Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Law Society of Scotland receives calls for re-invesgtation of complaints against lawyers, amidst Parliamentary debate on LPLA Bill

After a recent story in the Scotsman newspaper, reporting that some 250 lawyers were to have their records 'wiped clean' over what appears to be an organised misuse of regulatory powers, clients whose cases have been affected in this affair, where verdicts such as "unsatisfactory conduct" were applied to solicitors after complaints had been investigated, have now called on the Law Soceity to reinvestigate their complaints, and apply different sanctions other than what was initially, perhaps, conveniently, imposed after what turned out to be in many cases, prolonged, prejudicial, and prevaricative investigations against member legal firms and solicitors by the Law Society of Scotland.

You can read the original article from the Scotsman, here :
and my original coverage of the story at :

The origins of the affair started in January 2003, when the Law Society, obsessed with dressing up self--regulation as the best thing since sliced bread, and trying to maintain it's own power over legal issues, started applying the "unsatisfactory conduct" verdict on lawyers records, in an effort to argue it was doing something to combat soaring client complaints - but being aware all the time, there needed to be legislation approved to make this so, as is reported in the Scotsman newspaper article.

So, why did the Law Society of Scotland not drag out the likes of David Mcletchie, Roseanna Cunninghan, Donald Gorrie and Pauline McNeill, who sponsored the "Council of the Law Society" Bill on 6 September 2002, to bring in yet another piece of legislation to allow them to do this ?

Well, as we all know, nothing happens in the Scottish legal profession, without some foresight as to it's effect .. and given the fact that some of these 250 lawyers were involved in very serious complaints, which also had seen the involvement of senior Law Society staff in allegations of fiddling the complaints .. one many speculate, with good reason, the matter was left to rest, so that the Law Society, at some later date post January 2003, could simply remove the verdict .. and blame it on the political process, for not providing the necessary legislation to effectively carry out the sanctions process .. and what do we have now ? exactly that.

You can see a copy of the Council of the Law Society of Scotland Bill on the Scottish Parliament's own website, at
and you can read more about the Council of the Law Society of Scotland Bill, at :

Isn't it strange, the Law Society of Scotland can get what legislation it wants through the Scottish Parliament, with politicians who are also lawyers, at almost the speed of light ? but members of the public including clients who have had their livelihoods and lives ruiined by the legal profession, have to wait years for results to their calls for Parliamentary debate ?

As a campaigner myself, I went to the Scottish Parliament in 1999, and asked the then Justice & Home Affairs Committee - which was then under the Convenership of Roseanna Cunningham, to hold an investigation into the Scottish legal profession and how it was regulated. Several other clients who had problems with the likes of the Law Society of Scotland, Faculty of Advocates, and other parts of the legal profession, joined me, and we had the Scottish Consumer Council 1999 report - "Complaints against Solicitors", as good evidence to support our case. In what became bitter exchanges between clients, campaigners, the Parliament itself, and some particularly nasty Parliamentary Clerks, who embargoed particular campaigners from even communicating with the Committee on such matters, the Justice & Home Affairs Committee voted to do nothing.

Not to give in to failure, the campaign to get a Parliamentary investigation into the thoroughly corrupt Scottish legal profession, moved on, with the formation of groups such as "Scotland Against Crooked Lawyers', and saw other campaigners joining together in efforts to get an inquiry.

In February 2001, the newspaper, Scotland on Sunday, in an article by the then Chief Reporter - Peter Laing, ran a story on my own case, and reported that my MSP, Phil Gallie, had got us the chance to have an investigation into regulation of the legal profession by the Justice 1 Committee of the Scottish Parliament, of which Phil Gallie was a member, the Committee being chaired by Christine Grahame .. and having some of the present members of the Justice 2 Committee .. the likes of Maureen McMillan - who, at the time, was married to a senior member of the Law Society of Scotland's "Scottish Parliament liason Committee" ...

I was then invited onto BBC Radio to debate problems with the Scottish legal profession, what happened in my own case, and what form the Parliamentary inquiry in 2001 might take with lawyers Joseph Platt (who went on to become Law Society President that year) and Austin Lafferty, the infamous media lawyer, who declared the perfect client to be an old lady who came along to sell her house for £100,000 ....

I covered the story of the BBC Radio debate in my earlier post here :

The Justice 1 Committee inquiry started in 2001, amidst the high hopes of clients & campaigners like myself - but when Mr Gallie began to ask sharp questions on why there were constant protests against the legal profession when it was claimed all was well with regulation of solicitors, he was replaced by his own party on the Committee ... limits were then also imposed on who would be able to speak before the 2001 Justice 1 Committee ... (no individual clients were allowed to appear) .. and the submission from members of the public who had been maliged by crooked lawyers - and an even more crooked Law Society of Scotland, were heavily edited, to the point that some submissions simply did not make sense. A strong line was also taken by the then Justice 1 Committee, against the appearance, of "Scotland Against Crooked Lawyers", in an orchestrated attempt by some in the Parliament and legal profession to portray SACL as a rogue organisation, being irrelevant and 'against the public interest' ...

Ultimately, the "Regulation of the Legal Profession" inquiry by the Justice 1 Committee, launched in 2001, was used by the Scottish legal profession, to support it's position as self-regulator ... and it was hoped the outcome of the 2001 inquiry would put a stop to calls for reforms of the way complaints against lawyers were handled. No such luck !

Myself and the many other campaigners soldiered on to get the reforms to , through torturous Scottish Executive consultations and well organised dirty tricks campaigns by the legal profession, and a certain subjugated Scottish newspaper group, who once, supported independent regulation and featured my own case, and those of many others, heavily among it's pages .. and we eventually got the Justice 2 Committee Stage 1 Consideration of the "Legal Profession & Legal Aid" (Scotland) Bill, a long overdue piece of legislation we have been asking for nearly two decades ... to end the corrupt form of lawyer investigating lawyer and covering up for the crooked.

Along the way, certain people who were arrogantly opposed to transparency, and clients interests, such as David Mcletchie - a lawyer who hated the thought of independent regulation .. but fought bitterly to keep his taxi expense claims .. and some other 'aspects' of his social life, from becoming public .. were paid back for their obstructional tactics in support of their crooked comrades at Drumsheugh Gardens .. with some others still awaiting the chop over new evidence coming to light yet to be used ...

The Stage one debate on the LPLA Bill begins in the Scottish Parliament, next week .. and the stage 2 consideration of amendments will begin on 26 September 2006 ... and one of the amendments I am particularly interested in curtailing, is the attempt by the equally crooked Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland (ICAS) to insert an amendment so that accountants can handle the business of wills & probate, which at present, only a lawyer can do - thus giving the possibility that clients of accountants who get ripped off in the handling of a deceased loved one's affairs, will have to go through yet more self-regulatory channels at ICAS if they complain against their crooked accountant but clients of lawyers under the terms of the new LPLA Bill will have much greater protection in the form of independent regulation of lawyers by the new Scottish Legal Complaints Commission.

It will be interesting to see what happens in next week's debate on the LPLA Bill .. because as we all know, every single MSP in the Scottish Parliament, has had letters from constituents regarding problems with lawyers, problems with the Law Society of Scotland, problems with the Faculty of Advocates, and other areas of the Scottish legal profession. Many MSPs have made representations to the Scottish Executive (sometimes the same representations in different cases) to the Executive ... so will this be reflected in the debate ?

Will MSPs admit that, for the entire history of the Scottish Parliament, they have known of severe problems with the regulation of lawyers in Scotland ?

Will MSPs admit they have had thousands of constituents write to them over the years ? , on horrendous issues such as lives being ruined, businesses being ruined, homes being lost, families being harrassed, assets being embezzled, stolen, deceased love one's belongings and assets stolen - all at the hands of ... Scottish lawyers - who have been supported to the hilt, bu their corrupt self regulatory body - the Law Society of Scotland.

We shall have to wait and see what happens next week in Parliament, and at the Justice 2 Committee .. but while we wait ... let's call for those 250 lawyers names to be made public, along with the details of all those complaints - if the Scotsman were so quick to publish the 'muddle' story - they should publish the clients side of what happened - after all, we are talking about the public interest here, aren't we ?

Saturday, August 26, 2006

When an advertisement doesn't mean what it says ... ?

Since it's a Saturday - one of those "London Bus discovered on the moon" headline kind of days , I will take the opportunity to respond to the comments of Mr Kennedy Stewart, who replied in the comments box, to an article I wrote, on diminishing values in Scotland, here :

My response :
Dear Mark Kennedy-Stewart,

I appreciate the time you took to comment on my remarks on your advertisesment.

The wording in your advertisement was your own choice, and a person's words or actions, often reflect the type of person they are. That is a widely held notion, I believe to be true.

If you want my advice, and you probably don't, be more circumspect on the wording you use in advertisements and publicly available material - if you ever get it wrong, as I think you did in what you said in your advertisement, the press will eat you alive, as they did. A lesson learned ?

