert as Lord Lester will come out and defend his own colleagues rights under ECHR, he won't take on a case where a client has had their ECHR rights abused by a lawyer, the Law Society, or his colleagues in the legal profession as a whole .... quite a case of double standards, don't you think ? Certainly, YES !

.. for instance, my own fight with the Law Society of Scotland spanning 12 years continues, with the likes of Philip Yelland, Director of the Client Relations Office, and Douglas Mill, the Chief Executive of the Law Society of Scotland - constantly breaching my ECHR rights - and those same rights of THOUSANDS of other clients every year who complain against their lawyers .. but do we get anywhere ? NO .... because no lawyer will ever take a case on against another lawyer where the client claims the legal profession is breaching their ECHR rights ....and if we ever write a letter to the likes of Douglas Mill telling him he is breaching our ECHR rights - he just sits back and laughs, and then plans some more dirty tricks against us .. just like he did in my case, which you can read about here :

Of course - it could be that the Scottish Executive have deliberately built in problems such as this to the new legislation - so that it would fail if the legal profession wanted it to .... kind of like .. a safety self destruct device .... and with things being at the Executive & Parliament as they are - this is a REAL possibility .... what other 'land mines' are we going to find in the new legislation I wonder ? ... and how many do the likes of Douglas Mill at the Law Society know about ? .. or did the lawyer members of the working group on this legislation deliberately insert problems themselves to use later against it ? ...... stay tuned for more ...

Link from "The Herald" for the first take on this story , at :

Human rights warning over plan for new legal watchdog

Proposals to introduce an independent system for handling complaints about Scotland's 10,000 lawyers are "flawed and wrong in law", a leading human rights authority has warned.

Liberal Democrat peer Lord Lester of Herne Hill was asked for his opinion on the executive's plans by the Law Society of Scotland, the representative body for the nation's 9000 solicitors.

The cornerstone of the legislation is the creation of a watchdog to handle complaints – the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission – which will comprise a majority of non-lawyers and end centuries of self-regulation.

The society warned in March the new complaints- handling body could breach the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR).

In a statement yesterday, the society said: "Lord Lester concludes that the proposals, which include setting up a new quango to handle service complaints about lawyers, would not be compatible with human rights law, saying that a right of appeal to a court or tribunal would have to be available for clients and solicitors."

Under new proposals they would be able to claim up to £20,000 in compensation, four times the present maximum.

John Swinney MSP, the former SNP leader, has long campaigned for a more independent system.

He said: "The society has had quite enough time to come up with a more credible solution than the one proposed."

However, Douglas Mill, the society's chief executive, said: "The opinion states there is insufficient right of appeal for the public and the proposals compromise the independence of the legal profession in Scotland.

"There is still time for the executive and justice ministers to take the society's concerns seriously and correct the bill."

Lord Lester's opinion states that the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission would not be an "independent and impartial tribunal" under Article 6 of the convention. He cites the fact that the commission would consider negligence – a civil law matter – as part of service complaints, yet there would be no right of appeal to a judicial body against its decisions.

Under the proposals in the Legal Profession and Legal Aid (Scotland) Bill, a challenge would be possible by judicial review to the Court of Session. But this could only be considered if there had been any flaws in the decision-making process, rather than examine any disputed facts in the case.

Lord Lester's criticisms came as a leading law professor branded MSPs hypocrites if they impose a reform they would not apply to themselves.

Professor Alastair Bonnington, of Strathclyde University and head lawyer for the BBC in Scotland, said: "If MSPs would be happy with this situation for themselves, it's perfectly reasonable for them to vote in favour of this bill. If they would not be happy about imposing such a regulatory regime on themselves, they are hypocrites to vote in favour of this bill."

Link to the article in "The Scotsman" ... with the actual Press Release from the Law Society of Scotland following on ...

New law watchdog 'in breach of human rights law'

A PROPOSED new quango to deal with complaints against Scottish lawyers will be in breach of human rights law, according to one of the UK's top legal minds.

Lord Lester of Herne Hill said the Executive's planned reforms of the way that legal complaints are handled are "flawed" and "wrong in law".

Currently, any complaints against lawyers are handled by the Law Society of Scotland, but under the Legal Profession and Legal Aid (Scotland) Bill, the 10,000 solicitors and advocates will be policed by an independent body - the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission - which will handle most of the thousands of grievances lodged against lawyers every year.

