Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The way it's done in the Scottish Borders - cover up the scandal & protect the guilty.

I should be worried, if I still lived at my old address in Bongate, Jedburgh, Roxburgh.

I should be worried, because of all the threats I get over my campaign against the legal profession - and articles I either write here or leak to the media on politican subjects .. it seems that my house in Bongate, Jedburgh is the one usually mentioned in whatever threat of the day I receive. That's life though ... expose corruption & you have to expect something in return .. and certainly when it comes to the Scottish Borders .. the threats fly thick & fast.

Take for example this one : "We're going to blow your wee house in Bongate, Jedburgh all the way to the moon" or "expect a gas explosion you little *******". Another one I like is "There's going to be a ******* big hole in the Bongate one of these days soon" ... and there's always ones like "We're going to machine gun your house" ...etc. A fine example of Jedburgh then ...

Well, that would be fine for some, if I were there .. but I'm not .. and despite the obvious .. there are seemingly plenty of 'bad eggs' out to get me at my old house. Oh well ... it won't affect me lads .. but I would assume the current tenants of 45-47 Bongate who were, I understand, part of the crooked deal to prize the property away from me in the first place in late 2003, will have to be watchful.

I had a few threats like that from neighbours when I actually lived in the Bongate - quite a few of those threats came from well-known-to-Scottish-Borders-Council violent neighbours over the last two years of my stay there, after my mum had died.... these people hell bent on a daily torture of my life, to get me out.

What did anyone do about it ? Absolutely nothing. The Community stood by and laughed in my face. Len Wyse, the Jedburgh Provost, ordered the town's Community Council not to help me or respond to any letters .. and Scottish Borders Council took a leading role in driving me out of my home, by giving my violent neighbour everything he wanted - despite the fact the Council had a big enough file on his own threats & intimidation of other neighbours. The local Police also did nothing .. actually they were turned against me .. and after I discovered there was a serving Policeman who was an 'investor' in the nasty neighbour's plans for my house ... it became a wee bit more clear as to why no one would help me.

Maybe the current tenants of my old house in the Bongate can rely on one of the Police Officers, who was also an 'investor' in the gang of crooks who got my property in 2003 to defend them ... no doubt he will be able to help them against the hordes of threatening lawyers, some of their more worrysome clients such as ex-killers, burglars, drugs & arms dealers, & the odd politician seemingly out to cause a small mushroom cloud in the Bongate.

I bet whoever the insurers are to those premises must be thinking long & hard about their policies on those properties though.. because Jedburgh is one of those small places where more than the occasional insurance fraud takes place ... and the whole thing might just be a ruse by the group of people who conned me out of the properties in 2003 to recoup some of their own losses on the failed business & poor rennovation work they did ... adding more intrigue to the situation.

In any case, now that is out the way, I can get on to the article for today.

Scottish Borders Council went to court at the weekend, in an act typical of the Council, to stop the Sunday Mail newspaper publishing the whereabouts of a recently released sex offender who was involved in the horrible Miss X abuse scandal to hit the Borders several yeas ago. Scottish Borders Council spent at least £12,000 on the Court action against the Sunday Mail in the High Court - but failed to prevent the newspaper from running the article.

Read some more about the Miss X Rape Scandal in the Scottish Borders here :

Miss X report passed to procurator-fiscal
Vital Miss X file removed, claims MSP
Social work department shake-up after sex abuse case & Borders social work chief quits

There are a few other 'choice links' on those Scotsman pages to articles on this case, and others relating to Scottish Borders Council .. well worth a visit.

Anyway, while Scottish Borders Council spent plenty of the taxpayers money covering up their failures in the original Miss X investigation, they have now had to spend some more to protect one of those found guilty in the case from having his whereabouts published in the newspapers.

The thing is, in the Borders .. you never really know who you are living near to .. and no doubt, again, residents may well be alarmed to think of a sex offender involved in such an insidious case as the Miss X abuse scandal - which went on for so long .. to be living near to them.

It's nothing new though ... as the Scottish Borders seem to have been used s a dumping ground for all sorts of released criminals .. even, it is alleged, some ex-terrorists who shopped their own for protection & an anonymous place to live. Imsgine that ! .. residents in the Borders might just be living next to serial bombers & mass murderers, not just sex offenders.

Andrew Lowe, the Social Work Director is reported in the BBC follow up article today : Sex offender court spend defended saying "I don't feel comfortable with the spin that has been put on it by some newspapers who seem to suggest we were only about protecting the rights of the offender" Lowe goes on to claim "The effort that was made on Saturday was to ensure the anonymity of the offender so that we could do that job - with our partners in the police - as closely and as effectively as we could,"

Who is he trying to fool ?

Scottish Borders Council are full of spin themselves. From my own experience in exposing some of their frauds & fakery when it comes to explanations on Council activities .. I found them to be endemically corrupt .. and nothing has changed, from the information I still receive from sources within the Council.

I think SBC are more concerned with keeping the debate on their original failure to protect Miss X from getting back into the public domain - that is what's really at the heart of the matter - nothing to do with protecting the community .. and certainly nothing to do with working with their partners in the local police .. whom many also wonder what the local cops were doing while Miss X was being abused all those years.

Read on for the article, from the Sunday Mail, which Scottish Borders Council tried to stop being published

EXCLUSIVE Outrage as sex attacker wins release despite shunning treatment over gang's vile assaults
By Robert Fairburn

A MEMBER of a gang who raped and tortured a mentally handicapped woman has provoked fury by being freed early - despite refusing to go on a rehab scheme. Alexander Maben, 43, was released after serving just four years of a seven year sentence for his part in the attack on the girl, known only as Miss X.

But last night, his victim's relatives and politicians demanded a change in the law. A family member said: "This is a shock. It seems like only yesterday he was jailed. If he refused rehab he shouldn't be out."

Nats justice spokeswoman Christine Grahame said: "The Scottish Parliament, with the support of the SNP, is looking to end the early release scheme. "If serious sex offenders are still considered a risk to the community then why are we letting them out at all?"

Maben was caged in July 2002 for a string of horrific sexual offences. He and pals James Mercer, 39, and Ross Douglas, 30, admitted subjecting Miss X to vile assaults over three months. Douglas also admitted rape. He was given 10 years, while Mercer also got seven.

Miss X, now 34, was stripped, starved, handcuffed and severely beaten. In one attack, the trio poured turpentine over her but it failed to ignite, so they stripped her and tried to set fire to her clothes. Hotel kitchen worker Maben admitted helping Mercer force her to strip, shaving her head, sexual assault and repeatedly stamping on her head and body.

The abuse began after social workers sent Miss X to live with Mercer in Newton St Boswells, Roxburghshire, after her mother died in November 2001. Her nightmare ended in February 2002 after a friend saw she was hurt. Doctors at Borders General Hospital found 71 injuries. Maben is now in temporary accommodation.

Prisoners who address their offending behaviour by attending rehab are usually released halfway through sentences. Those who do not, like Maben, serve two thirds. A police source said: "He was uncooperative inside and has made it clear he won't conform to rehab after release." The Scottish Prison Service said: "The choice of participating in rehab programmes remains with the prisoner."

Miss X led to a shake-up of social work care for mentally ill people.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Deputy First Minister faces Police inquiry over fiddled mortgage expenses claims as more revelations on msps property deals come to light.

A fiddle or a muddle ? .. but when it comes to the Scottish Parliament, a muddle is always a fiddle .. and that's how one person viewed Deputy First Minister Nichol Stephen's claims for mortgage interest payments from the Parliament, as a member of the public has made a complaint to Lothian & Borders Police, asking for an investigation into the affair - reports the Sunday Herald newspaper.

Of course, it has taken a member of the public to ask for that step .. as it seems there are no MSPs able to 'cast the first stone' these days ... with virtually everyone at Holyrood having some dark secret in their closet, and being too terrified of revelations on their own conduct coming out in tit for tat leaks - don't worry - plenty more to come out, people !

I wonder how Lothian & Borders Police will handle the investigation ? Another whitewash perhaps ? Ultimately, they can only do what they are told to do ... and the force being as politicised as it is now, I doubt we will end up with a situation where Stephen & a host of other MSPs who have fiddled their expenses & failed to declare income, interests & more, will be carted off in the Black Maria (YES!)