I've dealt with Scottish Borders Council before, as a property owner and in other roles. You should not take what they say as being verbatim - to you, or the media.

I've frequently heard Council officials giving quotes to the press, issuing press releases, giving briefings against people concerned with news reports, then saying the exact opposite to those concerned in meetings. Even on matters where criminal charges had resulted, the Council or it's officials have either contradicted their own comments or even, in some cases, sought to prevent officials being called before Parliamentary Committees investigating their conduct.

Go into the Scotsman archives to read plenty about how SBC handle things, or just ask anyone from the Borders on how they performed when they lost over 4 million in their education department, or how they managed the countless other scandals which have hit SBC over the years, from letting cases of known abuse run for 10 years plus, to giving away common good land ..etc.

I find Scotland to be a great place too. I was born here. I love my country. I have served my community, in many more ways than anyone will ever know, and I have put myself at risk in some cases, to counter things, where many in my Borders town were too cowardly, too chicken, even, to act to put things right.

I am not a negative person. I expose that which should not be. I know there are plenty honest hard working people in Scotland, I am one of them. If you want to find a hard working honest person in Scotland, there are many. Don't run our own people down. It seems sometimes though, the honest are ultimately controlled or at least, outnumbered, by the dishonest.

This blog isn't about the positive things in Scotland, that's why it's titled, "A Diary of Injustice in Scotland". Injustice, is something which should not happen, not, therefore a very positive subject, unless, the injustice is remedied, which of course, I will report. I write about the positive things of Scotland, somewhere else.

I have to say, my own stance on property and housing is well known, and conflicts with any notion of land &houses being used as a profit model.

I do not have any time for such a thing as 'property as a speculative business', or money making venture, whether that comes from local councils selling their housing stock to (what turn out to be crooked housing associations giving empty promises to their tennants), local lawyers, builders, and real estate agents manipulating land & private housing sales, along with the banks to make huge profits on mortgages and unwarranted house price rises which bear no relation to increases in wages or the cost of living, or investment companies buying up many properties to rent as a business.

From what I've seen, experienced and learned over the years, a place to live, should be a right for all, not a commodity to be traded for profit, speculation, or be the subject of mass marketing to drive up prices, and price locals & just about anyone else, out of their own communities, and certainly without threat of a mother and child being kicked out on the street at 2am by some heartless person lacking any humanity.

It is true that imigration has brought many people to Scotland (some more hardworking than others), and many people in the third world would and do give everything they have to come here. I've been to the third world, and seen it for myself, so I know this to be true.

It's a pity though, that some immigrants (many of whom want to work, some even who are highly educated and more capable, honest & moral than others) are exploited, discriminated against because of their race, colour, or religion, or are even dragged out of their homes at 3am in handcuffs along with their children and babies, then held in confinement, sometimes for years, and then deported - in our country which they idolised so much to get to in the first place. How does that reflect on negativity ? I'd say it reflects reality.

If someone wants to talk about the third world in comparison to our own country, I would advise them to go there, and live with the people for a few years at their level, no quick holidays, posh $400 a night hotels or big houses & fancy cars to make a pleasant stay. Make some friends, and learn about life, about the haves, and have nots.

Standing among heavy traffic for 12 hours a day, choking on car exhaust fumes, selling sweets with the local children might give some commentators a better perspective of how others in the world live & have to make money to feed their families and keep a small tin shack of a house on a sandy hill, while we merrily debate our own behaviour on the internet.

I digress a little, but I remember being with a quite well known lawyer in his car, in Chambers Street, Edinburgh, late on a cold dark day in November 1999, prior to a meeting with senior Counsel. We were parking to go to a shop I wanted to visit.

I forgot to lock his passenger car door when I got out, thinking it had 'central locking'. When I asked - the [nameless] lawyer responded, saying something to the eftect that it was more important for a few people in the third world to be fed than for his car to have central locking". He was, and is, correct. I was impressed with the man's values, because I knew he mean't what he said.

I had never heard that from a lawyer before, at least, from a lawyer who actually meant it - but then again, the lawyer who said it, is actually, a hard worker, family man, and to my knowledge, not a crook - unlike some in his profession I know. I wonder what that lawyer would think of the wording of such an advertisement to recruit someone with the lack of tact to chuck out a family onto the street at 2am...

I appreciate the time you took to comment, Mr Kennedy Stewart. I hope your issues are cleared up and you got the staff you wanted. I hope there are no mothers kicked out with children through the night in any part of Scotland, and, for my way of thinking, the best way you can establish how a person can cope with aspects of a job, which is what you originally sought, is to interview them face to face, in perhaps, a more diplomatic manner.

Peter Cherbi

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Don't trust your lawyer or accountant when they say they have your best interests at heart ...

Iain Catto .. who was a lawyer as well as a Conservative Councillor for Prestonfield & Mayfield, apparently gave up his job as a solicitor in 2002 .. and turned to stealing from a disabled client, until the victim's family found out what was going on.

The Evening News reports that "The court heard that Catto, of Atholl Crescent, Edinburgh, offered to pay his bills for him. He would also ask Mr Fleming to sign blank cheques saying he would fill in the details later"

Signing blank cheques for a lawyer or an accountant is always a dangerous thing .... something I would never advise anyone to do.

Just because the person is a lawyer, or an accountant, doesn't mean they should be trusted - in fact, it's quite the reverse, as the victim of Mr Catto's fraud found out - in what is an all too common scam by Scottish lawyers and accountants against their client.

In some cases, lawyers and accountants have softened their clients up with tales of honesty and 'concern' for their wellbeing .. even despicably putting family members against family members, in plots to gain control of their clients money to fund their own lavish lifestyle ... robbing from their client at-will.

Just as Mr Catto robbed his disabled client of money, and stole from his accounts, my late father's accountant - Mr Norman James Howitt, of Welch's Accountants, Hawick & Galashiels, Scottish Borders - took my mother's pension book and bank books for himself, on a pretence of 'keeping the money safe from other family members' - but not safe from himself it turned out.

However, I discovered the accounts were being systematically looted by other relatives who had become associated with Mr Howitt - on sanction of Mr Howitt, and in cooperation with my mother's own lawyer, Nigel Hall of Hawick firm Haddon & Turnbull Solicitors, who had become involved in the fraud against my mother.

My mother trusted Norman Howitt and Nigel Hall, who had wormed their wicked sinister way into my mother's life, on the pretence of having the same concern for her wellbeing which Catto said he had for his client .. but their motives were purely personal, to gain control of her own assets, and see them looted - as was the case.

After I uncovered the complicated fraud, which was revealed when my mother became so anxious and afraid of what Mr Howitt was doing with her money, demanding her to sign secret trust documents in his own favour and even being bullied into it by her own lawyer, who also wanted everything kept secret, I put a stop to it ..., just like what happened when Mr Catto's family found out about Catto stealing the money and put a stop to his criminal acts.

You can read about the seedy case of well known Borders Accountant Norman Howitt, now of the JRW Group, and what he did to my family at :

The incident of Howitt was reported to the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland, but the complaint and the incident was covered up by the ICAS Director of Legal Services - Dr Tom McMorrow, and Howitt remains an accountant - as well as now, a Director of Eildon Housing in the Scottish Borders, a Board Member of the Borders College at Galashiels, and sits on ICAS Committees, as well as being the secretary of the South of Scotland Builders Federation.

This was Norman Howitt's reward for being a common thief - in fact, he even filed a false report with Lothian & Borders Police at Hawick, to try and cover up the fact he sold my late father's car, a vintage 1953 Sunbeam Talbot to his close friend and business partner, Felix Sears, of Melrose, Scottish Borders .. but the cops discovered his deceit after investigating further ... so, this demonstrates that making a complaint against such criminal activity - does no good, until the Police and the media become involved - and you publicise your case as much as possible

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

Crook solicitor stole £70,000 from helpless disabled client

A MAN once seen as a potential future Tory leader in the Lothians has admitted stealing £70,000 from a disabled man.

Former Conservative councillor for Prestonfield and Mayfield, Iain Catto, 41, who is also a former solicitor, pretended to care for Francis Fleming after he became partially paralysed.

Catto, a member of Lothian Regional Council from 1990 to 1994, had pretended to be a close friend of Mr Fleming, 59, and volunteered to pay his bills and organise his life.

But he was regularly withdrawing sums up to £15,000 a time from his client's accounts to fund his own lavish lifestyle. He even sold some of his victim's shares.

To cover up his scam, he had all bank statements sent to his home address. Mr Fleming trusted Catto and even gave him a key to his Craigentinny Road home.

Among Catto's purchases were airline tickets, hotel rooms, meals in restaurants, computer software, £300 worth of goods from Oddbins and haircuts costing up to £30.

