Monday, July 31, 2006

Treasury asks crooked regulators of accountants to help the Police clamp down on crooked accountants ...

"It takes a crook to catch a crook" .. as the saying goes .. so Tom McMorrow, his colleagues at ICAS, and his pal .. the well known bent Borders accountant Norman Howitt should be a good choice for the request from the Treasury to help clamp down on 'money laundering accountants'.

I've already written plenty about Tom McMorrow .. the executive director for regulation and compliance at ICAS who fiddled the complaint against his accountant colleague, Norman Howitt .. who ripped off my family .. links at : and more at :
... so given he seems to be good at protecting crooks, he should be good at hunting crooks ... although only time will tell on that one of course.

Don't think Norman Howitt only ripped me off either .. he has also caused companies and individuals to go bankrupt .. with his crooked colleagues covering up for him yet again.
I remember for instance .. when McDonald Construction in the Scottish Borders went broke .. Ken McDonald coming to see me and showing me papers on how Norman Howitt fiddled the books .. and how the indemnity insurers tried to tie him to a non disclosure agreement to keep quiet about Howitt's crooked activities ... and then later on, crooked Norman Howitt became the secretary of the South Of Scotland Builders Federation ... I wonder who he has ripped off in that lot ? !

With 16,000 accountants in Scotland .. ICAS portrays itself by being an honest organisation at the head of an honest profession .. but it is far from it, as you can see from material I have already published on this site and in the press.

Indeed .. when crooked lawyer Andrew Penman of Stormonth Darling Solicitors, Kelso, decided to rip off my family ... his boss in the scam was the crooked accountant, and ICAS Committee member Norman Howitt .. .who helped Penman cook up various crooked schemes involving local banks, crooked local insurance companies in the Borders, and even a few more lawyers .. such as Nigel Hall from Haddon & Turnbill, Hawick .. to fleece as much money as possible from our family ..
All this proved to me that crooked lawyers and crooked accountants work very well together .. something I've found from looking into many cases were a crooked lawyer has ripped off other clients .. seeking out like minded crooked professionals in their locality to help them along the way .. just like Penman & Howitt .

So, for those who wonder why the press don't touch some of the scandals involving accountants and direct involvement with McMorrow and his lacckeys ... it comes down to MONEY and INFLUENCE.

Don't go thinking there is honesty in the press these days .. for some there is, for most there definitely isn't.

It's not the fault of 'some' of the individual journalists .. it's more to do with editorial policy .. clashing personalities, fears of reducing circulation, and quiet words from the heads of such bodies to editors and newspaper owners ... that's why many scandals don't make it to print - it's definitely not because they aren't occurring.

I remember, for instance, when I briefed a journalist from The Scotsman on files I had received from a good friend - Andy Duncan, on former First Minister Henry Mcleish .. 1 year before what became known as the "Officegate" scandal, was eventually broken by the Mail on Sunday .... but of course, some ex-Scotsman colleagues were also working for the Scottish Executive at the time as 'advisers' .. or shall we say .. 'spin doctors' ... one of the reasons the story was sidelined ... until of course, it broke, proving there are always ways around those who wish to stifle the truth and cover up scandals.

... if you want to break something, do it locally, then do it on the web .. or do it indirectly .. and if you have been directly affected by something, and want to do something about it .. make yourself happy doing something about it - use your imagination.

Many parts of the media are all too willing to suck up to the same professions and their people who are ripping off you, the consumer .. and that's why the majority of such scandals go unpublished ... nothing to do with issues being complicated .. its more to do with the press fearing for circulation, advertising, and of course, the lawyers sticking their finger in, killing any articles about their professional colleagues .. so, sucking up to criminals seems to be a hobby these days for some.

I, of course, do not suck up to criminals or crooks, or those who who wine & dine politicians & the judiciary to shut them up, so I can write about it plenty, and I can interfere in things when I please, .. and when organisations and companies come to me, as they do, and ask whether to trust a certain 'professional' or company, or individual, or politician .. I can say .. "oh well, the [person] is just a crook you know .. completely untrustworthy .. as bad as or worse than a criminal .. and they will rip you off too "

I could certainly say that about Howitt & McMorrow, for instance .. to me, they are just crooks .. completely untrustworthy .. very prejudiced ... McMorrow being just a con artist really who got his pal Howitt off the hook who robbed my family .. and. well - he's the executive director of regulation and compliance at ICAS ... so being a crook must be one of the requirements for the job then !

McMorrow hates my guts - and rightly so. I have a file on him and Jennifer Carpenter, the advocate who bought his legal practice in Falkirk and had a great habit of embezzling clients funds ... he hates that fact. He also hates me for making a complaint against his pal Howitt, and being as determined as I am to expose all the corruption that went with the ICAS investigation of the complaint.

His pal Howitt used the Police against me in the Borders to cover up him selling my late father's car to his neighbour and family friend .. the Police had to apologise, realising they had been conned by a crooked .. bent .. accountant.

McMorrow knew all about this - but chose to cover it up .. along with the rest of Howitt's crooked dealings ...
And to think I once thought drugs dealers were dirty enough to deal with in an operation involving the Police (something I will write about soon) ... this lot beat them, hands down !

Read on for an article, from the Herald newspaper, reporting on the Treasury putting crooks together with the cops to clamp down on .. crooks .., link at :

ICAS to help police unregulated sector
PAUL ROGERSON July 31 2006

The Treasury has asked Scotland's institute of chartered accountants (ICAS) to help it clamp down on unregulated "accountants" who may be involved in money laundering.

The 16,000-strong body has been asked to consider sending its monitoring teams into practices staffed by people who call themselves "accountants" but who do not belong to one of the UK profession's six prescribed bodies.

Unqualified accountants operating in this grey market are not regulated at all.

Tom McMorrow, executive director for regulation and compliance at ICAS, said the body is looking on the proposal "very favourably", assuming extra resources are made available.

Unlike "solicitor", "architect" and other professional designations, the term "accountant" is not statutorily protected. Anyone can market themselves as offering accountancy services. ICAS continues to lobby for statutory protection and the Treasury's request clearly strengthens its case.

The Scots body favours a system of demarcation banning anyone who is not a member of a prescribed body from being able to provide professional accountancy services. The government has so far balked at the suggestion, sensitive to accusations of protectionism and restraint of trade.

ICAS, however, stressed that the Netherlands, whose accountancy profession has also developed in disparate fashion, has had laws protecting the terms "registered accountant" and "accountant" for nearly 25 years.

Some progress has been made recently with the launch of a consultation on the legal protection of the term "accountant" by Ireland's Auditing and Accounting Supervisory Authority (IAASA).

"ICAS has, for a number of years, advocated to the Department of Trade Industry the statutory protection of accountant and continues to adhere to that policy,' the Scots body said. "Hitherto denied a debate on the public policy concerns underscoring our stance, the IAASA's stimulation of that debate is very welcome to us."

In a 20-page response to the Irish consultation, the Scots body stresses:
"Accountancy should be a profession which is discernible to the public, allowing it to distinguish those service providers able to afford them the greatest consumer protection. The public commonly does not appreciate that some accountants have to conform to certain (minimum standards) of behaviour and competence whereas others do not.

"The consequence of malpractice by an unqualified accountant may well result in significant and irrecoverable losses to the client, whereas qualified accountants are required to have in place a compensation system and other protections for the consumer.

"Another consequence of malpractice by an unqualified accountant is the unfair tarnishing of the reputation of qualified accountants and an indirect tarnishing of the competence of government for inchoate regulation."

The Scottish institute elegantly points out that there was a "latent non-sequitur" in the recent toughening of the regulatory climate within which qualified accountants operate. Even now the Financial Reporting Council's watchdog remit extends only to qualified accountants, leaving thousands of quasi-professionals free to operate with no oversight.

In the interests of joined-up government, ICAS suggests that this is one anomaly the Irish government might wish to avoid.

The Scottish body cites the inherent weaknesses of the 2002 Proceeds of Crime Act, which sought to bind accountants of all kinds to the obligation to disclose to the authorities their suspicions of money laundering by clients.

"The UK government failed … probably because of oversight … to make sure unqualified accountants were subject to equivalent, or at least adequate, monitoring arrangements," the institute points out.

"It goes without saying that creating an obligation without a viable enforcement mechanism makes for ineffectual legislation."

Recognition of this oversight appears to be what prompted the Treasury's request to Icas to help enforce the act by regulating unqualified accountants.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Law Society of Scotland wants to 'educate us' to respect it's crooked form of independence

It's quite amazing, the stature that the legal profession in Scotland hold's itself in ... and not content with wallowing in such honour, the lawyers want to ensure that we, the public, will bow to it's glory - such are the words I read in the Scotsman 'newspaper' on Tuesday.

Oh .. only the words of one then perhaps ? .. not likely .. more like part of a concerted plan of action by the legal profession to get rid of the forthcoming reforms of independent regulation in the LPLA Bill .. and lull the public into a belief that all is well in the ranks of Scotlands crooked legal profession.