I don't have particularly fond memories of the way Lothian & Borders Police handle investigations ... I remember, for instance, one time when a major drugs investigation was underway in Jedburgh, using my own home as a base for surveillence, a tabloid journalist called me one day to ask the motives of a serving CID officer under the Detective Chief Inspector of CID in "G" Division at Hawick at the time, who was ratting out his own [married] boss for having an affair with a [married] victim of a burglary he had once 'interviewed'. This, and a lot of other things I took note of at the time, including [still serving] senior Officers seemingly out to get their own PCs for making suggestions to the public, led me to believe the Force was fighting itself .. so much that it botched that particular drugs op and left Jedburgh awash with drugs .. to this day it seems. I have still to write about all this sometime ...

There is also the not-so-good record of Lothian & Borders Police at the Scottish Parliament .. on everything from stolen laptops to allegedly stolen cellular phones (all inside jobs by Parliamentary Staff, apparently .. no one caught yet of course) . and then there is the well known cocaine den at Holyrood, where some staff seem to be in an almost permanent haze of the white stuff. Frightening, one would think .. but all allowed to go on right under everyone's noses, as it were. or is it up everyone's noses, I forget .. with all the leaks to leak these days.

Maybe we need to call in Taggart or Hamish MacBeth on this one ... for a wee bit of impartiality ?

Anyway, not to be outdone by the LibDems - who really need chucking out of Scottish politics .. the Guardian & Observer (yes, ENGLISH newspapers) are reporting on the deeds of former & current SNP MSPs and a Green MSP, which it is only fair to report, because it shows there are a lot of the MSPs at it, at the Scottish Parliament.

Well, it will be interesting to see if the Police are allowed to do an investigation .. and even if Stephen is investigated - surely along with several other MSPs ... how will the Crown Office react ? Will they receive political orders to drop the case as Stephen is a Minister in the Scottish Executive ? ... same going for other MSPs who undoubtably should be investigated such as John Home Robertson ... no prosecutions because they are members of the governing party ?

Only time will tell .. but of course, more revelations to come of course ... and next time Mr Stephen .. instead of being kissy kissy with the likes of Tom McMorrow & ICAS, ... please take note of what members of the public have warned you about. Resolving a few issues would save a lot of headlines, you know.

UPDATE 27 November : The Scotsman are covering the Stephen expenses story here : Deputy first minister faces police inquiry over expenses

Also, to answer questions on my interest in Nichol Stephen's expenses fiddle, which came out of ICAS claims to the press, back in July, of getting the OK on amendments which run contrary to my campaign regarding regulation of legal complaints in the LPLA Bill, read this :
Scottish Accountants try to amend LPLA Bill for their own benefit - but refuse independent regulation safeguards for the consumer

Links from the Sunday Herald and Guardian to follow :


Stephen faces police probe on mortgage
By Paul Hutcheon

THE DEPUTY First Minister is facing a police probe into a breach of Holyrood expenses guidelines that resulted in him receiving around £50,000 in mortgage payments charged to the taxpayer.

Lothian and Borders police have been asked to investigate why Nicol Stephen, the Scottish Liberal Democrats leader, gave inaccurate information to parliament about a loan he took out on a property in Edinburgh.

Solidarity MSP Tommy Sheridan is also threatening to take the matter to Holyrood's standards committee.

The row follows the Sunday Herald's revelation last week that Stephen, who is also the Scottish Executive enterprise minister, is billing the taxpayer for mortgage interest payments on a house jointly owned with his wife. He has been charging the public almost £9000 a year through the Edinburgh accommodation allowance (EAA) to stay in a house in Morningside, despite rules blocking payments for joint mortgages.

Stephen failed to tell the parliament in 2003 that his mortgage was taken out with his wife and instead submitted a document which only had his name on it, thus entitling him to the payments.

The revelations prompted Stephen to inform officials about the false information he provided just hours after the Sunday Herald story came out.

The parliament's corporate body, which runs Holyrood, ruled on Thursday that Stephen had "failed to follow the guidelines" on allowances and slapped the MSP on the wrist. But Holyrood stopped short of calling on Stephen to pay back the near £50,000, as members ruled he had not intended to break the guidelines.

Stephen accepted his error but claimed he had not benefited financially. The deputy First Minister said he would transfer the property into his name, a move that will entitle him to keep claiming the payments.

However, a member of the public has urged police to investigate the Minister's role in providing false information to the parliament. The letter of complaint calls on officers in Lothian and Borders police to examine whether an "error" was committed and why the LibDem leader declined to inform parliament he had a joint mortgage.

And Tommy Sheridan said: "I am going to write to the presiding officer, George Reid, because I think it is wrong that people who receive the allowance judge whether another member who received the EAA broke the rules. If he doesn't do anything about it I will refer it to the standards committee."

A Scottish Liberal Democrats spokesman said last night: "There is no question of gain to Mr Stephen or his wife and no cost to the parliament. The parliamentary authorities have made it clear that there has been no improper use of allowances."

and now the Guardian website reports on msps property transactions ...


MSPs buy and sell houses - and taxpayer pays

Politicians defend profitable Holyrood perk after Nationalist makes nearly £40,000 on flat

Lorna Martin, Scotland editor
Sunday November 26, 2006
The Observer http://www.observer.co.uk

Calls to scrap the accommodation allowance for MSPs were stepped up last night after it emerged that members of the Scottish Parliament were buying and selling taxpayer-funded properties to each other and keeping the profits.

The Observer has learned that Andrew Wilson, the former Nationalist MSP, made nearly £40,000 when he sold his Edinburgh flat to Nationalist MSP Rob Gibson and his partner, the Green MSP Eleanor Scott, after losing his seat in the 2003 elections. All three have billed the public for mortgage interest payments on the same property.

Wilson bought the flat in May 2000 for £92,000 and sold it more than three years later for £130,000. He qualified for the housing perk because he lived too far away to commute daily to Edinburgh. Land registry documents show that when he was an MSP, Wilson was registered as living in Milngavie, Glasgow, at a property owned by the parents of his friend Duncan Hamilton, another former Nationalist MSP.

When Wilson sold his Edinburgh flat to Gibson and Scott, they started to claim mortgage interest payments on the property. It will now be worth significantly more than the £130,000 they paid.

While there is no suggestion the politicians have broken any rules, it highlights the money-making potential of the housing allowances for MSPs.

Last night Gibson said Scots were getting their MSPs 'dirt-cheap'. He said he would welcome an independent review but insisted the current system was effective and efficient.

'If you add up the costs of those who rent or those who stay in hotels, buying is by far the cheapest option,' he said. 'When Andrew [Wilson] was selling his place the market was very buoyant, but who knows what it might be like in four years?

Gibson added: 'What has also not been mentioned are the capital costs, such as furniture, we are required to make for a second home. I would welcome an independent review as it would reveal the comments of Tommy Sheridan and the tabloid suggestion that this is a money-making scheme to be inaccurate.' Dr Scott accepted that there was a public perception issue regarding the allowance. 'It is important that MSPs are not making rules to suit themselves,' she said. 'That is why the Greens have tabled a motion asking for a completely independent review of all MSPs' expenses and allowances. I'd be happy to adhere to whatever they come up with.'

Modelled on the Westminster system, Holyrood's accommodation allowance permits MSPs to claim rent or mortgage interest payments on a property in Edinburgh, or to stay in a hotel. Annual payments through the allowance are capped at about £11,000. The scheme also permits recipients to claim for council tax, as well as for a television licence and bills.

On Friday, it emerged that Deputy First Minister Nicol Stephen had broken Holyrood guidelines after claiming thousands of pounds of taxpayers' money to buy a home in Edinburgh, on which he had a joint mortgage in place. The Scottish Parliamentary Body said the rules stated that MSPs were only entitled to reimbursement of mortgages in their own name after 2001. However, it accepted that Stephen had made no financial gain and that the claim had been made in error.

At least 48 MSPs have profited from the mortgage interest scheme, which has cost the taxpayer about £2m since 1999. The main complaint about the perk is that it allows MSPs to buy properties with public cash and then keep the profits when a flat is sold.

Also controversial is the practice of renting from relatives. Labour MSP John Home Robertson has been billing the public £600 a month to stay in his son's flat while Transport Minister Tavish Scott admitted billing the taxpayer to stay at his sister's flat.

Scott used taxpayer's money to help buy a £100,000 flat, made a £36,000 profit, and then used that to help buy a £300,000 family home. He now bills the taxpayer £1,000 a month for that.

Tommy Sheridan, the Solidarity MSP and a long-time critic of the scheme, called for all MSPs who have financially gained to repay any profits.

In a statement on his website, he said: 'There should be no profit made on expenses from the taxpayer and anyone who has made a profit, or is about to, should do the decent thing and give it back.'