Earlier this year, Catto contributed to a book of essays edited by Scottish Tory deputy leader Murdo Fraser. Catto's essay called for more personal freedom and the decriminalising of drugs.

Fiscal Depute Alison Innes told Edinburgh Sheriff Court Catto had given up his job as a solicitor in 2002. She said: "The accused had given up a well-paid job and no longer had an income to pay for his comfortable way of life so he just stole regularly from Mr Fleming, who was none the wiser."

The court heard that Catto, of Atholl Crescent, Edinburgh, offered to pay his bills for him. He would also ask Mr Fleming to sign blank cheques saying he would fill in the details later.

Mrs Innes said that Mr Fleming had been the victim of an attempted murder in 1968 and received a large criminal injuries payment. He was partially paralysed, had memory problems and could not work.

Following the death of his father, Mr Fleming turned to a firm of Edinburgh solicitors - where Catto was a trainee - to help handle his financial affairs.

Catto befriended him and, in 1997, took over the power of attorney from colleagues. He told Mr Fleming that he did not want to accept any payment for the work but would do it as a friend.

"Had it not been for Mr Fleming's son coming home and growing suspicious we can only speculate if the accused would have stopped at all," Mrs Innes told Sheriff Kathrine Mackie.

After Mr Fleming's estranged wife died, he contacted his son in 2003. The son and his family returned to be with Mr Fleming in July 2004.

After the reunion, the group decided to use Mr Fleming's money to move to Spain.

Still trusting the solicitor, they asked Catto to help with the financial affairs wanting to know how much money was available to buy property.

However, Mr Fleming's son started to become suspicious in August 2004, especially after learning that his father signed blank cheques for the solicitor.

He became aware of debit balances on his father's credit card statements.

Mr Fleming's son then arranged for the power of attorney to be transferred to himself to help his father.

He got access to bank statements and realised Catto had been stealing from them.

In court, the former solicitor pleaded guilty to stealing the money between December 2002 and December, 2004.

The Court heard that Catto, now of Atholl Crescent, Edinburgh had sold a flat in the city's Broughton Street to repay the stolen cash.

Sheriff Mackie deferred sentence for background reports.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Law Society of Scotland finds new ways to let 'reprimanded' lawyers off the hook.

Barring the odd malicious complaint against a solicitor, which has led to the Law Society of Scotland processing [what some may call] politically motivated complaints against high profile rights campaigning lawyers (there are very few of these, so I assume you know WHO I am referring to) ... the Law Society have come out today, announcing they are going to have to let around 250 solicitors off the hook from reprimands which were handed out by the Law Society in respect of complaints, either from clients, or from the Society itself.

Such a "regrettable decision", as the Law Society put's it ... would come easily for the likes of none other than Philip Yelland, the Director of Client Relations at the Law Society, who claims in an article in today's Scotsman newspaper, that "We took advice at the time and decided to go down this road in good faith. But the challenge came in and we took further advice.... The legal position has changed over the years, so we were advised that we had to do what we have done."

Regrettably myself, I have had numerous dealings with Philip Yelland over the years, regarding the many crooked lawyers and legal firms which have let my family down and plundered our lives of just about everything they could.

I can safely say, I would not believe Philip Yelland, if he said the sky was blue - I would have to check for myself first - owing to the lies he has told me, and the lies he has sanctioned against me in the likes of the investigation into the well known crooked Kelso lawyer, Andrew Penman from Stormonth Darling Solicitors .. where Philip Yelland went as far as to send a secret letter to my own lawyers, interfering in my case, ordering them not to take instructions from me in court cases against the Law Society of Scotland (involving Mr Yelland himself), and Andrew Penman.

I wonder what the legal advice was in my case then, Mr Yelland ?

Did you get legal advice to see what the implications were of interfering in a case against the very organisation you work for, against you, and your colleagues, and a crooked lawyer you covered up for ?

If you had tried that in a criminal case, Mr Yelland, it would be called tampering with evidence, and tampering with witnesses, or even perverting the course of justice.

How many other people have you done this to, Mr Yelland ? How many other clients of crooked lawyers have had their cases and attempts to claim back what was stolen by your colleagues, broken, because you meddled in their case to make sure they got nothing ?

Why are you in such a position you can get away with being little more than a criminal ? Mr Yelland ?

Given the reports today in the Scotsman on this matter, I would say this :

All those cases involving those 250 or so lawyers, should be at least, re-investigated, and of course, while that is being done, the identities of the lawyers concerned, along with the details of all the complaints - to satisfy the requirements of transparency, of course - and not forgetting to let all the clients who made the complaints in the first place, know about it, so they are aware of what has happened to any issues affecting their legal affairs as mis-managed by their solicitors.

This latest example of the Law Society's lack of ability to do anything with it's own members, should be taken, I feel, as a situation where now, as the Society will doubtless face calls for scrutiny of it's past actions, they simply have resigned from the position of professional regulator, which they always argue towards clients, is their obligation according to the law of the land.

I for one, having appeared many times in the Scotsman newspaper regarding difficulties with the legal profession and my critisisms of it, will welcome a root & branch review of all matters relating to the legal profession, not to mention a review of the past sins of the Law Society of Scotland - something important for all those clients who have had their lives and livelihoods ruined by their legal representatives over the years without any recompense.

I would, however, sound this warning - criminals don't stop robbing banks, just because we have the Police - therefore don't expect some lawyers to refrain from ripping off their clients, just because there will be a new independent regulator and if anything, even greater scrutiny of the legal profession will be needed to ensure those in the legal profession adhere to transparency, honesty, the law, and, most of all, the rights of the client.

Read on for the article, from The Scotsman newspaper, at :
Reprimanded lawyers to have records wiped clean after 'muddle'

ABOUT 250 solicitors reprimanded by the Law Society of Scotland are to have their records wiped clean after the regulator was told its disciplinary sanction was illegal.

The society yesterday said it had taken the "regrettable" decision to clean the slate for hundreds of lawyers found guilty of unsatisfactory conduct in the past three years.

The body took the decision to withdraw the "unsatisfactory conduct" charge after a disciplined lawyer launched a bid to overturn the ruling.

Opposition MSPs last night branded the situation a "disaster" and said it made the case for a root-and-branch review of the way lawyers are policed vital.

The Scottish Legal Services Ombudsman, meanwhile, said the regulation of solicitors was "a muddle" and urgently called for fresh legislation.

The origins of the controversy go back to January 2003, when the society decided to mark an "unsatisfactory conduct" finding on lawyers' records as a disciplinary halfway house between professional misconduct - which is already founded in law - and taking no action.

The move came after the Legal Services Ombudsman said such sanctions were worthless unless they were formally held against the guilty solicitor.

But the society has admitted it was aware new legislation was needed to uphold the charge, and says it previously called on the Scottish Executive to bring in the necessary powers.

Since early 2003, around 300 unsatisfactory conduct findings have been made against 200-250 lawyers. It is understood some were unhappy at the way the sanction was imposed and, earlier this year, one of those was granted a judicial review into the reprimand.

This led the Law Society to seek advice on the validity of the sanction, and officials were told it could not be upheld.

Among the lawyers who disputed the sanction was Aamer Anwar, who threatened to take the Law Society to court after he was disciplined for branding a caller on a radio phone-in programme a "bigot".

Philip Yelland, director of client relations at the society, said: "We took advice at the time and decided to go down this road in good faith. But the challenge came in and we took further advice.

"The legal position has changed over the years, so we were advised that we had to do what we have done."

Ironically, the society will be given powers in relation to unsatisfactory professional conduct under the Legal Profession and Legal Aid (Scotland) Bill, expected to become law next year.

The bill also proposed a legal complaints commission, which will controversially strip the society of part of its regulatory function.

And in a further blow to the Society it emerged earlier this month that lawyers across the country were plotting to create a new national association, after the society agreed to accept a legal aid pay deal many of them were unhappy with.

Margaret Mitchell MSP, the Scottish Tories' justice spokeswoman, said: "This latest disaster has strengthened the case for reviewing the whole set-up."

Friday, August 18, 2006

Law Society of Scotland faces a split within it's ranks over legal aid deal - or does it ?

One has to wonder why there is the sudden rush by some newspapers, to publish details of an apparent split within the ranks of the legal profession, on who represents members interests.

In a story, which one newspaper apparently turned down early last week, this week has seen the Scotsman publish allegations of a split within the ranks of the Scottish legal profession - focussed, for now, it seems, on those solicitors who practice legal aid, being unhappy at the latest deal struck between the Law Society of Scotland and the Scottish Executive over Legal Aid fees - which had seen strike action, with criminal cases such as those relating to dangerous sex offenders, down to the likes of family law cases, frozen out from representation until such time the Scottish Executive would 'cave in', awarding the lawyers as much legal aid as they required.