As far as the figures show - in terms of complaints, money and property looted from clients (both private AND corporate) - Scotland is about the best small country in the world for it's lawyers ripping off their clients - and actually, that isn't just myth .. I recently asked for some views of the Scottish legal profession while travelling outside Scotland and the responses ranged from 'crooks' to 'perverts' to 'criminals' and much worse ... so, the world certainly isn't ignorant to what is going on in the Scottish legal profession.

Take for instance a good friend of mine in the US, he is a lawyer, and was at a conference where there were some members of Scotland's hallowed legal profession in attendence - dare I say, married members (without their wives present of course). After the conference, these lawyers from Scotland - whom some want to teach us to respect, started asking for "young boys" .. for things I find myself unable to write about.

The behaviour of our travelling Scottish lawyers prompted my friend to have a bit of a laugh, and ask - "are there any real men left in Scotland ?" ... I answered - well, yes - but not many of them are lawyers ... and well, I wondered how these gentlemen's wives & families would feel about their behaviour ? would they have a 'right to know' ? .. perhaps, but probably via the press.

Anyway, back to the point .... the legal profession want us to respect them, and leave them to cover up for their behaviour - which ranges from ripping off clients, to ordering the deaths of colleagues (and clients) snorting cocaine & supplying it to criminals inside jail, etc.

Should we really respect such people ? Has the world turned upside down so much these days that we have to give regard to such behaviour ? I say NO.

The article in the Scotsman 'newspaper' suggests that the 'virtues' of an independent legal profession be taught in Schools ! ... amazing ... so our children should be taught how great the Law Society of Scotland is, how it has gloriously self-regulated the legal profession for years .. etc ... and miss out all the bits about cover ups, scandals, embezzlement, fraud, etc by Scottish lawyers ?

To me, teaching pupils at school to respect the Scottish legal profession (at least in it's current form) sounds more like heroin dealers handing out free drugs to schoolchildren at the school gates to get them hooked so they come back for more.

It's quite an appalling idea - but consistent with a struggling but powerful section of public life grasping at any means to save itself .. from the likes of the forthcoming LPLA Bill ... something very dear to my own campaign, of course.

As far as 'Education' goes .. I think the public are becoming wise to the systemic criminality & corruption of Scotland's legal profession.

Brave campaigners, such as myself, and protest groups such as "Scotland Against Crooked Lawyers" have seen to that ... and while some in the media might disparage the likes of SACL .. the fact is that since the group began their protests outside the Scottish Parliament, the offices of the Law Society of Scotland, and Royal & Sun Alliance PLC ... we have certainly advanced forward in terms of drawing the public's attention to what has really been going in Scotlands hallowed legal profession ... something very far from honesty and respect .. which the likes of those from the legal profession who disguise themselves as journalists in national newspapers would have us believe.

The following article, from Tuesday's Scotsman 'newspaper' makes for interesting reading - in it's representation of widely held views in the legal profession senior ranks, but perhaps the headline should have read "We must review, properly compensate, and fully apologise for our sins of the past" - if they wanted to do the decent thing .. which of course, they don't.

Prepare yourselves for a very unrepentive article, targeted directly against the interests of the client - and certainly against those of us who have exposed the many wrongdoings of the legal profession. Certainly no feeling of apologising for the sins of the past here .. or putting right the wrongs which have been done to many to protect crooked colleagues.

As for the proposition of an action plan for the legal profession .... well, they already have one - it's called "ruin everyone to save ourselves - and loot as much as you can in the process" although with the ideas of educating our young to respect embezzlers & crooks, it sounds more like a version of Communism, complete with 'young pioneers societies' ...and we all know where that led, don't we.

Haven't we lived under the reign of crooked lawyers for long enough ?

I say, time for a change - a change for the better .. a change for honesty and transparency .. where the client has the right not to get looted at the hands of the dishonest Scottish legal profession.

We must educate, talk and organise

WHILE some of my fellow columnists have corresponded from exotic locations recently, a few days in the Western Isles has reminded me that, in weather such as we have enjoyed recently, this really might be the most beautiful small country in the world. That got me thinking about our legal system in the context of the First Minister's proposition that we are, or can be, the best small country in the world.

Over generations, Scots law and Scottish lawyers have been held in high regard, often punching above its and their collective weight. The Scots and their lawyers have a reputation for integrity, trust and competence that is a very valuable commodity. But rather than capitalising on that in the global marketplace for legal services, it seems that, rather as often happens to the Scottish landscape, the mist has descended. Such strengths are often obscured by a mixture of hot air and cold fronts. Typically Scottish, perhaps.

There appears to be increasing tension among the stakeholders in the legal system and its institutions, with regular controversy. Examples include: procedures for making complaints against lawyers; reform of judicial appointments and integration of the court system; and criminal legal aid payments.

I wonder if it goes too far to suggest there is some suspicion, distrust and lack of understanding involving various players: policy makers in the Scottish Executive; MSPs in the Parliament; professional bodies; the judiciary; the Scottish Legal Aid Board; and the Scottish Legal Services Ombudsman. Within these groupings, there are diverse views.

But, overall, one's impression is things are not quite as they should be and, as a result - rather than working together to reinforce the impact the Scottish legal system might have in the wider world - the stakeholders' energies are often spent in a cycle of internal criticism and justification. How could this be changed?

• Education: There will always be difficulty if people do not know about the core principles and values of the legal system and its institutions. How many of us really understand what is meant by judicial independence, or the value of an independent legal profession? To what extent could these be covered in schools? And how many of our MSPs and civil servants have a good understanding of these? Learning, as part of enhancing a sense of civic responsibility, may be a good starting point.

• Dialogue: I suspect some in the legal profession have been rather lukewarm towards the Parliament. Over a number of years, there may have been a sense of detachment from, rather than involvement with, the legislators. How often have key figures sat down and talked openly about the real issues and, without having to justify or criticise, simply sought to explain what they are trying to do and why?

How often have they listened to the points of view and genuinely held concerns of others who have an interest? Engagement is essential, both ways.

• Roles: Who should be in charge of policy-making? Who controls the purse-strings? Who makes decisions about resources? What benchmarks are set for professional (and legislative) performance? How do we measure value for money? There is scope for a frank reassessment.

I venture to suggest that if we wish to have an outward-looking, confident system of law which represents fully the interests of the Scottish people, then the lawyers, politicians, judges and civil servants need to work together in an atmosphere of mutual trust and respect. Perhaps we need an action plan to achieve this

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Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Concerns over Scottish accountants and lawyers teaming up against the consumer to avoid scrutiny of ripping off the client

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Two criminals meet on the way to a robbery. The house each one is targeting is stuffed so full of valuables, that neither criminal can take the lot ... so, one says to the other - "there's too much stuff in the house to swipe ... so why don't you take the top floor, and I take the ground floor" ... Both burglars then agree their plan of cooperation ... and proceed to systematically loot the house of it's contents.

Simple enough explanation, isn't it ? You can see the logic there, can't you ? ... house has too many valuables .. and the SWAG bag each burglar can only hold so much ?

Well, this is what is currently happening (and has been for awhile, actually), with clients of Scottish lawyers, who also happen to be using the same firm of accountants, associated with the firm of their solicitors, and this is also a reflection on the plan of the legal and accounting professions to circumvent the new "Legal Profession & Legal Aid (Scotland) Bill ... which aims to bring independent regulation to the legal profession.

In a deal worked out between accountancy and legal profession to tackle the LPLA Bill, Scottish accountants will be able to take on the handling of probate services or handling of a will, while the lawyer also gets a slice of the business - and both will avoid the scrutiny of independent regulation.

How will they be able to do that ?

Well, part of the deal is that accountants will be able to take on the probate & wills business, of course, but the accountant will then 'sub-contract' out some or most of the work they have been given by the client, back to a legal firm getting the lawyer to work on, or give advice or consultation on matters - at preferrential rates, costing the client even more at the end of the day. This is why the Law Society of Scotland are happy about the deal ... along with the fact they have many friends in senior places in ICAS and the accounting profession in Scotland.

Since the accountant has 'sub-contracted' the work to the solicitor and their legal firm, NOT the client, any complaints regarding the actual handling of the will by either the lawyer or the accountant would have to be made against the accountant, not the lawyer, and thus submitted to the likes of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland- the governing body which self regulates the accountancy profession in Scotland - therefore avoiding any investigation by the new Scottish Legal Complaints Commission, as would be planned in the forthcoming LPLA Bill.

In essence, we will therefore have accountants and lawyers self regulating their colleagues again .. which is almost the same as we have had for decades with the legal profession where lawyer has investigated lawyer and covered up for the crooked behaviour of their colleagues ... for all those decades, leading now to the LPLA Bill.

If any of you doubt this, just reflect on how the Law Society of Scotland have regulated the legal profession over the years ... and reflect further on the ways in which the Instutite of Chartered Accountants of Scotland have got their own crooked accountants off the hook in complaints - an example of this, direct from their Director of Legal Services, Tom Mc Morrow, lies here at :

... and my previous postings on this matter can also be viewed at : &

Fancy trying to make this arguement to the new SLCC ? that they should investigate a lawyer who has been sub contracted to do work for an accountant ?