The Law Society has accepted the need for a new complaints watchdog, but has warned that the specific proposals may not comply with the European Convention on Human Rights. They sought the opinion of Lord Lester - one of the UK's foremost experts in human rights - who has concluded the absence of any right of appeal to an external court or tribunal against a ruling by the commission would contravene human rights law.

The watchdog's main function will be to handle consumer or service complaints, which comprise about 80 per cent of the grievances made every year about solicitors and advocates.

It will be able to make compensation awards of up to £20,000 against lawyers - a sum which the Law Society says could put some practices out of business; hence the need for a rigorous appeal process to ensure the system is fair.

Douglas Mill, the chief executive of the Law Society, said: "The opinion states that there is insufficient right of appeal for the public and that the proposals compromise the independence of the legal profession in Scotland.

"The society has passed the opinion to the Scottish Executive. A meeting has now been arranged, and there is still time for the Executive and justice ministers to take the society's concerns seriously to correct the bill."

However, an Executive spokesman said the bill had been certified by ministers as compliant with the European convention. "We are considering very carefully the opinion put forward by Lord Lester," he said.

The Actual Press Release from the Law Society of Scotland :

Executive Legal Bill "Flawed... and wrong in law"

Proposals to reform complaints handling in the legal profession are "flawed...and wrong in law", according to an opinion by a leading human rights authority on the Legal Profession and Legal Aid (Scotland) Bill.

The Law Society of Scotland obtained the opinion of Lord Lester of Herne Hill, Q.C. after it repeatedly warned the Scottish Executive that the Bill might not comply with the European Convention on Human Rights and could compromise the independence of the Scottish legal profession. Lord Lester concludes that the proposals, which include setting up a new quango to handle service complaints about lawyers, would not be compatible with human rights law, saying that a right of appeal to a court or tribunal would have to be available for clients and solicitors.

Douglas Mill, Chief Executive of the Society said: "We have called for an independent body to handle service complaints against solicitors in Scotland but also made it clear that any new system must not only work but also be an improvement on the present system to the benefit of the public and the profession.

"We obtained Lord Lester's opinion after repeatedly raising our concerns about compliance with Human Rights law with the Scottish Executive. The opinion states that there is insufficient right of appeal for the public and that the proposals compromise the independence of the legal profession in Scotland.

"The Society has passed the opinion to the Scottish Executive. A meeting has now been arranged and there is still time for the Executive and Justice Ministers to take the Society's concerns seriously to correct the Bill."

Notes to Editors:Lord Lester's opinion states:
* The Scottish Legal Complaints Comission (SLCC) would not be an "independent and impartial tribunal" as required under Article 6 of ECHR because it would consider negligence - a civil law matter - as part of service complaints yet there would be no right of appeal to a judicial body against its decisions. Under the Executive's proposals, a challenge would be possible by judicial review to the Court of Session - but that could only be considered if there had been any flaws in the decision-making process, rather than examine any disputed facts in the case. * In cases where an administrative body determines civil rights and obligations in a dispute between private parties, it is well established that there must be an independent and impartial court or tribunal with full jurisdiction to decide factual as well as legal issues. * Although the SLCC would in effect be exercising judicial functions, it would not be an independent and impartial tribunal, as required by Article 6 of the European Conventions on Human Rights. The reliance by the Executive upon the availability of judicial review would therefore leave the relevant law in a state of complete uncertainty. If the Bill were enacted in its present form, it is likely, that the courts would annul the legislation as beyond the legislative competence of the Scottish Parliament.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION: please contact Gillian Meighan or Jody Fitchet in the Corporate Communications Office of the Law Society of Scotland by telephone Tel: 0131 476 8167 or 0131 476 8186 or e-mail: or
A biography of Lord Lester of Herne Hill, QC can be accessed through the House of Lords Section of The Society sought the opinion of Lord Lester of Herne Hill, Q.C. as a pre-eminent expert on human rights law. As a member of the English Bar, he is not affected by the Bill's proposals.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Law Society of Scotland mobilises the excuses for crooked lawyers ahead of Justice 2 Committee inquiry

Scottish Lawyers are so stressed that they call a helpline and agency run by an infamously crooked lawyer to tell their problems ... and get them off the hook from clients who have just discovered their 'stressed lawyer' has stolen their money, their homes, ruined their lives, and a lot more besides ...

