Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Law Society of Scotland touts high standards as lawyer gets 5 years jail

Philip Yelland, the Law Society of Scotland's Director of Client Relations, now Director of Regulation, never misses a chance to spin out unfortunate news coverage showing the Scottish legal profession to be anything but honest .. this time, in a case I covered earlier HERE of Shahid Pervez, who was sent to prison for five years & three months by Lord Hardie for giving a client who was charged with abduction & extortion, a false alibi.

The Scotsman newspaper quotes Mr Yelland - the infamous director of Client Relations at the Law Society of Scotland, responsible for seeing many crooked lawyers remain in practice as saying :

"On the incredibly rare occasions when a former member of the legal profession is caught on the wrong side of the law it is deeply regrettable.

Yes Mr Yelland - very regrettable since most solicitors who should actually be caught on the wrong side of the law escape it, due to professional interference, and a reluctance from the Crown Office even to prosecute the ranks of embezzlers, fraudsters, thieves, and even a few would be killers who seem to lurk in the Scottish legal profession these days ...

Mr Yelland again : "Mr Pervez's actions are especially disappointing when compared with the high standards that are so frequently displayed by the vast majority of the profession.

Which "High Standards" are those, Mr Yelland ? The same "high standards" which have generated more than 5000 complaints a year for well over a decade against the 9,500 solicitors in Scotland ... indicating that every single lawyer has a complaints history, with common instances such as (John O Donnell case) being quite common ...

Once more Mr Yelland : "Integrity and honesty are the core values expected in the legal profession."

Clearly Mr Yelland you have to be joking. No one believes you.

How about examples such as this Andrew Penman, this Turcan Connell, this John O'Donnell, this Angela Baillie, and even a solicitor who was bribing clients to put in legal aid claims to name but a few ...

Where lies the legal profession's "integrity & honesty" there mr Yelland ? Somewhere in the sewer perhaps ?

The same legal profession which threatened our elected Parliament & Scottish Executive with legal action over reforming complaints procedures in favour of consumers .... How do actions such as those qualify in the integrity & honesty stakes ?

Lord Hardie, whom as we know wanted to kill off any opening of access to legal services in Scotland when he was Lord Advocate, had his say too as the sentencing judge, quoted by the Scotsman, branding Mr Pervez "a disgrace to his profession, his family and the Asian community"

Not content with that, Lord Hardie, as reported in the Scotsman went on to say :

"You have pled guilty to an offence which strikes at the heart of justice by committing perjury in support of a false alibi for someone charged with a serious offence for whom a trial was fixed.

"The public is entitled to have the highest standard of integrity and honesty from lawyers, and you have betrayed that trust and besmirched the good name of solicitors."

The public is and has been entitled to expect the highest standards of integrity & honesty from lawyers for many years, your Lordship - but as the statistics and client experience shows, we have been getting the lowest standards of integrity (hardly any at all) and honesty has been virtually non existent, where the profession has covered up for its own at every turn.

So, we have an interesting case comparison here, where a lawyer, admitted his guilt of giving a client who was charged with various offences, a false alibi .. and was sent to jail by a judge ... but had the lawyer given a professional colleague an alibi for ripping off an elderly pensioner of her life savings & house .. the judge would have let him off, if indeed the case had ever got to the unlikely stage of a court trial.

Lawyers don't give other lawyers alibis when it comes to complaints though, do they ? Oh yes they do in the case of solicitor Andrew Penman.. and not only lawyers, but accountants too as we well know in the case of accountant Norman Howitt. Doctors, Police, and a few other professions who happen to be self regulator also seem to have the habit of providing a cover story for their colleagues when facing complaints or even criminal charges ...

How common is it for alibis to be spun out by lawyers for lawyers facing complaints ? The answer is, as I and many have found out through experience - Extremely common.

Lawyers regularly give other lawyers alibis when it comes to complaints - that's why so many complaints are dismissed by Mr Yelland's office .. from writing false representations and submitting false evidence in favour of solicitor colleagues to Complaints Committees, to harassing clients who have made complaints, to even threatening the lives of complainers .. lawyers in Scotland have certainly made a profitable industry out of saving their own colleagues skin when it comes to the issue of ripping off clients wholesale and getting away with it, carefully seeing the poor client never gets anywhere near a court.

Quite a few clients who have taken issue with their solicitors conduct, by way of making a complaint to the Law Society, have been made aware of such alibis provided by colleagues for the lawyer who was the subject of the particular complaint .. and surprise, every time an alibi was provided, it was believed over that of even overwhelming material evidence to the contrary. Another example of professional cover up for colleagues in a well trodden track at the Law Society of Scotland and other self regulators ...

Alas Mr Pervez did break the law by what he did, admitted to it, and was sentenced accordingly. That was the right thing to do of course - the law worked in this case, unevenly of course, when you consider the destruction many of his colleagues still in the legal profession have caused to so many clients over the years.