That would be quite difficult, given you will be facing the political lobbying might of the accountancy profession, which is just as powerful, if not more so, than the legal profession

This really summarises why I am so concerned about the amendment by ICAS to the LPLA Bill ... because I know ICAS, and I know accountants, and I have personal experience, on my own case, and on others, as to the methods employed by ICAS to protect their criminal members ... so take note of this ... criminals do nothing unless it benefits them .. and we have a case of this with the ICAS amendment put forward .. to benefit their profession - at the expense of the consumer.

I have seen so many crooked deals between legal firms and accountancy firms involving the same client - where the lawyer handles the client's legal business, and an accountancy firm which deals with the legal firm on an intimate basis, deals with the same client's accountancy work ... particularly in the likes of the Scottish Borders .. where the attitude of ... ; the lawyer will rip them off for legal work while the accountant rips them off for accountancy work' is quite prevalent ... but this goes on all over Scotland.

Of course, the solution to a house burglar is perhaps - a rottweiler. Take my word for it, this works .. however, whether the LPLA Bill will be as effective against corruption within the legal professions as a rottweiler is against a burglar, we will just have to wait and see .. I say no .. because the rottweiler will hang on forever .... good doggy ... !

Monday, July 24, 2006

Standards of the Scottish legal profession revealed to be poor, even from University stage ...

Working on legal and political stories behind the scenes doesn't allow me to keep up with my blog, but rest easy in the knowledge that a few articles appearing in the press will be down to me, even if the journalists who are writing the articles, and the targets of those news articles, don't actually know it.

Anyway, while the Law Society of Scotland wants us to believe that their members - the some 10,000 solicitors in Scotland are among the cream of society, being intelligent, honest, etc ... the obvious fact of the matter, judging by the poor levels of client service and high rate of client complaints is that legal services in Scotland are subject to systemic corrupt and prejudicial practice by members of Scotland's much vaunted legal profession.

The arguement over the years (one I've faced myself, relating to the Andrew Penman complaint), is that when a lawyer has put in the work over the years to obtain their qualitications, all that work shouldn't go to waste just because they have either ripped off a client or ruined their lives ... that is at least, the logic of the Client Relations Office of the Law Society of Scotland.

However, the way in which law students gain their law degrees and qualifications has now come to light .. portraying a flawed system, which has obviously allowed many crooks into the legal profession over the years who have come to light by way of stories of ripping off their clients, ruining lives, dodging complaints, etc.

Over the dealings I have had with the Law Society of Scotland, I had given thought to the way in which those who study law actually view the likes of me, or other clients who complain against their lawyers actions .. and to test this out, I got myself into a group of law students for a few discussions on the subject of law and the legal profession.

My observations were quite staggering ... while some of them were professing to be honest, hard working, wanted to do something for the public, some of them wishing to change appallingly discriminatory legislation ..etc .. only one of the group, a female member, who later went on to be a journalist, had any sympathy for clients whose lawyers handled their affairs badly. The rest of the group treated the whole thing as a joke .. some even openly stating that "clients deserved to be ripped off" .. really, quite a worrying attitute for an area of business, which everyone in the land has to use at one point or another in their lives.

What this illustrated to me, was that the Law Society's claim of professinalism and honesty within the legal profession - was null and void - from the very start .. and no wonder lawyers were in a position where they regard it as almost their right to embezzel clients funds or steal from dead clients estates ... because the legal profession breeds this culture from the very start.

One lawyer I had used over the years - David Reid - who went on to rip me off and take a stress leave until the complaint had been fiddled by his buddies at the Law Society, once said to me that I should have been a lawyer myself .. but to be part of a gang of criminals is not something I would have welcomed ... a bit of a stain on my character .. just as being a lawyer in Scotland seems to be these days - and all you Scottish lawyers can thank the likes of Andrew Penman, Douglas Mill, Philip Yelland, and the rest of the gang over in Drumsheigh Gardens for giving that impression to the public.

Read on for the article, oddly enough from "The Scotsman", on Professor Alistair Bonnington's view of the legal profession today .. and all you law students take note ... pracitse honesty .. or we will be watching you ...

Professor attacks quality of law schools

SCOTLAND'S law schools were yesterday charged by a leading lawyer with turning out sub-standard graduates. He also accused universities of putting profits before standards.

Professor Alastair Bonnington claimed legal education was being dumbed down and accused law schools of making the subject an easy option to increase their profits with boosted student numbers.

In a scathing article in the current issue of the Law Society Journal, written to reflect on his retirement after 25 years' teaching, Prof Bonnington said that studying law had become much easier than it was 30 years ago and that law schools hand out 2:1 honours degrees almost as a matter of course.

He also complained there was a paucity of teachers who had actually practised law employed at Scottish law schools.

The article, which the Law Society of Scotland was quick to point out was Prof Bonnington's "personal opinion", provoked outrage at Scotland's university law schools.Professor David Carey-Miller, head of the law school at Aberdeen University, said: "I would vehemently disagree with almost everything Alastair is saying."

He said that in a recent survey five out of the top 20 law schools in the whole of the UK were Scottish. "The fundamental reason for these schools appearing in this list is high standards," said Prof Carey-Miller.

Professor Colin Reid, Dean of the Faculty of Law and Accountancy at Dundee University, said: "It is hardly surprising that many students are achieving good honours results since well-qualified students enter the law schools where more thought is being given to teaching and learning than ever before.

"Moreover Dundee is unique in offering qualifying law degrees for Scotland, England and Wales and Northern Ireland. We are, therefore, very conscious of the differences between the various legal systems."

Prof Bonnington, solicitor to BBC Scotland and a visiting professor at Glasgow Law School, said he had major concerns that students today did not understand Scottish law as "it is taught little and seldom" by academics who lack "necessary practical skills".

And lamenting the lack of intellectual rigour and vocational training, he noted that 2:1 degrees are dished out to "almost everyone", while university administrations milk law schools as "cash cows".

Prof Bonnington said: "Today, Scottish law schools admit almost everyone to study honours and award almost everyone a 2:1 degree. It appears that Scots law is taught little and seldom in some law schools."

Monday, July 17, 2006

Peter Cherbi asks the Lord Chancellor to refuse authority for Scottish accountants to handle wills & probate services.

Here is my letter to the Lord Advocate, Lord Falconer, raising objections against the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland's application for their members in England & Wales to gain authority to handle probate services including wills.

Why am I objecting ? well, ICAS have tabled an amendment to the Legal Profession & Legal Aid (Scotland) Bill, because Scottish accountants want in on the business of handling wills - which only lawyers can handle under current legislation, and there is no device contained in the forthcoming LPLA Bill for accountants to get in on the ac of robbing the dead.

See my earlier posting on this parrticular issue relating to the ICAS amendments here :

ICAS and their accountants want in on the probate & executry business, because it is such an easy way to rip people off - lawyers have been ripping off clients for decades by handling wills - just look what they did to me, and I woulc quote hundreds of other cases I have heard of where, for instance, lawyers in the Scottish Borders have cherry picked antiques, jewelry, and many other items from dead client's houses for their own offices & residences .. not to mention also ripping off the investments left to the family, and giving favoured Banks fat overdraft payments in accounts organised to drain estates of funds to further the lawyers own ends.

Now of course, we will have Scottish accountants doing the same - although as you can see from other posts in this blog, Norman Howitt, a crooked Borders accountant did this to our family a long time ago ... it's just that ICAS want to change the law so they can rip us off legally.

Additionally, since I have campagned for so long to bring independent regulation to the legal profession, why now should ICAS, a well known crooked self regulatory body, be able to push through amendments to the legislation bringing independent regulation to the legal profession, so that their own accountant members can get in on some legal business, under the self regulatory set up of the accountancy profession ?

Clients will have no protection whatsoever inder the current corrupt system of self regulation for accountants, if they get their accountants to handle wills, rather than having a lawyer handle it under the new system of independent regulation for the legal profession planned in the LPLA Bill ... just go back to the example of Norman Howitt and think about that ... ICAS went all out to absolve Howitt from his crimes .... so they will do the same for all their other crooked accountant members ... and there are many in Scotland.

My letter to the Lord Chancellor :

By email to:

The Lord Chancellor, Lord Falconer of Thoroton,Department of Constitutional Affairs,Selborne House,54–60 Victoria Street,London, SW1E 6QW
11 July 2006

Dear Lord Chancellor,

Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland application to DCA for full probate services

I have noted ICAS application to the Department of Constitutional Affairs for their members to handle full probate services, and having had experience in this matter, and therefore being an interested party, I wish to lodge objections to ICAS application, along with information relating to my experiences with their members handling probate services, which I would like you to consider.

I noted that after recommendations by the Office of Fair Trading, statutory instruments introduced well over a year ago implemented in England and Wales two sections of the Courts and Legal Services Act 1990 which allowed financial institutions and members of bodies authorised by the Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs to perform a key part of winding up an estate, providing the papers for probate, for a fee.

However, the Law Reform (Miscellaneous Provisions) (Scotland) Act 1990 broke the effective monopoly by solicitors by allowing licensed executry partners and banks and building societies also to charge a fee for conducting the equivalent process, preparing papers to apply for confirmation of an executor through the Sheriff Court but it remains an offence for anyone else, including chartered accountants, to charge a fee for this.

