Sunday, April 08, 2007

Scandals keep coming as election news steals the limelight

A quick update on some items I covered previously.

It seems there is a witch hunt in the Roxburghshire Bar Association (which I should more properly call the Faculty of Solicitors in Roxburghshire) for the Solicitor who passed me a batch of client files on the continuing fiddling of Norman Howitt, Chartered Accountant, Welchs & Co , which I covered here :

A picture is worth a thousand words - Images of fraud reveal corruption & deceit by lawyers & accountants in the Scottish Borders

Despite a few threats & enquiries in my own direction for the identity of this individual, I always protect my sources, as you well know - so no name will be given out from here for you to have your 'wicker man' day in the Borders (you can save that straw statue for me, lads).

I must say though, reading through those files, it seems Welch & Co as a company are just as crooked as Norman Howitt - and to be well avoided by clients who want honest accounts, unless of course, the methodology is to fiddle HM Inland Revenue ...which I hear, is illegal ...

Of course, stealing people's bank books & pension books for oneself is also illegal .. but Norman Howitt certainly got off with that one, at least for the time being. Now that some others are paying more attention to the evidence I posted, and after further contacts on the matter ...there might just be a wee turn of justice here, now that people in the right places are wondering about Mr Howitt ...

On the battle with the Scottish Executive over the Bill Alexander FOI, yes, we are al still waiting to see what's in the carefully sanitised documents which will eventually wing their way to the public domain.

I covered this one here : Scottish Executive drops FOI disclosure battle over restrictive access to Courts while thousands go without representation

I'm sure the Executive and the Law Society of Scotland have now had ample time to fiddle the documents, minutes of meetings & the rest which form the response to Mr Bill Alexander's FOI request ... although of course we do have an upcoming election in May, which may give yet another excuse for the Executive to withhold information on yet more scandal, in fear of losing a few more electoral points to the SNP.

A reminder to you all ... If you have experienced poor treatment from the Law Society of Scotland in a complaint or lost money to a crooked lawyer and nothing was done about it, Please sign Petition PE1033 and begin the campaign for redress and resolution to the way clients have been discriminated against by crooked lawyers & the Law Society of Scotland under their decades old prejudiced self regulatory complaints system.

In the Sunday Herald this weekend, the prospect of Wendy Alexander leading the Labour Party in Scotland makes the headlines .. and what a frightener that one would be ... with the prospect of the long arm of her brother, Douglas Alexander, taking out the LPLA Bill and any reforms against the legal profession ... something well within his means I would think, and well within the policies of his old firm, Messrs Digby Brown, who certainly like to restrict legislation, reforms, justice, and public access to the courts.

If Labour want to lose the election, then certainly flagging Wendy Alexander as a possible leader after the exit of McConnell, will do it I hope .. so lets hunt around for as much scandal as possible now on Digby Brown et all to open peoples eyes to some good old fashioned political corruption ...

The Sunday Herald also covers a story where, unsurprisingly, a convicted stalker has been given £30,000 to hire an advocate to defend against a Police bid to gain a 10-year Sexual Offenders Protection Order (Sopo) against him.

These lawyers, and indeed, the Scottish Legal Aid Board, certainly know who to give the legal aid to ... but just say for instance, a person comes along trying to sue a hospital for a negligent death or even protect themselves from a gang of crooked lawyers out to steal their property ...there's no chance of legal aid, because it just doesn't fit in with the deals between SLAB and the legal profession.

Here are the articles from the Sunday Herald, with links to follow.

Convicted stalker given £30,000 to hire top advocate
By John Bynorth
Police face huge costs fighting action

A CONVICTED stalker who battled a legal bid to ban him from approaching lone women received £30,000 from the public purse to hire a leading advocate to represent him in court.

The Sunday Herald has learned that "highly dangerous" Robert Basterfield, 35, was awarded legal aid to hire advocate James MacDonald to defend him against Tayside Police chief constable John Vine's bid for a 10-year Sexual Offenders Protection Order (Sopo) against him.

The force - which claims the Australian-born former taxi driver is a danger to women after he was convicted twice of stalking offences - immediately hired their own advocate, Barry Smith, rather than a cheaper solicitor, ramping up their legal bill by tens of thousands of pounds. The case finished last week at Perth Sheriff Court.

The revelations come as a Sunday Herald investigation has found more than 70 Sopos have been put in place across Scotland since new laws were introduced in 2005. They were brought in following the murder of Livingston schoolboy Rory Blackhall by Simon Blackhall, who was on bail for sex offences. However, only one Risk of Sexual Harm Order (RHSO) - given to "suspected" predators - has been granted.

