Friday, June 30, 2006

Independent regulation of the legal profession to be supported by Justice 2 Committee of the Scottish Parliament

Today, Friday, 30 June 2006, the Justice 2 Committee of the Scottish Parliament will release their report into their consideration of the "Legal Profession & Legal Aid (Scotland) Bill", giving backing for this piece of legislation which will bring about an end to self-regulation of Scottish lawyers by the infamous Law Society of Scotland.

Since 1999, clients who have been maligned by corrupt and crooked Scottish lawyers, have tried to bring this issue to the attention of the Scottish Parliament, with now 3 Justice Committees considering this issue.

In 1999. the first Justice & Home Affairs Committee of the Scottish Parliament threw out the proposal to have the issue raised ... and even placed an embargo on prominent campaigners such as Peter Cherbi from communicating with members of the Justice & Home Affairs Committee.

In 2001, Phil Gallie MSP worked to gain an inquiry on behalf of constituents such as Peter Cherbi, and along with strong efforts and support from the Scottish Consumer Council and protest groups such as Scotland Against Crooked Lawyers, succeeded in having the issue of self-regulation of the legal profession considered by the then Justice 1 Committee, Chaired by Christine Grahame MSP.

However, the Justice 1 Committee banned victims of the legal profession actually testifying before them, heavily censored their written submissions of their experiences at the hands of crooked lawyers and an even more crooked Law Society of Scotland, and undermined the issue of victims problems at the hands of the Law Society so much, the legal profession was able to use the conduct of the then Justice 1 Committee as a support for it`s crooked form of self-regulation of the legal profession.

Now, finally, in 2006, the Justice 2 Committee, some seven years later after the issue was first raised at the Scottish Parliament, has realised the extent of the corruption within the Scottish legal profession and is finally supporting independent regulation of solicitors and advocates in Scotland - and about time too.

This inquiry has of course not been without it`s problems, but at least true victims of the legal profession have had a chance to address the Justice 2 Committee, giving a full and frank account of their experiences with crooked lawyers and how their complaints against them were handled to J2, which it seems, has made all the difference.

The Law Society of Scotland, has heaviy lobbied the J2 Committee for limitations to some of the proposals contained in the LPLA Bill .. particularly the extent of fines which could be imposed on lawyers who fleece their clients - current limit is £1000, proposed limit in the LPLA Bill is £20,000 - but of course, why should there actually be a limit at all ?

If a client has been fleeced of £4million, are they to get £20,000 compensation ? because we all know how torturous the claims system for negligence is with the crooked professional indemnity insurance scheme known as the Master Insurance Policy - operted by Marsh UK and Royal & Sun Alliance PLC, which currently requires all solicitors to subscribe to it to cover the legal profession - but which seems to pay out more in bonuses to crooked lawyers and even more crooked defence teams appointed to defend the crooked lawyers from clients who have been ripped off.

The Law Society of Scotland has also lobbied the J2 Committee on the point of conduct complaints versus those of service.

The Law Society dearly wishes to retain some role as self-regulator - and one of the hooks it wishes to retain over regulation of Scottish lawyers - is that of conduct complaints. However, everyone else except the legal profession has protested this point - as the differences between conduct and service complaints can often be very blurred - and no doubt, the Law Society would exploit this point in many cases - particularly those it sees as having the possibility to succeed against a member solicitor or legal firm, even going on to a large financial claim for compensation .. so the J2 Committee has asked the Scottish Executive to look again at this matter ... but I hope this isn`t going to be used as a delaying tactic by the Executive ...

I can just hear the Law Society now - `oh - please give us more time to study this ... we`ve only had a few decades to rip off clients and fiddle client complaints against our members, we need to do another impact study or hire some other luminary from the legal profession to attest as to why we should retain regulation of conduct matters` ...

Of course, they could just try the arm twisting game instead - threating legal challenges against this legislation on concocted ECHR grounds - using points of ECHR legisltation they don`t even treat the actual complainants with !

The Executive would be forced to use Scottish lawyers and QCs - members of the same legal profession to defend the LPAL legislation ... and ... maybe .. some of their legal team would purposely allow a defeat ... after all - they are all members of Scotland`s legal profession at the end of the day .. and increased rights of the Client - the FEE paying client - is something the Scottish legal profession certainly DON`T want to see - EVER.

Of course, there remains the question of what happens to all those previous victims of crooked lawyers and the Law Society of Scotland, AFTER complaints become independently regulated by the proposed Scottish Legal Complaints Commission.

The cases of the past, like mine, like yours, like so many others, cannot be laid to rest as some "Honest mistake" of allowing Scotland`s legal profession to run ramrod over our rights for years .. so in my view, there certainly needs to be time given to reviews of the past cases which have imposed serious injustices on our lives - just because we have complained against crooked lawyers who ripped us off.
I urge all of you, the victims of the Scottish legal profession, never to give up campaigning on this issue, and never to give up exposing the affairs and records of crooked lawyers, until we all see a measure of justice - to which we are entitled after what we have endured.

Link to the Scottish Parliament website, where the report on the LPLA Bill will be announced later today, and a links to "The Herald" and "Scotsman" articles on this subject.

Written Evidence submissions on the LPLA Bill available at :

My submission to the Justice 2 Committee at :

Herald article : (Herald link now out of date)

Backing for new legal watchdog
PAUL ROGERSON June 30 2006

A cross-party committee of MSPs will today voice its backing for legislation introducing an independent system for handling complaints about Scotland's 10,000 lawyers.

In a report, Holyrood's Justice 2 Committee will stress that it is vital for complaints about solicitors and advocates to be handled independently The proposed Scottish Legal Complaints Commission will comprise a majority of non-lawyers and end centuries of self-regulation by the Law Society of Scotland and the Faculty of Advocates.

Under the bill, Scots who receive poor service from their lawyers will be able to claim up to £20,000 in compensation, which is four times the present maximum.

Committee members' endorsement is contained in its Stage 1 report on the executive's Legal Profession and Legal Aid (Scotland) Bill. The bill's proposals have attracted fierce opposition from the Law Society, which alleges that parts of the country could become "legal advice deserts" if solicitors are forced to fund a costly new regulator.

Justice 2 has taken this argument on board by expressing concern over plans for a complaints levy. Lawyers should only have to pay a levy when a complaint is upheld, the committee recommends.The commission will deal only with complaints about poor service.

Scotsman version :
MSPs back shake-up on legal complaints

PLANS to shake up the way complaints against lawyers are handled will pass a major parliamentary hurdle today when they are endorsed by a key Holyrood committee.

The justice 2 committee is to publish a report giving its backing to the Legal Profession and Legal Aid Bill. But MSPs on the committee are asking ministers to revisit a few provisions to make sure the reforms deliver the Scottish Executive's aims.

Under the terms of the bill, law firms will have to pay up to £20,000 compensation to members of the public if they fail to look after their interests.

The bill will also change the way the profession polices itself. It will strip lawyers of the ability to investigate complaints themselves, handing that power to a new independent body.

MSPs on the justice 2 committee have endorsed this principle but are asking ministers to look again at the division between inadequate professional service and the conduct of an individual lawyer, because they believe it may be hard to divide complaints up in this way.

Ministers want to fund their proposals partly from a complaints levy, which would be payable whether or not the complaint was upheld.

However, MSPs are calling for the levy to be paid only by those found to have broken the rules.

David Davidson, the committee convener, said: "We welcome the reforms set out in the bill."

Thursday, June 29, 2006

A rare day of common sense in the Scottish Courts

Two good things happened in the Scottish Courts yesterday -

Lord George Robertson lost his latest action against the Sunday Herald for a false allegation that he was responsible for the Dunblane massacre, and, Friends of the Earth Scotland`s challenge to the M74motorway extension was thrown out.

Why are these good things ?

Well, referring to the first case, Lord Robertson, who initially sued the Sunday Herald in 2004 for £200,000 but had to settle for an offer of £25,000, was challenging a further article in the Sunday Herald reporting on what had actually happened, alleging it portrayed the former Labour defence secretary to be bullying or hypocritical.

Lord Reed said it did not, and dismissed the case, restoring common sense to entire affair.

However, you would have thought from reading Lord Robertson`s lawyer`s column in "The Scotsman", that some profound change of law was to come out of the first action, which, was supposedly handled by Bannatyne Kirkwood & France Solicitors Glasgow.

We all knew Lord Robertson was represented by BKF in Glasgow, because Campbell Deane - one of the many lawyers who write the legal professions point of view in "The Scotsman", admitted it in his own collumn, and bragged in 2004 that there would be fundamental changes to the law in defamation and how it would affect the internet, how people could be sued for what they write on bulletin boards (such as what had happened in the Sunday Herald case) ... and a lot more besides ..all by the hand of the great lawyer Mr Deane in this case, no doubt .. remember, that was in 2004.

Campbell Deane was still writing about that same subject on 16 March 2006 (see here - .. probably in an effort to give Robertson`s latest action a tasty reminder to the public - which it has had a few times, in those parts of the `lets hate the Sunday Herald/The Herald` sections of the Scottish media.

However, I noticed today that the Scotsman let John Robertson handle the defeat of Lord Robertson`s case at the hands of Lord Reed. How come ? was defeat too much for Campbell Deane to handle ? oh .. what a shame.