There is no specific measure to change this in the current Legal Profession and Legal Aid (Scotland) Bill, which is now finally going through the Scottish Parliament - which I have personally campaigned for so long to be introduced (see included coverage of my case and campaign). However, ICAS has submitted a proposed amendment to the LPLA Bill to seek a change in the draft legislation in the interests of their own member accountants to achieve parity with English law.

It would seem evident to an observer that ICAS are publicly using their application to the DCA concerning their members who reside in England & Wales, as a bully tactic with the Scottish Executive, to get their amendment to the Legal Profession & Legal Aid (Scotland) Bill passed.

At least from what I have read in the Scottish media, particularly “the Herald” newspaper at :, ICAS state …"But our hope is that the Scottish Executive will recognise the very fact that we can apply south of the Border means that there is no reason why an amendment cannot simply be inserted in the Legal Profession and Legal Aid Bill to enable the same up here.". I would say, on balance, such a public statement by ICAS is certainly designed as a ‘persuasive gesture’ in their lobbying on this matter with the Scottish Executive, and of course, the DCA.

However, if the DCA grant ICAS application in this matter, or if the Scottish Executive agree to the ICAS amendment, this will produce a significant imbalance against the public interest, in that while a client of a solicitor would have the increased safety of independent regulation of the legal profession (as proposed in the LPLA Bill) if their solicitor were to mishandle executry services, clients of accountants would have to use the self regulatory process of the accountancy profession currently administered by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland, which I can say from my own personal experience, is thoroughly corrupt and biased, almost worse, one could say, than the current system of self regulation operated by the Law Society of Scotland, which I have campaigned against for so long.

I therefore respectfully submit to you that ICAS application to the DCA for their members to be able to handle full probate services, should be refused, on the grounds that such an imbalance of the rights of consumers, not having access to fully transparent and independent regulatory services for accountants is against the public interest and contrary to the spirit of the LPLA Bill, which itself, brings independent regulation to the legal profession.

If accountants wish to be able to handle full probate services, then they should only be allowed to do so when they too, as a profession, have a fully independent regulatory structure, similar to what is proposed in the LPLA Bill with the formation of the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission.

My own experiences with a member of ICAS, are now a matter of record in the media and at the Scottish Parliament, in terms of the dual role of an accountant in the Scottish Borders, who actually did charge for his services to wind up an executry and prepare confirmation documents – contrary, it seems, to the terms of the Law Reform (Miscellaneous Provisions) (Scotland) Act 1990 – where the accountant concerned, should have been held to have committed an offence.

The particular accountant in question, Mr Norman Howitt, of Welchs Accountants, Galashiels, did, as I say, charge for his services in winding up an executry, but amended the charge to be that of a personal nature, rather than a professional nature.

However, he had his firm bill the estate of my late father for his services, and the money was paid to his firm – a profession charge then, you would think – but no, even though I complained about that matter, in the investigation which was carried out personally by Tom McMorrow, the ICAS Director of Legal Services, Howitt was exonerated and the matter of the charge billed by Howitt for executry services and subsequently the bill being paid to his firm, was talked away in a complaint which was handled with the utmost prejudice against me – even to the point that when I asked the Financial Services Agency for an independent investigation into the matter, ICAS made particularly hostile submissions to the FSA against my complaint, and more worrying, against my person, so much that the FSA decided it would be against the public interest to assist me, as ICAS felt it may reveal an issue with regulation in the accountancy profession which could undermine public confidence.

I submit to you copies of the complaints investigation into Mr Howitt by ICAS, and my response to it, along with material from my submission to the Scottish Parliament on the Legal Profession & Legal Aid Bill, for your perusal.

I would ask you to note the particularly disgraceful conduct of Mr Howitt, a member of ICAS – and now even a member of ICAS Committees, who ransacked my late father’s estate and got away with it, while, as you can see from the investigation into my complaint against him, ICAS actually covered up for his actions, and made certain I would not be able to claim any compensation for his actions.

The documents I attach show my late father’s accountant, even taking control of my late mother’s finances, in complete conflict of interest in terms of his role as executor of my late father’s estate, and then subsequently spinning a web of theft and control against my late mother’s finances for personal gain to such an extent he stole my late mother’s pension book, and sought to control her affairs even after death, again, seeking payment for his services.

I respectfully submit that such a thing cannot be allowed to happen to other members of the public using accountants to handle probate services, as I have experienced, therefore ICAS application should be denied.

I am copying this letter to the Deputy First Minister and Enterprise Minister Nicol Stephen, for his information and consideration of my objection to ICAS amendment to the LPLA Bill, until such times as the accountancy profession is independently regulated and consumers are given increased safety and assurance via such independent regulation as is currently proposed for the legal profession in the forthcoming piece of legislation.

I would of course, ask you for your comments on what happened to me at the hands of ICAS and Mr Howitt, and how I could resolve it, but with the fact that I cannot get any legal representation at all, due to intense discrimination against me by the legal profession in Scotland, there is not much I can now do to raise any kind of claim for the serious damage and destruction that Mr Howitt and ICAS have caused to my family and my life.

However, just because ICAS have tried to ‘take me out’, in more ways than one, and that their member even once used the local Police to try to cover his tracks of ripping off my family and selling my late father’s car to his next door neighbor, family friend and sometime business partner, does not mean that they should be allowed to get away with this kind of conduct again in the future.

While my case was heavily publicised at the time, material from my case and campaign is widely published on the web, and in my own personal site “A Diary of Injustice in Scotland”, at

The particular links to my experiences with the accountancy profession and ICAS are at : &

My submission to the Justice 2 Committee of the Scottish Parliament on the Legal Profession & Legal Aid (Scotland) Bill, is located at :
My submission to the Justice 1 Committee Inquiry into Regulation of the legal profession in 2001 :

I’m not asking for the world. I’m asking for justice, transparency, accountability, and the public’s right to receive transparent and honest services for their money to be maintained. Such a request would be served by keeping accountants out of legal and probate services until such time as they have independent regulation.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Natwest 3 face US Justice in corruption scandal - maybe we should send all our crooked bankers & lawyers over the Atlantic for trial !

It's not been fashionable in any part of the British media to critisise the 3 bankers charged by US authorities in the Enron Scandal dubbed the "Natwest 3" ... but that seems to be changing now that they have finally been sent to the United States.

Well, just how clean are they ? asks the Sunday Times today .. well, for one, having experienced the intricacies of 'white collar crime' in the form of crooked lawyers and accountants - along with their professional bodies, covering up massive financial scandals ... I have always believed they were dirty ... to a T.

Of course, the Natwest 3 did a brilliant public relations job on the whole affair, turning public feeling against american justice as much as they could, but you could always sense there were parts of the case which they were glossing over, and with a general lack of understanding of such complex matters in the UK by the ordinary person these days, it isn't surprising that at least until now, they got away with the story that they were the innocents being sent to the slaughter.

Not me .. I never believed that for a second. Actually, if it were the case that the Feds were to call me up and ask for info on bent Scottish lawyers and banks and how they had funneled money through american institutions, or damaging the interests of US shareholders, I would testify in a second ... because at least in the US, there is a much better chance of such cases getting to court and the truth coming out .. whatever that may be.

Look at examples we have had recently in the U.S. , where large crooked insurance companies such as Marsh - the same people who run the Master Insurance Policy of the Law Society of Scotland, (the professional indemnity insurance for lawyers) .. and similar insurance deals for other professions - even some Government Departments, being caught in a huge financial scandal by none other than New York Attorney General Elliot Spitzer charged Marsh with getting illegal payments for steering clients to particular firms .. as well as other crooked activities ... (have a look here into some insight on this case : )

Think that such a scandal would ever come to light in the UK ? No chance of that ! .. the insurers would be buying off lawyers, judges, Government officials and the rest of them .. and we would never hear of it ... so, hey, let the Natwest 3 get tried in the USA .. We should be happy that at least someone is doing something about financial crime.

Just look at some of the reasons why the Serious Fraud Office wouldn't actually prosecute them here ... one of the chief reasons being they thought the case far too complicated for a UK Jury .. and with the defence legal team being up to the job of creating quite a disgraceful perception of US justice by using bought media contacts and well placed stories, secret briefings against Government ministers, and the like ... it was a sure thing the case would never be tried here in the UK .. and well, this time anyway, good for the Government in sending them off to the States to face a measure of justice which would otherwise be unobtainable here.

It is funny, isn't it .. the way in which their legal counsel portrayed the american legal system compared with our own here Britain. You only need to read a few pages of this blog, let alone search the rest of the web or even turn on the television news to see the levels of injustice we as consumers suffer here when professionals such as bankers, lawyers, accountants etc .. rip us off. It's a bit like pot calling the kettle black, isn't it ?

Well, they always say that there's no justice like Texas justice, so it will be interesting to see what happens, and what revelations come out of this case which have so far been glossed over by the accused's legal team and friendly press agents ...