"Law Care" - which is run by James Ness - the crooked lawyer and big wig at the Law Society of Scotland (he is also deputy director of practice), who used many dirty tricks in getting crooked lawyers off the hook like Andrew Penman of Stormonth Darling Solicitors, The Square, Kelso ... is going on a charm offensive to the media in the wake of the new Bill of Law proposing full independent investigation & regulation of complaints against crooked lawyers .....

If you want to read about how crooked lawyer James Ness fiddles complaints and uses the most despicable dirty tricks akin to a terrorist that he can get away with against members of the public, all in the name of protecting his crooked colleague Mr Andrew Penman from a prosecution by the Scottish Solicitors Discipline Tribunal for his corruption, read this :

I can just hear them now .... 'Oh, what will we do, what will we do ?' cry the staff of the Law Society and Law Care ? We have to get the public's sympathy on our side to prevent anyone taking a close look at how crooked our members really are .... oh, we have an idea ... let's do a publicity drive and 'humanise' some lawyers tales of stress and suffering in their work ... .and, surprise, here we have it ! ....

But .. how about we find out the regulatory history of those lawyers who are calling in to tell their stories of stress and being drunk on the job or being bullied by their pet cat .... oh ... no we can't do that of course ..

.... because as the complaints statistics reveal themselves - with about 5000 registered complaints (many more actually received though) and well over 2000 - 3000 each year for about 20 years .. there isn't one lawyer or one legal firm in Scotland who hasn't had a complaint against them ... sobering statistic, isnt it ? so, when you go to a lawyer, you really have to ask yourself a question ... "How crooked is my lawyer ?" ...
answer - crooked with a capital C ... and that is certainly something "Law Care" and the likes of James Ness don't want you to know about ...

How about this scenario ... your lawyer swindles you on your house sale ... he says ... oh I can't sell your house at the price you want - there's no takers ... then ... when you are desperate for a sale, someone magically comes in with a lower offer and you have to sell it to them ... you loose tens of thousands of pounds and maybe even end up homeless ? you try to complain to the Law Society of Scotland but get nowhere and you can't get a lawyer to sue the crooked lawyer who ripped you off ? ... well .. amidst all this and your attempt to recover the value of the funds your crooked lawyer ripped you off .. your crooked lawyer calls "Law Care" and tells them a sad story how they fell off a tree & hit their head, or they got a paper cut and it caused them to swindle you out of your house & money ....

... yes, that is exactly what "Law Care" is ... they get involved in the complaints process too and the Law Society of Scotland uses this to fiddle complaints against lawyers so they get off ... so that's "Law Care" for you ... a major organ of the legal profession set up to get crooked lawyers off the hook who rip off their clients - headed by one man, James Ness, who certainly knows what he is doing when it comes to getting crooked lawyers off the hook ...

oh yes ... you can bet "Law Care" will be having a go at the Justice 2 Committee of the Scottish Parliament to mitigate any punishments against crooked lawyers .. on grounds of 'stress' - but interestingly, if clients are mauled by crooked lawyers and their health ruined - we aren't allowed to tell of that or submit Doctors opinions as to how much the crooked lawyers have contributed to the demise of client's health .... that is a bias, isn't it ... one law for one, another law for the rest .. and surprise, the crooked lawyer wins again ..

Story from "The Herald", at : (Herald link now out of date)

Rise in calls to helpline from stressed lawyers

A helpline for Scottish lawyers suffering from stress, depression and other work-related problems has experienced a 70% rise in calls over the last two years.

LawCare, co-funded by the Law Society of Scotland, believes that many firms retain a "pull your socks up" culture which can inhibit some victims from reaching out for support.

Across the UK, the number of lawyers seeking help from LawCare leapt by 27% last year, said the charity, which provides independent confidential advice and support on heath problems. Two-thirds of calls related to depression and stress, while 20% concerned alcohol problems, mainly among men.

By contrast, of the 6% of calls which related to workplace bullying, almost all came from women. Indeed, female assistant solicitors were by far the largest group of callers with problems across a spectrum of issues.

