Monday, February 15, 2010

Scottish Legal Complaints Commission refuse to repay £1.7million public funds as board member revealed to sit on Govt. Accounts scrutiny quango

SLCC squareScottish Legal Complaints Commission refuses to repay millions in public funds. IT HAS EMERGED through investigations that the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission, who are angrily refusing calls from consumers & politicians to repay the huge sums of public funds, over £1.7million so far put in by the Scottish Government to create the hapless complaints quango, have a currently serving board member who also holds a paid position on another Scottish Government quango, the Accounts Commission for Scotland which inspects public finances in Scotland’s local government sector, claiming to help achieve ‘best value’ in public services.

lpollockDr Linda Pollock, paid for SLCC & Accounts Commission quango appearances. Documents now reveal that Dr Linda Pollock, a board member personally appointed to the hugely expensive, scandal clad Scottish Legal Complaints Commission by Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill, receiving over £209 per day for putting in appearances to the limited number of SLCC board meetings currently published, also receives a staggering £6,216 a year for only 24 days work as an appointee to the Accounts Commission, whose main role is to secure the audit of local authorities in Scotland and to help those bodies to achieve Best Value in their activities. The Accounts Commission website also reveals Dr Pollock holds another quango position within the Nursing and Midwifery Council for which she receives £260 per day remuneration

From the release of the SLCC’s board members expenses claims by the Scottish Government, it can be revealed today that Dr Pollock claimed a staggering £15,635.39 in expenses during the first nine months of the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission’s work during the time it received nearly £2 million from the Scottish Government, and before the law complaints quango even did any work on consumer complaints against members of the legal profession. The figures also show that collectively, the SLCC’s board members claimed a staggering £130K in expenses for the first nine months of 2008 on everything from travel, hotel rooms, to lunches and even car parking.

Best Value ? : SLCC Board members Expenses – What the public paid for.

SLCC EXPENSES CLAIMS

Interestingly, the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission fought against the release of the above information, claiming its board members would suffer ‘mental health’ problems if the public & legal profession were told just how much was being claimed in expenses. I covered this in an earlier article, here : Expenses secrecy scandal as Scottish Legal Complaints Commission seeks ban on information requests to protect lawyers 'mental health & safety'

Jane IrvineSLCC Chair Jane Irvine. Jane Irvine of the SLCC was asked for comment on whether the SLCC intended to repay the public purse from the vast surplus funds currently held by the Legal Complaints Commission, who insiders now confirm are studying ways of possibly using the millions held by the quango to appease calls from the Law Society of Scotland to reduce the ‘complaints levy’ which pays for the SLCC’s operational costs of considering complaints made by the public against solicitors & law firms in Scotland. However, the SLCC refused to comment, and are rumoured to be very angry the issue of repaying the near £2 million taxpayer funded start up costs has resurfaced in the public arena.

You can read my earlier coverage of the SLCC’s first annual report, announcing the gigantic surplus of £1.5 million here : Scottish Legal Complaints Commission reveals it passed most complaints about lawyers back to Law Society, has failed to act on Master Policy report and the Law Society of Scotland’s call to use the surplus to pay back solicitors, instead of many financially stricken public services in Scotland, who could do with the money more than lawyers back pockets, here : Consumer protection ‘a low priority’ as Law Society demand Legal Complaints Commission’s ‘crooked lawyer’ complaints levy be reduced

Politicians and consumer organisations have now joined the call for the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission to repay the vast amount of public funds which helped to start up the quango.

david_whittonDavid Whitton, Labour MSP for Strathkelvin and Bearsden David Whitton, MSP for Strathkelvin & Bearsden commented on calls for the law complaints body’s 1.5million surplus to be used to reduce the levy instead of repaying public sector input of nearly 2 million said : “I most. Certainly do not believe the surplus should be used to reduce the levy. If there is a surplus of that size it could be used to greater effect elsewhere in the justice system say in funding more drug and alcohol rehab facilities or running more stringent community sentence orders.”

Mr Whitton went on to call for intervention from the Justice Secretary in the row over the huge amounts of money held by the SLCC, saying “The Justice secretary should be getting involved to ask why the money is not being put to the use it was intended for.”

A senior official with one of Scotland’s main consumer organisations said today he believed the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission should repay taxpayers the full amounts pumped in by the Scottish Government to start the hapless law complaints body.

He said : “Clearly the SLCC are being selfish in refusing to repay money which could be better spent on public services such as education, health and local government services, who are all being forced to cut back on jobs and the services they provide. It is very unfair for the SLCC to be sitting on that much money when the rest of the country is in trouble.”

