Monday, May 21, 2007

Fears over corrupt self regulation as accountants regulator draft in ex Law Society President and solicitor as Public Interest members

It has been revealed that ICAS, the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland, the self regulatory body for accountants, which handles complaints against it's own members in true traditional old fashioned corrupt 'cover up for the boys old pals act style', has appointed two lawyers, one an ex Law Society President, to "ensure that the institute continues to operate with integrity and transparency".

Ruthven Gemmell one of the new "Public Interest members" of ICAS, has been the President of the Law Society of Scotland for the past year - a turbulent period in the history of the Scottish legal profession, which saw the Justice 2 Committee hearings on the Legal Profession & Legal Aid (Scotland) Act 2007, where members of the public who had fallen victim to many crooked members of the legal profession, and the corrupt regulatory practices of the Law Society of Scotland, finally got the chance to testify in public to their appalling experiences.

The Law Society of Scotland's answer to the Justice 2 Committee hearings into the LPLA Bill, were a mixture of lies, blatant propaganda, secret meetings, and a badly organised attempt to get it's member legal firms to submit a range of different experiences (which fell apart because most of the legal firms forgot to alter the circulated template significantly enough to make it unrecognisable as a copy ).

The duels between Law Society officials and MSPs also saw the now infamous argument between Law Society Chief Executive Douglas Mill and John Swinney MSP, where Mr Swinney challenged Mr Mill over the content of secret memos authored by Douglas Mill himself .. who then went on to "swear on his granny's grave" before the Justice 2 Committee & all present, he was trying to help a complainer who has unresolved cases going back 20 years, the 'help' turned out to be more of an obstruction and attempt to destroy claims of negligence raised by the complainer against several legal firms, matters which the Law Society maintains it does not get involved in but clearly does, contrary to the testimony of it's own Chief Executive before the Justice 2 Committee, as the Herald newspaper reported in June 2006

The Herald 5 June 2006 - Would granny swear by the law society

When it became apparent to the legal profession their tactics to thwart the progress of the LPLA Bill were simply not working, Douglas Mill himself threatened the Scottish Executive & Parliament over the passage of the LPLA Bill - stating the Law Society of Scotland would take legal action against both the Executive and Parliament if the LPLA Bill was passed without amendments it preferred, and as I understand matters, this 'threat of court action' had been discussed as a policy statement by the Law Society - which of course, must have been supported by the the Law Society President, Ruthven Gemmel.

I covered the Law Society of Scotland's threat of Court Action against the Parliament & Executive here : Law Society of Scotland threatens Court challenge against Scottish Executive over LPLA legal reform Bill

You may also remember the legal aid case boycott, restriction of the public's access to legal representation & access to a lawyer, and the many other scandals scandals involving the Scottish legal profession we've had in the past year of Ruthven Gemmel's tenure as Law Society President, which didn't see him or anyone else in the Law Society do anything to resolve many instances of injustice caused by themselves.

You may ask, how effective is the Institute of Chartered Accountants in dealing with complaints against it's members in Scotland ?

The answer to that question is that ICAS are possibly even more corrupt in regulating complaints against accountants, than the Law Society of Scotland is at covering up complaints against solicitors.

Here is a good example of what ICAS do with complaints against accountants :

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

So how does the conduct of the Law Society of Scotland over the past year square up then ? Horrible, corrupt, anti consumer, hateful, hostile are but some of the words which come to mind.

So, taking the above, and not forgetting the Law Society's, Court Action threat to our elected Scottish Parliament and Executive against passing long awaited reforms to the way complaints against lawyers are handled, would it not be right to question why lawyers, rather than someone more devolved from the professions, are now drafted in by the Institute of Chartered Accountants - to give an impression that all is well with complaints against accountants ?

Surely, when a Law Society President obviously supported his profession's policy to threaten our elected Government & Parliament on an issue of solicitors losing the right to continue fiddling complaints against their own colleagues .. this couldn't be classified as anything approaching "integrity and transparency", could it ?

The Herald newspaper's report on the Law Society of Scotland's threat of Court Action against the Executive & Scottish Parliament :

Holyrood in Solicitor's Sights October 30 2006 The Herald

The LPLA Bill (now thankfully passed, with many of the legal profession's preferred amendments voted down) brought a measure of independent regulation to Scotland's 10,000 lawyers - taking away part of the aspect of the widely abused practice of self regulation by the Law Society of Scotland where lawyer invariably covers up for lawyer.