I had dealings myself with Campbell Deane .. after he wrote an article in his own Scotsman column that he wasn`t one of the crooked lawyers in Scotland who weasled their way out of representing clients in controversial cases.

I thought - oh, let`s see how good he is then .. so I emailed him, had a telephone chat with him over my cases - which you have read of on this site, and had the file sent to him.

Guess what ? - Yes, after reading my case files - he couldn`t represent me ... I suppose I could manage a laugh at that one ! But of course, my face doesn`t fit, as a client who has caused so much trouble for the Scottish legal profession - and certainly the likes of Deane couldn`t take on the likes of me, Peter Cherbi .... enemy of all crooked Scottish lawyers ... and after that little spat with Deane, I was told by journalists at Scotland on Sunday that news involving me had a blackout on it.

Oh well .. too bad .. I can`t deal directly with the Scotsman lads now anyway because of the group`s deal with the legal profession (one of the conditions I was told was - no Peter Cherbi stuff) .. with the last article recently in Scotland on Sunday only appearing because the Law Society of Scotland wanted to go after this blog and websites I contribute to... I wonder why they would want to do that ?

Is it because they are so afraid of the truth ? They don`t want people to know what happened in my case ? that senior members of the legal profession, incling Douglas Mill, James Ness, Philip Yelland, and the rest, bent over backwards to protect crooked lawyers Andrew Penman, David Sturrock, Michael Robson, David Reid, Nigel Hall, and a few others I`ve had to deal with over the years ?

I still get stories in The Scotsman - just through other means ... and you know what ? I get to hear plenty of what goes on there, but of course, I never reveal my sources.

One thing bothers me about the Lord Robertson case though.

Someone sent me the pages from the Sunday Herald website which had all the details on what was posted about Lord Robertson.

What concerns me, is that there was a lot of other details in those postings about things, admittedly nothing to do with Lord Robertson at all, which Deane has never bragged about, and everyone else, has never really mentioned. Why was that, exactly ? What about the `other stuff` ?

Of course, I cannot repeat those details here, but I`m sure someone will probably find a way of posting them somewhere on the internet, or to a journalist, some day, for investigation ... seems very strange though, that only part of the story came out ... not really all of it.

The other good thing which happened in the Scottish Courts yesterday, the m74 motorway challenge being thrown out - was good, because it should teach people a lesson not to trust their legal advice.

So, Friends of the Earth Scotland are proud to have fought this case and cost the taxpayer possibly up to £20million pounds, according to reports in "The Herald" Newspaper.

Well, that`s just fine then. Something to be proud of, is it ? bringing a legal action costing the taxpayer so much, which your legal counsel probably knew long ago would be thrown out anyway ?

What`s the term these days for idiotic legal cases trying to block progress, reduce city congestion and create jobs ? - and paying Scotlands legal profession to do it to boot ? I hope this serves as yet another testimonial to the silly goings on in our legal system in Scotland.

Lord Nimmo Smith`s comments added even more humour to the legal action when he apparently told Andrew Smith QC about the case - "There is no question of regarding it as frivolous.". Was this simply sarcasm or a comment to let Smith and the Pursuers legal team off the hook from claims of bringing a frivolous action ? ... we shall never know ... or .. shall we ?

Well, maybe Andrew Smith QC, senior counsel for the pursuers, should try taking on some legal aid cases for those poor people who are trying to sue crooked lawyers for negligence or bent mortgage deals instead - or is that a frivolous action too perhaps ? ..

My goodness - if he were to take my case on, he would get promoted to Sheriff in record time like my own QC, Alistair Dunlop ... took him less than a week !

Read on for the news reports on these two issues, from BBC News, and The Herald newspaper, respectively

Peer loses Dunblane damages bid

A bid by Lord Robertson to win further damages over a false allegation that he was responsible for the Dunblane massacre has been dismissed by a judge.

He accepted a £25,000 offer from the publishers of the Sunday Herald after suing for defamation over the claim on the paper's internet message board.

Lord Robertson then raised a further £25,000 action following subsequent coverage of the case in the newspaper.

But this has now been turned down at the Court of Session in Edinburgh.

The former Nato Secretary General claimed that the article in the Sunday Herald repeated the false allegation that he was responsible for the massacre, in which 16 children and their teacher were killed by gunman Thomas Hamilton in 1996, before he shot himself.

'Reasonable reader'

Lord Robertson also maintained that the article set out to portray him as "an irrational bullying individual who raised spurious proceedings".

The owners of the newspaper, Newsquest, disputed that the material was defamatory of Lord Robertson.

The judge, Lord Reed, said he could see nothing in the article to support the contention that it portrayed the former Labour defence secretary bullying or hypocritical.

He added: "My conclusion is that the Sunday Herald article, read as a whole, cannot be understood by an reasonable reader as making, repeating, circulating or giving currency to the allegation that the pursuer (Lord Robertson) was responsible for the Dunblane massacre."

"The whole tenor of the article is that the allegation against him was untrue and the article cannot reasonably be understood as adopting or repeating that allegation."

Failed M74 challenge costs £20m

Delays in beginning construction of the M74 extension in Glasgow caused by the legal challenge by green campaigners have added up to £20m to the bill, officials confirmed yesterday as the action collapsed in court.

The legal challenge by Friends of the Earth Scotland delayed the "missing link", connecting the M74 at the east of the city to the M8 at the Kingston Bridge, by two years.The collapse of the case at the Court of Session in Edinburgh yesterday now opens the way for work to start on the five-mile extension in 2008.

Transport Scotland, which implements Scottish Executive policy, said it expected the delay to result in increased costs of between £15m and £20m due to construction price and land inflation, but said the extension should still come in at a cost of between £375m and £500m.

The tender process for the contract will begin as soon as possible. Work is expected to be completed by the end of 2010.

Ministers gave approval for the development despite an independent public inquiry recommending strongly against the proposal, saying the link would ease traffic congestion.

The collapse of the legal challenge was welcomed by business leaders and Glasgow City Council. But green campaigners, who believe the link would cause environmental damage and rip the heart out of communities, described it as "the worst environmental decision since devolution".

FoE Scotland dropped its appeal yesterday against a decision by the Scottish Executive to press ahead with the M74 extension on legal advice after more than a day of legal submissions.

The case was being heard by Lord Nimmo Smith, Lord Philip and Lord Clarke at the Court of Session.Andrew Smith, QC, senior counsel for the environmental pressure group, admitted that the decision to abandon the case might "raise eyebrows".

However, Lord Nimmo Smith told him: "There is no question of regarding it as frivolous."

The court was told the executive would not be seeking expenses from campaign groups, although they will have to pay their own costs. Both the executive and FoE Scotland face legal bills of about £20,000.

Duncan McLaren, chief executive of FoE Scotland, saidits legal advisers concluded during opening submissions that the judges did not intend to accept the grounds of the appeal. After consulting the legal team campaigners decided it would be "irresponsible" to continue with the action.

He said: "We are enormously proud to have fought for economic and environmental justice for the disadvantaged communities of Glasgow south.

"It is with bitter disappointment that we have been forced to withdraw from this appeal."The case illustrates just how hard it is to get justice for communities and the environment in Scotland."

Patrick Harvie, Green MSP for Glasgow, said: "The end of the court case in no way diminishes the clear case against this monstrous motorway project."

Steven Purcell, leader of Glasgow City Council, welcomed the news. He said: "The M74 extension will bring economic and social benefits to the entire west of Scotland.

"Not only will it help reduce congestion in different areas of Glasgow, it will help secure and create thousands of jobs. This project must now be delivered as quickly as possible to deliver all these benefits."

Alan Wilson, chief executive of the Scottish Council for Development and Industry, said: "This is good news for the Scottish economy. This is a strategically important project for the whole transport network."

A Transport Scotland spokeswoman added: "We are pleased the appeal has now been abandoned. It's unfortunate that this action has delayed the scheme by two years. However, we will now start work in earnest to prepare for tendering the scheme.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

UK Bill of Rights idea by Conservative Party not in the best interests of the public I fear

Reading the latest news reporting the Conservatives latest political idea ... a UK Bill of rights to replace ECHR, makes me wonder just which think tank or spin doctors they are listening to these days .. is it the `crash and burn brigade`, perhaps ?, because that about sums up David Cameron`s idea so far.

Have we ever had an actual Bill of Rights in the UK ? well, no we haven`t, so it took European legislation to actually give us something similar to it, in the form of European Commission Human Rights Legislation (ECHR).

ECHR has been condemned much recently by politicians (when it suits them to do so), and by sections of the media ... but it is not the all conquering legislation that it is portayed to be.

Take for example ... the treatment of paying clients by the legal profession, or for that customers of Banks.

Write a letter to a Bank or a lawyer claiming they are breaching your ECHR rights by not addressing a complaint properly, by denying you a fair hearing in respect of your Article 6 rights ... and they will laugh at you.

Write a letter to the Law Society of Scotland when you are complaining about one of their crooked solicitors who has ripped you off - they will laugh at you too and they will make sure that every lawyer you use after that, will rip you off again and again and again - and nothing will ever be done about it - one of the reasons there are 5000 + complaints a year against Scottish lawyers.