When asked about the revelations that SLCC board members also sat on the Audit Commission quango, he said : “If I were in that position, I would find it very difficult to reconcile my duty to ensure best value for public services while at the same time sitting on a quango which is sitting on nearly 2 million pounds, mainly for its own benefit or that of the legal profession.”

The Accounts Commission have refused to make any detailed comment, but were visibly angry in communications over the revelations. Their spokesman would only say : “As the Accounts Commission has no statutory role in regulating or scrutinising the SLCC, this is not an issue over which it can take a position.”

No one was available at the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission to answer further questions this afternoon and the question of whether the SLCC can be made to repay the millions put in by taxpayers will now be taken up by politicians & campaigners.

Better giving the money to hospitals, education and keeping us all safe & sound, rather than simply emptying it into board members expenses claims and the back pockets of the legal profession ?

63 comments:

Anonymous said...

£6,216 a year for only 24 days work !!!!!!!!!!!!!

JESUS ! and look at all her other jobs !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Yes but what you are forgetting Peter is that the Accounts Commission does a lot of work.They write thousands of letters to Councils telling them they can save 40p by using less paperclips so that is why they need quango members from other quangos sitting on their quangos who also have many other quango positions !

Its quangoriffic !

Scotsman did a bit on this recently,will look for it later.

Anonymous said...

Sits on the accounts commission and the slcc who are refusing to hand back the money we as taxpayers put into it

I dont think thats very good value for money is it, Dr Pollock?

Anonymous said...

Nice to see MSPs coming on the record against these quango abuses.

I hope Whitton starts asking questions of MacAskill in the Parliament over it.

Good work keep it up Peter !
You are better than a newspaper when it comes to law !

Anonymous said...

Better giving the money to hospitals, education and keeping us all safe & sound, rather than simply emptying it into board members expenses claims and the back pockets of the legal profession ?

Yes,exactly.
Why give it back to scumbag lawyers Jane when you could help some hospitals.

Anonymous said...

I think Pollock is overpaid to put it mildly.

These quangocrats should only be allowed to sit on 1 quango at a time not hundreds and pick up all that pay for doing sod all.

Anonymous said...

£130K in expenses for 9 months between 8 people who will travel 100 yards to the slcc and by all accounts have done nothing for anyone except themselves.

Scrap this mob immediately and make them pay back every penny.

byline of the week said...

Nice expose.Those figures they are claiming - Is that what is commonly known as being on the take ?

I see the two ex-cops (Gordon & Watson) are getting 16K & 10K respectively.Whats up lads - Are your Police pensions not enough ?

Anonymous said...

Mr Whitton went on to call for intervention from the Justice Secretary in the row over the huge amounts of money held by the SLCC, saying “The Justice secretary should be getting involved to ask why the money is not being put to the use it was intended for.
=====================================
Well Mr MacAskill, are you going to do as Mr Whitton asks or are you going to leave this pool of money for Miss Masterman and her colleagues to siphon off.

Mr Whitton please put Mr MacAskill on the spot in parliament, do a John Swinney, with Mill.

Pollock gets paid too much.

Anonymous said...

Mr Whitton went on to call for intervention from the Justice Secretary in the row over the huge amounts of money held by the SLCC, saying “The Justice secretary should be getting involved to ask why the money is not being put to the use it was intended for.
=====================================
Well Mr MacAskill, are you going to do as Mr Whitton asks or are you going to leave this pool of money for Miss Masterman and her colleagues to siphon off.

Mr Whitton please put Mr MacAskill on the spot in parliament, do a John Swinney, with Mill.

Pollock gets paid too much.

Anonymous said...

“The Justice secretary should be getting involved to ask why the money is not being put to the use it was intended for.”
=====================================
Mr MacAskill want to use the money to keep bribing SLCC staff, to protect his crooked Law Society colleagues.

Anonymous said...

Pollock was appointed along with a few others by your friend John Swinney.What was he playing at ?

If you read this :
http://www.scotland.gov.uk/News/Releases/2009/10/19095420 it almost sounds like the Scottish Government are trying to make it sound like we are getting a good deal handing over £6,216 to someone for 24 days spivving.

"These appointments will all be for 3 years and run from October 1, 2009 to September 30, 2012. The positions are all part-time and attract a remuneration of: £13,986 per annum for a time commitment of 54 days per annum (Deputy Chair); and £6,216 per annum for a time commitment of 24 days per annum (Members)."

Hands up any of you who think £6,216 for 24 days work is a good deal for taxpayers because I bloody dont!