Earlier this month, the parliament's presiding officer said the scheme would be reviewed after attracting heavy criticism.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Deputy First Minister guilty of expenses fiddle - Wrist slapped & told not to do it again.

Firstly, let me congratulate Mary McDonald of Glasgow, for winning her battle against Glasgow Housing Association who terrorised her with a court case over a £277 repair bill which was due to thugs regularly vandalising her tenement block.

In a quote from the Scotsman report you can read here: OAP wins legal fight after being charged for vandalism - "Sheriff Martin Jones QC brought cheers from her supporters as he found in her favour. He agreed GHA had let down Mrs McDonald - and that she should not have to stump up the cash."

I think Mrs McDonald should be entitled to some compensation from the GHA over their actions towards her. What a disgrace, to terrorise a pensioner with a court case, over something which was no fault of her own, and I hear the GHA lawyers really sunk their teeth into this case. The GHA must have felt they were in 'legal bully heaven', taking on an 86 year old lady who was the sole home owner in a tenement.

What was the real motive ? Take poor Mrs McDonald to court for years so they might be able to force the sale of her flat to pay the legal bills of a case which she might not win, and the GHA would end up with the property ?... It's been done before, you know ... oh yes .. a regular tactic is this.

Well Done Mary McDonald, and well done to all your supporters.

Now back to today's article on the lurid goings on at Holyrood by way of milking the expenses.

Some people have been asking me if the recent stream of news related to MSPs fiddling their expenses for mortgage payments & dodgy house purchase deals, might be linked to the forthcoming vote on the Legal Profession & Legal Aid (Scotland) Bill.

Well, one could say .. Yes .. to that one, but not just because of the LPLA Bill ... it seems that some are taking revenge for both the Executive & Parliament's interest in certain areas of legal & public life, shall we say ? However, what has come out so far, on the expenses fiddles, isn't anything which hasn't been known about for awhile ...

Since the LPLA Bill was announced earlier this year, the likes of the Law Society of Scotland, and it's regulatory allies, have been collating as much information on all msps as possible. Ah .. you say I rant on this one ? Not at all .. It seems that a request was put out to all solicitors, Solicitor Property Centres, & Estate Agents, for information on property transactions involving Scotlands politicians .. and also, their legal affairs .. to name but a few points of interest being taken in oor politicians.

How do I know this ? One of the memos was read out to me, as it passed through a legal firm I have a source with. I'm sure some MSPs now know what I am talking about - after all, they aren't stupid. I'm sure they worked out awhile ago, their property transaction details ended up, shall we say, less than confidential ? .. and fell into the hands of certain people who are going to be seriously curtailed in power by oncoming legislation ... motive enough, I say .. and a plot almost worthy of a movie, if it didn't have so many leaks. I wonder, for instance what JHR would do if I told him that certain lawyers were babbling his legal business all over town ?

On the subject of leaks, there arrived a plain brown envelope on my desk this week, containing information & photographs on none other than, David McLetchie. Ah .. my old friend McLetchie from Tods Murray Solicitors - the legal firm which was first assigned to defend crooked lawyer Andrew 'Fraudster' Penman of Stormonth Darling Solicitors, Kelso .. thus giving me an interest in Mr McLetchie's career.

Obviously, someone wants to ruin Mr McLetchie's political career, and knowing how I feel about his legal firm's interference in the Penman case, along with McLetchie replacing the galant Mr Gallie on the Justice 1 "Regulation of the Legal Profession" inquiry in 2001, because Phil was going to ask some hard questions of the Law Society, they assume I will do the dirty deed and leak it. Oh well, why not leak it then.. but there is a time for everything, as they say.

Anyway, I see Nichol Stephen was,found guilty, of his mortgage expenses fiddle, so I will briefly cover that one today. Read my earlier article here : Scottish Parliament withholds documents as Deputy First Minister faces allegations of questionable mortgage arrangements.

Try making a false claim to the Benefits Agency .. and you may find yourself with a fine, or even jail .. but what happens when the Deputy First Minister fiddles his mortgage payments ? ... answer, not much, as you can see.

I don't think blaming the Bank for mistakenly sending papers to Mr Stephen's home instead of the Parliament will wash to the public on this one ... it certainly would be laughed out of court if introduced as evidence in a criminal case .. what is it they say .. ignorance of the law is no excuse ? but the Scottish Parliament Corporate Body certainly wont scold Stephen too much .. after all, he's one of their own .. and there are many more at the expenses fiddling.

A quote from the Scotsman article today :

In March 2003 Mr Stephen's office gave Holyrood's allowances office a document which showed that his was the only name on the mortgage papers. However, this was sent to Mr Stephen in error by his bank and the actual mortgage agreement - only given to the authorities on Thursday - showed that he and his wife held the mortgage jointly.

I understand that is a lie. Officials at the Parliament (and the newspaper which originally broke the story) had actually seen this document much earlier than last Thursday ... lie after lie after lie ... that's not much of a point scoring position for the office of Deputy First Minister, now, is it.

Tommy Sheridan is quoted in the Scotsman today saying "This is yet another example of MSPs using the rules to suit themselves and getting away with it. If Nicol Stephen had been a social security claimant wrongly getting benefit he would be in court or in jail by now but the parliament is lightly rapping his knuckles. "This is the final nail in the coffin of the expenses scheme; it should be suspended immediately and the profits handed back to the parliament."

Sheridan is probably saying what the public feel on this one ... time to suspend the milking scheme and hand back the money .. but let's have it all out in the open and see who has abused their expenses accounts at Holyrood.

As for Nichol Stephen .. a Fibdem .. well, he lied about his mortgage expenses milking to begin with .. yes, he lied. He denied it .. so, let's be having him out please ... no liars needed at the Scottish Executive or the Scottish Parliament .. but, come to think of it .. if we go by those terms .. the debating chamber of the Scottish Parliament will be empty .. from the Speaker down to the clerks !

I think what we need to see now, is some leaks over the undeclared stuff, because there are a lot more fiddles going on in the background than has been publicised so far. Time for some more revelations then ?

Link : http://thescotsman.scotsman.com/index.cfm?id=1747072006

Deputy first minister is guilty of breaking Holyrood expenses rules

NICOL Stephen, the deputy first minister, was yesterday found guilty of breaking Holyrood's expenses rules while he was claiming thousands of pounds of taxpayers' money to buy a flat in Edinburgh.

The mortgage on Mr Stephen's home in one of the Capital's most sought-after areas was held jointly with his wife, Caris Doig - a clear breach of Holyrood's regulations, parliamentary authorities ruled yesterday

Mr Stephen, who has risen to power on the back of a squeaky-clean image, yesterday admitted that he regretted the "error" but stressed that the investigation by Holyrood's governing body had found that neither he nor his wife had gained from the arrangement.

Last night the latest controversy over politicians' expenses led to a warning from the parliamentary authorities to MSPs to follow the rules and further calls for the allowance scheme to be scrapped.

Mr Stephen's joint mortgage was first revealed by a Sunday newspaper six days ago. At first, both the deputy first minister and the parliament denied that he had done anything wrong.

But members of the Scottish Parliament's Corporate Body, which manages Holyrood's budget, were given fresh details of the mortgage arrangements by Mr Stephen on Thursday.

They showed the names of both the minister and his wife on the agreement, contradicting an earlier document, lodged with the allowances office, which showed that he was the sole mortgage holder.

As MSP for Aberdeen South, Mr Stephen is entitled to claim for the interest on a mortgage for a second home in Edinburgh's exclusive Morningside.

A spokesman for the parliament said: "The SPCB found that the member had failed to follow the guidelines for the scheme by having a joint mortgage in place, post 2001.

"At this point, the guidance was clear that members were entitled to reimbursement of interest if the mortgage arrangement was in their name only."

The SPCB found that neither Mr Stephen nor his wife had gained from the "error", as the mortgage payment would have been the same if it was just in his name.

Mr Stephen, who has been claiming £9,000 a year allowances on the £190,000 home he bought with his wife in February 2002, said: "I fully acknowledge there has been a breach of the guidance.

"I very much regret this error. I sincerely believed the arrangements I had put in place were acceptable."

He said he had "acted promptly" to resolve the issues with the parliament and he had made the claim "in good faith and with no financial gain".

Mr Stephen said he had already taken steps to transfer the property and the mortgage into his name.

The parliament's spokesman added a warning to all MSPs last night. He said: "The SPCB concluded that this breach served as a reminder to all members to ensure they are alert to every detail of the allowances scheme and the handbook issued to them as guidance."

The allowance scheme has attracted heavy criticism with other ministers and MSPs under the spotlight for their claims.