In cases of complaints against lawyers which have been brought to my attention, I have seen letters written to the likes of Douglas Mill - the Law Society of Scotland Chief Executive, telling him that he and his colleagues are breaking the ECHR rights of clients.

How does Mill respond ? Usually, he writes an "I note your comments" letter, then writes internal memos to colleagues, has meetings - with the author of the letter as the subject - and at the end of it, the client who has complained against their solicitor gets the full force of hell against them ... while Mill and his pals have a jolly good laugh back at Drumsheugh Gardens.

Actually, in the case of Gordon Coutts Thompson, the famous lawyer from Edinburgh whom the Law Society hated so much, they got rid of his business which was conveniently taken over by Law Society favourites - Alex Morison & Co, now Morrisons Solicitors. According to memos and an account heard in Court over what happened, Mill actually invited out senior Law Society officials to drink to the success of the operation ... some way they treat their own then .. little wonder they throw clients to the dogs !

Okay, so we are back to what does all this have to do with ECHR. Well, a lot actually.

What you have read above, is how the Law Society of Scotland treat people, under the terms of ECHR.

Fair hearing ? No chance of that ... after all, you have already read in this blog and in the press how the Law Society of Scotland has treated me .. and remember ... not just me .. many thousands of other clients have fell the same way at the hands of the Law Society of Scotland when it comes to self-regulation of crooked Scottish lawyers.

Ah ... Peter Cherbi is nagging about lawyers again ... well, not actually .. care for another example ?

Complain against a Police raid in Scotland to your home or complain against the conduct by Police Officers, and say they violated your ECHR rights ... the Chief Constable will write back to you and say "I note your comments" ... try and get a lawyer to take the case on .. no chance .. and with the self-regulatory complaints procedure of the Police making sure you don`t actually get a fair hearing, then .. forget it .. ECHR flies right out the window again. Honestly, you`d be better taping and filming the Police presence, and getting the media to spread it across the papers and television ...and internet ... much more effective I think.

Plenty more examples I could think of ... Benefits Agency, Complaints against the Medical profession, Accountants, etc ....

Basically, any form of self-regulation, I think, from crooked lawyers, to bent cops, to bent Judges (who aren`t really regulated at all) .. is incompatible with ECHR and should be abolished .. after all, who ever gets a fair hearing when they complain against any of this lot ? Has anyone ever tried complaining about a Sheriff in the Scottish Courts ?

How far did they get ? ... I know of a few cases - and believe me, the complainer`s lives were made a living Hell after they had done so ...
So, would the Tories latest idea of a Bill of Rights do anything more for us than ECHR is already doing ? - Probably not.

I fear that if the Conservatives go ahead with their idea, there will be so many exclusions of the professions, corporations, vested interests, government agencies, etc in adherence to the suppsed "Bill of Rights", ... that any such Bill would be utterly useless when it comes to a member of the public trying to do something about they way they have been treated at the hands of any of the above - after all, it`s hard enough just now to actually get an ECHR case into the Courts on such a matter, unless it takes the interest of lawyers, the legal profession, and their own motives to actually progress the case to full court hearings .. so would a new UK Bill of Rights make any difference to matters as they currently stand ? I think not.

While reading through all the press attention on ECHR today, I was quite happy to see someone point out on the BBC`s Nick Robinson`s web blog, this little titbit of information :

Just had a look at the final section in the Human Rights Act. It basically says judges will have pension contribitions paid for by the Government. Why did the Government include this section? Were the judges "paid off" because they were going to object to problems the Act. Are all the failures of the Act down to a backroom deal between policians and judges?

Yes .. that`s correct - Judges get their pensions paid for them by Government.

What does that have to do with Human Rights ? .. not much really ... and you know, there have been many exemptions with regards to ECHR ... among a host of organisations who gained exemptions, the Law Society of Scotland sought and also won exemptions from the Act until late 2001 ... and of course as we all know, the Law Society and the legal profession in Scotland still don`t treat their fee paying clients with any respect for ECHR up to now ...

To add confusion to the Conservatives latest policy idea, David Cameron says he will be sticking with the European Convention (ECHR). So, why bother adding a UK Bill of Rights, which will only add confusion to the Courts in cases where the rights of the individual have come up for consideration ?

Maybe, as some suggest, it is simply to add another hoop to make people jump through, to prevarricate, delay, or impede a person`s ability to use the probably more effective ECHR European legislation to enforce their rights in Law, which is difficult enough at present, as I have already explained. Sadly, I would have to agree with those who claim this to be the case of this idea.

Read on for the article, from BBC News, at :

Tory Bill of Rights bid slammed

The Conservatives' plan to replace the Human Rights Act with a US-style Bill of Rights has been described as muddled and dangerous by the government.

Tory leader David Cameron says current legislation is inadequate and hinders the fight against crime and terrorism.

He believes a British Bill of Rights would strike a better balance between rights and responsibilities.

But the Lord Chancellor says Mr Cameron is trying to rewrite human rights because "they seem inconvenient".

In a speech to the Centre for Policy Studies in London, the Tory leader argued that the Human Rights Act had prevented Britain deporting suspected terrorists whatever the circumstances.

It was "practically an invitation for terrorists and would-be terrorists to come to Britain" he said.

The Human Rights Act has made it harder to protect our security and it's done little to protect some of our libertiesDavid Cameron

Q&A: Bill of Rights plan

They knew that whatever crime they had committed or if there was a suspicion they might be planning a terrorist attack in the UK or elsewhere, they would not be sent back to their country of origin "because the process is so complicated and time-consuming for the government".

"I believe it is wrong to undermine public safety, and indeed public confidence in the concept of human rights, by allowing highly dangerous criminals and terrorists to trump the rights of the people of Britain to live in security and peace," he said.

Mr Cameron said a "home grown" document would be based on British traditions, balancing rights with security.

People would still be able to pursue their claims in the European courts but judges would have a British Bill of Rights to base their rulings upon, he said.

Lawyers are locking horns over whether this would change anything
BBC political editor Nick Robinson

He stressed he did not want to withdraw from the European convention and acknowledged it would be hugely complicated to draft a Bill of Rights.

He is appointing a panel of distinguished lawyers to unravel those challenges for him.

But Lord Falconer, the lord chancellor, dubbed Mr Cameron's plans as unworkable and "a recipe for confusion, not clarity".

"It is utter nonsense to say that you solve the problems about crime and terrorism by introducing an additional layer of rights undefined," he told BBC Radio 4's PM programme.

"David Cameron made absolutely clear he's sticking with the convention. That means he's going to comply with the convention."

'Politically motivated'

Attorney General Lord Goldsmith said the Tory proposal was "muddled, misconceived and dangerous".

"I think it would lead to more, not less, confusion about the best way to strike the balance between protecting the public and individual liberties," he said.

And Human rights lawyer Michael Mansfield QC described the plan as "complete nonsense".

"How is it hindering the investigation and prosecution of crime? No examples whatsoever. It certainly isn't doing that in relation to terrorism or terrorist cases," he said.

"I'm afraid it's totally misconceived and it's tabloid driven."

Lib Dem peer Lord Carlile, the government's independent adviser on terrorist legislation, said he could not see any benefit coming from "these extraordinarily ill-thought out proposals".

The Liberal Democrats have long campaigned for a British Bill of Rights and a written British constitution.

But Lib Dem leader Sir Menzies Campbell told BBC Radio 4's World at One that the suggestion that the European convention had "stood in the way of dealing with terrorism is frankly unfounded".

'Rights culture'

Ex-Conservative chairman Lord Tebbit warned that any British Bill of Rights could be overridden in Strasbourg as long as the UK remains signed up to the European convention.

The Human Rights Act has come under repeated attack in recent years from critics who say it puts a "rights culture" ahead of a common sense view of cases.

The act came into force in 2000 to install the European Convention on Human Rights into British law so people did not have to take claims to the European courts in Strasbourg.

A US-style Bill of Rights would outline the rights of citizens, while the Human Rights Act incorporates European rules into British law.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Medical negligence claims in Scotland obstructed by insurers & lawyers for their own benefit

More than 2000 claims of negligence against NHS Hospitals in Scotland have been filed by patients in the past five years" - writes Judith Duffy of The Sunday Herald"

Yes, I know ... my negligence case was one of them - and you can read about it here :

However, reading further intp the article, it is revealed that fewer than one in five of the cases have actually been settled - the remainder of them either being obstruced, delayed, or abandoned - because of the impossibility of progressing such an action - particularly in Scotland.

When I hired a Scottish lawyer - Mr Michael Robson, of Robsons WS, Ratho (Near Edinburgh) to take on a case of negligence against Borders General Hospital, over the death of my mum and the way they treated her, he gave me the usual line that yes, it was negligence, horrific, etc .. what happened (the same line lawyers give to many clients who have such cases) ... but as you all know from newspaper & media reports - Robson did nothing - actually - worse - he pretended to be doing something on the cases, when he was not - making me sign legal aid papers, telling me he had written letters seeking medical records, etc ... but no, nothing. He did nothing. Robson, although a laywer, was a con artist.

After I discovered Robson had been messing me about, I put in a complaint to the Law Society of Scotland against him - and guess what ?

