Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Justice Secretary MacAskill fails in 'gag attempt' of Appointments Chief over quango jobs for lawyers sleaze

SLCC squarePapers just released show the Scottish Government’s Justice Department, acting on the authority of its Minister, Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill attempted to impose a blanket of secrecy and lies to protect the legal profession over their release of inaccurate details of lawyers and their regulatory or service histories, who the Justice Secretary personally appointed to the 'independent' but now discredited Scottish Legal Complaints Commission.

Scottish Government attempted to gag independent Appointments Commissioner over lawyers service details :

Scottish Government blocks release of SLCC disclosure Page 1Scottish Government blocks release of SLCC disclosure Page 2

Amazingly, not only did the Scottish Government attempt to gag the Commissioner over disclosing the truth about the lawyer appointments, the Government also demanded that OCPAS swap their disclosure of the actual material for an entirely false statement which was to read as follows :

MacAskill tight lippedKenny MacAskill’s Justice Dept ordered OCPAS issue the public a misleading statement : "It is in our view that in this case the information in its present form should not be released without the consent of the individuals concerned. However, a general statement that no appointees had findings of professional misconduct recorded against them would be acceptable"

It is of little surprise the Scottish Government's Justice Department were so desperate to gag the Office of the Commissioner for Public Appointments in Scotland (OCPAS) over the release of documents, which now conclusively prove there were no proper disclosures from the legal profession over Kenny MacAskill's sleaze appointments of lawyers and former Law Society Committee members to the 'independent' but now discredited Scottish Legal Complaints Commission.

The Office of the Commissioner for Public Appointments in Scotland thankfully refused to be drawn into the Scottish Government’s web of secrecy, and promptly released the documents, which I covered in an earlier report here: Legal Complaints Commission discredited after revelations Law Society lied during ‘stage managed’ appointments process

All this may cause some to wonder why the Justice Secretary is so determined to protect the Law Society of Scotland and his own appointees to the discredited legal complaints commission.

Kenny MacAskill – I will always defend lawyers …

Well .. there isn't much need to wonder, because not only does the release of the Law Society documents make the Justice Secretary look at best, misleading, the released documents now also contradict responses given by the First Minister, Alex Salmond, who was asked in January to conduct a full investigation into the appointments to the SLCC after revelations of sleaze.

Scottish Government lied over SLCC appointmentsFirst Minister's letter now contradicted by Law Society disclosure ".. we must abide by the OCPAS Code of Practice which ensures that selection is based on merit and individuals selected will be those who have demonstrated that they best match the skills, knowledge and personal qualities requiredfor the appointment in question.Candidates were also probed on probity and potential conflicts of interest.As you may be aware from the recruitment literature shortlisted lawyer candidates were subject to checks on their disciplinary records”

however, from my earlier report here :

Philip YellandPhilip Yelland only gave limited information on the lawyer applicants : "I should point out to you that in terms of upheld complaints the only issues which it seems to be would be relevant would be if there were findings of professional misconduct against any of the individuals. Service complaints run against firms rather than individuals."

So, clearly the First Minister was misinformed by the Law Society and his Justice Secretary over the state of the checks on the appointees disciplinary records, because there were none – only the Law Society’s say so, which has now been revealed to be inaccurate in its content.

It does stretch the bounds of credibility Mr Salmond wasn't able to find out for himself what really happened .. and make no mistake - what really happened was that the legal profession, along with elements of the Justice Department of the Scottish Government stitched up what was to be an 'independent' complaints commission which has now been turned into just another rubber stamp quango for 'crooked lawyers', as many of you are attesting to yourselves in comments and emails.

Inquiry into police chief who promoted his lover - the ScotsmanScottish Government feared stories of impropriety on MacAskill’s jobs for lawyers and ex-cops on law complaints quango appointments : “Chief Superintendent Douglas Watson is facing an internal inquiry after he walked out on his wife to be with an officer he hand-picked for a specialist squad.Watson, the former head of CID, was picked by Chief Constable Paddy Tomkins to head up the Capital Project, which will completely change the way Edinburgh is policed and create a single 1,000-officer super-division….”

Apparently OCPAS were denied access to material relating to the internal investigations into SLCC appointee and former Police Chief & Law Society Committee member Douglas Watson, nor were details of those investigations made public, raising questions on why the Justice Department covered it up.

Its a pity that our own fellow Scots in the current Scottish Government are going along with this, protecting crooked lawyers and an ever corrupt Scots legal system from reform and genuine change. Is that what 'Scottish Government' is all about these days ?, bending over to the professions, promoting injustice, and protecting the dishonest and crooked at any cost ?


Anonymous said...

What an oddity of a Justice Minister you have in Scotland, Mr Cherbi.

First he says he has to abide by OCPAS standards then he 'suggests' (orders) them to give you a different version to whatever was disclosed via FOI.

Anonymous said...

yep they are leading us on a nice merry go round which someone is going to derail soon and they wont can do anything about it

Anonymous said...

This is a most unusual FOI release and it is possible Mr MacAskill's Department broke a few rules suggesting what they did to the Commissioner for public appointments in Scotland.