To me, this latest twist, in the world of the Scottish legal profession, immersed in plot, and counter plot, is nothing more than a smoke screen for the more pressing difficulties which face Scottish solicitors at the present time - that of the impending loss of self-regulation of complaints against lawyers - which has seen decades of cover up afer cover up, where crooked lawyers have literally, gotten away with murder, supported to the hilt, by their masters at the Law Society of Scotland.

In talks with my sources on this story today, it would seem that the whole affair, could be little more than an arranged extra bargaining chip against the Scottish Executive, with the planned reforms of the Legal Profession & Legal Aid (Scotland) Bill on the way, as well as the deal over Legal Aid - which is only bound to get better for the taxpayer, and worse for the legal profession as time goes on .

Scottish Executive Ministers should be happy to read that then.
We have seem such a fuss before, when the impetuous ranks of the legal profession fail to get their way.

Creating stories in the media - as news items, is one of the specialities of the legal profession - we have had plenty of examples of this !, and there are even several lawyers on certain newspapers these days, writing articles under the guise of 'journalists".

Earlier this week, a good example of this hit the press, where the 'living eulogy' to Douglas Mill, Chief Executive of the Law Society of Scotland given by this very same 'freelance reporter' at the Scotsman ... flew in the face of a factual case reported by the Herald newspaper, which was then partially 'retracted', under duress from communications from the Law Society over the terms and insinuations of the "Would granny swear by the law society ?" article, written by Paul Rogerson - reporting on how Douglas Mill meddled in clients financial claims against crooked lawyers.

I covered this story here : & here:

So, this latest report of splits is a bargaining tactic by the legal profession ? Looks like it, from the evidence at hand ... too many arranged twists, plots, sounding out of newspapers on whether they would print it ... it all comes back to me, you know ... people talk ... can't keep anything secret these days ...

Let's face it, over the past few months since the Law Society officially stated it 'supported' the proposals of independent regulation contained in the forthcoming LPLA Bill, they have dragged out every single 'so-called' expert, professor, even the occasional Lordship QC, to claim in lengthy, baseless reports, that what is proposed in law, is actually against the law ... so the little story of a major split within the ranks of Scotlands disrespected lawyers, over legal aid ... would be a good bargaining chip to use next time the Law Society plays poker with the Scottish Executive over increased public funds for their members to feather their existence with.

Jennifer Veitch forgot to mention the last Scottish Legal Services Ombudsman, Linda Costello Baker, told the Justice 2 Committee that there was such a mess in the field of handling client complaints, that only an independent body well could do the job. It would have been nice to mention that .. rather than using selective reporting which seems to give more favour to the Law Society of Scotland than it really deserves.

To be fair, the split story, did make it into the Scotsman on Wednesday, see here : .. but again, this was apparently after another newspaper last week refused to run it ... so ... judge for yourselves on what is happening .. but in any case - the alleged split isn't over honesty, or duty to the client - it's over MONEY.

5000+ complaints per year - against less than 10,000 members - and that's been the case for several years now. How does that stack up against transparency, honesty, high standards ? ... not very well I think, and with the real number of complaints per year running at about 7000 or so, with many complaints not even being able to go through the Law Society's restrictive procedures for determination and investigation ... it is certainly high time the Law Society was consigned to the dustbin of history - but also made to pay for the sins of the past.

Let us not forget, people, the sins of the past must be accounted for.

All those thousands of complaints over the years that the likes of Douglas Mill, Philip Yelland, and their colleagues at the Law Society of Scotland offices in Drumsheugh Gardens have fiddled away, must be resolved, and the clients properly compensated for years of hell, shattered lives, ill health, families torn apart, loss of assets, liveliehoods, businesses, etc ... - all, just because the supposed 'honour' of lawyers had a greater place in society than the rights of the public.

Read on for the article, from the Scotsman, on the latest plot from the legal profession ..
link at :

Break-away move is the latest blow for lawyers' body

EVEN those at the helm of the Law Society of Scotland will now openly admit they are experiencing troubled times. Of course, suggesting anything otherwise would be laughed out of court, and the revelation that lawyers are now actively manoeuvring to establish a new representative body, to argue better their case for recognition and remuneration, is only the latest instalment in the society's depressing litany of woes.

In the past 12 months, the society has tried, and failed, to retain its absolute power to regulate solicitors. Once the Legal Profession and Legal Aid (Scotland) Bill is enacted, it will lose control over service complaints.

The society finally admitted defeat in December, agreeing to the principle of an independent Scottish Legal Complaints Commission, but only after initially rejecting all four of the Scottish Executive's consultation options for reform - and coming up with one of its own instead.

But another crisis was simmering. In May, criminal defence solicitors requisitioned a special general meeting, calling on the society's council to withdraw co-operation in criminal matters from the Executive and Scottish Legal Aid Board, until the question of legal aid fees could be resolved.

More than 300 solicitors, incensed that they had not received an increase in solemn legal aid fees for 14 years, voted for the move, and the society's council had little choice but to agree.

Last week, the society finally brokered an improved legal aid deal with the Executive, but if they had hoped this would end the bitter dispute, and quell the revolt, clearly they were wrong. Criminal lawyers - many of whom were already aggrieved that the society had to be bounced into putting more pressure on the Executive - argue that the negotiators caved in too quickly and failed to consult them widely enough before accepting the offer.

Now they are not only openly questioning what role the society will have, once stripped of much of its regulatory power, but also where else solicitors can turn for representation.

For now, the revolt is largely confined to the ranks of the legal aid lawyers, who only make up around 15 per cent of solicitors, but there are other solicitors who are less than happy. It was the profession's lack of support for the status quo that persuaded the society to back down on the complaints-handling issue last year.

But most of these problems can be boiled down to one source: the tension in the society's dual role as regulator and representative - as promoter and policeman of the profession.

Ironically, while the public widely perceives the Law Society as little more than a glorified trade union looking after the interests of lawyers, its duty to protect the public interest is in fact enshrined in section 1 of the Solicitors (Scotland) Act 1980.

Of course, many consumers will argue it has failed dismally to protect the public interest. A sift through some of the public's responses to consultations on the Legal Profession and Legal Aid (Scotland) Bill, or a glance at the "rogues gallery" on the Scotland Against Crooked Lawyers campaign website, shows just how many people feel deeply aggrieved.

In recent years, the society has made some significant and beneficial changes to the complaints-handling process. There is now increased lay representation on its client relations committees, and all firms must now designate a client-relations partner.

In her last report, Linda Costelloe Baker, the former Scottish Legal Services Ombudsman, acknowledged there had been real improvement.

"I was satisfied that the Law Society had acted fairly, efficiently and reasonably in 60 per cent of the cases I examined, the highest rating ever recorded," she wrote.

But despite their frustration that their efforts have gone largely unrecognised, senior figures at the society have conceded that it has all been too little, too late. The profession has been too slow to respond to the demands of a consumer society.

For some time, there has been a clear disconnect between what the society feels its role is and what the political climate dictates it should be.

To be fair, the fact that many solicitors are unhappy will not have come as a surprise to staff working at 26 Drumsheugh Gardens. In an interview for this newspaper's law pages in July, the chief executive, Douglas Mill, issued a pre-emptive strike. He called for a "robust debate" on the future role of the society, including whether section 1 should be ditched.

Writing in the Law Gazette, solicitor Brian Allingham argued section 1 was "redundant and anachronistic". Its removal would allow the society "to evolve into an ardent representative of its members, without having its hands cuffed securely behind its back".

Only a change in the law could free the society from the shackles of its public interest duty and allow it to become a trade union. That change might come eventually, but not soon enough for solicitors. The society will have to review its priorities quickly. While it has a clear duty to address concerns about the battery of regulatory reforms that are being proposed, it cannot afford to lose sight of the issues affecting lawyers at grass-roots level.

For the society to weather this storm, it must now prove its worth to solicitors; it must look for new ways to engage with the profession and ensure it consults solicitors, especially those who are remote from Edinburgh.

Unless the profession can have faith in the society's ability to represent its interests, then its power and influence can only wane.

Past president Caroline Flanagan's recent comment that the society is seen as "pleasing no-one" might well become its epitaph.

• Jennifer Veitch is a freelance journalist and regular contributor to The Scotsman's Law & Legal Affairs pages, which are published every Tuesday.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Scotsman responds to Peter Cherbi and the Herald with a living eulogy of Douglas Mill

If anyone doubted the power of the legal profession to own the media in Scotland, in an attempt to bury the truth, revealed though the power of campaigners such as myself, and groups such as "Scotland Against Crooked Lawyers", the Scotsman newspaper today would make great reading for such an example.

Yesterday, as you know, I covered the Herald Newspaper's 'clarification' of their story of 5 June, which related to Douglas Mill standing in front of the Justice 2 Committee and the Scottish Parliament, denying he had ever became involved in client claims against crooked lawyers.