They struck him off for ignoring some 50 letters from the Law Society itself asking for reports on his work - but the Law Society and the Complaints Committee fiddled the complaint so that I would get no compensation for what he did to me, and how he ruined my case.

To try and clear up the mess of what Robson did - I asked David Reid - another lawyer I had worked with in the past, to take the case on.
Guess what he did ? Yes, that`s right - Nothing.

Actually, David Reid did just what Robson did. He pretended he was doing work on my case - sent me legal aid claim forms to sign, said he was sending letters seeking recovery of medical records, etc ... but it was all a lie. Mr David Reid - of Messrs Morrisons Solicitors, then of Campbell Smith WS, Edinburgh - was just a liar.

What did David Reid do when I discovered what he had been up to ?

He took a stress break - That is - He claimed he was suffering from stress and left his job - and all his clients, including me, in the lurch.

What did Campbell Smith Solicitors do ? They dumped me as a client - all so easily done, it looked like part of a wider plan, which was correct.

I was of course, forced to file a complaint against Mr Reid`s actions with the Law Society of Scotland - but they inevitably cleared him of any blame, despite me submitting a full file of letter and email correspondence, showing that Reid was a consistent liar and a fraud, faking up legal aid applications, deceiving me as to what he was doing, etc .. .

Why did the Law Society of Scotland fiddle the complaint and make sure I couldn`t do anything about David Reid ?

Well, the Law Society knew I couldn`t get any lawyer to take a case on against him - and the Society has a great way of making sure that happens - by ordering all their members not to represent anyone who is seen as trouble to the legal profession - and that certainly includes me, Peter Cherbi.

What is David Reid doing now ? He is a Law Accountant. That means - he must be a member of The Society of Law Accountants in Scotland -

So, David Reid - a solicitor of many years, who lied his way out of dealing with client cases and is really, just a thief and a crook with no shame at all, is now `auditing` legal firms bills to clients for work done.

I definitely wouldn`t trust Mr David Reid - a Scottish lawyer who lied and deceived clients on work in their cases, to audit client accounts, would you ?

That`s like trusting a known burglar with the keys to your house. Would anyone actually do that ? Probably not.

So you better be asking who is the Law Accountant who is auditing your legal bills ... is it a crooked Scottish lawyer such as David Reid ?

Another problem with my negligence action against the Borders General Hospital over what happened to my mum, was that I needed legal aid to proceed it - and as the article today in the Sunday Herald shows - legal aid is very hard to get in such cases - because, at least from my experience, the Scottish Legal Aid Board - are probably just as or even more crooked as the people the action was leveled against. Make enemies at SLAB, and the legal profession - and they make sure your legal aid is terminated - no messin !

Balfour & Manson Solicitors, Edinburgh, crop up again in the article - to chastise the returns of legal aid payments in such medical negligence cases - but my own experience of Balfour & Manson is well known in the legal profession - They actually took on my case after David Reid messed it up for the second time, but they wrote a report to clear Reid of any blame - amazingly it seems, on orders of the Law Society of Scotland, who asked to be kept informed of all my correspondence to them. So, Law Society wins again ... and Balfour & Manson prove they are just another firm of crooked lawyers - which you should be wary of.

Something I discovered along the way when I was trying to sue the negligent Borders General Hospital, was that the insurers who provide Professional Negligence Insurance to the legal profession - also provide negligence cover to the medical profession.

That`s a bit of a conflict of interest, isnt`t it ? Well - yes and no.

It`s just good business on the part of the insurers - because they are allowed to do this of course, and they can make sure the lawyers who take the case on, mess the client about for years, so the insurance never needs to pay out - and that is one of the main reasons why a lot of medical negligence cases actually fail in Scotland.

And, before you go thinking - ah - the Procurator Fiscals who conduct Fatal Accident Inquiries in some complaints against doctors &' hospitals are independent ...

Think again - Fiscals are lawyers, with practising certificates (many are rejects from private practice, some with poor client / regulatory histories), but they are still members of the Law Society of Scotland and are therefore required to pay into the Master Insurance Policy .. which is run by the same people who insure the medical profession for negligence ...

Pity that some people don`t dig deep enough to find that one out ? ... but even if it is exposed as the big con that it is - who would do something about it ?

The same insurance firm has deals insuring manh other public services against negligence and other claims from the public or even their own workers ... so .. nothing would be done really .. but it should make a few good headlines I suppose.

At the end of the article - it is reported that the Scottish Executive claimed said an expert group had concluded that it “offered little value for money and ignored accountability and quality of care”... and then they made sure that Scotland would be excluded from the "Redress Bill" because "due to differences in levels of compensation and legal fees paid in Scotland, where, historically, the number of claims made and amount paid out was lower than the rest of the UK" - but that`s because the cases are being fiddled by lawyers, the medical profession, the insurers - who are all lobbying against change for the benefit of the public in medical negligence claims and of course, don`t forget the Legal Aid Board - who are just as ambivolent to such cases as ever.

Guess who the expert group were ? - full of lawyers, medical professionals insured by the same firms who insure the lawyers ... what a gang ! - making sure that everything goes their own way .. and what does the Scottish Executive do ? they go right along with it.

Read on for the article, from the Sunday Herald - defintely Scotlands finest Sunday Newspaper. at : (Herald link now out of date)

Legal red-tape deters medical blunder cases
By Judith Duffy, Health Correspondent

MORE than 2000 claims of negligence against NHS hospitals in Scotland have been filed by patients in the past five years.

New figures have also revealed that fewer than one in five of the cases of alleged medical blunders have been settled, with the remainder withdrawn, abandoned due to costs or still in progress.

The highest number of claims during the period was at Ninewells Hospital in Dundee, with 123 cases filed against it. The Western Infirmary and Gartnavel General in Glasgow together settled most cases, with a total of 27.

Despite fears of a growing “compensation culture”, the statistics show the number of claims filed has fallen by almost 20%, from 445 in 2001 to 361 last year. But campaigners say that difficulties in getting legal aid and a lack of specialist solicitors is hindering many victims north of the Border from seeking compensation. Peter Walsh, chief executive of Action Against Medical Accidents (AvMA) a charity which helps patients seek redress against negligent doctors, said he was “not surprised” by the drop in cases.

He said: “I suspect it has nothing to do with improving standards, but has more to do with severe difficulties in accessing justice in medical negligence in Scotland.

“Medical negligence is a difficult enough thing to get to the bottom of in any part of the UK, but it is made far worse in Scotland by the fact legal aid is so difficult to come by. Consequently the number of specialist solicitors able to give assistance is very small indeed.”

That view was backed by Fred Tyler, a solicitor with Balfour & Manson, a firm which specialises in medical negligence. He said: “If you win, you recover costs from the other side and the recovery may be quite reasonable, but if you have to claim against the legal aid board in the event of failure then the return is very poor and it really is not profitable.”

Another problem, according to Tyler, is that many patients do not qualify for legal aid, which is often needed to pay for investigations that would provide medical evidence to support their claim .

In England and Wales, a system which would allow minor claims to be settled out of court is being introduced. It is hoped the NHS Redress Bill will speed up the process and free up cash for the NHS to spend on patients, not lawyers.

But others advocate a “no-fault” compensation scheme, similar to those operated in Sweden and New Zealand.

The SNP, which obtained the new statistics , has called for such a system to be introduced. The party says nearly half of cases in Scotland take more than three years to settle, leaving the NHS with an annual legal bill of nearly £2 million.

SNP MSP Shona Robison said: “We believe a no-fault system will be fairer, quicker and make better use of taxpayers’ money. No-fault is not just about compensation, it’s about learning from errors so we can build a stronger NHS.”

Despite the British Medical Association supporting a no-fault scheme , a Scottish Executive spokeswoman said an expert group had concluded that it “offered little value for money and ignored accountability and quality of care”. It had been agreed that Scotland would not be covered by the Redress Bill due to differences in levels of compensation and legal fees paid in Scotland, where, historically, the number of claims made and amount paid out was lower than the rest of the UK, she added.

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, which runs the Western and Gartnavel, said the number of claims made had “not changed significantly” in recent years.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Royal & Sun Alliance PLC - Insurers to the Law Society of Scotland and Crooked Lawyers, cut jobs to save money .. but for whom are the savings ?

If you would all like to know which company is the primary insurer of Scottish Lawyers - it is none other than the Royal and Sun Alliance PLC Insurance Company.

So, if you have ever tried to make a claim against a lawyer for negligence, seeking financial reparation, then it is this firm, along with the sinister Marsh UK, which decides, along with the Law Society of Scotland, of course, how long your claim is messed around, how they can obstruct your claim, how they can mess your life up and intimidate you, what information they can gather on you and how they can use it against you, from any agency or company they choose to contact (even the Police, Benefits Agency, Department of Work & Pensions, NHS, and more).

I`ve had cases put to me where the insurers have submitted false data to the Benefits Agency and Scottish Legal Aid Board to kill off a client`s case, even false statements passed to Police and the Scottish Executive over clients who have tried to sue lawyers ... just to make sure their case doesn`t progress. Another very troubling case which was one of the worst I had read, had the insurers using the clients medical records against them in an attempt reminiscent of Blackmail to kill off their claim against a crooked lawyer.