Tommy Sheridan, the Solidarity MSP, said: "This is yet another example of MSPs using the rules to suit themselves and getting away with it. If Nicol Stephen had been a social security claimant wrongly getting benefit he would be in court or in jail by now but the parliament is lightly rapping his knuckles.

"This is the final nail in the coffin of the expenses scheme; it should be suspended immediately and the profits handed back to the parliament."


A REVISED members allowances scheme was agreed by the parliament in June 2001. It said that MSPs could claim the Edinburgh Accommodation Allowance (EMA) provided they were the only ones named on the mortgage of the property.

In March 2003 Mr Stephen's office gave Holyrood's allowances office a document which showed that his was the only name on the mortgage papers.

However, this was sent to Mr Stephen in error by his bank and the actual mortgage agreement - only given to the authorities on Thursday - showed that he and his wife held the mortgage jointly.

Before they pay out the EMA, officials require MSPs to show them their loan agreement or a loan offer along with a statement of the payments being made.

Some MSPs are still claiming allowances for mortgages entered into jointly with spouses before the rule change.

MSPs whose home is in one of 32 constituencies beyond easy reach of Holyrood can claim up to £10,900 a year in mortgage interest payments.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Using the Master Policy of the Law Society of Scotland to sue a negligent lawyer is impossible

... which is why we need regulation & oversight of complaints against lawyers in a fully independent 'Scottish Legal Complaints Commission' regulatory body as proposed in the Legal Profession & Legal Aid (Scotland) Bill

Some people have been asking to see the media coverage associated with my dealings with the Scottish legal profession. I have therefore added a link to my photo gallery on Flikr, where you can view & download scans of newspaper coverage of my case. Link here : Peter Cherbi on Flikr - Visit my photo album of media coverage from the Scotsman & other media .

Remember, when you read the media coverage I received, spare a thought for the many other people who have fallen victim to the legal profession who have been through the same as me, but their cases may not have gained as much publicity as mine. The campaign to bring independent regulation to the legal profession is for everyone to benefit - and for the sins of the past by the Law Society of Scotland against badly treated clients to be put right.

For today's article, I have been asked a lot about how to go about suing a lawyer in Scotland for negligence.

Well, I've been writing about that for months ... and the fact is, it is almost impossible to successfully sue a lawyer for negligence - or for that, any other offence, or failure of service.

Why is Master Policy such a failure ?

Well, you have to get a lawyer to sue a lawyer, and that has to be the most difficult thing to achieve in the entire Universe, next to attaining Fusion Power.

You have all read about my experiences in trying to sue crooked Borders lawyer Andrew Penman of Stormonth Darling Solicitors, Kelso ... and I ended up with only an offer to cover all the legal costs I had accumulated with trying to get the case against the crooked lawyer to the Court of Session in the first place.

Some of my experiences in neglience actions with Scottish lawyers can be found here : Leaked letter shows true extent of the Law Society of Scotland's Dirty Tricks Campaign against me .. where Douglas Mill & Philip Yelland of the Law Society were out to make sure my claim against crooked lawyer Andrew Penman didn't go to court.

My own submission to the Scottish Parliament on my experiences & issues relating to the Master Insurance Policy can be downloaded here Submission from Peter Cherbi to Justice 2 Committee on LPLA Bill in Acrobat pdf format from the Parliamentary website.

There are of course, plenty other examples of how difficult it is to pursue a claim of negligence against a crooked Scottish lawyer ... many of which I have covered over the months, but one of the most famous has to be that of Stewart MacKenzie and a 22 year pursuit of crooked negligent lawyers. Why so long ? Because the Law Society of Scotland interfered at every turn of the MacKenzie's case - even to the point of the Chief Executive of the Law Society - Douglas Mill, lying at the Justice 2 Committee hearings on the LPLA Bill recently at the Scottish Parliament, which you can read about here : The Corrupt Link Revealed - How the Law Society of Scotland manages client complaints & settlements

The Law Society has aninformation sheet on the Master Policy located here :
Law Society of Scotland Master Policy Information Sheet

Every single detail on the Law Society's Master Policy Information Sheet, is a lie. A complete fraud. A falsehood, a deception, complete, fakery.

Here, I will take apart the leaflet, so anyone who wants to try and sue a lawyer for neglignce, knows the score.

Information Sheet on the Master Policy For Professional Indemnity Insurance

Solicitors in Scotland have an excellent reputation and the vast majority of clients are happy with the services they provide.

[Reality] There is NO solicitor in Scotland who hasn't had client complaints made against them, many of serious issues such as fraud, overcharging for services, embezzlement, deception, faking file notes, altering evidence & much more

If you feel that your solicitor or a member of their staff may have been negligent in the way they have handled your case, then you may have a claim against them.

[Reality] You may think you have a claim against a negligent lawyer, but the aparatus you willbe up against, will all but defeat it, and ruin your life

Before considering making a claim, you should ensure that you have a case. It is not enough just to be dissatisfied with the outcome of a particular transaction, court case etc. To establish that your solicitor was negligent and that you have a valid claim, the law requires you to be able to show:-

(a) that your solicitor owed you a duty of care;
(b) in what way your solicitor breached that duty of care; and
(c) the precise loss to you resulting from that breach of care.

(a) All solicitors owe their client a duty of care - but if you complain to the Law Society of Scotland, they will fiddle the evidence on that one to the point it is you, the client, who was at fault.

(b) It doesn't matter how many ways in which you find your solicitor breached that duty of care, the Law Society of Scotland will always make sure nothing can come of it. Usually, what issues you find will be whitewashed as part of a Complaints investigation, to stop you using such issues to make a claim

(c) You can make a full determination with as much evidence as you like as to the precise financial loss which you suffered at the hands of a crooked negligent lawyer - but it will get you nowhere. The Law Society of Scotland have been known in many Complaints investigations to state there was no financial loss - and this statement is often used by a solicitor to defeat any financial claim you will make - but the rules state YOU cannot use the terms of the Complaints report in your defence.

Making a claim and proving negligence can be complicated and you may need to ask a solicitor for assistance. Many claims are resolved by negotiation. Where negotiations fail, you may need to raise court proceedings in which case the court will decide the outcome of your claim.

There are time limits that apply to claims for negligence. After the expiry of those time limits, you may be unable to make a claim.

Here we go ... "Making a claim and proving negligence can be complicated and you may need to ask a solicitor for assistance" .. have I said enough ? That means you have to get a lawyer to sue a lawyer .. you saw what happened to me when I tried that .. and the same has happened to thousands of others. No dice. No compensation, and no hope of ever getting near a court room.

Claims being resolved "by negotiation" are completely false. Usually, that negotiation takes the form of the Law Society & the Insurers of the Master Insurance Policy (Royal & Sun Alliance, & Marsh UK) finding out every single piece of information on you & your family they can come up with - and create some too just to make sure they can harrass you in the event you doggedly pursue your case to court. Be prepared at the end of the said 'negotiation' to be offered either nothing or a very small amount - but be aware the lawyers who represented you, and the lawyer you were trying to sue, get paid fat bonuses to defeat your claim. Nice one, eh ?

The Pursuers' Panel is a group of solicitors who have expertise in professional negligence to assist members of the public with advice about negligence claims against solicitors. More information on this Panel is available on the home page of the Society's website -


The Pursuers Panel - is a group of solicitors who have experience in ruining your case and making sure your claim of negligence against a crooked lawyer never gets near a court. Be aware that all the details of your complaint against the crooked lawyer will be used against you by these people - and they actively share all your case information with the Law Society of Scotland - whom they constantly consult on each step of your case, to make sure your claim gets nowhere.

I wrote a little about the 'Pursuer's Panel' here : Advocates don't do it for free - despite Faculty claims of 'free service'


Scottish solicitors working in private practice have Professional Indemnity Insurance cover for claims against them. This insurance means that, if you establish a valid claim for negligence against a solicitor, that claim will be paid - even if the solicitor is no longer in practice, no longer solvent or cannot be traced.


Rubbish ... there are hundreds of claims against solicitors who are no longer in practice still waiting to be resolved. This is simply a lie .. and any such case is usually delayed so much, it falls outwith the limits of time bar.


The Master Policy is the compulsory Professional Indemnity Insurance arrangement which covers all Scottish solicitors working in private practice. The Society arranges the Master Policy for Professional Indemnity Insurance. Claims are handled by the Master Policy insurers. The insurance provides cover of up to £1.5million for any one claim.