In Scotland, LawCare has a separate helpline and team of advisers. Administrator Anna Jones said that increased publicity for the service was partly responsible for such a large rise in calls, but the trend was nevertheless worrying.

She added: "One big difference in Scotland is that far more male solicitors call up than in England and Wales. While the proportion of calls about alcohol problems coming from men is roughly similar, men were also in the majority in stress and depression cases. Men accounted for 60% of bullying cases compared with 35% in England and Wales."

Depression and stress accounted for a higher proportion of calls in Scotland, about 75%, against about two-thirds for the UK as a whole.

While a quarter of calls came from assistant solicitors, a slightly larger share were from partners – again mainly men. Some 18% of Scottish calls came from sole practitioners, also a higher proportion than elsewhere in Britain.

"To some extent the latter figure can perhaps be explained by the larger proportion of sole practitioners in Scotland compared with south of the border," explained Trish McLellan, LawCare's co-ordinator for Scotland.

McLellan practised as a solicitor in England for more than 10 years before moving to Edinburgh with her family. "It is notable that three-quarters of calls are stress-related.

LawCare originally came into Scotland to address what was understood to be a substantial alcohol problem in the profession and the first calls were mainly on this subject.

"However, it quickly became clear that stress was the predominant problem – in a lot of cases alcohol abuse develops from (stress)."

The Law Society of Scotland's deputy director, professional practice, James Ness, chairs LawCare's board of trustees. "The society in Scotland is very supportive," McLellan said. "I do a lot of teaching with them, particularly on continuing professional development courses and with younger solicitors.

"While sole practitioners are perhaps under more pressure and more exposed, the Scottish society is perhaps closer to them because the membership is smaller compared to England.

"I think firms too are helping people more with stress-related problems but it is still a very stigmatised issue. There is still quite a lot of the 'get on with it' attitude around."

A spokeswoman for the society said: "In addition to the update courses with LawCare, we also provide a lot of confidential advice on practical, business-related problems to members.

"But when it comes to more personal and health-related problems coming out of work, many might be reluctant to reveal these to us. That is why we supported the establishment of LawCare as an entirely independent, confidential support service."

LawCare's confidential helpline number
in Scotland is 0800 279 6869.

Law Care website ;

Monday, April 10, 2006

Interim Interim Legal Services Ombudsman to be appointed - because of the media attention in "The Herald"

Well, I think we can safely say - Thank God we have "The Herald" as a newspaper in Scotland to headline some of the inadequacies of Government .. when it comes to Legal issues involving the legal profession ... some other newspapers just completely missed this .. amid deals with the legal profession of course, to keep up their flagging circulation ....

Well, as it is reported, the Justice Department of the Scottish Executive - which must certainly rank as a 5 star pot of corruption at the moment, amid the claims of the McKie inquiry (and many more legal scandals besides) .. .have 'pledged' to keep 'continuity' over the Scottish Legal Services Ombudsman's duties to investigate & report on complaints against the Law Society of Scotland - which are rising every day ....

I wonder just who they are going to appoint to the position of SLSO, which was vacated last week by Linda Costelloe Baker because the Executive had failed to respond to her requests for further funding and even her own resignation letter .....

Maybe some crony from the Law Society of Scotland perhaps ? there is an ever growing list of crooked lawyers and staff at the Law Society of Scotland who could temporarily fill the position and fiddle the complaints statistics so it looks like everything is well (just in time for the Justice 2 Inquiry of course) ... or maybe some bent ex-minister or politician who bungs the Executive political loans or favours could do the rounds temporarily ? ... .the mind boggles ....

It's interesting though that this is happening just now, with the announcement of the "Legal Profession & Legal Aid (Scotland) Bill" going off to the Justice 2 Committee to be considered ....

... Are we seeing perhaps some kind of strategy agreed with the Scottish Executive & the Law Society of Scotland to undermine the Bill before it even gets a chance to be heard ? ... perhaps delay things so much that it doesn't come into Law at all ? ... yes, there certainly seems a chance of that given what is happening ... because from what we have already seen in the many legal scandals which have come and gone, and come back again ... nothing really happens as an 'accident', does it ? Madam Justice Minister .... nothing really happens as an 'honest mistake' .... does it ? Mr McConnell .... somehow, events are planned from the outset .. to cover up secret deals and friends positions .. and as one who has studied many legal & political scandals in Scotland recently, I think we have another one brewing here right now .....