That`s quite some power for an Insurance company, isn`t it ? well ... since they also arrange insurance for Government Agencies, and of course no doubt, politicians, and plenty other arms of Government ... they have had a virtual carte blanche to do anything they please ... and they have done exactly that with regard to client claims against lawyers.
Marsh PLC ... of course, they are now infamous in the United States for being corrupt ... and have had to pay large fines over their corrupt market practices in the wake of New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer`s case against Marsh, which you can read about from BBC News, here :

Why would a corrupt insurance company such as Marsh still be allowed to manage insurance schemes linked to and supporting the legal profession in the UK ? .. well ... a little bird told me there are a few politicians getting sweet deals on the back of these insurance arrangements ... so that would explain it ... remember - we are living in a pretty corrupt society these days here in the UK - where even the Prime Minister says its now ok to get loans for honours ... something that David Lloyd George might have not even dreamed of in using as his defence .. or maybe he would have ? after all .. Lloyd George was a solicitor too !
Anyway, The Herald newspaper is reporting that Royal & Sun Alliance are getting rid of 1000 staff.

What`s up ? are you having to pay more to clients of lawyers who have been ripped off ? well, the statistics don`t show that ... so, maybe it`s because some of your practices are now getting so much attention that you can`t milk the public so much ? ... more probably the case.

Well, I for one, have certainly been through the mill with Royal & Sun Alliance - they, along with Marsh UK, and the Law Society of Scotland conspired to fail my case against crooked lawyer Andrew Penman of Stormonth Darling Solicitors, Kelso, Scottish Borders.

They used Tods Murray and Simpson & Marwick against me - two equally crooked Edinburgh legal firms ... and made sure that the tiny offer of settlement I got, actually went to cover the legal costs of the discussions and the work of another equally crooked lawyer - David Reid, formerly of Morrisons Solicitors, Edinburgh and Campbell Snith Solicitors, Edinburgh.

So, in my opinion, the Royal & Sun Alliance are getting what they deserve and for what they have done to clients of crooked lawyers in the UK, they should be chased out of business.

However, the prospect of some of the staff feeling threatened by the cuts might be a good thing for those of us who investigate the crooked financial web set up by the Law Society of Scotland to defend it`s members from financial claims. Maybe a few leaks of files will come my way again ... so there may well me a silver lining to the story after all. All case files of claims against Scottish lawyers and papers most welcome, you know my email !

I hope all you readers are paying attention to this ... because if you ever try or have tried to claim compensation against a crooked lawyer in the UK ... you will have had the RSA on your back, which is a shade worse than having the devil on your back I think.

Peter Cherbi`s advice ? - you should be thinking about starting a consumer boycott of this insurance company - and let everyone know just how crooked and corrupt the RSA and their partners Marsh are when it comes to claims against the legal profession.

Link to the Herald article on the cutbacks at Royal & Sun Alliance :

Royal & Sun staff braced for cuts
PAUL ROGERSON June 20 2006

Five hundred staff at Royal & Sun Alliance in Glasgow face an uncertain future after the insurer announced plans to cut 1000 jobs across the UK.
Compulsory redundancies appear inevitable as the company seeks to slash costs by £130m by mid-2008.

The FTSE-100 company disclosed yesterday that it will cut 1550 jobs worldwide. In the UK, where Royal employs 10,000 staff across more than 20 offices, the reductions will be split between the group's claims, retail and broker businesses.

Royal's Glasgow operation at 200 St Vincent Street, the sole Scottish site, employs 500 in broker, claims and support roles.

Asked if the cuts will affect Glasgow, a spokeswoman indicated that they will be spread evenly across the UK business, but said it was too early to be specific.

"We are anticipating that all parts of the business will be affected in some way," she added. The company hopes that compulsory job losses will be kept to fewer than half of the total through natural wastage and redeployment over the next two years.

The insurer, which employs 23,000 in 27 countries, said 350 positions will be culled in Scandinavia, where it has a large presence, along with 160 across its other international operations.

The remaining 40 jobs will be cut from its Sussex head office. Royal is consulting with unions in the UK and in Scandinavia.

The job cuts are part of the company's plan to shrink its expense ratio in the UK and Scandinavia to below 15%.

That represents about 9% of the 2005 cost base and will cost around £100m. However, the measures will be self-funding and will not reduce profits, the company said.

"It's a necessary step, because (Royal's) expense ratios are higher than some of their competitors, so it had to do something about them. This is a step in the right direction," said Youssef Ziai, an analyst with Williams de Broe.

The announcement came just a month after Royal posted a better-than-expected 29% rise in first-quarter profits to £207m.

It also follows a three-year restructuring programme that saved the company £270m and included the loss of around 1100 jobs in the UK when Royal shifted call centre work to India in 2004.

Shares in Royal, which is the second-largest commercial insurer in the UK and the third-largest personal motor and household insurer, closed 3.5p higher at 126.5p.

Royal also announced yesterday that its Scandinavian subsidiary is to buy out the minority portion of its Latvian and Lithuanian businesses for £53m. The company intends to enter the Estonian market in early 2007.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Scotland`s Judiciary set about arm-twisting the Scottish Executive into backing down from reform of the Judicial system

If your looking for developments on the legal aid dispute between lawyers & the Executive - my sources tell me the Law Society mob want the reforms of independent regulation and fines either delayed or killed off completey ... along with legal aid payments restored a.s.a.p. - didn`t take a genius to work out that one then .. but I can`t reveal what has actually been leaked to me just now let`s save that for another day ...

On to today`s article then ...

Scotland`s sheriffs have stepped into the row over Judicial Reform - for at least the second time, raising accusations that the planned reforms by the Scottish Executive to Scotland`s centuries old Judicial System, would compromise the independence of the judiciary. Sheriffs have even dragged in comparisons to Nazi Germany to the proposed reforms ... however, that is somewhat overstating the issue from the Sheriffs part I think.

Whats all the fuss then ? well - the Scottish Executive wants to bring a bit more oversight into the dark unaccountable world of Sheriffs in Scotland ... while also giving huge responsibilities to the Lord President, who would control all of the Courts in Scotland, but the Sheriffs are resisting this of course, as they certainly don`t want what they term as outside interference in their little unregulated empire.

However, this is not the first time that Scotland`s Sheriffs have reacted with arm twisting and veiled threats towards proposed reforms or inquiries into their conduct. They did the same 5 years ago to the Scottish Parliament ... read on to find out more ...

In 2001, when the Scottish Parliament`s Justice 1 Committee was holding the "Regulation of the Legal Profession Inquiry", the Committee had planned to investigate and examine the role of Scotland`s Sheriffs as part of it`s 2001 inquiry into the legal profession - which sadly fell to be fiddled beyond belief after mass interventions and lobbying from the legal profession to prevent victims cases of injustice by the legal profession being heard by the Committee in public.

The Sheriff`s reaction to this Parliamentary investigation ? - simply put - including Sheriffs in your "Regulation of the Legal Profession inquiry" is incompatible with ECHR and we will defend ourselves (in other words, interdict the Justice 1 Committee from considering the issue and role of Sheriffs in Scotland).

A source from the Parliament at the time told me that the Justice 1 Committee had been threatened by the Sheriffs Association, who were refusing point blank to co-operate with any Parliamentary inquiry or even submit evidence on the grounds that this inquiry would be a stage in the compromising of their independence .. and that the said letter of threat and protest was to be discussed in private before publication .. which it was ... and surprise .... the Sheriffs were excluded from the Justice Committee inquiry - which at it`s conclusion, amounted to nothing more than a whitewash .. which the Law Society of Scotland actually used in it`s public relations defence of Scotland`s crooked legal profession.

Care to read the letter from the Sheriffs`Association to the Justice 1 Committee ? .. well, you can click on the above images, and read it on the Scottish Parliament`s own website in pdf format, at :

What with the Justice 2 Committee tackling the issue of the Legal Profession & Legal Aid (Scotland) Bill, which aims to bring independent regulation to Scotland`s great band of crooked lawyers and the present failed system of self regulation of lawyers operated by the Law Society of Scotland, the Sheriffs and judiciary must be feeling the heat to drag up insulting comparisons of Scotland with Nazi Germany ... and remember, everyone, these Sheriffs and Judges are of course, lawyers or at least they were, (until they were `elevated` to the bench as Sheriffs)

The key to the Judiciary`s consternation of the planned reforms lies right on page one of Sheriff Lockhart`s letter ...

"Although it is a requirement for appointment that candidates for the shrieval bench be members of the legal profession, once appointed, in the exercise of their judicial functions, they are not subject to the regulatory framework applicable to either branch of the legal profession. The judiciary is independent of and distinct from other practising members of the legal profession.
The constitutional principle of the separation of the pwoers means that the judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature."

Who wants outside interference into what they are up to ? ... certainly not lawyers - they have and are demonstrating that with their naked agression and boycotts of cases over the legal aid reforms and the prospect of independent regulation coming in the "Legal Profession & Legal Aid (Scotland) Bill"

So, why should Sheriffs (`elevated` lawyers) who currently don`t actually have much regulation over their activities at all, want independent or outside scrutiny of their own conduct or decisions ? ... - remember - in the words of the Sheriffs` Association`s letter - "they are not subject to the regulatory framework applicable to either branch of the legal profession" ... would that then make them almost immune to anything except a comet on collision with the earth ? ... probably.