Does anyone think Lord Hardie should break this uneven working of the law, and start insisting that all solicitors who are found guilty of ripping off clients or engaging in all their other grand schemes to embezzle clients money, fiddle clients legal affairs, etc ... come up before the Court for a public trial & sentencing ?

Yes, at least I think that would be a good thing - much better sending a crooked lawyer to a jury trial than having them face the Law Society of Scotland and the Scottish Solicitors Discipline Tribunal, having little or no punishment administered in the name of covering up for one's own colleagues ...

The Justice Secretary could start the ball rolling by getting the Crown Office to prosecute more crooked lawyers ... and drop their professional reluctance to do so, or to even admit to how many lawyers have been charged with criminal offences over the years ...things which almost make one wonder whose side the Crown Office is really on ...

Perhaps the story of Mr Pervez, would have turned out slightly different if there had been more robust, independent regulation of the legal profession, with mechanisms in place for a solicitor to report receiving alleged threats from clients to give then an alibi or else .. but of course we know this kind of thing doesn't happen too often in the Scottish legal profession now .. don't we ...

Time for reform of the Scottish legal profession and fast, as the following Scotsman report clearly demonstrates ...

'You are a disgrace to your profession, your family and the Asian community'

ARNOT MCWHINNIE

A LAWYER who provided a "serious criminal" with a false alibi for his High Court trial went to prison for five years and three months yesterday.

Solicitor Shahid Pervez, 39, was branded by the judge, Lord Hardie, as "a disgrace to his profession, his family and the Asian community".

He told Pervez: "You have pled guilty to an offence which strikes at the heart of justice by committing perjury in support of a false alibi for someone charged with a serious offence for whom a trial was fixed.

"As a result, the trial was adjourned for investigation and the accused was allowed bail and is now a fugitive from justice," Lord Hardie went on.

"The public is entitled to have the highest standard of integrity and honesty from lawyers, and you have betrayed that trust and besmirched the good name of solicitors."

Pervez, of Crookston, Glasgow, admitted attempting to pervert justice by providing the man who was accused of abduction and extortion, with a false alibi in 2005.

In a sworn statement, Pervez, a conveyancing solicitor, said the man was in his office discussing an insurance claim at the time the crime was committed.

Paul McBride, QC, defending, described the man who was given the alibi, who cannot be named for legal reasons, as a "significant player" who inspired fear amongst criminals.

He said a terrified Pervez agreed to provide the alibi because the man threatened his life and the lives of his family.

Mr McBride's comment that it was an "absolute tragedy" for the lawyer prompted a remark from Lord Hardie: "It is also an absolute tragedy for the course of justice."

He said that after he was threatened, Pervez should have reported the matter to police and he told Mr McBride that if the rule of law was ignored the courts would be governed by criminals.

Lord Hardie said: "The rule of law is greater than any of us, and in this case it hasn't prevailed because there is a fugitive from justice as a result of Pervez's actions."

The Law Society of Scotland, the ruling body of the country's solicitors, described Pervez's action as "regrettable" and "disappointing".

Philip Yelland, its director of regulation, said: "On the incredibly rare occasions when a former member of the legal profession is caught on the wrong side of the law it is deeply regrettable.

"Mr Pervez's actions are especially disappointing when compared with the high standards that are so frequently displayed by the vast majority of the profession.

"Integrity and honesty are the core values expected in the legal profession.

"Clearly, Mr Pervez has betrayed those values."

Pervez has since resigned from his practice at the firm of Belton Pervez in Victoria Road, Glasgow, and is no longer a solicitor.

Lord Hardie told Pervez that in sentencing him he was taking into account the fact that he had given evidence for the Crown in the trial of a Glasgow policeman.

The officer, who also cannot be named for legal reasons, allegedly tried to buy a witness's silence in the fugitive's trial with a £50,000 bribe.

The constable was found not guilty.

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

If crooked lawyers were brought up before juries who saw the suffering they caused their victims, they would be sent to jail so thhere's no chance of Lord Hardie asking for such court trials.

Anonymous said...

No one caught for the Cumming caper yet and Pervez gets 5 years (will do 1 or 2 at the most)

I'd say the Law Society should be scrapped.What are they teaching their lawyers these says ? How to be a good crook ? (probably)

MK said...

Just reading your comments in the Scotsman on ECHR.The paper should take you up on your question on statistics of individuals bringing ECHR cases to court.

Anonymous said...

Apart from Penman which other firms of lawyers would you recommend to stay away from ?It looks like most of them are crooked anyway but any particular ones ?

Anonymous said...

@ anonymous 6:01 am

I think Mr Cherbi's blog conveys that there's pretty much a rot in the system.

I've had, or heard, problems with anyone from Dickson Minto in corporate, through Brodies and Turcan Connell in private client, to Pagan Osborne in the regional sector.

They all have some bad apples unfortunately, and some good.

Peter Cherbi said...