The article :

In fact, the highly controversial memos were revealed at that same hearing by John Swinney MSP, and myself in this blog previously, that Douglas Mill most certainly was involved in client claims against crooked lawyers .. and not only Douglas Mill .. but a whole swathe of 'office bearers' within the Law Society had involved themeselves in clients cases against crooked lawyers - with the sole intention of defeating such claims for financial compensation.

Taken aback, at the strength of the Herald Newspaper's 5th June article, titled "Would Granny Swear by the Law Society ?" by Paul Rogerson - which you can read in yesterday's blog article, Douglas Mill and his colleagues from the Law Society embarked upon threats to the Herald over the tone of their article, claiming it appeared Douglas Mill had indeed, been involved in such a case where a client had raised claims of negligence, with the Master Insurance Policy (the Scottish solicitors Professional Indemnity Insurance Scheme), against several firms of Scottish solicitors.

From the Herald's quoting, verbatim, of the secret memos ... which were written by Mill himself .. on the subject of the Mackenzie's claims of negligence against several firms of Scottish solicitors - Mill took offence to the perception he had become directly involved in a case, and simply could not resist the opportunity to have a go at the Herald newspaper, who, had run a campaign earlier this year to support independent regulation of the legal profession in Scotland, thus taking away the Law Society's prized role as self-regulator, which has allowed the Society to fiddle complaints against crooked lawyers for decades.

The memos are clear in their content. Douglas Mill had become involved in claims of negligence against Scottish solicitors and legal firms, to the extent he had sought to delay and thus hinder such claims, collate information on complainants .. and it seems, a whole lot more.

I'd have to ask, how can one write a memo about a case, asking for delays in the case, seeking meetings on such case, having held previous meetings on said case, and more. Is such a thing possible ? that one cannot be involved in a case, when one makes such comments or participates in the progress of said case ?

Even in one particular sentence, which has, I must say, sinister overtones, quoting Alistair Sim at Marsh inc - the administrators of the Master Insurance Policy scheme, that "Alistair confirms that there is never any question of the Mackenzies sending out hard copy letters".

Why am I troubled by that particular comment in the memo ?

Well, the last time I saw this very same sentence, was in a copy of a confidential 'security' report I was passed - and the sentence followed a discussion about how to gain "hard copy letters" from the 'subject' of the 'security' report, so hard copy signatures could be gained, letters or documents could be falsified and used against the 'subject' in evidence to discredit them.

That is sinister, isn't it ?

Why would Douglas Mill and Alistair Sim be discussing such an issue as trying to obtain "hard copy letters" from a client who has filed several financial claims for negligence against well known crooked lawyers, and is reported in the very same memo to be an "intelligent and well organised individual who could, unlike some of the other thorns in our flesh, come over very well at a JHAC [Justice & Home Affairs Committee] investigation" - in other words - a significant threat to Douglas Mill and the Law Society of Scotland.

Regrettably, I can't publish the comparison from that 'security' report at all, as a trusted source gave it to me on such condition, and I respect my source's conscience to have taken such a risk and given me disclosure.

However, I'm sure, from my writings, you will believe what I say here. I have no axe to grind in lying - I don't need to .. the truth is better to write about, and you can see that I write about the truth - so much so, when I write one thing, the occasional 'bought-off' newspaper has to come out and do a PR spin on the subject of my article ... that is a compliment to me, right ? It actually supports what I have said in the first place, doesn't it ?

So, Douglas Mill enjoys the warm welcome he receives as an ambassador for the legal profession in Scotland when he travels abroad, does he ?

Well, I think we need to motivate our contacts around the world to publish just how big a liar Douglas Mill is .. and he is certainly no model for the legal profession in Scotland .. or is he ?

A reality check on 5000 + complaints a year against a total membership of 10,000 lawyers leaves no lawyer without a complaint - or, as some recent articles in the media I have been invited to comment on, have revealed lawyers with long histories of multiple client complaints.

So, amidst thousands of complaints (many of them proved), of endemic corruption, fraud, trafficing in Class A narcotics to clients in jail, even using Class A drugs within lawyers offices and while at work, embezzlement, overcharging, theft of client property, fraud involving wills and probate, and even lawyers allegedly hiring people to threaten clients, and take out murder hits on colleagues within the legal profession ... maybe Douglas Mill is, a good model for the legal profession in Scotland.

After all, if the Chief Executive of the Law Society of Scotland, is a liar, and a liar to Parliamentary Committees, clients, and the public .. then, how are we to expect the rest of the legal profession to behave ?

Jennifer Veitch of the Scotsman can't approach me for an article in response - as the Scotsman are alleged to have an embargo on publishing any articles "which may be beneficial to Peter Cherbi's campaign against the legal profession & the Law Society of Scotland".

Why ? because the Law Society asked them to refrain from covering my story, because it was so damaging to the Law Society.

That is such a shame. I respected the Scotsman newspaper for many years. They gave me great coverage of my case, gave a great boost to the campaign to bring independent regulation to the legal profession, and indeed, in the 1990's ran editorials themselves, seeking an end to the corrupt form of self-regulation of the legal profession which the Law Society have operated for so many years.

It is all changed now .. what a shame for transparency. What a shame for the public interest. What a shame, for truth.

I do this not only for myself, I do it for everyone who has come to me over the years, with their problems of how they have been ripped off by crooked lawyers, and other crooked professionals, had their lives ruined, been thrown out of their homes, had their funds embezzled and stolen from them, had no compensation for what happend, have lost their loved ones over the antics of crooked lawyers, and have been messed around by the likes of Douglas Mill and the Law Society .. for years.

What, therefore, is the media's motive for supporting such people who do these things ? must be money ... it certainly can't be pursuit of the truth, can it ?

Link from the Scotsman, at :

A lawyer's never loved in his own home land

WHENEVER Douglas Mill travels abroad on business, the warm welcome he receives as an ambassador for the legal profession in Scotland means a lot more to him than a polite token of respect. For Mill, the Law Society's chief executive, it also throws into sharp relief just how negatively the legal profession is perceived on his home turf.

"The Scottish legal profession is held in phenomenally high esteem - everywhere except Scotland," says Mill. "It's not just the profession that's held in high esteem but Scots Law, the Scottish legal system and the Scottish legal profession.

"These are three slightly different things but all closely related, and we are still looked at, for historical and other reasons, as a jurisdiction that deserves profound respect. Sadly - and it is a lack of understanding thing - in Scotland, at the moment, that respect is not there.

"But you go abroad and you get the feel-good factor, and you come back to what I have to deal with five days a week - and you feel like opening your wrists and lying in a warm bath."

Such an exaggeration could be dismissed as characteristic of Mill's ebullient manner, but it is also a measure of the frustration he feels about the way the profession is regarded in Scotland. It remains to be seen whether any of the society's well-documented concerns about impending regulatory changes - specifically, the ramifications of setting up the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission, as proposed in the Legal Profession and Legal Aid (Scotland) Bill - will be taken on board.

The changes could not only alter the role of the society, but the future direction of the profession.

Perhaps Mill can console himself that he is not alone. As acting president of the International Institute of Law Association Chief Executives (IILACE), he is in regular contact with bar associations around the world, and he has noted that all are facing two common challenges, one internal and one external.

"The big internal issue is one that every law society has - of democratic legitimacy of the organisation through elected council members and representatives. Because they are busier people, the greater burden falls on those of us for whom this is the day job.

"The outward-looking issue is the whole question of the independence of the profession and the interface between government and profession. That is not just a UK issue with Clementi and the Scottish Bill, that is a global thing. There are jurisdictions such as Australia and Canada that are actually further ahead than we are, developmentally."

Delegates at the IILACE annual conference in New York this week will get the chance to debate these and other issues facing the legal profession around the world. Now in its eighth year, IILACE was founded in Edinburgh in 1999, as a fringe event at the Law Society's 50th anniversary conference.

"The first meeting took place in our council room," recalls Mill. "I don't take the credit for the initiative - it was a guy called Barry Fitzgerald from the Law Society of South Australia, who took the opportunity of piggybacking on our conference.

"It was the third biggest legal conference in the world that year - we had about 1,300 delegates from about 40 different countries - and Barry saw the opportunity to get CEOs to engage."

The concept of an international association is far from new, adds Mill, but it has taken the cooperation between law societies to a global level. "The Chief Executives of European Bar Associations is now into something like its 48th year, but IILACE was invented on the basis that there were other jurisdictions that felt the need for networking at a CEO level, in particular the Australians, Canadians and so on.

"It started off as an English-speaking, Commonwealth-type thing, but it's gone beyond that. We have been to every continent, except South America. We can't tune into South America at all, which is very unfortunate. Beyond that we are starting to get pretty worldwide coverage."

He adds: "It is an annual conference and also a virtual organisation in terms of having a website and regular e-mail contact. We try to balance it between the work of a CEO, issues involved in running a law society, and so on, and some of the big geopolitical issues about independence.