I think there needs to be an investigation of just why the Law & Courts Directorate are pursuing a policy of protecting the Law Society and these individuals who are now on this slcc and you are correct to keep on this story Mr Cherbi.There is definitely a whiff of scandal to the whole thing and Mr MacAskill's involvement.

Anonymous said...

If Carole Johnston had sent me such a letter I would have called the Police in.

Maybe you should make a criminal complaint about this course of events Mr Cherbi as it does seem like an attempt by the Government to intimidate the Commissioner into not handing over documents to you.

Keep up the good work which I'm sure you will.

Anonymous said...

This story about the police chief is troubling and I don't see why the investigation into his own appointments wasnt made public if he is sitting on this lawyer complaints quango.Definitely a stitch up as you say Peter and one worth reporting if there is any newspapers with some balls about them.

Anonymous said...

Clearly Mr Salmond, Mr MacAskill and his Department have long since joined the Law Society in abandoning any attachment to honesty or due process - adding further evidence supporting the published opinion of the United Nations Advisor on Human Rights & Democracy when he compared the application of thelaw in Scotland to that of a 'banana republic'.

Anonymous said...

Very convincing story but I wonder how many times this has happened in secret ?

Big Bully Scottish Government determines what everyone must say rather than what they want to say and what a surprise ITS THE SNP WHO ARE NOW DOING IT !

Anonymous said...

Perhaps the Scottish Government told the Law Society you had asked for the letter and the Law Society rather than get involved told them to say what they did in their letter.
Whatever the case it is a very improper position for them to take effectively trying to substitute the documents you were after with a statement which conceals Mr Yelland's declaration which is as you have already said far from accurate.

Anonymous said...

Pretty obvious the SG tried to stop the release of Yelland's letter which is definitely not on in an FOI request - that power is for the Commissioner Kevin Dunion to decide.

Report it.

Anonymous said...

Carole Johnstone is a civil servant however she has been involved in many aspects of regulation of the legal profession for quite some time.

Her letter appears to be an attempt to swap one lie for that of the Law Society.However I see OCPAS did not agree with her line of reasoning and released the documents you sought.

You should now take this matter further and raise a complaint with the FOI Commissioner Kevin Dunion and also raise a formal complaint against those involved including the Justice Secretary himself.

I have no doubt all will wriggle out of it some way or another but your story has flagged up a very important point - the Scottish Government are now trying to manage FOI releases from external organisations which cannot be allowed to continue.

Anonymous said...

If you were looking for a link between the Government and the Law Society I'd say this is it.Why else would MacArsekill go out on a limb to protect Mr Yelland's buffoonery ?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for fixing the comments page.I think I lost mine earlier.

I totally agree with you this is an attempt to stop you getting hold of that letter from the Law Society and is nothing short of dirty tricks and sleaze from the SNP.

Anonymous said...

I read your story last week and wondered how on earth you were able to get that letter from the Law Society.Now you reveal MacAskill wanted it blocked which is just what he and his chums have been accusing everyone else of doing before them.
He should be sacked.

Anonymous said...

This boils down to the Government trying to get ocpas to swap one lie for another - the Government lie this time to protect the Law Society.

Anonymous said...

Oh what a surprise I am another with at least 4 letters from this Carole Johnston telling me the justice minster cant help me or do anything because the Law Society let our lawyer off the hook after he STOLE my late mother's bank accounts.AND now she is telling people to lie to you about what this shit Yelland is doing and I have plenty letters from HIM too and he is the man who has ruined any chance i can get to get another lawyer to do something about it

Anonymous said...

I was told to read your blog by a very good friend of yours in the SNP and I am not disappointed with what I see.You have worked very hard to get to this point Mr Cherbi and I would say to you there are many within the party who are receptive to your ideas for change and improving these problems with lawyers.Do not be put off by Mr MacAskill.People don't last in positions forever.
Keep up your writing because you are a credit to campaigners and you do your cause great justice.

Anonymous said...

Good story on the cop and his lover but why did the Scotsman pull it from their site ? I tried the link typed in and got nothing.
More law society hacking and media censorship ?

Peter Cherbi said...

# Anonymous @ 6.38pm

Clearly the Justice Secretary didn't want me to obtain the Law Society 'disclosure'.

#Anonymous @ 7.59pm

I agree but something must be done about it.

#Anonymous @ 8.15pm

I agree, and I have asked for an investigation into the matter ...

#Anonymous @ 9.18pm

I'm sure the Crown Office would only whitewash the whole thing ... after all, isn't that the purpose of their existence these days ?

#Anonymous @ 9.52pm

Not many, that's for sure ...

#Anonymous @ 12.25am

Yes I agree .. and there is probably a lot of money behind their position on this ...

#Anonymous @ 12.49am

Probably more often than we know ...

#Anonymous @ 10.41am

Its a possibility which cannot be ignored ...

#Anonymous @ 2.54pm

Thanks for the information. I agree .. those concerned will 'wriggle out' of the matter ... they always do.