As far as I'm concerned, if I had the chance to send Andrew Penman, Norman Howitt, McMorrow, Yella,d Mill, and the rest of the crooked gang to the USA for trial, I'd be over the moon ... at least they wouldn't be able to buy off everyone or fiddle the politicians and courts to keep my case from being heard.

Here today in the Sunday Times, at least, we have a more clear impression on what has been going on ... and you know .. the average person doesn't usually use the Cayman Islands banks for honest banking ....

Focus: How clean are the Natwest Three?

To many other passengers on the plane to Houston, the men sitting in rows 43, 44 and 45 were just another group of travellers. The appearance of two television camera crews led to a flurry of speculation: there must be celebrities on board. But a trawl through faces failed to identify anyone and the excitement passed.

David Bermingham, Giles Darby and Gary Mulgrew are not sportsmen or pop stars. But they have become famous recently as they used a public relations campaign to fight extradition to the United States on fraud charges related to the 2001 collapse of Enron, the US energy company. All three deny any wrongdoing.

The case of the NatWest Three, as the former bankers are known, has united civil liberties groups and City magnates. It has also brought opprobrium on the British government, damaged America’s reputation in the UK over a flawed extradition treaty, raised questions about whether British law enforcement controls white-collar crime adequately — and might have led to the apparent suicide last week of a fourth banker.

Having lost their four-year battle against extradition, Bermingham, Darby and Mulgrew reported to Croydon police on Thursday at 6am, after tearful goodbyes from their families. They were taken in a van with blacked-out windows to Gatwick airport. Six US marshals led them onto Continental Airlines flight CO35 before other passengers boarded.

For nearly 11 hours they sat in separate rows at the back, with marshals on either side. Darby mostly slept. Bermingham read a paperback. Mulgrew sat upright, his tall frame towering above the seats, his face expressionless.

They knew what awaited them in Houston, the Texan city where Enron was based until it collapsed in 2001 in the greatest corporate scandal of recent times.

Proportionately far more Americans than Britons are shareholders, which is why the US Department of Justice takes a strong line on corporate crime. Unlike some Britons, Americans do not regard white-collar crime as “victimless”. Just ask the many former Enron shareholders and employees.

When Ken Lay, Enron’s founder, died this month — before being sentenced for his part in the scandal — some wondered if his death was as questionable as his accounting. On the Houston Chronicle website, one resentful Texan wrote: “I think they need to bring (Lay’s) body back down to Houston and prop him up in front of the big building they built for Enron so we can all make sure he is really dead.

Also, maybe sell like tickets to smack him around a bit and give the proceeds to charity.”

It was no surprise then when the three suspects were taken into Houston’s federal courthouse shackled hand and foot. The “perp (perpetrator) walk” has become standard procedure when executives are charged. Seven big fraud cases have led to convictions in the past 18 months alone.

The trio were fingerprinted, strip-searched, kitted out in green jumpsuits (indicating foreign nationals) and escorted to detention — not the poky cells that their PR men had predicted, but a Houston hotel.

When they appeared in court next day — in their own clothes — the judge granted bail but confiscated their passports. Yesterday they were allowed to go shopping. On Friday the judge will consider whether they can return to Britain pending trial.

In all the furore over the extradition, the question of their innocence or guilt has been pushed to one side. What are they accused of?

They are alleged to have colluded with Andrew Fastow, Enron’s chief financial officer, and Michael Kopper, his right-hand man, to defraud their employers.

Put simply, the three were accused of selling an offshore company belonging to NatWest at a low price, buying into it themselves and selling it on at a much higher price to Enron. They shared a profit of $7.3m. Fastow and Kopper, having allegedly duped their own employer into paying too much for this nebulous asset, trousered an even larger sum.

The NatWest Three were charged four years ago — early on in the wider Enron investigation — in the hope that they would give evidence against Enron executives. But Fastow and Kopper themselves agreed to co-operate — and now could be star witnesses against the trio.

Deanne Simpson, an FBI special agent assigned to the Enron taskforce, puts the case against the three in an affidavit seen by The Sunday Times. She quotes from a number of e-mails they allegedly sent each other.

In February 2000, before travelling to Houston to propose the allegedly fraudulent transaction to the Enron executives, Bermingham wrote to Mulgrew: “I will be the first to be delighted if (Fastow) has found a way to . . . steal a large portion himself. We should be able to appeal to his greed.”

The alleged fraud is fiendishly complex. But Mulgrew said he could understand it. “It’s so much easier to focus when it’s your own dough.”

In another message, Bermingham wrote to Darby and Mulgrew: “Large numbers of people are asking what we are up to. I hate lies.”

To try to avoid trial in America — where they face a possible 35 years in maximum security jail if found guilty — the men fought extradition through the British courts and did everything they could to be prosecuted here.

A trial in Britain would take precedence over the extradition, as they saw in the case of Abu Hamza, the former imam at the Finsbury Park mosque in north London.

Furthermore, it is notoriously difficult to secure a fraud conviction in Britain — and even in the unlikely event of a guilty verdict, the punishment is never more than a brisk spell in one of the famously accommodating open prisons.

When Roger Levitt admitted fraudulent trading in the mid-1990s, his sentence was 180 hours of community service.

Forcefully arguing that NatWest, the principal victim of their alleged crime, is British, the three took the Serious Fraud Office to court for failing to prosecute them. But Lord Goldsmith, the attorney-general, ruled out a British prosecution.

They even tried to provoke NatWest — now owned by Royal Bank of Scotland — into pressing charges here. Royal Bank of Scotland refused, perhaps because it is implicated in another strand of the Enron saga. Neil Batson, the official examiner appointed by the US bankruptcy court, has found that “RBS aided and abetted certain Enron officers in breaching their fiduciary duties” in transactions connected to a power plant in Teesside.

With the legal route failing, the three mounted a PR campaign, shrewdly presenting themselves as victims of an overweening America.

Specifically, they blamed their problems on the flawed 2003 extradition treaty that was negotiated in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on the United States. This allows US prosecutors to extradite British subjects without showing prima facie evidence of a crime. British prosecutors are denied the same access to alleged criminals in America, however, because Congress has not ratified the treaty.

In the light of the CIA’s use of “extraordinary rendition” to move suspected terrorists around the world at will, the treaty looks like further evidence that America is a law unto itself. As Richard Lambert, director-general of the Confederation of British Industry, put it: “Whatever the guilt or innocence of the NatWest Three, the current extradition arrangements are an affront to natural justice.”

As the trio’s PR campaign reached its crescendo last week, the Commons erupted in an indignant three-hour debate. Opposition parties urged the government to suspend British obligations under the extradition treaty. Rather than do that Tony Blair sent Baroness Scotland, a minister, to Washington to ask senior US politicians to ratify it.

Two days before the three were extradited, their fight was thrown into relief by the death of a former colleague, Neil Coulbeck, who was chief operating officer at NatWest’s investment banking division when they worked there. His body was found on Tuesday in a wood near his home in Chigwell, Essex.

Officers believe that Coulbeck, a 53-year-old father of two, committed suicide. He went missing five days before his body was found. It is understood that he had made an earlier attempt on his life.

He was interviewed last month in his solicitor’s office as part of the Enron investigation. Supporters of the NatWest Three have claimed that he was put under immense pressure when questioned by FBI investigators. But the FBI says he was considered a witness, not a suspect.

Before leaving Britain, Bermingham said he “hoped to God” that the death of Coulbeck was not related to his case: “One day, when this is all over, I’m going to be coming home to my wife and children and some poor guy is not and my heart goes out to his wife and family.”

That night Essex police, having been in contact with the FBI, raided the Chigwell recycling centre in case Coulbeck had disposed of papers linked to the alleged fraud.

Quite apart from the Coulbeck tragedy, the NatWest saga does nothing for the reputation of British justice.

The real scandal, say American lawyers, is not the extradition treaty but the hopelessness of our own legal system in prosecuting white-collar crime. Despite lengthy and costly trials, British courts have consistently failed to secure convictions after financial scandals — as the thousands of people who lost money thanks to Blue Arrow, Lloyd’s insurance and Asil Nadir can testify.

The government’s proposed solution is to scrap the 800- year-old safeguard of jury trials. John Coffee, professor of law at Columbia University in New York, thinks the real flaw lies with British prosecutors. “The fact of the matter is that the Serious Fraud Office has never been able to successfully prosecute insider trading, whereas the US authorities have been very successful at it,” he said.

The NatWest row was also an eye-opener on City ethics. A partner at one of London’s leading commercial law firms, who preferred to be anonymous, said last week: “We operate in an area where you constantly have to make judgment calls about whether something is right or wrong or in a grey area. And that grey area gets greyer all the time.

“On any given deal we have to respect the law, and accountancy and tax practices in our own country and in the United States — and also in anticipation of future American regulations.

“Professionals trying to make a profit and doing innovative things are always in danger because three years down the line some tw*t in Texas with an axe to grind might come after you.”

Coffee believes the NatWest Three should face trial. “It is clear to me that there is a case to be answered in America.”