Vine said it was "extraordinary" that Basterfield was able to hire an advocate for thousands of pounds a day to conduct his case. The chief constable told the Sunday Herald: "We've had to go along with that expense in order to fight the case.

"The final bill will be between £10,000 and £30,000, perhaps more. Unfortunately, we are not getting legal aid and this money is coming out of the force budget - money we could normally spend on putting officers on the beat.

"I thought it was extraordinary that he got legal aid for an advocate, but if we have to spend money on a top advocate to stop this man then that's what we have to do. We would probably have to spend far more than this if we had to investigate an offence this man committed in the future."

Vine took action to bar Basterfield from talking to or contacting lone females following his convictions.

Basterfield, from Perth, is currently under an interim order, banning him from taking part in any "recreational activity" such as visiting the cinema or a bar without his probation officer's permission.

The police originally wanted the Sopo applied for 30 years, but later reduced it to 10 years.

Meanwhile, the Sunday Herald has obtained evidence under freedom of information legislation from seven of Scotland's eight forces that the orders are now being applied more widely than ever. Northern Constabulary has taken out 22 Sopos - the most of any force. However, their only application for an RHSO was denied.

Lothian and Borders has been granted 19 Sopos, and with no RHSO applications. Strathclyde has obtained five Sopos - and five interim orders identical to that in place against Basterfield - but hasn't sought any RHSOs.

Dumfries and Galloway, has been awarded four Sopos but hasn't applied for any RHSOs. Central Scotland has obtained six Sopos but not applied for RHSOs.

Fife have been granted eight Sopos, and sought two RHSO orders - one of which was declined. And Tayside has been given four Sopos and no RHSOs.

Grampian Police was the first force in the country to seek RHSOs for four suspected predators after the law was introduced but no figures were available at the time of going to press regarding the number of orders it has been awarded.

Vine added that he will consider an appeal if the judge in the Basterfield case, Lindsay Foulis, rules against the force in his written judgment due later this week.

The Scottish Legal Aid Board confirmed Basterfield would have been allowed an advocate after pre-trial discussions. A spokesman said: "If it is fairly serious, then normally an advocate would take it and it certainly sounds likely in this case. However, it's too early for us to say how much the case would have cost."

and the article on Wendy Alexander's possible bid for the Labour leadership in Scotland (let's jump over the side now folks if it happens !)

Wendy Alexander ready to fight for Labour leadership
By Paul Hutcheon

Dewar's favourite to battle with health minister if McConnell ousted

WENDY ALEXANDER is poised to seek the leadership of the Scottish Labour Party should a disastrous result at the coming election force Jack McConnell out.

The Sunday Herald understands that jockeying has already begun in the party's senior ranks, with Alexander ready to stand should the top position become vacant.

Several Labour insiders admitted Alexander, the former enterprise minister, and health minister Andy Kerr were the likely candidates to go head-to-head if McConnell relinquishes his post after next month's election. It has been suggested Kerr could run on a "joint ticket" with parliament minister Margaret Curran.

This early planning follows Labour's inability to eat into the SNP's lead in the opinion polls. A new survey, carried out for Scottish Opinion, put the Nationalists on 40% of the constituency vote, ahead of Labour's 28%. It also gave the SNP an 11% lead on the regional list vote, with Alex Salmond's party on 39% and Labour on 28%.

A seat projection carried out for the Mail on Sunday put the SNP on 56 seats, with Labour behind on 40.

The results come on top of Labour's internal polls, which are finding the party at least five points behind the SNP.

Labour pollster Philip Gould admitted the deficit at a briefing last week, at which McConnell said: "We're behind. Our private polls show us behind."

The prospect of losing to the SNP has prompted senior Labour figures to think about who will the lead them in a post-McConnell era. The Motherwell and Wishaw MSP is expected to stand down if Labour lose out to the SNP on seats.

The most likely scenario, according to Labour insiders, is for a contest between Alexander and Kerr.

Alexander would probably have the backing of chancellor Gordon Brown and his supporters in Scotland, despite the fact she angered him in 2001 by not challenging McConnell for the top job.

Kerr, a McConnell ally, could expect support from his Lanarkshire base and activists in the west of Scotland, and may run with Curran as his deputy.

One source said: "It will be between Andy and Wendy if Jack stands down. The options are limited but very clear."

Another MSP tipped as leadership material, finance minister Tom McCabe, is understood not to want the top job.

Revelations of discussions about McConnell's successor are unlikely to help a Labour campaign that has so far failed the party in the opinion polls.

McConnell will this week attempt to seize the initiative by launching Labour's manifesto, a 100-page document that runs to 28,000 words.