The Master Policy is the most corrupt, devious, crooked, insidious Insurance Policy for professions in Scotland today. It is stage managed to make sure that clients who make negligence claims against crooked lawyers get nowhere. Lawyers pay into the Policy as a matter of course - and if your claim is successful, lawyers annual payments go the Master Policy go up ... similar to if you have an accident with your car insurance. So, it is in the best interests of all lawyers - either the crooked lawyer you are trying to sue, or your own lawyer representing your case, to make sure your claim fails and you get nothing - so their annual payments remain low.


In a summary, if you make a claim against your solicitor, your solicitor is entitled to make a claim for indemnity from the Master Policy insurers. Provided it is established that you have a valid claim, the Master Policy insurers will meet the solicitor's liability to you to meet your claim.

All solicitors make a claim for indemity from the Master Policy insurers. Be prepared to have any 'valid claim' invalidated.

Not every claim will involve the insurers. Whether or not the Master Policy insurers become involved you still have to establish that your solicitor was negligent.

Completely false. Every claim must be notified to the Master Policy Insurers .... and establishing that your solicitor was negligent still requires you to get another solicitor & more, to say they were negligent - Impossible !

Depending on the circumstances, you may find that the Master Policy insurers (or solicitors instructed by them) become involved in responding to your claim. Where that happens, you will be sent a copy of the Master Policy Claims Handling Philosophy which is a statement of how the insurers seek to resolve claims.

The Master Policy Claims Handling Philosophy is a charter to attack claimants and defeat all claims. The Claims Handling Philosophy allows any action to be take against a claimant the insurer deems necesary.

Further information on the Master Policy may be obtained by emailing David Cullen at the Law Society of Scotland at : davidcullen@lawscot.org.uk

Be prepared to a goof stalling from Mr Cullen .. and a good fiddling of your case to make sure your claim gets nowhere - just as thousands of other clients of crooked Scottish lawyers have found when contacting the Law Society of Scotland.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Advocates don't do it for free - despite Faculty claims of 'free service'

The Faculty of Advocates claim they have a Free Legal Services Unit with senior members of the profession able to give advice or take on cases for those who can't afford to go to court ... time to debunk that little lie then ...

The top three corrupt professional regulatory bodies in Scotland today, are :

1. The Law Society of Scotland
2. The Faculty of Advocates
3. The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland

The first two on the list are currently under the spotlight in the Legal Profession & Legal Aid (Scotland) Bill , in terms of their work as self regulators of the Scottish legal profession - widely known to be corrupt when it comes to client complaints against crooked lawyers.

ICAS, the third on the list - which has the capacity in some cases to surpass the Law Society & Faculty on the corrupt regulator list, with it's wide range of dirty tricks & influence in the Banking & Finance sector, as well as having serious political influence .. is yet to be held to account for the misconduct of it's army of some 16,000+ accountants - where it claims there are fewer than 50 complaints a year.

Not to be outdone by the Law Society & Faculty of Advocates, ICAS have lodged amendments to the LPLA Bill with demands their accountants get in on the business of legal services - particularly handling wills & probate .. which we have seen examples of in the past, where the likes of crooked Borders accountant Norman Howitt, of Welchs Accountants, Hawick & Galashiels , robbed my own family - and caused the bankruptcy of some of his former employers too. We will have to keep an eye on the likes of ICAS - who have the likes of the Privy Council on their side ... just waiting to be set upon unsuspecting members of the public who try to make a complaint against their accountant. Time for accountants to be independently regulated too...

Getting back to the Law Society & the Faculty of Advocates .. both of these organisations recognised several years ago, there would probably be some change to the way they regulated their members .. and also changes in their business model - which currently is .. fleece the client for as much as possible, loot anyone you can, inflate bills, do just about anything you like .. and keep the troublemakers away from the courts - but most importantly ... these two organisations had to come up with ways to claim they were doing everything to help members of the public with complaints & claims against negligent or crooked lawyers .. while actually doing nothing.

The Law Society of Scotland hit the streets first in this public relations war .. with the formation of a Pursuers Panel .. which consists of several firms of lawyers who can take on negligence claims against other lawyers ... so, you could theoretically go to one of these legal firms named in the Pursuers Panel list .. and get them to sue another lawyer.

Does the Pursuer's Panel work ?


How do I know the Pursuers Panel doesn't work ?

I tried it myself. Had my case refused by all member firms of the Pursuers Panel on the grounds there is a bar on representing me. The Law Society was made aware of my every step by each firm I went to, and they got their orders to kick my case out. 'Too dangerous' they said .. 'can't have anything to do with you'.. 'get lost'... I know others who have also tried to get the Pursuers Panel to take on their cases against crooked lawyers ... they got the same treatment as myself.

The "Pursuers Panel" was simply formed as one of the public relations measures against the 2001 "Regulation of the Legal Profession Inquiry" which was conducted by the Justice 1 Committee of the Scottish Parliament, chaired by Christine Grahame MSP. The J2 Committee was told all about the "Pursuers Panel" by the Law Society, and how it would make life easy for complainants to sue crooked negligent lawyers .. but no successes of any measure have ever been produced by this entirely fraudulent scheme. The then Justice 1 Committee was either unwilling or unable to ask the proper searching questions of just why it was so difficult to get a lawyer to sue a lawyer .. given the way the J1 Committee conducted the inquiry - banning members of the public from attending hearings to speak of their suffering - even heavily censoring public submissions on their experiences with the Law Society .. in a level of censorship which rivalled the former Soviet Union ... it was widely expected the 2001 inquiry would fail to reform the way in which lawyers regulated lawyers.

Even worse was to come with the Pursuers Panel, such that if a complainant required Civil Legal Aid from the Scottish Legal Aid Board to pursue a case against a negligent or crooked lawyer through the "Pursuer's Panel" scheme ... there was no chance of such a case progressing ... with "Pursuer Panel" member firms declining to take on Civil Legal Aid work .. and of course, there was also Chief Executive Douglas Mill of the Law Society of Scotland just waiting to write in to the Legal Aid Board, opposing any such awarding of legal aid to someone who dared launch a financial claim against a member of the Law Society of Scotland. Did Christine Grahame's Justice 1 Committee ask any questions about that ? No, they didn't.

Not to be outdone by the Law Society of Scotland, the Faculty of Adocates came up with their own fraudulent scheme to say that everything was fine with their own cosy Advocates club ... and for those of us who couldn't obtain the services of and Advocate - we didn't need to worry, because they had formed a "Free Legal Services Unit" - which claimed to offer advice to people unable to afford to go to court.

Does this Free Legal Services Unit scheme work ?


Actually, hardly anyone took the scheme up - as reported in today's Scotsman newspaper, but what is actually happening - as Advocates full well know - no one can actually go direct to the Faculty and consult an Advocate on a case - particularly when it involves crooked or negligent lawyers.

Why is that ?

Well, you have to go through a lawyer first, before you meet an Advocate. It's been like that for decades.

Oh .. but there is the notion of "Direct Access" which the Faculty recently came up with, in yet another attempt at spin to say anyone could get an Advocate if they needed one.

Well, "Direct Access" has so many caveats and conditions .. it is useless ... and of course, I need not remind you all of the existence of the Black Book of Clients (which one solicitor nicknamed it to me) .. where it seems many of those who have complained against solicitors to the Law Society of Scotland are named .. including one Peter Cherbi !

You can have a little laugh at the terms of Direct Access to Advocates.

The Scotsman is reporting that the likes of Donald Findlay, Richard Keen, Roy Martin & more are involved in this Free Legal Services Unit ... I wonder if they would like to represent me and the army of people who have claims against crooked lawyers ? or would they just use their time to discredit our claims & cases to whitewash their collegagues in the legal profession .. sadly .. yes I think to the latter ... just another window dressing exercise from the Faculty to placate themselves in the face of the LPLA Bill reforms.

I think the SNP really need to come up with a policy statement on this whole issue, particularly after the way in which John Swinney MSP has been magnificently helping a constituent against a long & dirty campaign by the Law Society of Scotland to swindle any chance of justice against several firms of crooked lawyers.

Oh .. don't think the Law Society haven't noticed Mr Swinney's work for his constituent ... particularly the nasty controntation in front of the Justice 2 Committee over Mill's interference in claims against crooked lawyers, which I covered here : The Corrupt Link Revealed - How the Law Society of Scotland manages client complaints & settlements. ... in fact, the Law Society have been trying to come up with ways to sway the SNP away from the LPLA Bill and any reform of the legal profession in Scotland .. could it be the stick & carrot approach will be in use again ? the possibilty of funding on offer for a scrapping of any vote in favour of the LPLA Bill or implementation of its terms after next May's Holyrood elections ?