Oh yes .. the simple explanation - Scottish Executive decides to silence critics & campaigners against the legal profession by bringing in a Bill to give independent regulation - but secretly makes a deal with the legal profession to delay and destroy the bill, so that when the time comes to bring it into law ... there is either an election, a new Government, or that the Justice 2 Committee has fiddled the new legislation so much on party political orders .. that it just doesn't get through ....

So .... Here we go again ? .. time for another round of disgracing some politicians I think .... and the books are certainly full of info to do it :)

Here's the article from "The Herald".

Continuity pledge over legal sevices watchdog
PAUL ROGERSON April 10 2006

The Herald's report last week about the non-existent handover arrangements relating to the office of outgoing legal services watchdog Linda Costelloe Baker appears to have struck a chord.

The justice department has pledged to "take steps to ensure continuity of service" at the Edinburgh headquarters of the Scottish Legal Services Ombudsman.

It is rumoured the executive may be ready to appoint an "interim, interim ombudsman" – someone to hold the fort until Costelloe Baker's successor, itself a temporary appointment, takes office later this year.

One informed source reckons the stop-gap appointee could be in post as early as April 26.

Such a move would help avoid a hefty backlog of un-resolved complaints about the Law Society of Scotland and the Faculty of Advocates which would otherwise have been left to gather dust over the next few months.

Costelloe Baker has only one day left to work and departs officially at the end of April. The executive did not advertise the post until March 30.

Costelloe Baker was deeply annoyed about the delay, pointing out that she told the executive in January that she was going. She felt moved to write some 200 letters to lawyers and complainers admitting she had no news of when her successor would be appointed. Her team continues to investigate complaints but does not have authority to sign off recommendations.

The society is also anxious to see the problem resolved. President Caroline Flanagan said: "The Ombudsman has repeatedly flagged the issue of her successor with the executive and that the post is likely to remain vacant for a number of months. The society has done likewise.

"This will affect the society's ability to consistently deal with 75% of complaints in six months. Any delay causes confusion and upset to people who are already concerned and unhappy.

"The delay in appointing a successor damages the public perception of the executive's commitment to dealing effectively with complaints-handling issues. I hope this is not a sign of things to come.

"The complaints process can be complex and it will take time for any new appointment to get up to speed."

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Resignation of Linda Costelloe Baker - the Scottish Legal Services Ombudsman

The resignation of Linda Costelloe Baker this week (well, she actually resigned in January), only leaving her position last Friday ... would certainly be one of the most damning indictments so far this year of the performance of the Law Society of Scotland AND the Scottish Executive when it comes to regulation of the legal profession ....

Personally of course, I have had a LOT of dealings with Linda Costelloe Baker in her post as Scottish Legal Services Ombudsman and I'm sure she will remember the name Peter Cherbi along with plenty other clients of crooked lawyers for some years to come ...

Costelloe Baker has considered many complaints for me, and recently recommended that a complaint be reopened against an extremely crooked lawyer by the name of David Reid, formerly of Alex Morrison & Co, then of Morrison Bishop WS, then of Campbell Smith WS .. and now a Law Accountant who prepares clients accounts (better watch yourselves there when you get your solicitors bills for work done ! )

I would say on balance, Linda Costelloe Baker has probably been the more effective Scottish Legal Services Ombudsman we have had ... but of course, there's not been much to choose from, with her predecessor Garry S Watson being no more than a puppet of the Law Society of Scotland, always willing to do as he was told .. then moving on to the Scottish Parliament to fiddle complaints against MSPs prior to Jim Dyer getting the job (and following in the same vein ....)

Costelloe Baker has went from supporting self-regulation in the past - most notably when she appeared before the Justice 1 Committee "Regulation of the Legal Profession" inquiry to now condemning self-regulation with her recommendation for a fully independent system of regulating complaints against the legal profession in Scotland ....

Costelloe Baker has said in the Herald that she is quite upset over the way her office has been prioritised by the Scottish Executive (very low, of course) .. and why would the Scottish Executive give low priority to her office ? ... well maybe her change of heart over the complaint system as operated by the Law Society of Scotland had something to do with it ... and some of those secret briefings & steak dinners between the big guns of the Law Society and Scottish Ministers have had their effect .... because of course, she lost her backers at the Law Society of Scotland once she went against their corrupt practices in the way of complaints investigations & recommended independent regulation ....