Anonymous said...

No wonder there are 3 million unemployed while people like this hold down 3 or more jobs at our expense !

Worse than benefits cheats if you ask me !

Anonymous said...

Thanks for enlightening us to this world of expenses Mr Cherbi.
I too feel the money should be paid back to the public, and this SLCC scrapped.

Good journalism.As someone said you are far better than some newspapers I could name.Hoot Hoot.

Anonymous said...

If complaints over the last decade were dealt with following the principles of natural justice, the legal profession would be ruined. Not one lawyer would be cleared because every onw would be shown to be a criminal.

Scottish lawyer power is running Scotland.

Anonymous said...

£260 per day - I think I'm in the wrong job !

How do you get on these quangos anyway ? bend over for the appropriate politician ?

Anonymous said...

I read some more of your handiwork earlier today.Very good Peter.
I believe the reason you are not with a newspaper is probably because your face wont fit with the subjects you write about.
My advice is to leave that miserable little country and get living with the rest of us.Your talents will be appreciated more outside Scotland than inside it,as happened with most Scots who left their wee country for a better life.Go for it mate.

Anonymous said...

If Pollock was getting £209 a day at the SLCC how was she also able to claim £15,635 ?

I doubt they did that much in 9 months if all they were doing was sending complaints right back to the Law Society.

Stinks really and those expenses,salaries or whatever are horrendous for what they are supposed to be doing.Claw it all back.

Also to the person who compared them to benefits cheats - I agree !

Anonymous said...

Little wonder the Law Society refuse to disclose the SLCC expenses figures to the membership.
I know others are unhappy with the way the levy is being spent and I intend to do something about this if I can.

Anonymous said...

So the same faces sit on all these quangos getting everyone off the hook.Isnt that just a bit criminal ?

Anonymous said...

A glaring conflict of interest which should immediately lead to the dismissal of Linda Pollock from her various 'public service' positions.

The representative of the Accounts Commission who claimed that it had no role in scrutinizing the SLCC should also be sacked.

Anonymous said...

I take it all the people on this SLCC Board sit on other quangos and get similar pay for putting in a couple of hours a year ?

Expose the lot Peter.You are doing a brilliant job.

Anonymous said...

Err......so the Board members alleged 'mental health' problems do not involve the ability to add?

Anonymous said...

Counting is clearly not a priority with the SLCC, several thousand complaints, only 5 fully investigated.

Too busy writing out expenses claim forms perhaps?

Anonymous said...

I have spent a year writing to/from the slcc about a complaint and now physically sick reading all this.

They duped me thats for sure.

Anonymous said...

I just cant get over how much Pollock is collecting for these quango jobs.I know someone who is about to have their home repossessed while people like her hold down 3 or more £260 a day jobs.Disgraceful but I'm sure she is very proud of it and wont take any criticism.F*ck the rest of us by the sounds of it and anyway we are paying for her because its all coming from taxpayers.

Anonymous said...

David Whitton is my msp and I am very happy to see him comment on this story.

I think its terrible that a quango like this gets all that money then has a huge surplus they are wasting on expenses claims.The money should be put back into the justice system or other public service.

Good work to Peter for daring to report this and shame on our useless newspapers for covering it up.

Anonymous said...

£6,216 a year for only 24 days work is sick and then the £209 a day from the SLCC and the £260 a day AND the £15,635.39

Better than being on the take as someone else said !

Peter Cherbi said...

# Anonymous @ 12.34am

Open to offers ...

# Anonymous @ 9.39am

A solicitor ? Just what will you do ? Nothing ?

# Anonymous @ 11.25am

I agree entirely, and as far as my research has revealed, along with a chat with a reporter this afternoon, the 'Accounts Commission' isn't worth the ink it takes to write its name.

# Anonymous @ 3.36pm

along with possible drink problems too, if you remember last year's headlines ...

# Anonymous @ 6.53pm

Yes .. and that is after around £6.5 million has been put into the SLCC, from the taxpayer and the legal profession (paid for by clients of course).

# Anonymous @ 7.46pm

Yes indeed ...

# Anonymous @ 8.06pm

I agree, pity there were not more like Mr Whitton in the Parliament.

# Anonymous @ 8.51pm

Yes, a good way to put it ...

Peter Cherbi said...

Thanks also to the rest of you for your comments so far.

If you feel the SLCC should be forced to repay that £1.7million put in by the taxpayer, lobby your MSPs to make sure they do something about it !