#Anonymous @ 6.01am

As the previous commenter suggests, there are good & bad in all legal firms, but as to my own experiences with solicitors, here is a list of firms in a previous article I wouldn't particularly advise doing business with, given their actions towards myself and others I am aware of :

http://petercherbi.blogspot.com/2006/11/ten-scottish-legal-firms-to-avoid-roll.html

Anonymous said...

That's quite a list Mr Cherbi.I had a read through it and will avoid any of those lawyers and firms now.Thanks.You should do a separate blog or website so people can expose the solicitors and their firms with their worst experiences.

Anonymous said...

All of those firms on that list of yours are fairly well known for poor client treatment.

You mentioned Turnbull Simpson & Sturrock in Jedburgh. Remember they merged with Lindsays in Edinburgh : http://www.lindsays.co.uk/ so you better add them to the list as well.

http://www.journalonline.co.uk/news/1004195.aspx

Borders team-up for Lindsays
Edinburgh firm joins forces with Jedburgh's Turnbull Simson & Sturrock

News, 17 May 2007

Edinburgh-based legal firm Lindsays is to join with Jedburgh solicitors Turnbull Simson & Sturrock (TSS) to expand both firms' legal services capability in the Borders area.

The Turnbull Simson & Sturrock name will continue, as will the three resident partners, David Sturrock, Sheena West and David Soeder, and the two firms have promised "business as usual" for clients in the Borders. Specialist legal services such as employment, litigation and family law will be provided by Lindsays' specialist lawyers directly from the Jedburgh office, in tandem with TSS’s locally based lawyers.

TSS senior partner David Sturrock said the firm was delighted with the deal, which meant that its clients would have easy access to a wide range of specialist legal services.

David Reith, chairman of Lindsays’ management board, added: “We are very excited to be joining forces with TSS. They are a leading law firm in the Borders with very strong recognition for their expertise in rural and agricultural law. We look forward to developing lasting relationships with our new colleagues and also to developing our business in the Borders."

Mr Urquhart has been recently in the news too but I don't have the story to hand. I'm sure you can find it Peter.

Anonymous said...

How did the cop get 50k and he gets off while the lawyer takes a 5 year hit ? Where the hell are the Crown Office on that one ?

Anonymous said...

I've written to Philip Yelland before on a complaint and got nowhere.The man exists only to protect crooked lawyers,nothing else.He will twist significant evidence into nothing so the complaint gets dismissed.

Anonymous said...

Scotland is full of crooked lawyers and the good ones who say they want to do something about it do nothing.
You should put that list on SACL : http://sacl.info

Peter Cherbi said...

#Anonymous @ 4.03pm

Thanks for the info, I heard of the deal at the time from the Law Society.

Lindsay's certainly bought a 'pig in a poke' with Turnbull Simpson & Sturrock in Jedburgh.Definitely not a firm to be trusted with any legal business.They were actually the parent firm of Stormonth Darling Solicitors, Kelso, where Andrew Penman works - they de-merged over the possibility I might have been able to recover damages against Penman, but was prevented from doing so by Douglas Mill, Philip Yelland & others as you will have read from my blog.

Of course they do say birds of a feather flock together ...

Anonymous said...

If these lawyers are ripping off ordinary members of the public on this scale they must be doing the same to the corporate sector unless its just that they see individuals or families as easy meat and dont ruin too many corporate clients for fear of losing that customer base.

Salmonnd has 100 days in power now so where are his remedies for all this mess in the justice system ?

scott said...

The horrors of using a lawyer laid bare.No wonder they are out to get you for it Peter.

Keep up the good work !

dm said...

Fantastic stuff Mr Cherbi.I'm sure a few campaigns could do with your determination to get the job done.

Keep it up.

Anonymous said...

Yes good point again Mr Cherbi.There are plenty lawyers who do a lot worse to their clients than Pervez did, and get away with it because no one wants to call their actions criminal and they always have the Law Society to protect them.That Mr Yelland is one of the chief people responsible for protecting crooked lawyers in Scotland.How crooked is he for what he has done ?What would Mr Yelland be called if he was shielding paedophiles and rapists ? An accessory to criminals ?

Anonymous said...

There seems to be a significant element of control being flexed by the Law Society of Scotland over the likes of yourself and others who complain against their lawyer.You obviously have been caught up in this for many years and probably the same for others.This has taken you so long to get somewhere because the Law Society has blocked all your efforts and controlled how far you were able to go.If it had been done to me I would have preferred to have done something I wont refer to which would have given me a lot more personal satisfaction in a shorter time.I suppose you are helping many people realise and come to terms with what 'crooked lawyers' have done but it strikes me there should have been someone come forward and make an example of one of these criminals by now because they have got away with it for too long.Keep up the good work and make some headway against those who did this to you and many more.

JohnBowie said...

Good investigative work from Peter. Several lessons, no doubt. We've posted it to our blog at www.lawjobspipeline.com