Oh .. but you may say .. reading Sheriff Lockhart`s letter, he goes on to say :

"Sheriffs discharge their judicial functions and duties within the framework of the laws of Scotland which provide that decisions by Sheriffs, in civil matters, can be tested on appeal to the Sheriff Principal, the Court of Session and, in appropriate cases to the House of Lords; in criminal cases decisions can be tested on appeal to the High Court of Justiciary. In respect of devolution issues, an appeal can be taken or a reference made to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. That appellate framework provides effective machinery for the review of judicial decisions."

Well - that hasn`t stopped some strange antics on the Bench from Scottish Sheriffs in the past or all the injustices we read about on a daily basis with regards to Scotlands judicial system ... so, maybe reform is needed ? just as it is desperately needed in the legal profession, currently bending at the knees under 5000+ complaints a year against less than 10,000 lawyers .

What if someone asked to see the regulatory histories of some or all of Scotland`s Sheriffs back when they were practising solicitors ? ... oh my ... what a shock some people would get .... knowing that some of these Sheriffs when they were lawyers .. had long long histories of client complaints against them and poor service .. and that they are the ones now sitting in judgement on civil and criminal cases in Scotland.

Just think of the havoc some honest person could make if it was discovered that a Sheriff(s), in their previous position as lawyers, had been found by clients to have embezzled funds, lied, perhaps mishandled a case fraudulently to get a friend or legal partner off the hook, or had even committed criminal offences - then such complaints were covered up of course by the Law Society of Scotland or whoever else had been involved....

What impression would that give on the quality of Scotland`s Sheriffs then ? ... woudln`t take much doing, would it ? .. but who would print such a story ?

Read on for the article, from "The Herald" Newspaper, on the new attempt by the Sheriffs to stem any reform of their profession ... link at :

Sheriffs step into row over judicial reform
June 16 2006

SCOTLAND'S sheriffs and Lord Cullen, the country's most high-profile judge, have entered the row with the Scottish Executive, accusing ministers of attempting to undermine the independence of the judiciary.

One sheriff has compared recent proposals to reform the judiciary to moves which helped bring about the dictatorship of Nazi Germany.

The views of sheriffs are normally confidential. In a rare move to make their views public, the Sheriffs' Association, which represents 90% of those who sit at Scotland's courts, claims the executive's proposals are unfounded and outwith the devolved powers of ministers.

The association believes the power to change issues of "great constitutional importance", such as judicial independence, lies in the hands of Westminster. Its members also believe the executive's recent proposals to place the control of all Scotland's courts under one person, the lord president, would undermine judicial independence.

The executive proposes to unify the sheriff and high courts and to make the training, conduct and operation of all courts the responsibility of the lord president.

However, the responses of Lord Cullen, a former lord president, and the sheriffs echo the concerns of a number of senior judges who believe the changes would increase the lord president's already huge workload, forcing him to employ large numbers of civil servants.

Lord Mackay, the High Court judge, Lord McCluskey, a retired judge and the Faculty of Advocates have already criticised the proposals on similar grounds.

In his response, Lord Cullen of Whitekirk, who chaired inquiries into the Dunblane massacre and the Piper Alpha disaster, describes aspects of the consultation document as "absurd . . . misconceived and confused".

He wrote: "Further, the statement . . . in the paper that 'judges need to be managed' betrays a lack of understanding of the significance of judicial independence, despite the claim to the contrary."

Their views are backed by individual sheriffs in their responses to the consultation.Sheriff Colin Mackenzie, who sits in Stornoway, wrote:

"Politicians and executive . . . will always try to influence the judges ? it's an inevitable extension of their no doubt natural desire for absolute control . . . it has been recognised as a dangerous tendency in the past and must be resisted in future if freedom from tyranny . . . is to mean something.

"Dictatorship was, I am sure, far from the minds of the educated pre-Nazi state Germans who gave blessing to the legislation which muzzled their judiciary and paved the way for Hitler to come to power."

Sheriff John Montgomery, who sits at Ayr, wrote: "The document alarmingly displays gross ignorance of the concept of judicial independence; it proceeds on false premises, errors of fact and law and unfounded assertions. It is very concerning the minister for justice and lord advocate have put their names to it. The consultation period is insultingly short to Scotland's fine heritage of judicial independence."

Yesterday, it was revealed the programme to introduce the proposals could be delayed until after the Holyrood election next year. Sources have told The Herald the revamp of the judicial system could be put on hold, partly because of the sheer weight of criticism and the fact Holyrood's Justice 1 committee is overstretched.

Cathy Jamieson, Justice Minister, yesterday insisted ministers had been "fully respectful" of the independence of the judiciary. "We are committed to this fundamental constitutional principle," she said.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Closing Borders Hospitals - At least for Jedburgh, an improvement rather than an injustice ...

My old town of residence - Jedburgh, makes it to the news today - not because of the local band of crooked lawyers (there are many), and not because of the partial restoration of the Waverly Rail link (which I support).. which should bring some welcome and much needed changes to the Borders.

The reason for the town`s appearance on the news is of course that we learn the Cottage Hospital in Jedburgh - where i have been a few times in the past to patch myself up or visit elderly friends, is to be closed.

Ah - an opportunity to lobby for it to remain open then, you think ? certainly not ! but after a friend in Jedburgh today told me to watch the news reports, I just couldn`t resist a comment to give a reality check on the situation - as one who has actually been in the place before.

Watching the news today, you would think the Cottage Hospital in Jedburgh is some kind of saviour to the town ... and it may well have been so in the past ... but times change - and with all the Doctors, nurses, and medical staff stationed at the Jedburgh Health Centre, conveniently located just a short walk from the town centre .. the Cottage Hospital sits at the top of Castlegate - up a steep hill and hext to a cemetary. Great place for a hospital then, and in winter when Scottish Borders Council fails to clear the snow or ice ... almost inaccessible.

So, what`s up ? why the cries of injustice to Jedburgh of the closure of the Cottage Hospital and the promised development of the current Health Centre with expanded facilities ?

Well - it just gives some people something to shout about - maybe try and rally the mob and make a name for themselves when they don`t really have it ... nothing more than that really .. as a former patient of the place, I for one (and I know many more) would have been much happier to have walked or have been transported to the Health Centre for treatment rather than scale the heights of Castlegate to get to the Cottage Hospital, and then wait for a Doctor to come up from the Health Centre to attend the patient. Where`s the logic in that then, Mr Burt et all ?

I wonder how much Euan Robson really did with regard to allegedly campaigning for the retaining of the Jedburgh & Coldstream Hospitals ... he certainly never did anything for some people who raised issues about planning applications, crooked lawyers or public servants ..., even trying to cover up for a crooked lawyer by insisting one of the solicitors former clients desist from complaining against them .. naughty naughty.

Maybe the clue lies elsewhere .. with the decision announced on the same day of the Scottish Parliament`s support of the Borders Rail link ... was there some political trade off where the lib dems agreed to go softly on the shouting over hospitals for their precious rail link ... which many fear will turn into yet another great waste of money in the Scottish Borders .. since the actual railway line won`t actually link up with Carlisle, as it previously did before Lord Beeching`s report closed it down in 1969.

I have to laugh a bit at some of Jedburgh`s self glorified saviours who came forward to the media claiming all kinds of disgust and shame on the Health Minister Andy Kerr`s decision. On what platform do they do this ?

If anyone ever complains about something in Jedburgh - it gets swept under the carpet and the people who complain are victimised to the point where in some cases, they are viciously hounded out of the town by those who have appointed themselves in charge .... something I`ve personally witnessed more than once I`m sad to say.

Give the Borders a chance, guys .... instead of trying to keep the Region preserved in formaldehyde as it has been for at least, the span of my lifetime and a hundred years before that.

The expanded services announced by Health Minister Andy Kerr, for the more centrally located Jedburgh Health Centre where the staff & Doctors work as hard as possible to tend those who require medical care, .. should be praised and accepted as a modern day improvement and convenience (as long as they materialise of course), rather than giving yet another platform to the `aye bin` set, who want to keep the town as it was a hundred years ago ...

That`s wee Borders toon politics for you ... bit of a grey area .. not much honesty to those who seek it, .. and plenty of animosity from those who want to bury the dirt ... maybe the new rail link will bring in some new blood to the region to change that kind of thinking ..

Read on for the article ... from "The Scotsman", at :

Fury as two Borders hospitals axed

TWO hospitals in the Borders are to shut, it was announced yesterday, after Andy Kerr, the health minister, gave the go-ahead for the closures despite a vociferous local campaign to keep them open.

Mr Kerr announced that the Sister Margaret Cottage Hospital in Jedburgh and the Coldstream Cottage Hospital would be shut down and their inpatient services transferred to bigger hospitals in Hawick, Kelso and Duns.

The minister said it was vital health boards sought better ways of delivering services and insisted: "The NHS cannot stand still." But his decision was condemned by MSPs and local campaigners who vowed to fight on, through the courts in necessary, to save their hospitals.

George Burt, one of those fighting to save the Jedburgh hospital, said the local population would be "disgusted at this decision".