Yes, I would say that what has happened to the Office of the Scottish Legal Services Ombudsman has probably proved without a doubt, the power of the legal profession in Scotland - where once they supported the existence of the Ombudsman over the years and even trumpeted the office as more often than not, siding with the Law Society against clients .. now the same Law Society has helped to undermine and sideline the office - even it looks like, interfering in the funding requests put forward by Costelloe Baker for additional staff .....

.... and there are good reasons for me saying this - there are currently several very important complaints being considered by the Scottish Legal Services Ombudsman's office against the Law Society of Scotland and the Faculty of Advocates, and it is in the Law Society of Scotland's interest to either delay or destroy these complaints before the Justice 2 Committee of the Scottish Parliament consider & finalise their recommendations for the new Legal Profession & Legal Aid Bill which is going to give us independent regulation of lawyers and legal agents .... it's that simple, folks !

The article following, from "The Herald", is quite damning of the Scottish Executive and Justice Minister Cathy Jamieson .... and it is of note that the Justice Minister didn't even bother to answer Costelloe Baker's letters on the lack of a new appointment ... is the Scottish Executive so shambolic ? or are they just too busy faking up more evidence in the McKie case and other cases to keep their criminal treatment of people a secret ..... this remains to be seen .. but there is one thing for sure - whether it's fiddling legal complaints or dragging dead birds around to grab headlines from other stories .. we certainly can't trust our Government in Scotland these days ....

You can visit the Scottish Legal Services Ombudsman's website at it hasn't been updated yet though with Ms Costelloe Baker's resignation ....

Link to the article on Linda Costelloe Baker's resignation from "The Herald", at :

Executive drags feet over appointing new watchdog
PAUL ROGERSON April 03 2006

Scotland's legal services watchdog bowed out on Friday after six years in the role with a parting shot at the Scottish Executive's Justice Department.

Linda Costelloe Baker is unhappy ministers have failed to ensure a smooth transition for her Edinburgh-based office by appointing a successor.

The position was not advertised until Friday, despite her repeated promptings. As a result, dozens of people face lengthy delays in the handling of their complaints about the law society or Faculty of Advocates because adjudications cannot be signed off until the job is filled.

"It's a disappointing way for me to go," Costelloe Baker told The Herald.

"I am very upset about the way the handover has been managed. Clearly this office is a very low priority."

Costelloe Baker tendered her resignation to Justice Minister Cathy Jamieson in January and wrote to the executive in both February and March to try and move things along.Her letters were not acknowledged.

"I am very concerned because even if I had completed my full-term of office, ending in June, my understanding was that the position would be advertised in January."

Costelloe Baker has personally signed about 200 letters to lawyers and complainers admitting she has no news of when her successor will be appointed or when outstanding complaints will be resolved.

She presently has about 130 complaints on her books and will return to the office for one day next month to sign off several more decisions. The remainder – and any recommendations made by the investigations team in the meantime – will effectively remain "in limbo" for weeks, if not months.

Another regret for Costelloe Baker is that her turnaround times have slipped because her resources have not been increased in line with the number of complaints to her office. In the financial year ended March 31, she received nearly 500 complaints, compared with just over 100 in 2000-01.

She asked the executive for an office manager but was told there was no cash to spare. She is presently reaching a decision on about 40% of complaints within her 13-week target maximum.

Some cases had dragged on for six months but the maximum has now been reduced to about 20 weeks – an achievement now jeopardised amid the uncertainty over her successor.

Costelloe Baker can certainly look back with satisfaction on her six-year tenure. In her first annual report, she complained of the inadequacy of Scotland's regime of legal self-regulation. Her last report will be published as the Legal Profession and Legal Aid (Scotland) Bill ushers in a new independent watchdog to handle complaints about Scotland's 10,000 lawyers.

One consolation for Costelloe Baker is that the new interim ombudsman will at least be a full-time position. Sheis technically employed four days a week but is known to have worked the fifth day as a matter of course.

Her successor will probably be in post for about two years, until the new commission is established in mid-2008. Where that commission will be based remains to be seen.