#Anonymous @ 3.48pm

I agree with your comment.

#Anonymous @ 7.53pm

I'd like to see some of those letters you mention, you can contact me via my profile page.

#Anonymous @ 9.57pm

Thanks, but as they say, action speaks louder than words, wouldn't you agree ? and I don't see why people should be made to suffer while some who have the opportunity through their political position to change things, continue to stay silent.

A little help and encouragement from those who might be in agreement there should be change and truth & reconciliation over what has happened in the past, would be productive, sooner rather than later.

#Anonymous @ 10.44pm

I was told by a reporter the story was pulled on orders from the lawyers ... even though there is nothing wrong with the story which apparently stood in the paper and on it's website until Mr Watson applied to join the SLCC ...

Anonymous said...

oh yes the hootsmon will have pulled any compromising stories like that for lawyers complaints star boy watson
try talking to some of his ex mates in the force i hear he didnt have many!

Anonymous said...

An interesting comment from an SNP supporter but you will never move MacAskill from his post at Justice.
Remember how their members get their posts - its not done by Alex handing them out,its done by them fighting to keep their portfolios they've always had and being prepared to use whatever means to make sure they keep them so nothing will change while Mr MacAskill is heading justice and doing anything to keep it and I mean ANYTHING.

Anonymous said...

Yes I've been following the fortunes of Mr Watson and noticed that story had been 'pulled' on the Scotsman.

Anonymous said...

Understandably there should be an investigation into what happened here because it is plainly obvious Carole Johnston's 'statement' conceals much more revealed in Mr Yelland's letter to the Government.
This is obviously a deliberate act.

Anonymous said...

MacAskill must have issued orders to protect the law society and thats why this happened.Now they will be screaming because you got their letter too so well done again Peter!

Anonymous said...

The person who commented at 9:57pm last night could do more to go into people's homes who are victims of injustice rather than come up with such patronising rubbish.
How many bodies do you want to build up before you trouble yourselves from your SNP armchairs to do something about it or is it the legal profession is paying you to look the other way ?

Anonymous said...

Worrying to say the least the Scottish Government under the stewardship of the SNP are now engaged in the same information manipulation they accused Labour of and noticeable none of their supporters care to justify it
Then again they'd have to be low life shits to support lawyers anyway so I cant see any of them coming forward on that one!

Anonymous said...

You are a determined individual in revealing all this Mr Cherbi and I think like others have said this proves there is a link between the Law Society and the Government on gumming up the works about lawyer complaints.
Take them to the cleaners!

Anonymous said...

Hootsmon must have read this and put the story back up on Watson

now what the hell is going on and why should that man be protected in this way ?

Anonymous said...

nothing surprises me about the snp but because people are in such stupid awe of them they forget they are politicians bent on keeping their wallets fat just like the rest

oh and that ex cop will be well suited to lawyer complaints hahahahahaha pull the other one kenny it has a big brown envelope on it hahahahaha

Anonymous said...

I am disgusted to say the least the Government tried to cover up for the Law Society.They only did it because there is something to gain or a big lie in what was said about the slcc lawyers

Anonymous said...

I suppose I'd have to applaud ocpas for standing up to the Government but in truth I was totally unaware of this organisation and its role until you started writing about it.

Good work as usual Peter.

Anonymous said...

I know one of the staff at the SLCC.She says the job is useless and the former Law Society staff are getting preferrential treatment and probably complaints will go the same way

Anonymous said...

Interesting all this with the Scotsman and that story on Watson and the link says latest news but it was written in 2002 !

Anonymous said...

Marvellous how this Carole Johnston just writes away ordering people around to cover stuff up and thinks or knows she can get away with it.

I thought all this crap was supposed to stop with the SNP but I suppose not because they are doing it too.

Anonymous said...

You need to know that my mothers bequeathed it all to me. Her will said "I bequeath everything to my daughter Carriann Reilly.That is why the John Ford Coley , "Can't you "C"ee it, You've got everything, don't you know, you know, you know. Also, the song by the aritst Nellie Furtado says, "Oh you could mean everything to me" They knew what my mothers will said. I am being used here and I am getting nowhere. My path has been blocked again so I will be leaving here in a few day. I was coerced to sign the documents when I went to work at General Mortgage and also as Washington Mutual. I was never given copies and I was getting threats from home and at work that I would lose my job and home. I just thought you should know. I am sorry if I was mean to you in my last email but these people are playing mental games with me. It has always been though. My uncle Bill and my Aunt Cassie were to watch over me until I turned 18 and then they were to hand over everything but I never got anything. It's too bad because I loved them dearly but he is gone now and I need legal help that I am not getting. I have written the courts and my brother. My mothers will had said that for many years. she was completely surrounded and couldn't get legal help, just like I face now. It was kinda of like a pack of coyotes surrounding her trying to wear her down until she gave up. They have done the same to me here and before. She tried to get someone to fix things but she was always told ok by the attornye's but then nothing would change and they would stall her. It was a long painful fight for her and then it was all mine. I have tried for years but I get absolutely nowhere.