Don't let the legal profession get a multi million pound free gift from the taxpayer when the country and public services need the money more.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like you need a change from rugged island, Peter.You've done enough.Hell they might even pay you to disappear haha

I wonder if the fish is parading round her house in anger over her expenses claims being spread around the world ?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

Counting is clearly not a priority with the SLCC, several thousand complaints, only 5 fully investigated.

Too busy writing out expenses claim forms perhaps?

6:53 PM


EH ??? 5 COMPLAINTS ONLY ?? where did you get that figure ??

Anonymous said...

Peter you might be interested to know Willie Coffey is also having a go at the slcc.Might try contacting him for info if you like.

Anonymous said...

Came back to see how the comments were doing.Good ones and pleased people are getting it.

Go protest against these greedy jobsworths !

Anonymous said...

Hand over the money you SLCC spongers - cancer patients need it a hell of a lot more than your 10 jobs each !

Anonymous said...

Now we know why those who got on the SLCC celebrated.It was all because of the money.

Anonymous said...

Have you spoken to solicitors about this ? Surely they cant be very happy the complaints levy is being wasted in this way by the SLCC ?

Anonymous said...

Pointed this story to a journalist friend of mine who is very interested.Hope it helps!

Anonymous said...

To the 11.19pm comment, my mistake, the 5 complaints referred to were sent to the English Legal Services Ombudsman by Ms Irvine in her capacity as the last Scottish Legal Sevices Ombudsman and contained in her final report.

Aren't you glad we have had this layer of 'protection' removed and replaced by the SLCC?

Anonymous said...

BBC NEWS

A lawyer is to oversee the "clean up" of Scotland's largest transport authority after its chairman resigned amid an on-going expenses row.

Glasgow councillor Jonathan Findlay will take over as the new chairman of Strathclyde Partner­ship for Transport (SPT) from Councillor Alistair Watson.

Anonymous said...

If people are claiming 15k on expenses and the quango only did 5 complaints I'd say its reasonable enough to ask for an investigation into them !

Anonymous said...

Definitely worth an investigation and why are the SNP not clawing back this money to public services ?

Very fishy.Swinney yatters on about having no money in his budget and sacrifices have to be made but here we have a quango with £1.5million in the bank and its members putting in HUGE claims.

This is an AFFRONT to Scotland.

Peter Cherbi said...

# Anonymous @ 6.46pm

John Swinney in his capacity as Cabinet Secretary for Finance has been approached for comment on the SLCC's surplus and apparent lack of intention to repay the millions it received from taxpayers.

So far, no response has been received ...

Anonymous said...

Swinney might not bothering answering.If he says keep the money to the Scottish Legal Expenses Cheats Commission he looks bad and if he says pay it back the Law Society will make him look bad.

Sorry Peter I know you write a lot about how he took on Douglas Mill but I dont think Swinney has the courage now to take the Law Society on or make the SLCC pay the money back.

Anonymous said...

Why are the SNP lavishing all this money on lawyers ?
Is it true as MacAskill says the lawyers got them into power ?

Anonymous said...

Swinney's only priority is his own career - he refused to attend the justice committee meeting and support his constituent who petitioned parliament about McKenzies Friends.

Fairweather friend or what?

Anonymous said...

So what is going to be done about these quango lot and their 15 jobs ?

Isnt it about time all this crap was stopped as Peter says ?

Anonymous said...

@1:03PM

Whoever heard of a lawyer cleaning something up in Scotland ?

That has to be a f*cking joke !

Anonymous said...

I'd like one of those Dr Pollock style jobs too.

To give you a hand with this Peter I am going to print off that expenses picture and walk around Edinburgh with it to show people how greedy these legal complaints quangos are.

All the best

Anonymous said...

I mentioned Peter's name in my complaint to the SLCC and got a real earful from some snot nosed tw8t.You really should have a go at them over this because all you are doing is reporting all the secret scandals there.

Anonymous said...

Comment at 7:34pm

Exactly what I was thinking.Swinney too much a coward now even though shouting about having to save and sack people.Bye bye nats and your big promises.It all turned out rather rotten in the end giving 3 jobs each to your pals on the quangos.

Brave Peter exposing all this.

Anonymous said...

Now a 3rd resignation at SPT after foi'ing their expenses.That lawyer is going to have to do a lot of cleaning up ! lol

You can just tell it will all be put to bed when we read "Audit Scotland" is to investigate ! lol

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/glasgow_and_west/8521630.stm

SPT chief executive and vice chair resign

Ron Culley, Alistair Watson and Davie McLachlan have all resigned from SPT

Scotland's largest transport authority has been hit by a third resignation amid an ongoing row over expenses.