"The main benefit is that it saves you reinventing other people's wheels - it's a good information-sharing network. Canada and Australia are the two relevant jurisdictions for me. They may seem much bigger countries, but they are not really - the Canadian provinces and Australian states are very comparable to Scotland in terms of population and numbers of lawyers."

For the first time, ILLACE is holding a conference independently of a host law society or bar association, and Mill says this is a sign of its growing international reputation.

"We always picked another conference to piggyback on. It is the first time we have not gone to a home law society - this is a make-or-break year for IILACE. We have 29 delegates and 15 guest speakers, which is easily our best ever."

The agenda includes debates about the role of the lawyers in contemporary society, the reform of the legal profession, and the relationship between the American Bar Association (ABA) and the Bush administration.

The two keynote speakers are Dennis Archer, the former mayor of Detroit and a past president of the ABA, and Robert Grey, its immediate past president.

"To get these two very significant international legal figures again I think is an indication that this is the year that IILACE came of age," says Mill, who will mark ten years as chief executive of the Law Society of Scotland in January.

But while IILACE appears to be growing in stature, Mill says the future standing of the Law Society and the Scottish legal profession and legal system remains less certain during a period of unprecedented change.

"The system was never perfect, but it has probably been unduly knocked," he says.

"The profession, the law and the system are all up for change. But I think there is a concern that it is change for the sake of change, change without holistic understanding, without breadth, depth, and vision.

"That is what concerns us at the moment because, quite honestly, the respect that the Scottish legal system has attained around the world historically will be eroded and is eroding at the moment. There is no doubt in my mind about that."

But he adds: "It is a mark of the respect in which the Law Society of Scotland is held and that the Scottish legal system is held that I am chairing this conference. Our stock is still high internationally. I would hope we would continue to maintain the share value we have internationally - but we have got to fight to do so."

Monday, August 14, 2006

Law Society of Scotland claims success in gagging the press over Herald newspaper revelations of secret case memos

LAST week, I had a meeting with a 'source' .. a 'deep throat', as it were ... and one of the things which came up was a certain line of 'bragging'coming out of the Law Society offices, which senior officials had embarked upon, claiming they had "shut up the Herald [newspaper] for good".

This was of course, of interest to me, so I continued to question my source .. who reported that an article which appeared in early June - provoked intense rage from Douglas Mill - the Chief Executive of the Law Society of Scotland - because it reported on what were supposed to be secret memos, sent by Mr Mill to the then Law Society of Scotland President, Martin McAllister, Philip Yelland - the Director of the crooked Client Relations Office, and David Preston (who went on to become the President of the Law Society in 2002), reporting on discussions with Alistair Sim, the Director of the Professional Liabilities Division at Marsh UK, on the subject of Mr Stewart Mackenzie's negligence claims against several firms of Scottish solicitors who had indeed been negligent in their dealings of the client's legal affairs.

I published the memos in question, and reported on this story earlier on the site, here :

The Herald newspaper today, reports in an article on the matter - which has apparently been demanded by the Law Society of Scotland in correspondence to the newspaper I have now seen, that "The article was not at any stage intended to challenge the integrity or honesty of Mr Mill or the Law Society, but instead to question apparent contradictions highlighted by evidence to the committee."

Douglas Mill was in such a rage at the offending Herald newspaper article of June 4 titled - "Would Granny swear by the Law Society" - in relation to Douglas Mill's claim before the Justice 2 Committee that he swore on his "granny's grave" to Holyrood's Justice 2 Committee that "never once have I, any member of my staff, or any office-bearer dabbled in a claim" .. that he ordered the paper print a retraction to the appearance he claimed their article gave - that he had personally become involved in the Mackenzies financial claims against negligent & crooked laywers.

The 'retraction', or shall we say, 'clarification', in today's Herald newspaper reads like this :

"Mr Mill has asked us specifically to clarify that as chief executive he does not become involved in the handling or resolution of individual claims. We are happy to set the record straight."

Well, how does that sit with the content of the memos ?

Mr Mill, nor any office bearer of the Law Society of Scotland hadn't become involved in a claim for negligence .. but there he is, writing a memo on just such a case, arranging for more delays, having discussions with the Director of Marsh UK - who actually administers the Master Insurance Policy which defends against client claims for negligence .. and as we have seen from testimony from Mr Stewart Mackenzie himself before the Justice 2 Committee inquiry this summer - the case in which Mr Mill became involved .. still remains to be resolved - despite Mr Mill claiming to John Swinney MSP at the Justice 2 Committee hearing .. he was trying to help the Mackenzies ...

Clearly, from the memos, Douglas Mill did become involved in the Mackenzies claims of against negligent lawyers. Clearly, he hates the fact these memos became public, and clearly, he will do anything to prevent the reality of his involvement in such claims becoming a widely held view.

Mr Mill, by your brow beating of the Herald newspaper into this 'verification' of their article, you have only confirmed the fact of your involvement in financial claims of negligence against crooked lawyers .. and as such, you have confirmed the fact you have lied to the Justice 2 Committee of the Scottish Parliament, when you "swore on your granny's life" that you did not.

But we have been here before, haven't we, Douglas ?

You youself, wrote to the Scottish Legal Aid Board on the 6th April 1998, seeking to defeat my application for legal aid to challenge the Law Society's fiddling of the Andrew Penman complaint ... which was a financial claim for negligence. Here's the letter.

You, Douglas Mill, became involved in my claim against Andrew Penman, and the Scotsman newspaper reported on this very involvement in an article on 5 June 1998 titled "Law Society accused of closing ranks as claim fails". Thank you, Scotsman newspaper.

So, the two major newspapers in Scotland, the Herald, and the Scotsman, have both reported on Douglas Mill becoming involved in financial claims of negligence against crooked lawyers.

The evidence, has been presented, clearly, showing letters or memos from Douglas Mill himself, and other office bearers of the Law Society of Scotland involving themselves in such claims.

Douglas, you can deny this all you want in the press - and you can deny this all you want to the Justice 2 Committee of the Scottish Parliament, but the fact is, you are a liar.

The evidence says you were involved, and in how many other cases have you been involved ?

I am therefore moving for you to be recalled before the Justice 2 Committee to account for your testimony.

Just for 'clarification' for my readers, I am republishing the memos, Douglas Mill's letter to the Scottish Legal Aid Board against me, the brave Scotsman's reporting of Mill's successful attempt to kill off my own negligence claim .. and I will throw in the letter from Mill's colleague, Phillip Yelland to my own lawyer instructing him not to proceed my own claim for negligence against Penman and the Law Society of Scotland.

The evidence speaks for itself. Douglas Mill and other office bearers of the Law Society of Scotland do become involved in client complaints and clients legal actions against crooked & negligent lawyers.

If you think the Justice 2 Committee should recall Douglas Mill to account for why he lied to them in his claim that he, nor any other office bearer of the Law Society have ever become involved in clients claims of negligence against crooked lawyers, email the Justice 2 Committee at and ask them to recall Mr Mill, Chief Executive of the Law Society of Scotland, to be held to account for his claims.

Read on for the articles, from the Herald Newspaper, links to follow :

Douglas Mill

PAUL ROGERSON August 14 2006

In our edition of June 5, 2006, we wrote an analysis on the ongoing concerns relating to the Law Society Master Insurance Policy.

In the course of the article, we questioned the Law Society chief executive Douglas Mill's role in the ongoing debate and in particular his evidence to the Justice 2 Committee. The article was not at any stage intended to challenge the integrity or honesty of Mr Mill or the Law Society, but instead to question apparent contradictions highlighted by evidence to the committee.

Mr Mill has asked us specifically to clarify that as chief executive he does not become involved in the handling or resolution of individual claims. We are happy to set the record straight.

and the offending article, which prompted Douglas Mill's rage at the Herald newspaper ...

Would granny swear by the Law Society?
PAUL ROGERSON June 05 2006

THE Law Society of Scotland continues to fret about the prospect of independent oversight of its controversial master insurance policy, which covers compensation claims against Scottish solicitors arising from negligence, fraud or dishonesty.

For years, critics such as the Scottish Consumer Council have complained that the policy gives rise to suspicions that solicitors, broker Marsh UK, and the insurance companies are in league to the detriment of complainers.

One oft-heard allegation is that lawyers will not take up negligence cases against other lawyers because, if they are successful, this will push up their own premiums.

The society vehemently denies any collusion. Last month, chief executive Douglas Mill felt moved to swear on his "granny's grave" to Holyrood's Justice 2 Committee that "never once have I, any member of my staff, or any office-bearer dabbled in a claim".

Back in 2001 Alistair Sim - a Marsh executive and member of the Law Society of Scotland - told predecessor committee Justice 1: "The society is not involved in the handling or resolution of individual claims."