One announcement will be a 25% cut in pensioners' water and sewerage charges, as a first step to abolition. More than 600,000 households would see a discount worth around £180 a year for those living in a band D property.

McConnell said of the new policy: "A quarter of the costs pensioners pay in their council tax bills is for water and sewerage. Labour will cut them in half and eventually remove them completely. This will make a massive difference to the household bills our pensioners pay."

Kerr said of the leadership speculation: "We are all trying to win the Scottish election. Whoever is saying this is undermining Labour's campaign. It is not true and it makes me angry."

Asked if he would stand for the leadership if there were a vacancy, he said: "Jack McConnell will be first minister, therefore there will be no vacancy."

Alexander could not be contacted.

Oh .. I'm sometimes accused of not reporting on the good events in Scotland... well, for a change, here's something good - an article on the "Glasgow Girls" frmo the Herald newspaper, showing how some young people from Glasgow are campaigning on immigration issues, and standing up for what they believe in .. we need a lot more of that in Scotland - so congratulations to the Glasgow Girls !

Glasgow Girls in ‘Declaration of Scotstoun’
ALISON CHIESA April 06 2007

The Glasgow Girls campaign group yesterday launched the Declaration of Scotstoun as they outlined their plans for the future and hopes for the Scottish election.

The teenagers, who lobby on asylum issues, unveiled their vision on the 687th anniversary of the Declaration of Arbroath.

The seven-strong group were among 100 signatories, including author AL Kennedy and Bill Speirs, former general secretary of the STUC, declaring support for 10 "democratic reforms".

The reform call included a referendum on independence, a reduction in the number of politicians, and a lowering of the voting age to 16.

The declaration - which also pleaded for an immediate amnesty on "legacy" case asylum seekers - was launched by the group on behalf of

The interactive website was set up in February with the aim of ensuring the views of "ordinary" voters are uppermost in the current election campaign.

As the teenagers launched the declaration in Scotstoun, they wore the national Italian tartan, in honour of Scotland's "oldest and most successful ethnic minority".

The group came to prominence two years ago when they launched a campaign to save a classmate at Drumchapel High School in Glasgow from deportation.

Somalian-born Amal Azzudin, 17, who attended the launch yesterday with group members, Emma Clifford and Roza Salih, explained why they had signed up for the declaration.

"We think young people should have a say in what happens in their own country," she said. "Among other issues included in the declaration are those of asylum. We hope that everyone takes the opportunity to sign it and, in so doing, changes things in Scotland."

Ms Azzudin, who has ambitions to become a politician, was awarded refugee status in 2004. She added: "While my future's secure, I cannot sit back and do nothing. I still think Scotland is a just country, but the way asylum seeker children are being treated, especially, is unbelievable. Being locked up in detention centres is something they will never forget."

Like others in the group, she gets "frustrated" at the apparently slow political progress over asylum issues. "I know political change takes time," she said. "But we really feel there is just talk of promises from politicians, with nothing being done. While we wait, we watch our community suffer, and it isn't just asylum seekers - it is the teachers, the neighbours, the friends."

Ms Salih, 17, originally from Iraq, remains at risk of being removed from the country she has made her home for six years. Still at school, she has aspirations to become a human rights lawyer. "I feel we have no hope," she said. "Asylum seekers can't concentrate on their studies because they fear being sent back any moment."

She added that she felt her culture was "both Iraqi and Scots". "I was born in Iraq, but I also consider myself Scottish. I grew up here, I understood life here, my heart opened here. Here is my country now and this is where I want to study and make a life," she said.

Alan Smart, spokesman for, explained the symbolism behind the teenagers' decision to wear the Italian tartan.

He said: "The girls wore the tartan of Scotland's oldest and most successful ethnic minority. This was a community itself initially stigmatised and spurned by the authorities of their day - until it became obvious that they were enriching the communities they lived in, rather than taking from them."

He added: "The Glasgow Girls have shown how, in another way, asylum seekers and people from other cultures can enrich Scotland by backing democratic reforms which will empower the people of Scotland and, in so doing, challenge the stale, closed and largely self-serving culture of our political elites."

As with its original, the new declaration on the website is seeking an international audience, Mr Smart said. "The website aims to give a modern-day meaning to the ideals of the original declaration's signatories, and to those of the founding fathers of the USA, themselves in part inspired by events in Arbroath," he added.


Anonymous said...

bendywendy as first minister would be a real f*ck up for Scotland

oh your guy howitt sounds a real toad too how long until hes off to jail i hope

Anonymous said...

Good story on that crooked accountant.

I bet they're all like that in the Borders, covering up for each other.