South Lanarkshire Labour councillor Davie McLachlan stepped down as vice chair of Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT) on Thursday.

He follows Ron Culley who resigned earlier as chief executive, and Glasgow Labour councillor Alistar Watson who stepped down as chairman on Monday.

Financial watchdog Audit Scotland is to investigate expense claims at SPT.

The row which led to the resignations flared after expense claims from SPT officials were reported following a Freedom of Information request.

Peter Cherbi said...

# Anonymous @ 1.22pm

Apparently feelings at the SLCC are running rather high about me, but as Jane Irvine is a regular reader of my blog (Hi, Jane, all the best for 2010) I better not say where I got that news from today ...

Anyone else with similar to report, feel free to write a comment.

# Anonymous @ 3.08pm

The Accounts Commission ... yes I can imagine it now .. much like the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission and Audit Scotland ... where Dr Pollock sits on, and claims expenses for both positions ....

I think Dougie should be awarded a big sack of bonio for all he has to put up with in the Stamp Office ...

Anonymous said...

Sounds like the SLCC are quite bitter about Peter.I think we all have a right to be bitter at the SLCC though because its turned out to be a wolf in sheep's clothing.Just another protector of lawyers run by lawyers staffed by lawyers and milking the expenses just like lawyers.

Anonymous said...

I saw the story about SPT on Reporting Scotland and on the BBC news website it says "It emerged that senior figures in the organisation claimed more than £100,000 between 2006 and 2009."

Right, that's £100K in 3 years.The SLCC board members according to Peter's expose have claimed about £130K in a mere 9 months.

So why is this not causing a scandal on BBC and the newspapers ? Have all been paid off ? because its still public money from what I can see they got.

Bloody disgusting

Anonymous said...

What about SLAB, and "clawback" on cases which were clearly won,
SLAB are regularly robbing the poor to pay for what?
"one" is desperate to apply for legal aid" and destitute if awarded it.

Peter Cherbi said...

# Anonymous @ 7.50pm

Yes, I've read through the SPT article on BBC and in view of what happened there, I think there should be resignations at the SLCC.

Clearly their expenses regime is out of control, and as for Board members sitting on many other quangos & paid positions simultaneously, well that is just disgusting, considering the minimal amount of work the SLCC has done over the course of its existence.

I also feel the SLCC's expenses claims should be in the media, as these claims I have revealed here, come from public funds ... despite the SLCC regularly lying to media enquiries it never actually received any public funds ...

# Anonymous @ 9.04pm

Yes ... that is a good point, one I could do an article on if you would like to contact me with some further information ...

Anonymous said...

You said "I also feel the SLCC's expenses claims should be in the media, as these claims I have revealed here, come from public funds ... despite the SLCC regularly lying to media enquiries it never actually received any public funds"

Easy answer kid.They are paying to keep their name out of the media.Happens here all the time.

Oh and be in no doubt Peter I believe every word you write about these guys.You back up all your stuff with evidence and its just great to read it.Much better than a newspaper ever will manage!

Anonymous said...

Good morning Ladies and Gentlemen,

I urge all of Peter's supporters tell everyone you know by whatever means. Print leaflets, distribute them, we are all dissidents, we all have a duty to protect people from lawyers. These people will not keep ruining people and get away with it.

As for feelings at the SLCC running high, that's good, Dr Cherbi (please don't take the Dr as an insult Peter, I don't like them either) your prescription is working.

Good morning Jane Irvine, my friends are distributing posters about your SLCC, and naturally they are not complimentary. Our mission is to inform people who have not been victims of the legal profession, of the architects of injustice and the Law Society and SLCC cover up culture that blocks justice and leaves lawyer criminals working.

We will never lie down and accept continued self regulation, and like MPs expenses you better wake up. Crooked lawyers are going to be extinct, and you with them Jane. No hard feelings XXXX.

Anonymous said...

If someone told me they sat on a lawyer complaints body and also an accounts body I'd begin to wonder myself what they were doing with all the jobs.

SLCC as you say is not to be trusted.

Anonymous said...

Yes I agree its very suspicious this story isnt in the newspapers after all their effort to expose political expenses and spt story still running today.

Wonder how much it cost the Law Society and their clique to keep this out the headlines ?

Anonymous said...

Outrageous claims at this body and all they do is get lawyers off the hook !

Crooked lot just like the crooked lawyers

Anonymous said...

Back pockets are definitely being stuffed here ! and just why is this not on BBC news ?
Do the lawyers have a no reporting deal with the tv about their own bloody expenses ?