Mill's extraordinary oath followed the production of evidence by MSP John Swinney apparently showing Mill, office-bearers and society officials becoming deeply involved in the resolution of a claim, never mind dabbling. The former SNP leader came brandishing what some have dubbed the "smoking memo", written in 2001 by Mill to Martin McAllister, the then president.

The document concerned complaints against solicitors brought by Stewart and Susan Mackenzie, from Pitlochry. It discussed not only the merit of the complaints, but also the character of the Mackenzies.

Mill told McAllister: "I have discussed the matter with Alistair Sim and I think a holding letter is ideal ... there is a saga here."

He added: "The Mackenzies, I would say, are different from some of our other complainers in as much as they have several valid claims, they have been let down by a series of solicitors but they are unreasonable in their expectations of quantum et cetera. Rather than trivialise matters I would recommend that the four of us, i.e.: you, me, David Preston (vice-president) and Alistair Sim ... have a summit meeting on the up-to-date position looking at both the complaints and claims aspects.

"There is no doubt Mr Mackenzie is (an) intelligent and well-organised individual (sic) who could, unlike some of the other thorns in our flesh, come over very well at (an) investigation."

The full text of the memo was only made public last year after the commendably persistent Swinney demanded to know why parts of the document were excised "for legal reasons" in submissions to Justice 1made public in 2001.

Paul Grice, chief executive of the Scottish Parliament, wrote to Swinney admitting "mistakes" were made in the editing and sanctioned publication of the full text. Who leaked the memo in the first place remains a mystery.

MSPs will have to decide whether Mill's granny is now spinning. Addressing Justice 2, the society's chief executive explained away the apparent contradiction thus: "

The layer of insulation between the society and claims handling is Marsh the broker. Our then president (McAllister) got a letter from (Mackenzie). Many of the letters that our president gets do not have the same degree of foundation as lies behind Mr Mackenzie's issues. I was asked to give a briefing on the matter. I quite properly inquired of Marsh, 'I seek an assurance that these claims are being progressed quickly.' That is what I do in such situations. I give my president an assurance that I am satisfied, having been satisfied by Marsh."

If Mill was solely concerned about the expeditious resolution of the Mackenzies' claim, it is unclear why he thought it appropriate to comment on both the amount of the claim ("unreasonable") and liken Stewart Mackenzie to a "thorn" in the society's flesh.

John Swinney is not reassured. "The memo is plainly at odds with what the Justice 2 committee is being asked to believe,' he told The Herald. "None of the answers given to Justice 2 give me any confidence that the society's position is as stated in Mr Mill's evidence."

The semantics experts on Justice 2 may ponder how looking at the "claims aspects" can be distinguished from "dabbling in a claim". The dictionary defines "dabble", incidentally, as: "To undertake something superficially or without serious intent."

One might also ask why the society is worried about independent oversight if the master policy is working so well for claimants.

Michael Clancy, the organisation's in-house lobbyist, gave an answer in a letter to Justice 2 on May 25. He wrote: "The society does not accept that the 'light touch' approach in the (Legal Profession and Legal Aid (Scotland)) Bill will be maintained throughout the life of the (Scottish Legal Complaints) commission. There is no evidence that the master policy (does) not work in favour of the client. There is no evidence of undue delay of treatment (of) master policy issues."

A decade ago dozens of Westminster MPs, some of whom are now MSPs, begged to differ. In February 1996, 49 members of parliament signed an early day motion condemning the operation of the master policy as fundamentally hostile to the underlying principles of Scots law.

Their number included several big-hitters: David Steel, Charles Kennedy, Ken Livingstone, Martin O'Neill - former chairman of the Department of Trade and Industry Select Committee - and the current UK parliament speaker, Michael Martin. One signatory - Malcolm Chisholm - is now an executive minister.

The late Gordon McMaster tabled the motion after learning of the plight of Paisley housebuilder Iain McIntyre, a constituent who suffered estimated losses of ?2.7m following a 10-year legal nightmare involving a string of incidents of negligence and bad faith at the hands of various law firms.

The motion stated: "Inherent conflicts exist between the Law Society of Scotland's duties to guard the public interest and protect its members' interests, which have forced Mr McIntyre to endure the loss of his business (and the) forced sale of his home ... it is unjustifiable that the Law Society holds the master professional indemnity insurance policy which has built into it penalties and bonuses which give solicitors a vested interest in minimising negligence claims at unfair levels".

The MPs were "convinced that the principle of Scots law that everyone is entitled to independent legal representation has been breached by the Secretary of the Law Society of Scotland actively encouraging one firm of solicitors to cease acting for Mr McIntyre". They were not alluding to Mill but a predecessor.

Justice 2 will doubtless ask itself whether such a large number of MPs would have made such a damning statement without compelling evidence. Commenting specifically on the operation of the master policy last week with reference to the 1996 early day motion, the Law Society said:

"In 2005, the Office of Fair Trading endorsed the master policy by closing their investigation with no recommendations for action on professional indemnity. The OFT recognised the protections for the clients of Scottish solicitors and this follows similar scrutiny by the European Parliament, the UK Parliament and the Scottish Executive, with similar results."

It is certainly true that the OFT could find no "strong and compelling" evidence that the master policy was anti-competitive by denying legal firms the right to seek cheaper insurance cover. Whether its investigation amounted to an "endorsement' is another matter.

The watchdog's written judgment asked searching questions about the Scottish public's access to justice when complaining about solicitors, a subject beyond its formal remit. It said there was evidence that some Scottish consumers have found difficulty in finding another solicitor to represent them when they lodge malpractice claims.

The watchdog admitted it did not have enough evidence to prove collusion, but added: "In the absence of such evidence, we consider that the difficulties experienced by some legal services clients in gaining representation ought to be considered as an access to justice issue."

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Blackmail and strike action pays off for Scottish legal profession in the way of increased deal from the Scottish Executive for legal aid fees.

A quick word about the Sheridan case, which I commented on last Friday.

Over the weekend, I was introduced to some 'documents', of which I barely read, but could see their significance, even in my poorly focussed view of them.

It is not my fight, but of course, as a person who has broken many scandals over the years, and used the newspapers in Scotland to great effect to do it (even if I am lurking in the background on a story) ... I take an interest in such things of a political nature.

I have, of course, given articles to the News of the World from time to time. Of course, that was when David Leslie was in Glasgow .. along with Peter Laing who used to be at the NotW before moving on to Scotland on Sunday .. and beyond.

In any case, the NotW does a lot of good, from my point of view .. breaking the stories on crooked Britain ... and believe me - there's a lot of crooks here .. especially in the legal profession, as I continue to reveal .. and of course, in the accountancy profession - where some of the people who run it, are themselves, crooks. Crooks - get it ? they are crooks ... made myself clear, did I ? Good.

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to realise that the dark art of political manipulation is at hand here, where some don't seem to have the maturity to realise they are being played off against each other in order to kill off their party, as luck would have it, just before next year's Scottish Parliamentary elections - where some of the current major players in Scottish politics just might end up with bloody noses at the electoral counts ... (unless they fiddle that too, of course - like what seems to have happened in some local council elections both south and north of the border.)

As for my own views on it, well .. a good friend at one of the Sunday Newspapers gave me a piece of advice - to keep out of the mess .. and that, is one good piece of advice, so, no more emails from journalists please to me on what I know or don't know ... simply not interested now - got other steaks to roast thanks - but if you want to cover some articles on crooked lawyers, or crooked accountants, or crooked politicians, well, that's another story .. isn't it !

Anyway, amidst the burning of Arthur's Seat earlier yesterday, here in Edinburgh and the continuing fall out over the Sheridan v News of the World case conclusion ... Blackmail is back in fashion .. with a success for our crooked gang of Scottish lawyers gaining more money from the public purse to line their pockets ... only because they went on strike.

Whatever happened to the days when strikes were broken by the British Government ?

Remember how the Miners were all but wiped out by Margaret Thatcher ? ... and the rest of the unions marginalised ?

Well, it certainly didn't work with the lawyers, did it ... and just who is to blame for that one ?

Easy answer - the same people (the Government) who allowed this self-regulating monopoly of legal services to exist through the years, stage managed by the famously corrupt Law Society of Scotland. ... and since there's no one to take the lawyers place in the courts ... of course they are going to get their wicked way, holding the country to ransom, for a few pieces of silver.

I have to say, reading through some of the newspapers, Scotland seems almost an upside down country these days, where leaders of strikes & boycotts which allow criminals back onto the streets to continue their raping, pillaging and murdering sprees, get great write ups in the press - paid for, and influenced by sweetners from the legal profession.

What kind of journalism is that ?

Aren't such people who delay or desert justice for those who deserve it, at the virtual point of a gun,, no better than the crooks ?

How about a child molestor gets his trial delayed, or even trial deserted, because some lawyer bent on getting more money for his latest convertible calls a halt to legal aid cases ?