Perhaps however, this Public Relations incident gone wrong, where ICAS protests it's alleged commitment to 'transparency & integrity' in the newspapers, shows the infamous Scottish accountants regulator in it's true light, which is that of yet another self regulator of it's own profession, which widely abuses that self given right to consider & fiddle complaints against their own member accountants displaying many of the same problems which the legal profession in Scotland has been famed for over the decades, and which for their corruption, brought about the passing of the LPLA Bill to try and remedy endemic prejudice in the area of complaints against solicitors.

I take it that Niall Scott another lawyer, and also the former chairman of UK law firms McGrigors and KLegal, will fully declare his legal firm's regulatory history (in full) in a show of 'integrity & transparency' too ? Perhaps not .... although perhaps Mr Scott and Mr Gemmell may ask ICAS to reopen some of their cases of complaint they fiddled against crooked accountants so that people can get some justice & recompense at last ? Perhaps not ....

Since self regulation of accountants is a Westminster issue for now, London should look at ending self regulation by accountants over accountants .. there isn't a good transparent example of self regulation in existence .. and ICAS, from what I know, and have personally experienced, cannot hold itself up to be anything other than a closed shop cover up club for its members ..

However, as we have a new SNP Executive, who are set on looking into as many issues as possible which affect Scotland I hope, perhaps they would like to take on the might of the accountants self regulatory body, and end what is a very corrupt & crooked system of complaints cover up, mirroring what we've all seen in the legal profession for years.

We certainly need an LPLA Act style equivalent for the accountancy profession in Scotland ... and an end to self regulation in the other professions which still enjoy judging their own colleagues at the expense of clients - something which is definitely NOT in the public interest.

Article from the Herald newspaper reporting the appointment of the 'public interest members' follows ...

Public interest members at ICAS
DAVID BLACK May 21 2007

Niall Scott and Ruthven Gemmell have been appointed to serve as public interest members at the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland. Public interest members are appointed to ensure that the institute continues to operate with integrity and transparency. Both solicitors, Scott is the former chairman of UK law firms McGrigors and KLegal. Gemmell will step down as president of the Law Society of Scotland on May 25. They will join the institute's other public interest member, Barbara Duffner, who was re-appointed for a period of three years at the recent annual meeting.


miracleofyouth said...

Correct in every detail Mr Cherbi.

I think your writing is fantastic on the subject of self regulation.We need to start a campaign to end all self regulation in light of what you say.

Anonymous said...

You certainly tell it as it is Peter !

It looks like the whole lot are crooked in Scotland.Hope your new government cleans up the system for you.

Poirot said...

Good expose on the committee club of the professions.This is how they manage complaints as most of your readers should now be waking up to.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you Mr Cherbi.
Self regulation of accountants should end as should all self regulation.

I hope you start a campaign on this one after your success against the lawyers.

Anonymous said...

I think you are scaring some people with your revelations on these issues Mr Cherbi.

Keep up the good work and good luck to you and all the people in this campaign

Peter Cherbi said...

Well, everyone seems to agree that self regulation of accountants, and for that, self regulation of any profession, is not very transparent.

Apparently ICAS and the Law Society have a few personalities on each other's Committees, and try this one on for size everyone, a serving Scottish Legal Services Ombudsman (Garry S Watson) also sat on the ICAS Complaints Committees, as well as going on to he the first 'Standards Officer' for the Scottish Parliament !

Thanks to those people who emailed me further on the actions of Norman Howitt against my mum. I hope something can be done about this case some day.

Anonymous said...

Frightening these people have complaints in their grip and I agree there should be an end to self regulation.

Anonymous said...

Douglas Mill's policy of confrontation with clients has been stupid.

If there was anyone brave enough to stand up to him among the members, he would be out on his bum, but just as you point out with ICAS, Mill is a reflection of the way the legal profession is in Scotland.

Mostly, a bunch of liars out to feather their own nests.

Carry on your good work Peter. I think we all owe you on this !

Donald Anderson / Edinburgh said...

Garry Watson was on ICAS Committes when he was LegaL Services Ombudsman ?