Mr Burt, a international consultant who works with the EU on governmental plans across the continent, said he had never come across a worse example of a government misusing its procedures to drive through a decision like this. He added: "We will be talking as soon as possible to see what we can do next. There are other legal options we can take."

Euan Robson, the Liberal Democrat MSP for the area, vowed to fight on alongside the local campaigners. He said he was "deeply disappointed" with the minister's decision which, he said, had been swayed by the weight of professional medical opinion, not by the local population.

Derek Brownlee, Tory MSP for South of Scotland region, said the announcement coincided with a debate in the Scottish Parliament on the reopening of Waverley rail link.

"In the best Labour traditions, there is a clear attempt to bury bad news behind the publicity on Waverley Railway Bill debate,"said Mr Brownlee.

"The health minister has shown just how little influence the Borders has on this Executive - and how little influence the Lib Dems have within it."

However, Mr Kerr defended his decision and announced that Jedburgh would get a re-developed health centre instead of its hospital. He said population projections for the Borders predicted that people would live longer, but could develop chronic conditions such as arthritis or heart disease. This required more preventative and continuing care rather than occasional emergency inpatient spells.

Mr Kerr said: "The development of Jedburgh Community Health Centre will play a central part in achieving modern and expanded facilities, and supporting improved health and well-being."

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Scottish Lawyers boycott of legal aid cases scores a meeting at the Scottish Executive - it`s more about money than clients interests ...

In the words of solicitor Vincent McGovern, spokesman of the Hamilton Bar Association speaking to `The Scotsman` newspaper - "This is about trust and respect, before it is about money. The Executive has rolled us over for many years. That has to stop."

"Trust and respect" ? isn`t that something the client has to have with their solicitor ?, well, one would think so ... but "trust and respect" went out the window many years ago on Scotlands near 10,000 solicitors .. with a rising tide of some 5000 + complaints a year to the Law Society of Scotland.

... and what is this about the Executive rolling them over for many years ? in reality, the Scottish Executive have been receiving well over 1000 complaints from individuals and representations from constituency MSPs & MPs against crooked Scottish solicitors and the way in which the Law Society of Scotland has fiddled & controlled complaints investigations ... with Mike West, Malcolm Pringle, and the rest of the gang over at the Justice Department, Civil Law Division, answering letter after letter trying to fill in for the crooked schemes of lawyers either fiddling clients or fiddling legal aid ... in effect, they have actually been doing the legal profession a service, by not getting the Executive involved (up until now) in regulatory matters.

... so, lets say, if the truth be told, the legal profession have been rolling us all over for more than just a few years ... and it has most definitely got to stop now !

Wait a minute though ... aren`t lawyers and the Law Society of Scotland supposed to be concerned with the rights of their clients ? hmm ... yes ? no ? .. well, the legal profession usually pontificate to us that they have their clients best interests at heart in whatever they do ... so, where in all this hullaballoo about the lack of fat legal aid payments to lawyers, appears the best interests of the client ? ... don`t see any mention of that in the recent articles.

...and what happened to the fact that, as I commented on yesterday - lawyers are also boycotting family law cases over the lack of fat legal aid payments ? ... no mention of that today either .. we are back to the sex cases instead.

Maybe after yesterday`s article in "The Scotsman" .. the Law Society of Scotland felt it better public relations .. or better `spin` to say that any further reporting on the matter centred on the criminal cases side of matters ... rather than the family law stuff .. which sounded very bad indeed .. sort of made Scottish lawyers look like ... terrorists .. kidnappers ... thieves ... muggers ... gangsters ... - well .. these are some of your own suggestions which came in via email today ... and I would have to agree of course - after what I have been through myself .. and after what I know many of you and many other silent victims have also been through - at the hands of Scottish lawyers.

Well, `The Scotsman` reports that today, an `Emergency meeting` will be held between the Scottish Executive and lawyers to try and resolve the legal aid payments dispute - so you can bet there will be plenty arm twisting by the legal mafia to get their wicked way.

I wonder ... what will fall in any demands by the legal profession ? Perhaps some of the reforms planned to the complaints system ?

Ending the prospect of independent regulation is something high on the agenda of the Law Society of Scotland these days ... in public they decided to agree with it.. but started a costly private campaign to derail and kill off the regulatory reforms proposed in the new"Legal Profession & Legal Aid (Scotland) Bill, currently under consideration by the Justice 2 Committee.

Also on the agenda of course ... would be the immediate increases in fat legal aid payments to Scottish lawyers so they can keep their profession`s expensive habits up, and probably, some compensation for the few months they have missed the fat legal aid payments they were used to.

Mind you though ... I have had my own battles with the Scottish Legal Aid Board ... and I would have to describe them as a bunch of crooks themselves .. with only a few consciencious individuals I ever had cause to contact.

However, the woes of SLAB ... are mostly again, down to the obviously political and `grace & favour` style appointments to it`s Board, along with SLAB`s infamous crew of in-house lawyers ... stopping legal aid to people who`s cases might upset their pals over the road in Drumsheugh Gardens (the offices of the Law Society of Scotland are opposite the Legal Aid Board !)

I have been in Court several times to see case hearings, criminal trials, and proofs, were SLAB have either failed to award funding for cases and lawyers have subsequently pulled out from acting for their clients due to lack of funding (even happened to me once).

In another case I remember well ... SLAB even failed to represent itself one day in Jedburgh Sheriff Court on a challenge over legal aid expenses .. which the Sheriff, if I remember correctly, awarded against the Scottish Legal Aid Board and commented on the fact that it seemed the Legal Aid Board was either unable to find a lawyer to represent itself - or couldn`t be bothered ... which of these Sheriff`s theories were correct that day, we shall never know.

So ... while the lawyers have certainly got used to ... (too much) .. rocketing uncontrolled charges for civil & criminal law work necessitating greater legal aid payments... it is also the fault of the Scottish Executive for allowing this situation to get out of hand over the years ... and instead of spending over two decades shielding the legal profession from complaints and keeping out of regulatory matters, the Scottish Executive and it`s former creation, the Scottish Office, should have nipped this in the bud a long time ago ... say ... 1990 and you know what ? we wouldn`t be in this mess today.

What do I mean by the uncontrolled charges ?

Well .. take for instance one example .. but common to many different kinds of cases - and certainly a trick employed in the legal aid sphere by some but NOT all solicitors ... we could have a case, where perhaps your parent dies .. a lawyer administers the will .. the will takes 6 years to settle .. and that lawyer obviously wants to meet the family over that period of time ... maybe a few meetings.

Well .. I looked at a case like this (not mine) .. the lawyer .. asked for and had 12 meetings with the family .. sent them letters asking for meetings beforehand ..(at £65 a letter) then obviously sent 12 further letters confirming each appointment and then sent another 12 or more letters confirming the details of the said meetings ... so that`s 36 letters .. @ £65 each ..hmm .. say about £2340 and add that to all the other charges made to that particular estate ... was well over £10,000.

£2340 for 36 letters .. most of them on one sheet of A4 .. with only a few lines .. and most of it being quite unneccessary in the first place ... but - the lawyer has to generate some fees for his office of course .. so this is a good way to fatten the bills to the client. How about it ? could you write letters for £65 a time ? good way to earn money, isn`t it ?!

The thing is though - how come letters now cost anywhere from £65 to well over £100 + ? why has this cost been allowed to spiral out of control .. along with all sorts of other `expenses` at lawyers offices up and down the length of Scotland ? - easy answer - because the Law Society of Scotland has made sure there has been no opposition or independent scrutiny of such charges and restrictive business practices of the legal profession up until now.

There are plenty of other tricks too ... photocopies for instance ... one case I looked at saw a man billed £50,000 for photocopying .. and there wasn`t muich proof that the work was actually done .. even some of the supposed copier task reports had differing dates on from when the alleged copying took place ! .. or stuffing the final account when it`s presented to the client ... and the favourite trick of keeping particular file notes out of the files so a client never gets them after they pay for the work and request the full file.

So, we are back to the situation at hand, which really - the Scottish Executive is guilty of allowing to happen in the first place - by letting the legal profession have it`s way for so long ... so, really .. it`s the lawyers who have been rolling the Clients over for far too long and that`s exactly what those who take advantage of a lack of oversight tend to do, until they are stopped .. isn`t it ?

See if you can spot any concern from the Scottish legal profession for client`s rights of representation in the following article, from "The Scotsman", at :

Emergency meeting aims to avoid lawyers' sex trial boycott

EMERGENCY talks will be held tomorrow between the Scottish Executive and lawyers in an attempt to resolve a bitter dispute over legal aid which could lead to the collapse of sex cases.

Justice department officials will meet the Law Society of Scotland amid rising anger over the amount solicitors are paid to defend people accused of murder, rape and other crimes.

More than 1,000 lawyers registered to take on legal aid work say they will boycott sex crime cases after "broken promises" by ministers over the introduction of new payments.

The Glasgow Bar Association began the legal profession's unprecedented grass-roots rebellion earlier this month, voting not to defend people accused of sexual offences from 1 August unless they are given a substantial pay increase.

Their militant position has been backed by the Edinburgh, Hamilton and Dumbarton bar associations, and by last night the strike pledge had spread to Aberdeen, Stirling, Paisley, Elgin, Banffshire, Roxburgh, Lanark and Fort William.