Read on for the, rather short, but very important article, from the Scotsman, at :

Few take up top advocates' free offer

AN OFFER by some of Scotland's top advocates to work for free has been met with a "trickle" of responses, it emerged yesterday.

The Faculty of Advocates formed a Free Legal Services Unit last year, offering legal advice to people unable to afford to go to court. Some 63 QCs have joined the scheme, including high-profile lawyers such as Donald Findlay, Richard Keen and Roy Martin.

The faculty says it has had only a small number of cases referred to it by advice agencies so far and is keen to alert more people to the scheme.

Kenny MacAskill, the SNP's justice spokesman, welcomed the initiative, but added that it was "no substitute for an affordable legal system".

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Scottish Parliament withholds documents as Deputy First Minister faces allegations of questionable mortgage arrangements.

Revelations on expenses milking continue on our elected politicians, with Nicol Stephen, the Deputy First Minister caught out this week by the Sunday Herald over a £9000-a-year allowance he receives from the taxpayer to meet interest payments on a £190,000 house he owns with his wife.

In a quote from the article :

Nicol Stephen, who is also leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, has been claiming interest payments for a house he bought in Edinburgh in February 2002.

Both Stephen and his wife are named as debtors in the standard security agreed with mortgage providers. That means if the mortgage is not paid, both are legally responsible.

Yet the Holyrood Allowances Office says it has another document – which it has refused to identify – which lists Stephen as the only name on the loan. There is no clear legal ruling on which document constitutes the mortgage.

The LibDems have come out with a statement on the matter, also contained in the article : “The property is jointly owned by Mr and Mrs Stephen, but the mortgage interest repayments are the sole responsibility of Nicol Stephen, in line with the parliament’s accommodation allowance rules.”

However, with Holyrood refusing to hand over particular documents on the matter .. it looks like there is something to hide ... surely, as the Parliament loves to portray itself as being transparent *laughs* ... they would have been just as well publishing any relevant documentation in response to media inquiries .. but with this having the makings of yet another scandal of milking the allowances at Holyrood .. the Parliament is proably trying to cap any further investigations from the media.

Well .... I don't think that's going to work .. because there seems to be more information coming out on certain msps who are going to have significant problems explaining certain transactions I am not going to disclose just yet ... and I am certainly looking forward to those reports being published.

It must be great for all these politicians to get their mortgages paid while the rest of the country wallows in debt & mortgage hell - at the mercy of Banks, lawyers & other financial institutions who are gunning for their every penny and busy throwing families out of their homes for mortgage arrears .. but what has been very noticable in all of this is the lack of any remorse at all on the part of msps over their exposure in the allowances milking scandals to hit Holyrood & the Scottish Executive recently.

Just take a look, for instance, at last week's Sunday Times interview with John Home Robertson MSP : A new lord of the manor in waiting ... which came after the Sunday Herald's excellent expose on Home Robertson, who was renting his own son's flat for £7,000 a year at the taxpayers expense .. which I covered here : Scottish Labour Politician rents his own son's flat for £7000 a year, charging it up to taxpayers

Home Robertson is in waiting for a peerage, by the sounds of his arrogance ... a peerage which seems to be on offer so he will step aside to allow another Labour politician to take his seat ... but Angus McNeil of the SNP has come forward on that one, asking the peerage be reviewed - which you can read about here : Labour MSP at centre of peerage nomination row ... and certainly, the Metropolitcan Police should be taking note of that one in the current loans for peerages scandal to hit all political parties at Westminster.

It seems that Labour & the Fibdems are out to take as much as they can from the taxpayers wallet before they end up getting kicked out at next year's Holyrood elections ... and with the Scottish Parliament Corporate Body fudging the issue of doing anything to stop the expenses milking ... there will be a lot of profit taking by msps up to next May.

On issues relating to law .. I have been asked to do an article on some of the themes which cropped up in comments on an article I did on Douglas Mill's threat to challenge the LPLA Bill in terms of ECHR & other matters on the legal profession's seemingly god given right to regulate itself, which I covered here : Law Society of Scotland threatens Court challenge against Scottish Executive over LPLA legal reform Bill . It seems my article on Douglas Mill has touched a raw nerve with some, so I will tackle some of the issues of self-regulation this coming week.

Please don't be shy, members of the Scottish legal profession, about leaving your real names & contact details when you comment on my articles.

I sometimes get threats & nasty emails littered with swearing & slander from lawyers who even use their legal firms email boxes .. and when I have a nice collection, I will publish them all .. so if you don't like me, or you don't like clients who take issue with lawyers who defraud clients ... then speak up and tell us just how bad we all are . We can take it - after all, its us who are the victims, not those of you in the legal profession ... and it's taken so long to get politicians to recognise that fact ... a few more insults or threats from the legal profession would just put the icing on the cake.

Article, from the Sunday Herald, at : http://www.sundayherald.com/59226

Deputy first minister embroiled in ‘houses for spouses’ row

By Paul Hutcheon Scottish Political Editor

THE deputy first minister is facing serious questions over a £9000-a-year allowance he receives from the taxpayer to meet interest payments on a £190,000 house he owns with his wife.

Holyrood rules state that MSPs cannot claim the controversial Edinburgh Accommodation Allowance (EAA) unless theirs is the only name on the mortgage for the property in question.

Nicol Stephen, who is also leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, has been claiming interest payments for a house he bought in Edinburgh in February 2002.

Both Stephen and his wife are named as debtors in the standard security agreed with mortgage providers. That means if the mortgage is not paid, both are legally responsible.

Yet the Holyrood Allowances Office says it has another document – which it has refused to identify – which lists Stephen as the only name on the loan. There is no clear legal ruling on which document constitutes the mortgage.

Stephen is now facing questions on why he is claiming interest payments on a property he only half-owns. If that property is sold, his wife would normally be legally entitled to a share in any profits, despite the fact that the taxpayer helped to buy it.

It is the latest controversy to arise from the discredited EAA, which permits some MSPs to either rent a property in the capital, or to claim mortgage interest on a flat or house.

The scheme has suffered a barrage of negative publicity after this news paper disclosed how

Labour MSP John Home Robertson was using the perk to claim £7000 rental on a property owned by his son.

This was followed by revelations of how transport minister Tavish Scott used the profit made on one taxpayer funded flat to help buy a family home in Morningside worth £380,000. Holyrood is now reviewing the allowance.

The Aberdeen South MSP bought the Morningside property four years ago. Deeds from Registers of Scotland, an Executive agency, show he and his wife are both named as debtors in the standard security.

A Scottish LibDems spokesman said last night: “The property is jointly owned by Mr and Mrs Stephen, but the mortgage interest repayments are the sole responsibility of Nicol Stephen, in line with the parliament’s accommodation allowance rules.”

MSPs were able to claim the payments under a joint mortgage until a rule change in autumn 2001. Now allow ances are only paid if the mortgage is in the MSP’s name alone. The mortgage on Stephen’s house was taken out in 2002.

A spokesman for Holyrood’s Allow ances Office said it had seen a document which showed Stephen as the only name on the loan agreement.

But a senior legal source told the Sunday Herald: “It’s extremely unusual for a standard security agreement to have two names, while the loan agreement has only one. Has the Allowances Office seen the standard security, and how does it square the fact that two people are names as debtors when the loan document lists only one? There are serious questions to be asked.”

Controversy has been absent from Stephen’s ministerial career, yet he has made substantial claims under the EAA.

Reports last year said Stephen was the second-highest claimer of the perk, claiming nearly £53,000 since 1999.

In 1999-2000, the MSP pocketed £5038 under the scheme. In 2004-05, that increased to £10,200. He now claims £748 a month in mortgage payments.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Ten Scottish Legal Firms to avoid - a roll call of infamy

Many people ask me which legal firm to recommend them to trust. I can't answer that. There are none.

Yes, I know of one or two very small, hard working legal firms .... but all things depend ultimately, on who you are, what you want them to do for you .. how much money you have (of course) ... and .. well .. even the most honest legal firm sometimes has a fly in the ointment .. so to speak .. so at the end of the day, you can't really trust any of them at all. You put your life and your money at risk, when you go to see a lawyer - even more so than smoking a cigarette.

If you want a cautionary note from the man who actually runs the Professional Indemnity Insurance of the entire legal profession in Scotland .. you should listen to this : Alistair Sim - Director of Marsh UK, once said to me .. "there isn't a lawyer in Scotland who hasn't had a complaint made against them". So, if you want a lawyer who hasn't had rolls of client complaints made against them .. hasn't been at the fiddle, had their fingers in the 'till, been embezzling clients funds behind their back .. etc .. you are going to have to ask for a written declaration from the solicitor or legal firm you go to as to their regulatory history. Should be as easy as that .. but of course, even the most charming small town lawyer, may have some deep dark secrets up their sleeve .. of faking up file papers to get out of complaint investigations or swindling a few banks ... and they certainly wont want you to find out about that !