What about conflict of interest when complaints involved lawyers and accountants ?

isnaeme said...

Hi Peter

I was intrigued by your article in that you fail to mention the various accolades of Barbara Duffner, who ICAS have as a 'lay member'

Check out her history on google and see what you come up with, my friend, and see what you have to be in to qualify as a 'lay member' for ICAS to harp on about ensuring public interest is paramount.

If you don't get it all, here is some of it :

Barbara Duffner was elected as a Lay Member to Council in 2004 with the principal role of ensuring that the public interest is properly safeguarded.

Barbara qualified with an honours degree in Psychology from London University in 1967. She was awarded an OBE for services to young people in 2002

Barbara worked with Royal Mail from 1969 until her retirement in 2004, latterly as Head of Personnel.

She was involved with the Children’s Hospice Association of Scotland from the early 1990s until 2006. She is also currently a Board Member of the Judicial Appointments Board, Scottish Enterprise, the Student Loan Company and she is a Member of the Fitness to Practice Panel of the General Dental Council, the Welfare to Work Task Force and Employment Tribunals. Barbara was appointed as a Lay member to the Court of the University of Glasgow in 2006.

Previous appointments have included work with the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority and Chairmanship of the review of the Careers Service in Scotland.

Barbara lives in Lanarkshire and her interests include developing 6 acres of land which she recently acquired and adjusting with enthusiasm to a portfolio career.

Barbara Duffner took early retirement from Royal Mail at the end of March 2004.

She had been with Royal Mail since leaving university in 1969. Although she worked primarily within Human Resources, she also had experience of line management, strategic planning and management of very large projects. In 2001 she chaired a review of the Careers Service in Scotland, this led to substantial changes and the creation of 'Careers Scotland'.

Barbara is Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts; a Board Member of Scottish Enterprise; a member of the Judicial Appointments Board in Scotland; and a lay member of the Council of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland. She is also a non-executive director of the Student Loans Company and an Employment tribunal member. In 2006 she was appointed to the Court of the University of Glasgow as a lay member.

Barbara Duffner OBE, FRSA
Barbara Duffner was Head of Personnel North for Royal Mail until she took early retirement at the end of March 2004. She is a Board Member of the Student Loan Company, a member of the Judicial Appointments Board Scotland and sits on the Fitness to Practice Panel of the General Dental Council. She is a public interest member of the Council of the Institute of Chartered Accountants Scotland and has joined the Court of the University of Glasgow.

Barbara is also an Employment Tribunal member. She was a member of the Welfare to Work task Force and chaired the review of the Careers Service in Scotland which led to the creation of Careers Scotland and the transfer of responsibility for ensuring the provision of all age guidance to Scottish Enterprise and Highland and Island Enterprise.

Barbara was awarded the OBE in the 2002 New Years Honours list.

Peter Cherbi said...

#isnaeme @6:04 PM

Thanks for your contribution to the article. I hope people take note of what you posted in your comment, which shows what these "Lay People" are on these Committees - very far from being an ordinary person off the street as some of the lawyers try to claim to the press ...

#Donald Anderson/Edinburgh

Yes, Mr Watson was serving on ICAS Committees when he was Scottish Legal Services Ombudsman, as for conflict of interest and what he did about it, well I can only guess he stepped aside if asked to do so by someone making a complaint against an accountant to ICAS ... but how would a complainer know Mr Watson was on the Complaints Committee in the first place, as ICAS didn't advertise his existence there at the time ...

Another complaints stitch up perhaps ?

Anonymous said...

ICAS and the Law Society are as bad as each other on handling complaints.

Get rid of self regulation for all these self serving crooks.

Anonymous said...

so much for lay members ! they seem to make a good living out of it at whose expense ?

Anonymous said...

more cosy deals for the select few ! what a bloody disgrace !

SNP where the hell are you guys ? I thought all this was the stuff of cronyism you were criticising Labour for.When's the gravy train going to end for all these cosy clubs with the same people on each others committees ?

Perspectives by Karen said...

'Self Regulation', in my experience, is protection for the criminals.

Why is it that there is so little online about corrupt solicitors and accountants - do they remove it?

The Institute of Chartered Accountants England and Wales have an article which basically tells their members they will only discipline if they dont pay their subs. Their code of ethics on their website is there for a laugh!