It is thought that around three-quarters of the 1,500 legal aid defence lawyers are signed up to the boycott.

The planned strike is targeting sex offence cases because people accused of such crimes are not allowed to cross-examine witnesses in court, so without a defence agent, trials cannot go ahead.

The meeting was arranged after Jack McConnell's scathing attack on lawyers last Thursday. The First Minister called the boycott "irresponsible" and urged lawyers to get round the table for talks. The following day the Law Society, which had already requested a meeting with the deputy justice minister, Hugh Henry, to discuss legal aid, was invited to a meeting with Executive officials. It is expected that tomorrow's meeting will be followed by further talks with Mr Henry.

Solicitors receive £66.40 an hour for court appearances and £44.20 for preparation and for waiting in court for cases to be called. They say the rate has not changed since 1992 and are furious at delays in introducing new block payments to replace hourly rates.

Lawyers have been told the new fees will not be introduced before April next year - nearly 18 months later than promised - and have dismissed a proposed interim pay rise of 8 per cent for court work and 5 per cent for other work as derisory.

Vincent McGovern, spokesman for the Hamilton Bar Association, which represents around 300 criminal defence lawyers, said solicitors had never before been so united on a single issue. "This is new landscape as far as the legal profession is concerned. We've never seen such a unified position on something.

"The Law Society has a mandate to negotiate with the Executive and we trust them to do that. But the Law Society will understand they will require to consult widely with the profession on any possible resolution.

"This is about trust and respect, before it is about money. The Executive has rolled us over for many years. That has to stop."

He said to restore the value of legal aid to the 1992 level, a 50 per cent rise would be required.

"That's a conservative estimate. But I understand that, politically, that's impossible. However, the Executive is going to have to move ground."

The Executive says contingency plans are being drawn up in an effort to prevent rape and other sex cases collapsing should the boycott go ahead.

"The offer is still on the table and we are wanting to continue negotiations to try and reach an agreement," said a spokeswoman.

Oliver Adair, convener of the Law Society's legal aid solicitors' committee, said he understood how lawyers felt about the issue.

Mr Adair said: "I'm acutely aware of the strength of feeling in the profession and I would not be entering into any binding commitment without first testing the support of bar associations."

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Scottish Lawyers continuing to blackmail for more legal aid by holding hostage public`s right of legal representation

The continuing efforts of the legal profession to prove their worth to Scottish society continue - with the boycotting of family law cases (in addition to representing clients charged with selected types of criminal offences).

If this is the way in which Scottish lawyers are trying to endear themselves to the public - maybe ASBO orders would be of better use than ramping up their legal aid payments for representing clients.

The current tactics of the legal profession - to blackmail the Scottish Executive into awarding more legal aid fees for work done, is actually part of a strategy organised by the top echelons of the legal profession in Scotland to kill off the planned reforms in not only legal aid - but also more importantly - regulation of complaints - which currently operates at the hands of the Law Society of Scotland as a self-regulatory complaints system, but which is to be made independent under the terms of the Legal Profession & Legal Aid (Scotland) Bill currently being considered by the Scottish Parliament`s Justice 2 Committee.

The events of recent weeks - which have seen lawyers announce boycotts of various kinds of legal services to clients - is an indicator of just how important the legal profession in Scotland sees these reforms, and just how worried they are by change.

And so they should be worried ... because many of their members have been stealing from clients fro decades - and now they are about to be found out ... so why should they just sit back and let these changes take effect to what is their lucrative honey pot ? ... surely if a thief who has been stealing for 30 years from the same house sees CCTV cameras mounted in the house - the thief will either change his tactics, or break the cameras ? - well it`s the same here - it`s just that in this case - it`s lawyers who are about to be caught out.

So really, this is nothing much to do with income or the levels of legal aid, it`s really more to do with the legal profession not getting it`s own way - so they are throwing what is much more than a tantrum - they are actually playing with our human rights to be represented in legal cases ... so how, does the Law Society of Scotland justify that kind of conduct from it`s member I wonder ?

No doubt the Law Society`s response would be something like ... oh - well ... our members interests come first before the public - so we have to see that our members are well paid and get everything they want - including getting them off the hook from client complaints and negligence claims .. and this is exactly why Scottish lawyers are now playing with our rights as a tool to get more money .. and this is why we have another article, following, from "The Scotsman" on the legalaid dispute.

I have to laugh a bit though, at Andrew Gibb`s comments in the "Scotsman" article.

Andrew Gibb is a senior partner with the law firm Balfour and Manson, of Edinburgh. His firm took on the case of looking into the death of my mother at the Borders General Hospital - after 2 other lawyers - Michael Robson, of Robsons WS, Ratho, and David Reid of Morrisons WS, Edinburgh and Campbell Smith WS, Edinburgh, ruined the case completely - out of, it seems, incompetence, and malice.

But what did Balfour & Manson do ? - well, they whitewashed the conduct of the two crooked lawyers who ruined the case to try and make sure I couldn`t sue for negligence - so that`s Balfour & Manson for you - just as crooked and discriminatory as the rest when it comes to Scottish lawyers acting for people the legal profession hates - such as me, Peter Cherbi.

Fancy answering that one then, Mr Gibb ? or is it against your firm`s "ethos" (sic)

Read on for the article on the continuing efforts of the Scottish legal profession to blackmail for more legal aid by holding the public`s rights to legal representation as hostage ... certainly a terrorist tactic, wouldn`t you all agree ??

Solicitors boycott family law cases in dispute over legal aid payments

HUNDREDS of lawyers are refusing to represent families in divorce, child custody and domestic abuse cases in an escalating dispute with Scottish ministers over legal aid.

The Scotsman has learned law firms are slashing the amount of publicly funded family work they are prepared to carry out because they say current legal- aid payments are "scandalous".

Thousands of people are finding it increasingly difficult to find a lawyer, with many unable to secure legal representation in their home town.

Difficult and sensitive cases, many of them involving children in broken homes exposed to drug or alcohol abuse, or battered wives seeking a restraining order against a violent partner, are increasingly being taken on by junior lawyers because some big firms will take on only more lucrative private work.

Experts claim the service offered to many poorer clients is suffering as a result, leading to a two-tier system.

In a survey by the Family Law Association (FLA), which represents 300 solicitors in Scotland, more than half of those who responded say they have reduced their amount of family legal aid work by at least 50 per cent.

One of Scotland's largest law firms told The Scotsman it was turning away up to a dozen people a day because it will not take on new publicly-funded cases. The situation has become so serious that, in Edinburgh, it is almost impossible to get a lawyer to take on a family law case paid through legal aid.

The result of the poll has put further pressure on the Scottish Executive and the Scottish Legal Aid Board (SLAB) to overhaul the legal aid system. It comes as more than half of Scotland's criminal legal aid lawyers prepare to boycott sex cases in protest at delays in introducing new fees for solicitors defending people accused of serious crimes.

The number of lawyers prepared to take on family legal aid cases has plummeted since block payment fees for civil work were introduced in October 2003. The fixed payments replaced complicated itemised fees for preparing cases, and hourly rates for appearing in court.

Lawyers say the new fees do not take account of the complicated nature of many family law cases, offering no incentive to take on legal aid work.

Helen Hughes, of the Family Law Association, said: "As with criminal cases, family cases are rarely simple and often very high maintenance, involving issues such as domestic violence and substance abuse. With block fees, it doesn't matter if you have one meeting or 100 with a client, the fee is the same amount.

"The system can work, but it needs to be flexible. It makes no allowance for complex cases that can require a great deal of preparation and court time."

The Paisley-based lawyer said four local firms had decided to refuse to take on any legal aid cases as a result of the block fees, and that the FLA had petitioned the Executive to increase the payments. "Our member firms are finding they simply cannot afford to take on legal aid cases and the ones that do are overloaded with cases and can't help everybody that needs it," she said.

Ms Hughes said she had been paid £498 under the block fees system for representing grandparents who were seeking interim custody of their grandson. Under the old system, she would have been paid £968 and under private rates the fee would have been more than £2,000.

"What we receive in legal aid is not what we end up with," she said.

"From that amount, you have to deduct overheads such as the cost of staff and running an office. For family law cases, we are not being paid a reasonable fee for the work involved."

Andrew Gibb, a senior partner with Balfour and Manson, of Edinburgh, and a former president of the Law Society of Scotland, said: "Over the years, I have been proud to do legal aid work and have always taken the view that I am here to help the poor more than the rich. My firm has had the same ethos.

"However, in my area of family law, the position with the Scottish Legal Aid Board has become so scandalous that my firm will no longer take on legal aid work in certain types of cases, except in exceptional cases.

"It is now clear that in Edinburgh, people are finding it increasingly difficult to find solicitors who will take on legal aid work other than for established clients. On a daily basis, we have countless requests from members of the public to take on legal aid cases and decline to do so."

A spokesman for SLAB claimed the total amount paid to lawyers had increased by 21 per cent under the 2003 changes, but admitted that, in some cases, including family law, solicitors were being paid less and that "more flexibility" was needed.

An Executive spokesman said: "One of the principles of the legal aid system is that there should be fair reward for work necessarily undertaken. Monitoring of the 2003 changes is being done and any necessary changes to the regulations are under active consideration."