Additional reporting: Bob Graham in Houston

The case against them# Gary Mulgrew, David Bermingham and Giles Darby are accused of defrauding their employer, NatWest, in 2000

# The US accuses them of conspiring with two executives at Enron, which collapsed in the biggest recent US corporate scandal

# They flew to Houston to propose scams. One was rejected as “too obvious”
# They persuaded NatWest to sell an offshore company for $1m, knowing it was worth much more

# The three bought a stake in the company themselves, unknown to NatWest, for $251,993

# Enron executives Andrew Fastow and Michael Kopper persuaded Enron to put $30m into the company

# The British men shared a profit of $7.35m

# They deny wrongdoing. They say Fastow offered them the investment opportunity only after NatWest sold the asset

# E-mails allegedly sent between them look bad: “We should be able to appeal to his greed,” Bermingham told the others before meeting Fastow

# And later Bermingham wrote: “Large numbers of people are asking what we are up to. I hate lies”,,2088-2272058,00.html

An American court is the right place for the NatWest Three
Simon Jenkins

Three former NatWest employees extradited from Britain were bailed on Friday by a court in Texas on charges related to the Enron affair. The relevant law, the Extradition Act 2003, is deficient and should be changed but that is not reason enough to stay their trial. They are a bad example of the act’s failings since there is a clear case for them to answer, and in America. The Enron scandal, one of the biggest frauds in history, ruined the lives of tens of thousands of people. No British court found in favour of the trio’s plea to stay at home.

Britain is widely regarded as liberty hall to financial malpractice, as its auction houses long knew to their advantage. Yet Britain’s treatment of foreigners in its legal system is a disgrace, holding them in prison for long periods without trial and jailing 500 West Indian women, almost all first offenders, for being dupes of Jamaican drug dealers. Britain can hardly criticise American courts on these grounds. Nor do most of these people have “pro bono” public relations firms depicting them as humble citizens with tear-stained families. They have no costly lawyers or sudden parliamentary concern or “white-collar crime” epithets to launder their case. They cannot cry “civis Britannicus sum” and work Fleet Street’s financial pages into a lather of righteous indignation.

*Extradition makes hard law because legal systems differ and proceedings can turn into prejudicial pre-trials. Yet terrorism and commercial crime are so international that some framework is required to avoid states becoming havens for each other’s crooks. Hence the extradition treaty passed in the illiberal aftermath of 9/11.

The act is depicted by the British government as an even-handed adjustment to what had been a dilatory process, when judges and Home Office played ping-pong with people’s lives for an average delay of 30 months. The old requirement that a court hear prima facie evidence of a case before allowing extradition was scrapped for the signatories of the European Convention on Extradition in 1991. What happened in 2003 was that America and 20 other countries joined the convention. It was not another case of Tony Blair’s subservience to Washington. The same fast-track procedure applied across Europe and even to Russia.

The hiccup in the treaty is that it gave America special treatment because its constitution protects its citizens from summary arrest without good cause proven in court. This means that while an American court can merely demand, with documentation, a person’s extradition from Britain, it will hold hearings into requests for extradition from America.

Defenders of the NatWest Three — a bizarre coalition of City figures, Tory MPs, anti-Americans and liberals — are incensed by this manifest asymmetry. They see it as a licence for the ever-lengthening arm of American regulators to trawl the world for anyone who might have breached their laws. They point out that almost all international finance now touches America, and extradition abroad is not just another trial but interim punishment without prior hearing. While financiers may summon publicists, win bail and be guaranteed a fair trial, others may enjoy no such privilege and suffer long periods of hardship away from home when possibly innocent.

Besides, the NatWest Three also point out that the treaty only “goes into force upon the exchange of the instruments of ratification”. While parliament has ratified it the US Congress has not, under pressure from the Irish-American lobby, long averse to extraditing IRA terrorist suspects. The law is thus lopsided in its terms and its implementation.

There is no doubt that America scores low in the league table of international legality. Indeed with American agents picking up all and sundry from foreign streets and airport lounges and “rendering” them to torturing states, the perils facing British bankers might seem merely the tip of an iceberg. Beneath it extend the horrors of Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo and other juridical limbos possibly awaiting a long line of victims of some casual FBI tip-off. Washington’s palpable double standard in matters of personal liberty has polluted the image of its judicial system.

But the British bankers are going to a system of federal justice that is not beholden to the Pentagon or the White House, indeed one struggling to recover some credibility after the Enron saga (in which a number of Britons, including Lord Wakeham, became embroiled). All who have followed Enron, seen the remarkable documentary on it and read the statement of claim against the NatWest Three would accept that they have a serious case to answer. The men themselves deny any wrongdoing.

As Lord Goldsmith, the attorney-general, said, the alleged crime was not confined to Britain nor were its putative victims only British. It involved three men pocketing $7m in the Cayman Islands in a $20m deal involving money from both NatWest and Enron. The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) and other agencies declined to prosecute, variously and reportedly because they thought the case would not pass a jury, because NatWest would not co-operate for fear of airing its dirty linen in public and because the SFO agreed that Houston would conduct Enron-related litigation. Deplorable as it may be that British financial regulation is so inadequate, these reasons seem plausible.

The NatWest Three were dealing directly with Andrew Fastow, one of the chief Enron conspirators and now in jail. With the principal evidence, including all electronic communications, collated in Texas, there was clearly prima facie evidence for extraditing the three even under the previous treaty. That America has yet to ratify the 2003 one is a good debating point, but hardly substantive to the case.

Nor were the three somehow victims of summary justice. Magistrates heard them. They were granted leave to appeal to the High Court, where Lord Justice Laws found the case “properly triable in the US courts”. They were turned away by both the House of Lords and the European Court of Human Rights. Britain would not try them, America would. I am sure if the roles were reversed Britons would take the same view. British citizens can hardly complain when American prosecutors are more assiduous at guarding their joint interests than their own regulators.

The morals to be drawn from the NatWest/Enron case are many. The 2003 treaty was undoubtedly lax in protecting individual rights. Britain and others should have demanded that foreign citizens enjoy the same right to preliminary hearing as is enjoyed by Americans. This point was made by critics of the mass of anti-terrorist legislation passed in 2003 and since. Such critics (and their columnist supporters) were accused of “appeasing terrorism”.

If ever there were an instance of democracy dropping its guard against authoritarianism at the bidding of terrorists, it was in the hysterical aftermath of 9/11. The Confederation of British Industry last week announced that the 2003 treaty is “an affront to natural justice”. Why did it not say so before?

The behaviour of the Tories now climbing aboard the bandwagon has been a disgrace. Where were they to protest against fast-track extradition in 2003? Could it be they never thought it would apply to their constituents, only to dodgy Muslims? Where were the self-righteous MPs and peers now earning City dinners by re-debating the 2003 law when they were supposedly scrutinising it three years ago? Since then, they have passed ever more draconian statutes to jail those involved in drugs and immigrant markets and curb free speech and habeas corpus. Have they no sense of double standard? That they should suddenly discover the virtues of natural justice and the horrors of imprisonment when it afflicts three men charged with “white-collar crime” is not a little sickening.

Britain should revoke and renegotiate the 2003 treaty to allow a judge to determine the place of a trans-national trial and to require some preliminary hearing to take place before extradition. This is yet another Blair law passed in emotion and haste and regretted at leisure. But such a law was passed and is in place. Even if it were revoked it would not be much help to the NatWest Three.

They were playing in a globalised market and must accept globalised justice, which in the matter of Enron means American justice. They must take the rough with the smooth and consider themselves lucky they were not charged with terrorism.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Scottish Accountants try to amend LPLA Bill for their own benefit - but refuse independent regulation safeguards for the consumer

And so the effort to take apart the Legal Profession & Legal Aid (Scotland) Bill, gathers momentum .... this time, from the halls of the self-regu;latory empire of the even more crooked accountancy profession, by way of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland.

ICAS, are seeking an amendment to the LPLA Bill, to allow their member Chartered Accountants or CA's, to have the authority to handle wills and probate .. which is currently an offence under the Law Reform (Misc Provisions) Bill 1990 .. where it is an offence for anyone other than a solicitor to handle such services - although you wouldn't think it from reading my earlier post on this subject here : .

However, ICAS must be feeling slightly insecure over the terms of their amendment, since they have also made an application direct to the Lord Chancellor's office in the Department of Constitutional Affairs at Westminster, to authorise their members who reside south of the border, to handle probate services, in what looks glaringly obvious as an attempt to bully the Scottish Executive into inserting the amendment into the LPLA Bill, on the prospect that ICAS application to the DCA will be passed.

ICAS, the Instutite of Chartered Accountants of Scotland, is a seriously powerful governing body for accountants. It has what I would call extreme political clout, and particularly insidious links to government offices, which it's members have used directly in the past to stifle or bury complaints against some of it's more prominent, and corrupt members - certainly in my case, ICAS used it's influence and links with the FSA to kill off any investigation into how one of their accountants - Norman Howitt, ripped off my family, and even persuaded the FSA that it would be against the public interest to help me ... how corrupt is that ?

So, here we have ICAS, the self regulatory body for accountants, swinging their political muscle around again, wanting their way with the new LPLA Bill, which is designed to bring independent regulation to the legal profession .. just to ensure that accountants can get in on the act of handling wills and probate services.