Here is the list then .. of ten legal firms - some of them as you will see, more famous, or infamous, than others. If you go to these legal firms to do business, buy or sell a property, make a will .. or anything at all, you stand a good chance of being robbed blind or have your legal issues made a complete mess of. Take note that others have also had problems with these legal firms - not just me. Some people have even lost their homes, businesses, and more, through the actions of some of these legal firms. Try and do something about if after you discover your legal bills have been inflated, funds embezzled .. etc .. and you will get nowhere .. they all cover up for each other.

I would say, from my own experience, having used these legal firms and the accountancy firm from Hawick, in the Scottish Borders - the solicitors and legal firms on this list can be deadly to your health & wealth .. and they will work against you at every turn, despite smiling faces to the contrary. Sharks have nothing on this lot.

Avoid the following lawyers, accountants, & legal firms, unless you want major problems with your legal business !

Solicitors : Andrew Penman & Terrance McNally
Legal Firm : Stormonth Darling Solicitors, Kelso
Address : Bank Of Scotland Buildings, The Square, Kelso, TD5 7HQ Telephone: 01573 224143
Website : http://www.stormonthdarling.co.uk

Solicitor Nigel Hall & others
Legal Firm : Haddon & Turnbill WS,
Address: 55 High St Hawick, TD9 9BP, Tel : 01450 372336

Solicitor William Craib Anderson & other members of staff,
Legal Firm : Charles & RB Anderson WS (Haddon & Turnbull WS, Hawick)
Address : Royal Bank Buildings, 38 High Street, Jedburgh,TD8 6DF

Solicitor : Roderick Urquhart & others
Legal Firm : A & WM Urquhart, Edinburgh
Address : 16 Heriot Row Edinburgh Midlothian EH3 6HR

Website : http://www.urquharts.co.uk

Solicitor : David Sturrock & others
Legal Firm : Turnbull Simpson & Sturrock WS
Address : 26 High Street, Jedburgh, TD8 6AG

Solicitors : Sascha O'Hagan, Catriona Garcia & others
Balfour & Manson Solicitors
Address : 54-66 Frederick Street. Edinburgh

Website : http://www.balfour-manson.co.uk

Solicitor : David Reid
Legal Firm : Alex Morison & Co, Edinburgh
Solicitor : David Reid
Address : 51 Frederick Street Edinburgh Midlothian EH2 1LH

Solicitor : David Reid & others
Legal Firm : Morisons WS, Edinburgh
Address : Erskine House, 68-73 Queen Street, Edinburgh, EH2 4NN

Website : http://www.morisonsllp.com

Solicitor : David Reid (now a Law Accountant - more dangerous than ever)
Legal Firm : Campbell Smith WS
Address : 21 York Place , EDINBURGH , EH1 3EN.

Website : http://www.camsmith.co.uk

Solicitor : Michael G Robson
Legal Firm : Robsons WS, (currently not practising)
Ratho, Nr Edinburgh

Accountant : Norman James Howitt CA
Accountancy Firm : Welch & Co Chartered Accountants,
Address : 19 Buccleuch Street Hawick Roxburghshire TD9 0HL. Telephone 01450 372267
Website : http://www.welchca.co.uk

There are more names which you would also be advised to stay away from, of course .... the likes of Campbell Deane of Bannatyne Kirkwood France & Co in Glasgow, who pontificates occasionally on behalf of the legal profession in the Scotsman newspaper. Deane talks big about cleaning up the legal profession but isn't big on actions to tackle the crooked lawyers .. like the rest of his peers of course .. big on talk & nothing on substance. Deane recently lost a legal action for Lord George Robertson against the Sunday Herald newspaper .. and of course as you all know, he served on Tommy Sheridan's legal team until he was dropped .. probably one of the best moves Sheridan made in his case. Deane had a hold of my client file, but decided against taking me on ... too much for him I bet .. but it didn't stop him taking a few swipes at me .. but the people around him at the Scotsman told me back .. and it turns out, they resent lawyers being slapped onto the staff to write propaganda for the legal profession - which everyone these days knows is crooked.

Another lawyer who has been involved in legal representation for my family, albeith briefly, is Ron Hastings of Hastings & Co Solicitors & Estate Agents .. another one of those dangerous lawyers from Kelso, in the Scottish Borders you would be well advised to steer clear of. Hastings was involved in a bitter 2 year fight with a neighbour to force me out of my home. Hastings lost the case for his client, after his attenpts of two years to prevent my legal aid failed - thanks to Phil Gallie on that one, who again, saved my bacon. Hastings sometimes has rants about me to some of his clients .. poor chap, I think he might need help.

Looking for someone to blame for all this ? Blame Douglas Mill over at the Law Society of Scotland .. and his friend Philp Yelland.

It could also be said that Andrew Penman of Stormonth Darling Solicitors in Kelso, is responsible for the mess the Scottish legal profession finds itself in today ... so instead of blaming me, the crooked gang at the Law Society of Scotland and their cohorts should go knock on Mr Penman's door .. after all .. it was his thieving, along with that of bent accountant Norman Howitt, which started the whole thing off.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Law Society of Scotland attacked for failings in complaints system as LPLA Bill goes back to Justice 2 Committee.

I do seem to upset crooked lawyers and their supporters from time to time.

Well, we all know the motives of crooked lawyers - they are crooks of course ! .. they worm their way through life lying, cheating (on clients & their own families), stealing, embezzling, maiming, ruining, plundering, bribing, blackmailing & looting .. together with an occasional hired murder or bodilly harm contract against anyone who cases them problems. These crooked lawyers want to derail & defeat the LPLA Bill, and the planned reforms to bring an independent complaints system to the legal profession, along with scrutiny of negligence claims against lawyers, which I and many others have campaigned for over the years.

You can see thecurrent progress of the LPLA Bill at the Scottish Parliament's website here : Legal Profession & Legal Aid (Scotland) Bill

So what about the definition of a supporter of crooked lawyers ?

Well .. usually they too, are crooks or criminals, who have benefited from their crooked lawyer by way of a bit on the side from various frauds against clients or businesses ... some of them are politicians who have secret dealings with lawyers .. such as .. getting property on the cheap in exchange for political support .. or even being bumped up to first position on bids for properties .. getting their personal legal affairs taken care of for free (dummy bill issued .. money returned via the back pocket .. etc ..) .. then we have, well .. other members of the legal profession who are official supporters of the swathes of crooked lawyers .. the likes of these are a few unnamed but well known members of the judiciary who get their legal affairs taken care of on the cheap by some of Edinburgh's biggest legal firms .. in return for well .. you know what ... Also, of course .. crooked lawyers support crooked lawyers ... and these types .. are the natural enemies of reform to both the judiciary and the legal profession in Scotland.

The supporters of crooked lawyers usually have even more to hide than the crooked lawyers themselves ... sometimes, for instance, they are supporters, because they did crooked dealings with the crooked lawyers they support .. and those crooked lawyers can rat out the crooked supporters if they don't do their public bidding ... you get what I'm saying, right ? easy enough ? .. any recent media stories come to mind on this one where the occasional wig has turned up saying the legal profession are gods gift ?

I had a bit of a nasty attack recently from an anti LPLA Bill lawyer ... it took the form of a few phone calls to journalists about me ... the usual stuff .. blah blah .. word in the ear .. don't publish stuff from Cherbi ... he's a ****** etc ... all the nice stuff .. oh and how they love to drop names of others to verify it .. for instance, a crooked ICAS legal guru who himself is tarred with an ex business partner who embezzled client funds ... and fiddles investigations himself against colleagues where dead people's signatures appeared on cheques ... naughty naughty !

The good thing is though .. these journalists usually call me up and tell me the whole story .. all the nasty bits ... and even some of the dirt they have on the one trying to throw the dirt in the first place ... nasty stuff indeed ! .. and I get to share some things like .. oh, how's that [very famous, leading Edinburgh lawyer] who likes to groom boys on the internet by pretending to be a 12 year old boy ... is that one coming out yet ? what a perv indeed ! .. be nice to see that one in print .. and what his own family thinks of it .. you know .. stuff like that .. along with of course .. .the usual crop of lawyer frauds, embezzlements .. fiddled client bills .. etc.