Does that really deserve praise in the media ?

Seems a bit iffy to me .. in fact, it almost seems as iffy as a journalist at a newspaper I know, who seems to be too busy snorting coke these days to cover the injustices of what professionals do to the public, but not too busy to alert those same bent professionals that contacts have been made on certain cases in the hopes of raising publicity ... but in the twisted world of administration of the professions, the people who are warned of those maligned clients seeking publicity .. have recorded the conversations .. not trusting the journalists either .. after all, who trusts a traitor ? or a junkie ?

Nasty stuff, isn't it ... even nastier when it gets blown out the wrong way and implicates others.

My goodness .. if the Nazis were in power in Scotland, would this lot be doing soft focus profiles on Hitler ? perhaps ... but remember, I didn't name any newspapers .. so .. work that one out for yourselves, readers.

Well, read on for the view from the legal profession, printed in today's Scotsman newspaper, link at :

'Patch up' deal on legal aid ends court crisis - for now

THE bitter legal aid row which had threatened to bring chaos to Scotland's courts was settled yesterday, amid warnings that the "patch up" deal may not prevent a dispute in the future.

Solicitors had threatened to boycott legal aid cases involving alleged sex offenders in pursuit of their pay demands with ministers.

But in an emergency meeting in Edinburgh yesterday, the Law Society of Scotland accepted a package from Hugh Henry, the deputy justice minister, that will increase their payments by up to 12 per cent.

The rise in legal aid fees, while significantly above the rate of inflation, is only the second increase in 14 years, leading some solicitors to brand the Executive's offer "derisory". One solicitor said last night the conflict over legal aid fees was certain to be revived next year, when the way solicitors are paid is changed.

Vincent McGovern, chairman of the Hamilton Bar Association, said: "The problem has not been solved, it has been patched up with this agreement.

"If we had this level of dispute over a system of payment that is due to be scrapped, it does not bode well for relations between solicitors and the Executive when the new payment system comes in next year."

The deal means legal aid rates for solicitors in the most serious cases - known as solemn work - will rise to around £70 an hour for court appearances and around £49 an hour for other work.

The dispute arose after solicitors accused the Executive of dragging its feet over legal aid reform and the introduction of block payment for work, although that is now likely to come in next year.

In a statement yesterday, Oliver Adair, convener of the society's legal aid (solicitors) committee, said: "I consider that the amended offer [by Mr Henry] reflects a renewed commitment by the Scottish Executive to fair remuneration.

"It also reflects the minister's appreciation of the work done by the profession in ensuring the effectiveness of the Bonomy reforms in the High Court.

"I will continue to work with the profession to ensure that solicitors are properly remunerated for the work which they do."

However, Mr Adair hinted later that a further dispute over legal aid pay was almost inevitable.

He said: "As far as the society is concerned, this agreement means we can resume our place at the negotiating table to ensure fair remuneration for our members when the pay structure is changed.

"This deal is an interim solution to an on-going problem."

A spokeswoman for the Executive said: "We welcome the decision of the Law society. This was a generous and considered offer from the deputy justice minister at a time of great pressure on the public purse.

"We hope that this will lead to the removal of any local threats to disrupt court business."

Mr Adair confirmed last night that the society's "policy on non-co-operation with the Scottish Executive and Scottish Legal Aid Board on criminal matters will be reversed".

It appeared last night that threats from individual bar associations across Scotland to boycott sex cases had also been lifted by the agreement.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Sheridan wins defamation action against News of the World

"Sheridan Wins" .... the title running tonight in the printing rooms of some newspapers no doubt ... almost reminds me of one of my favourite movies "The Front Page" .. with Walter Mattau and Jack Lemmon on the lenghts some newspapers went to get headlines on a man due to be hanged, who turned out to be innocent .... or does that comparison sit well here I wonder ? perhaps not so much.

Reporting on the win - BBC News, notes the shock of the News of the World team in losing the action - they aren't alone .. Sheridan was widely expected by all the major newspapers in Scotland to lose the case ... I wonder, for instance, how the likes of the Scotsman now feel, after having him all but hung, drawn and quartered in some of their recent articles .. delighting on every scintillating detail of scandal ... probably have to get back to the daily task of most of the Scottish media these days ... writing about stuff like fake stories of rising house prices, prompted by the legal profession to swell their margins and keep everyone in mortgage arrears ...

Personally, I'm surprised that Sheridan has won .. albeit on a 7-4 jury verdict ... but, he did win, and was awarded his 200,000 damages ..., which the newspaper is appealing no doubt.

What does this say about Scotland's legal system ? well .. I don't think so much can be read into it .. it does say that Sheridan was right to sack his legal team .. who almost seemed to be acting against him at times ... but was that more of an arranged tactic than a required move ? we may never know .. but we might, when Campbell Deane, one of the lawyers involved in Sheridan's defence .. reports more on the case in subsequent Scotsman articles ... in the guise of journalism.

One thing it does tell us all about the legal system in Scotland - is that if a person who is able to get their case in front of a jury, is capable enough to argue against the highest paid lawyers in the land - they are successful in either being able to get the jury to cast doubt on the line of the lawyers .. or even believe their story to be a pack of lies .. well .. at least some of the jurors seemed to have taken this line ..

This is what the likes of the Law Society and all those crooked lawyers fear - the likes of me or the rest of us, getting in front of a jury and telling all about how crooked and corrupt the Scottish legal system is - and how the lawyers, the officials at the Law Society, and all their pals and contacts throughout Scotland - right down to those friends in public service they used against us ... ruined our lives, stole our money, property, and went on to get away with it ... that's what the lawyers fear ...

Now at least, Mr Sheridan has had a taste of what thousands of others in Scotland have suffered over the years .. but the question is, will he do something about it ? or is he content to bask in his own win ... I wonder ... certainly, the whole affair leaves the SSP in a precarious position ... or, has that been the intention from the very start ? .. and if so, by which side ? certainly, a version I was given of this case by a friend in the press does cast some doubt on the motives behind some ...

Two articles on this .. I won't bother to quote the Scotsman last night, since Mr Sheridan has already won .. but you can compare yesterday's Scotsman newspaper article at :

Sheridan victory in court battle
Tommy Sheridan has won his defamation case against the News of the World.

A jury of six men and five women took three hours to dismiss the tabloid's claims the Socialist MSP was a serial adulterer and swinger who used drugs.

Mr Sheridan, 42, who represented himself, said the victory was the equivalent of Gretna FC beating Real Madrid on penalties.

The Sunday tabloid was ordered to pay Mr Sheridan £200,000 damages. It says it plans to appeal against the verdict.

Mr Sheridan won his case on a majority verdict of seven to four.

Speaking outside the Court of Session, he delivered an emotional and political speech.

This result suggests that 18 independent witnesses, came to this court and committed monstrous acts of perjury
Bob Bird
News of the World

He said: "We have over the last five weeks taken on one of the biggest organisations on the planet with the biggest amount of resources to pay for the most expensive legal teams to throw nothing but muck against me, my wife and my family.

"Today's verdict proves working class people can differentiate the truth from the muck.

"The working class people on the jury have done a service to the people of Scotland and delivered a message to the standard of journalism the News of the World represents.

"They are liars and they have proved they are liars."

He said he could not have conducted the case without the "loyalty and support" of his family and "thousands of working class people".

'Prayers answered'

He said he was looking forward to spending some quality time with his 14-month-old daughter Gabrielle.

Mr Sheridan compared the win to Gretna FC beating Real Madrid in Spain on penalties.

The verdict was initially met with a stunned silence in the courtroom before relatives of Mr Sheridan wept.

Bob BirdBob Bird, editor in Scotland of the News of the World, was astonished

His wife Gail hugged her husband for almost a minute in the court after the verdict was delivered.

The MSP's mother Alice said afterwards: "Our prayers have been answered."

Speaking outside the court Bob Bird, editor in Scotland of the News of the World, said he was "absolutely astonished" at the outcome.

He added: "This result suggests that 18 independent witnesses, came to this court and committed monstrous acts of perjury.

"We simply cannot accept that is what happened.

"On that basis, we will be lodging an appeal against this verdict.

"And the basis for that appeal is that today's verdict was perverse."

Honesty and integrity

Scottish Socialist Party (SSP) Leader Colin Fox, who gave evidence against his comrade, is due to make a statement.

Witnesses for the News of the World told lurid stories of Mr Sheridan allegedly visiting a Manchester sex club, having sex with a former prostitute and being in a threesome.

SSP colleagues said party minutes showed Mr Sheridan had admitted visiting the sex club.

MSP Caroline Leckie said the case was about a man with a reputation for honesty and integrity being shown to be a hypocrite and liar.

Other party members denied the existence of the minute.

Mr Sheridan broke down as he told the jury he would never betray his wife.

Gail Sheridan said she trusted her husband and had never been so proud of him.