However, while clients of solicitors will have the more powerful, accountable, and transparent shield of independent regulation to guard and protect them against their lawyers ripping them off when it comes to probate services, no such safeguards will exist for those clients who choose their accountants to handle wills and such servies, as accountants are completely self regulated by their own profession - accountants investigating accountants in the form of ICAS, and while ICAS want their members to be able to handle probate services, they certainly DONT want independent regulation to come to the accounting profession.

Indeed, over the past few months, ICAS have embarked on an PR exercise on the merits of their own sustem of self regulation over accountants, fearing that the changes to self regulation planned in the forcoming LPLA Bill, will also eventually come to the accountancy profession ... which I personally feel it should, to give consumers and clients more choice and rights when it comes to dealing with accountants.

ICAS wants us to feel that accounants are more honest than crooked Scottish lawyers.

In reality, accountants are even more crooked than crooked Scottish lawyers.

ICAS wishes us to feel their regulation of their own profession is more honest, transparent, accountable, etc .. than the way the Law Society of Scotland regulates the legal profession.

In reality, ICAS investigations are just as crooked and even more so, compared to the Law Society of Scotland's investigations against crooked lawyers ... so, the crooks of the financial profession beat the crooks of the legal profession ... it basically boils down to that.

Why should the accountancy profession be allowed in on handling probate services under their own system of self regulation, when lawyers who already do such work, will be working under independent regulation ?

I think it comes down to business - accountants want more money, as always, and a way to get it, is to get in on the act of taking on some of the work currently carried out by the legal profession .

More worryingly, having the authority to handle probate services, gives ICAS and the accountancy profession a further say in future legislation which may come in the future ... perhaps for instance, a piece of legislation comes along in a few years to futher protect consumers from occasional inadequacies which have cropped up from the LPLA Bill ... but with ICAS and the accountancy profession having authority to handle probate services .. they would be able to flex their political muscle and prevent such further consumer friendly legislation ... think about that.

There could be a futher and more sinister reason why should ICAS table an amendment to let their members handle such services under self regulatory powers of their own colleagues, in a bill which is designed to bring independent regulation to the legal profession.

The legal profession, don't want the LPLA Bill to come into legislation - even though the Law Society of Scotland officially supported the idea of independent regulation last december, they employed an army of consultants and university based professionals affiliated and paid by the legal profession to come out with a succession of reports condemning independent regulation of lawyers, even claiming it would be against lawyers ECHR rights to be independently regulated.

Well, many of the top officials of ICAS, and those who sit on the various ICAS committees, are also either members of the legal profession, or sit on Law Society committees, or are also connected with organisations which are connected with the legal profession.

Take Tom McMorrow for instance - he is a lawyer - he used to have a practice in Falkirk, Scotland, called McMorrows, which he sold to Jennifer Carpenter, the famous Scottish Advocate who embezzled some £60,000 plus of clients money.

Of course, Tom McMorrow had left the company by the time the embezzlement was discovered, and there was never any suggestion ... that McMorrow had anything to do with it or had any foreknowledge of what happened. At least, the Law Society of Scotland seemed to conclude that, from their own investigation if they carried one out.

So, we have a lawyer, unsurprisingly the Director of Legal Services for ICAS, cosily discussing amendments to the LPLA Bill with the Scottish Executive, also making applications direct to Westminster to make sure the amendment goes through in Scotland ... who himself takes direct part in investigations .. such as in my case against Norman Howitt .. and you can go back to my earlier post and read exactly what he did in that complaint ... yes ... he let Howitt, the crooked accountant, off the hook.

When I mentioned the Carpenter affair to Tom McMorrow in a letter during his investigation of Norman Howitt, and queried his role as an investigator, , he reacted abusively to me in correspondence, and was suspended from the investigation several times ... very odd I think that such a person should have been involved in enforcing 'standards' of ethics ... don't you agree ? .. and even more odd now that he should be trying to table amendments to a Bill of legislation which is designed to being independent regulation to the legal profession, but he does't want the same independent regulation for his own accountancy profession.

Oh .. another one that sits on the ICAS complaints committees ... is, or at least was, none other than Garry S Watson .. the former Scottish Legal Services Ombudsman . who was ordered by the Law Society of Scotland not to disclose documents to be in my complaint against the crooked Kelso lawyer Andrew Penman of Stormonth Darling Solicitors.

Mr Watson supported self regulation of the legal profession for the entire time he was in office, and I would describe his reign as SLSO as being one of the main obstacles to improvement of consumer rights against crooked lawyers .. he was so passionate about how much he supported his legal buddies over at the Law Society so much, he even engaged in letter writing battles with me in the Scotsman newspaper letters section, until someone at the Scottish Executive silenced him.

Indeed .. I remember the heady days that I would write letters in the Scotsman section on the perils of crooked lawyers and the Law Society of Scotland .. then a few days later, they would be responses from Mr Watson and the likes of Douglas Mill, Chief Executive of the Law Society, and other leading 'luminaries' from the legal profession, ... but their letters would always appear on the same days .. as if by some chance , resembling some kind of macabre coordinated ballet against the truth .. it was either that, or the Scotsman letters editor was having some fun portraying them as a gang of liars ... I prefer to think it was the former !

I have of course, made objetions direct to the Scottish Executive over ICAS tabled amendment to the LPLA Bill, and to the Lord Chancellor over the application to the DCA .. so we will see what happens next ... and I will print my objections here in a couple of days for you all to read.

So, people .. don't let crooked Scottish accountants try and mangle the LPLA Bill for their own ends - it will only be to the detriment to the consumer if they get away with this .

If you agree with me, or if you at least want to preserve the spirit of the LPLA Bill in it's quest to bring more transparent and independent regulation to the legal profession, make your objections to the Deputy First Minister, Nichol Stephen, at ;, and to the Lord Chancellor, Lord Falconer, at :

I will publish my letters to both in the next couple of days here in this blog .. but for now, read on for the article, from "The Herald" newspaper, at : (Herald link now out of date)

ICAS increases pressure on lawyers over probate services

The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland last week applied for the authority to enable its members in England and Wales to provide full probate services, in a bid to spur the Scottish Executive into giving its members north of the Border the same freedom to compete with solicitors.

Icas started lobbying in March against what it described as a "manifest imbalance" caused by Scottish ministers' failure to keep pace with changes in legislation in England and Wales that have freed up access to the market in probate services.

After recommendations by the Office of Fair Trading, statutory instruments introduced well over a year ago implemented in England and Wales two sections of the Courts and Legal Services Act 1990.

These allow financial institutions and members of bodies authorised by the Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs to perform a key part of winding up an estate, providing the papers for probate, for a fee.

The Legal Reform (Miscellaneous Provisions) (Scotland) Act 1990 broke the effective monopoly by solicitors by allowing licensed executry partners and banks and building societies also to charge a fee for conducting the equivalent process, preparing papers to apply for confirmation of an executor through the Sheriff Court.

However, it remains an offence for anyone else, including chartered accountants, to charge a fee for this.

Icas reacted furiously when it discovered in March that, not only was there no specific measure to change this in the Legal Profession and Legal Aid (Scotland) Bill, now going through the Scottish Parliament, but that what the Scottish Executive had said were plans to address equivalence with England and Wales through statute turned out to be non-existent.

Icas has since submitted a proposed amendment to the bill and been in discussion with various people in the executive, including Deputy First Minister and Enterprise Minister Nicol Stephen. "We continue to seek a change in the draft legislation to achieve equivalence with England and Wales," said Tom McMorrow, Icas executive director for regulation and compliance.

"The application for us to be authorised by the Department for Constitutional Affairs as a body under the Courts and Legal Services Act applies only to our members resident in England and Wales, and could take several months.

"But our hope is that the Scottish Executive will recognise the very fact that we can apply south of the Border means that there is no reason why an amendment cannot simply be inserted in the Legal Profession and Legal Aid Bill to enable the same up here."

Icas had set up a working party on this issue and feedback showed many members were interested in providing the full probate service, he said, "in particular sole practitioners". In its application to the DCA, Icas says that many CA clients obtaining advice on inheritance tax and financial planning are at a loss to understand why their accountants cannot conduct the winding up of estates as a natural part of that service.

The institute's executive director of membership and marketing, Catherine Eardley, said: "Many customers of CAs will welcome this move. CAs are at least as well qualified as lawyers to deal with the financial and tax implications arising from a death.

"We believe that CAs providing probate services would be good news for consumers. It would bring additional competition and expertise to the market.

That is very much in the public interest and we hope that the DCA will approve our application."

The Law Society of Scotland has already said that it is relaxed about the potential new competition for the full service, including confirmation of executry if the law was changed, especially as it believes most people would still prefer to obtain it from the solicitor who wrote and holds the will.

Meanwhile, if the Icas application to the DCA goes through, it may even beat its counterparts south of the Border in achieving authorisation.

A spokeswoman at the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales said last week: "We are working at becoming an approved body, and have held a number of positive meetings with the DCA in this regard."

Friday, July 07, 2006

Scotsman Reporter and a great friend receives an OBE at Holyrood Palace, Edinburgh.