It's a good thing I have credibility then .. but well .. I would thank both the Scotsman and Herald Newspapers for that .. because of course, the story of what happened to me was covered extensively in the Scotsman .. and the lads & lassies there really did a fine job exposing the dirty depraved tricks the Law Society of Scotland employed against me .. really nasty stuff .. and I can understand why that kind of coverage really got under the scalp of the likes of twisted Douglas Mill & his merry band of henchmen over at Drumsheugh Gardens.

Anyway, without further ado .. the Scottish Legal Services Ombudsman has launched another attack on the Law Society of Scotland for failings on .. two cases.

Failings on two cases ? how about failings on 10,000 cases ? 50,000 cases ?

I think this shows the limitations of the office of Scottish Legal Services Ombudsman .. which really, was created just to keep a cap on complaints in the first place.

Remember, the Scottish Legal Services Ombudsman is a non-departmental public body in Scotland appointed by the Scottish Ministers responsible for overseeing the internal complaints procedures of the Faculty of Advocates and the Law Society of Scotland. The office of SLSO came about in the early 1990s ... at the behest of the then Conservative administration, with a brief of keeping everything nicey nicey.

Think of it like this .. one feeds off the other ... the Law Society of Scotland needed someone whom they could refer to as 'independent' to write a report each year and say ... what a great job they were doing .. there could be a few small changes here and there, suggest a few improvements ... otherwise .. good job, lads .. keep 'em coming" - and that is EXACTLY what most Scottish Legal Services Ombudsmen has been doing since the office was founded.

The first Scottish Legal Services Ombudsman was, Garry S Watson - a nightmare to deal with, a bit of a cheat and a fraud (sometimes changed the terms of his opinions after a wee backdoor chat with Law Society officials, a confirmed supporter of self-regulation of lawyers (he hated any arguement against self regulation so much, he would often write in his annual reports that self-regulation MUST remain), and really, just a man who was there to suit the needs of the Law Society of Scotland - to congratulate them each year for doing a bang up job of fiddling thousands of client complaints against solicitors.

I must confess - I personally found Garry S Watson to be a nasty piece of work. At first, he seemed pleasant enough in a meeting (don't they all) .. but when he did his report on the Andrew Penman complaint and backtracked on certain information on orders from the Law Society itself ... I knew what he was all about - an apologist for criminal elements such as Penman, James Ness (who defended Penman before a Complaints Committee and faked up information to sway a prosecution verdict) and the rest of them. Watson had also wormed his way over to the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland - to be on their own complaints investigation committees .. what a joke ! - he must have been selected for his ability to cover things up .. no wonder ICAS continually tell us there are no complaints against their 16,000 members in Scotland ! .. and then he went off to be the temporary Standards Adviser to the Scottish Parliament at Holyrood .. where he duly fiddled complaint after complaint against MSPs ... just as he had done for crooked lawyers & crooked accountants.

The second Scottish Legal Services Ombudsman was Linda Costelloe Baker. Well - as far as my own experiences of LCB go ... she started out a bit similar to Watson .. but then .. she came into the game at a time when my campaign and that of Scotland Against Crooked Lawyers was starting to have an effect on the debate against self regulation. Linda Costelloe Baker also started out as a supporter of self-regulation - but over the years - she turned against it .. and testified before the Justice 2 Committee of the Scottish Parliament in the Legal Profession & Legal Aid (Scotland) Bill inquiry ... that self regulation must go. She was, and is, correct on that one .. but it took her long enough to realise it.

The third, and I'm pleased to say, final Scottish Legal Services Ombudsman, is Jane Irvine. I'm pleased to say she is the final SLSO, because the office is to be abolished - due to the reforms proposed in the LPLA Bill where there will be a completely independent regulator of the legal profession - in the form of the proposed Scottish Legal Complaints Commission. I think the office of SLSO - which has no powers of enforcement - and was just set up in the early 1990's to keep a lid on complaints in the first place .. is out of touch .. and needs to go .. but, granted .. at least again, Ms Irvine does realise that the legal profession simply cannot be trusted to regulate themselves ... and that is a good thing.

There are a couple of stories from the Herald newspaper this week reporting Ms Irvine's condemnation of the Law Society on Monday - which I was initially going to write about on Monday but was told to wait for Tuesday's edition - as the lawyers were insisting on a right of response ... both articles follow .. I'm sure you can read between the lines in what I have just said above, and what appears in print below.

Peter Cherbi's message to the Justice 2 Committee of the Scottish Parliament and the Scottish Executive :

Please end this crooked farce of self regulation of the legal profession - and bring forth the Legal Profession & Legal Aid (Scotland) Bill.

Please ensure the entire complaints procedure system against lawyers is independent from the crooked, deceitful, dangerous and malignant bunch of twisters who run the Law Society of Scotland.

Finally, remember - you have a duty to ensure that the sins of the past are reviewed & investigated properly - and that all the people who have suffered at the hands of this crooked mob at the Law Society, who have had their lives ruined, finances ruined, years wasted - soley over the fact they, like me, caught their lawyers fiddling the books, or being negligent, or whatever - as you all full well know, that we all be properly and fully compensated for a suffering which was sanctioned by the lack of actions of those in Scottish political life who stood back and did nothing for decades while all this took place.

You can't just sit back watching an abuse happen and wash it off with soap - do something to fix and put right the wrongs which have happened to many ordinary people at the hands of the legal profession.

Links to the articles follow :


Watchdog gives Law Society a rare rebuke
DAVID LEASK November 13 2006

Scotland's legal watchdog today issued a new and rare formal rebuke to the Law Society for failing to accept her findings on the way it handled complaints from two clients.

In a public notice published in The Herald, Jane Irvine, the Scottish Legal Services Ombudsman, lambasted the self-regulatory body over the way it handled two cases.

Ms Irvine's attacks come ahead of expected legislation to strip the society of its powers to adjudicate over complaints against its members – and abolish her own office.

She has no power to force the society to do what she says but can, as she does today, chastise the body publicly.

"The Law Society must recognise that the consumer age has dawned," she said. "It should provide means of redress for small consumer complaints if it wants to act in the public interest, as well as that of the solicitor.

"In these two cases the Law Society has not accepted my recommendations to reconsider. I am publicising them because they are both cases where…complainers needs have not been fully met.

"These types of failures mean the Law Society is not providing a proper form of complaint service to consumers. In any modern complaint system, it is essential that, even if complaints do not succeed, those complaining feel they have been listened to. In these cases complainers came to me as they did not feel the Law Society had listened to them, and I agree.

"In the majority of the cases …I find the Law Society has handled complaints satisfactorily, or they comply with recommendations to review or reconsider and pay compensation.

"Sometimes the Law Society agrees to review policies or practice notes. Unfortunately, in these two cases, there has been no agreement between us."

Ms Irvine is also responsible for overseeing the work of the Faculty of Advocates and the way it handles complaints.

The Law Society has already argued that an independent complaints body favoured by MSPs will undermine the legal profession.

Its chief executive, Douglas Mill, recently argued that the proposed Scottish Legal Complaints Commission would be slow, rule-based, bureaucratic and expensive.

Mr Mill's biggest fear is that it will not be properly independent, as appointments to it will be made by ministers.

Tuesday's article follows, giving the Law Society's view on the Ombudsman's comments .... (yawn) .. showing we really need to be free of this gang of crooks who regulate complaints against lawyers ...


Legal watchdog defends its record
DAVID LEASK November 14 2006

The Law Society of Scotland last night defended its record on handling complaints after Scotland's legal watchdog rebuked it in a public notice in The Herald.

Jane Irvine, the Scottish Legal Services Ombudsman, lambasted the self-regulatory body in the notice, saying it had failed to heed her concerns over two cases.

Ms Irvine said: "The Law Society must recognise that the consumer age has dawned."

The society yesterday said it took complaints against solicitors seriously and fully implemented its statutory duty to investigate them. It signalled it was not always going to agree with the ombudsman, sometimes known by the abbreviation SLSO, just to avoid negative headlines.

Its president, Ruthven Gemmell, said: "In her last annual report, the SLSO recognised the continuing improvement in the society's handling of complaints. If the SLSO recommends that we review and reconsider our handling of individual cases we may do so, but we are not bound to accept her decision.

"It is within the SLSO's powers, and has been since 1997, to publish a notice of her views and we accept that.

"However, we are not prepared to simply agree with the SLSO to avoid potentially unfavourable press comment and will continue to consider recommendations solely on their merits in each case."

Complaints, the society stressed, still accounted for less than 1% of all business carried out by Scottish solicitors.