Taking a break from reporting on the viles of society, today, I would like to congratulate a great family friend and one of the best reporters I have ever met, Mr William Chisholm, Borders Reporter for the Scotsman Newspaper for over 30 years, for his award of an OBE from Her Majesty the Queen at Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh.

Link to the awards ceremony here, from "The Scotsman" newspaper :

For more than 30 years, William Chisholm has memorably covered both national and regional issues in Scotland, and also reported on my own experiences with the legal profession, as of course, I lived in Jedburgh, a small town in the Scottish Borders for many years.

Great to see Bill's services recognised and rewarded. His contribution to both Scotland and the Scottish Borders has led to many important issues, of regional and national importance reaching the news which would have otherwise gone unreported.

All the best to Bill and his family for the future !

A link to an article in the Scottish Borders weekly newspaper, 'The Southern Reporter', follows, reporting on a retirement ceremony for Bill last December.

Bill calls it a day by making the news
Andrew Keddie

THE career of one of the Borders most prolific and respected journalists was acknowledged by Scottish Borders Council last week.

In an informal ceremony at Newtown St Boswells, Bill Chisholm, who has retired after 36 years as the Borders correspondent of The Scotsman, was presented with a bronze casting of the famous Reiver monument by SBC convener Alasdair Hutton.

It was, said Mr Hutton, a fitting tribute for the sterling service Mr Chisholm had given to the Borders public.In reply, Mr Chisholm said local government and the press had changed a lot.

"Back in 1969 it was difficult to get information from the county councils because all committees, except education, met in private. Now journalists are bombarded with press releases and spin from public agencies and perhaps, as a result, many have adopted lazy habits."

There was still, he said, a need for investigative journalism to make sure wrongdoers were brought to book.

The gathering of councillors, officials and media colleagues erupted in laughter when he added: "I am one of the few journalists who has worked for a quality broadsheet and a sleazy tabloid – without having to change jobs."Bill Chisholm was born in Berwick and educated at the local grammar school.

He developed a strong interest in writing but says he was was not "academically talented".

"So when I saw an advert in the Berwickshire News for a trainee reporter at the Smith freelance news agency in Berwick I jumped at the chance."

He recalls that his writing test before getting the job was to compile a report on a match between his beloved Berwick Rangers and Queens Park.

"The match finished 4-4 so there was plenty to write about."

The 16-year-old was taught the rudiments of his profession by the late Dave Smith, whose son Ian now runs the business.

"It was here the need to stick to the facts and be fair and balanced was drummed into me. In those days you served the equivalent of a journalistic apprenticeship, picking up the tools of the trade from your seniors. Now it's all about university degrees rather than practical experience."

After three years at Smith's, he left in 1964 to fill a vacancy at the Berwick Advertiser, a Tweeddale Press title, where the variety of assignments would stand him in good stead for the future.

"My mentor was Tony Langmack, who still works with the paper though long past retirement age, and he was, and is, an excellent journalist."

In 1967, he was moved to the Kelso Chronicle, but had been there just three months when a vacancy at The Scotsman was advertised.

He started at the North Bridge newsroom on May 1, 1967.

One of his first "jobs" was to take shorthand notes over a very bad telephone line from legendary sports writer John Rafferty as he covered Celtic's European Cup triumph in Lisbon. He then read out John's stuff to a copytaker who typed it up for the subs.

Bill met his wife Carol, who worked in advertising for the Edinburgh Evening News, in 1968 and only weeks from their wedding day on March 8, 1969, he was summoned to the office of Scotsman editor Alastair Dunnett and offered the post of Borders correspondent.

"The wedding went ahead as planned on the Saturday and 48 hours later I was covering the public inquiry into the proposed Tweedbank development in the Waverley Castle Hotel, Melrose," he recalled this week.

The Chisholms set up home, which included Bill's new office, in Jedburgh and the rest, as they say, is history.

Among his many notable journalistic efforts before a retirement hastened by ill-health, Mr Chisholm cites the sale of the Scottish Special Housing Association stock of houses to Waverley.

"The sale would have passed almost unnoticed without interference from inquisitive reporters. We were able to discover that some of the houses in Galashiels had been sold for £1 each and this led to a National Audit Office enquiry and questions were asked in the House of Commons."

And his assessment of today's crop of national newspapers? "I would say too many daily and Sunday papers spend almost all their time pursuing their own narrow agendas while, at the same time, ramming their views down the throats of readers.
"It's left to good weekly papers like The Southern Reporter to set out the facts for the public without fear or favour. Long may that continue."

22 December 2005

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Police fail to find Edinburgh Law Society Accountant`s attacker

Well, what a relief that the cops have cleared everyone on their list of suspects for the attack on Leslie Cumming - certainly it’s good news to those people whose names were maliciously given to the cops by the legal profession just to shut them up .. and well, after the Law Society gang tried to pin it on campaigners & law reformers, by setting the press on them, as Scotland On Sunday reported here :

Scotland on Sunday – Cash laundering link to law chief stabbing :

Cash laundering link to law chief stabbing - Scotland on Sunday 29 January 2006

So, what now for the attacker of Leslie Cumming and the details of the case ? We haven`t really heard much of the Police theories in this case at all ... no leaked names about a client of a lawyer who had been ripped off and Cumming had failed to investigate it .. no leaked names about certain lawyers who wanted their Law Society bosses out of the way so they could get on with their crooked schemes .. nothing at all ... certainly a lot of disinformation though .. the dna discovered at the scene ... my goodness .. with all the competence of the SCRO these days, you would have surely thought they could have pinned it on someone, even maybe planted a few fingerprints just to get a conviction or at least a case going in the courts.

Attack by crooked lawyers on Law Society Chief Accountant Leslie Cumming still not solved :

Well, it`s not nice to wish someone harm of course, and I certainly don’t - unlike the bosses at the Law Society of Scotland, who have openly `joked` of my imminent death .. and a few lawyers and bent accountants in the Scottish Borders, who have had a go at trying to get me out of the way too .. but at least I have standards, unlike the crooks I investigate .. so I am pleased to see Cumming has made a recovery as I wished him, when Scotland on Sunday had a go at me over what happened, on the back of press releases from the Law Society and private briefings to reporters.

My sympathies are certainly with him over what happened - I faced a similar threat from a neighbour once over a property dispute in Jedburgh, but Lothian & Borders Police just sat on their behind and did nothing ... reason being now it seems that one of their officers was an investor with this certain neighbour ... good thing I kept the tapes though of what happened .. which is probably why I am still here to write about it.

Pity we didn't get to find out what really happened in this case though ... a disgruntled client of a crooked lawyer or a crooked lawyer out for revenge or or a gang of crooked lawyers out for revenge to cover their tracks, or even a staged attack by the legal profession itself to generate sympathy (some of the ideas which have come in from you readers by email to me) . would have made great headlines and further reading, in the wake of the Justice 2 Committee`s support for the Legal Profession & Legal Aid (Scotland) Bill. Read on for the article, from "The Scotsman" - who have been following the case for a long time ... unlike the rest of the press :

The Scotsman reports :

Police investigation fails to uncover top official's attacker


THE investigation into a vicious knife attack on a senior Scottish legal official has been wound down after six months of police inquiries failed to identify the perpetrator, The Scotsman can reveal.

Last night the officer who led the inquiry into the stabbing of Leslie Cumming, the Law Society of Scotland's chief accountant, said hopes of finding the knifeman by analysing unidentified DNA on the victim's jacket were all but dashed. Detective Inspector Keith Hardie said comparisons between the DNA and UK police databases, containing the profiles of more than three million potential suspects, had proved fruitless.

Investigations into several lawyers and members of the public thought to have had a grudge against Mr Cumming have also drawn a blank. A sum of £10,000 was offered for information leading to a breakthrough, and the case was featured on the BBC programme Crimewatch. But despite the widespread publicity, police have exhausted their principal leads and reduced the number of officers working on the case from 18 to only two.

Mr Cumming, 62, was stabbed more than ten times in a secluded lane behind his home in Murrayfield, Edinburgh, as he returned from work after 5pm on January 23. His balaclava-clad attacker was believed to have been lying in wait behind a tree and attacked Mr Cumming from behind as he locked his car up. Mr Hardie broke the news to Mr Cumming on Monday that the inquiry was being scaled down.

The detective said: "I'm bitterly disappointed we haven't as yet solved this crime and I know that Mr Cumming shares this disappointment." But he is also realistic. It came as no surprise to him that the inquiry was being scaled down. "With the passage of time you become less confident but I am still interested to hear any new information from anybody. If we get a name the inquiry will be resurrected."

Police still believe a hitman was hired to carry out the attack, They compiled a list of aggrieved clients and rogue lawyers who may have ordered the stabbing. Mr Cumming's work as chief accountant for the Law Society saw him oversee investigations into allegations of theft by lawyers from clients.

But Mr Hardie said all those names had been investigated but his team were unable to find any link between them and the knifeman. He revealed that swabs were taken from several people thought to have links with the criminal world, but whose DNA profiles were not known. He said: "We will do a widened DNA sweep when more samples are added to the national DNA database. We've had some success in the past when initial DNA searches have proved fruitless."