Wednesday, April 14, 2010

SLCC’s Eileen Masterman resigns, questions remain on attempt to mislead Cabinet Finance Chief John Swinney over secret meetings with insurers Marsh

Eileen MastermanSLCC Chief Executive Eileen Masterman. In an eerie reflection of events two years ago which forced the resignation of former Law Society Chief Douglas Mill, EILEEN MASTERMAN, who was appointed Chief Executive of the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission by Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill in 2008 on a salary of £1,350 a week, is to resign after only one year of being in the controversial post at the scandal-hit regulator which deals with consumer complaints against Scottish solicitors. Ms Masterman has been absent from her post for six months, as I reported yesterday here : £70K Chief Executive ‘missing for 6 months’ at Scottish Legal Complaints Commission as Justice Secretary dodges questions on scandal-hit law quango

Insiders at the SLCC confirmed late yesterday evening Ms Masterman was leaving, apparently on grounds off “ill health” and that an official announcement would be made soon revealing Rosemary Agnew, the SLCC’s “Head of Investigations” as the new Chief Executive.

Margaret Scanlan - Called to the Bars - Sunday Mail  15 March 2009 emailEileen Masterman was caught in anti-client insults scandal at SLCC, reported in the press. During Ms Masterman’s tenure as Chief Executive of the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission, it was revealed through documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act she had slated consumer organisations & campaigners in bitter exchanges with SLCC board members including Glasgow Divorce lawyer Margaret Scanlan & the well known Law Professor Alan Paterson, from Strathclyde University, expressing resentment at campaign organisations who questioned the integrity of Scotland’s legal profession. I reported on that story in an earlier article, here : Insults fly at Scottish Legal Complaints Commission as Law chiefs launch bitter tirades against campaign groups & law reformers, later picked up by the national media as I reported here : MacAskill must clean up law complaints body as members 'booze culture conduct' reflects lack of discipline & will to investigate crooked lawyers

John SwinneyCabinet Finance Chief John Swinney revealed he felt Ms Masterman had mislead him over accounts of meetings. However, Eileen Masterman’s resignation leaves questions over increasingly bitter exchanges between the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission & the Scottish Government’s Finance Chief, John Swinney, on a matter which I have previously reported where further documents obtained under Freedom of Information legislation revealed the SLCC had clearly mislead Mr Swinney over secret meetings between its officials including Ms Masterman and officials from Marsh, the Law Society’s Master Policy insurers.

John Swinney 09032009 to SLCC 1Cabinet Secretary Swinney demanded explanations of SLCC's minutes contradictions. Letters written by Cabinet Secretary John Swinney dated March 2009 to the SLCC's Chief Executive Eileen Masterman brand her explanation 'contradictory' to details in the Commission's own minutes : "In your response on the 12th of December to *** subsequent letter on the 2nd of December in which *** had stated 'clearly you are saying that no date has yet been arranged for the Marsh presentation'. You indicated that a meeting took place with RSA (Royal Sun Alliance) in July 2008 but that no meeting had occurred with Marsh."

Mr Swinney then went on to state : "*** has drawn to my attention the fact that the minutes of the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission dated 11th of March 2008 and 7th July 2007 indicated firstly in March 2008 that 'Jane Irvine confirmed she had arranged an introductory session from Marsh' and the minutes in July said that a meeting had taken place with RSA. I have to say that I feel there is a contradiction between the correspondence you have sent to *** dated 1st and 12th of December and the minutes of the SLCC meetings of March and July."

The SLCC’s Chief Executive, Eileen Masterman, herself a former Law Society of Scotland Committee member, issued the following statement in response to queries over Mr Swinney’s communications : “As you know, the SLCC came into existence on 1 October 2008 and a few weeks later, in early November, I attended a meeting with the SLCC’s Head of Investigations and a representative from Marsh. I considered that it was necessary and entirely appropriate for us, as senior members of the SLCC’s team, to apprise ourselves of the nature and workings of the Master Policy and Guarantee Fund as these come within our area of responsibility. However, the meeting did not relate to the means by which SLCC would ultimately exercise its oversight function.“

John Swinney 03062009 to SLCCSLCC's answers to Cabinet Secretary Swinney were far from clear. Ms Masterman’s responses to Mr Swinney's allegations of contradictions in correspondence between himself, a constituent and the SLCC, to keep secret any meetings with the insurers, fell through after details of the secret meetings emerged in board minutes of meetings of the Commission, leading to further correspondence between the SLCC & Mr Swinney, who went onto brand Ms Masterman’s explanations as "far from clear" after Ms Masterman informed Mr Swinney in letters dated 15 January 2009 "The SLCC has not consulted with Marsh or the Royal Sun Alliance about the operation of the Master Policy" which was contradicted by emails from November 2008 between Ms Masterman & the then Head of Investigations Rosemary Agnew, which read : "We received our tutorial yesterday on the Master Policy from Marsh".

Eileen Masterman then wrote to John Swinney in a letter dated March 2009 claiming "I have not met with Marsh", clearly contradicting the course of events where SLCC officials including Ms Masterman had in fact met Marsh.

The increasingly bitter exchanges on the issue of the SLCC’s involvement with Marsh continue between the SLCC, Mr Swinney and his constituent where legal insiders who have read the documents already available through FOI disclosures agree there appears to be a clear intention to mislead inquiries made by Cabinet Secretary Mr Swinney.

SLCC report headerScottish Legal Complaints Commission report on Master Policy revealed clients had committed suicide over conduct of ‘crooked lawyers’ & Marsh. The disputed ‘secret meetings with Marsh’ were held prior to a survey commissioned by the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission into the Master Policy & Guarantee Fund, which are ‘managed’ by the Law Society to compensate clients of negligent and crooked lawyers, but which in reality never pay out financial compensation for terrible loss inflicted on clients by rogue lawyers. The results of the report, conducted by the University of Manchester’s Professor Frank Stephen, and Dr Angela Melville, revealed that : Suicides, illness, broken families and ruined clients reveal true cost of Law Society's Master Policy which 'allows solicitors to sleep at night'

Douglas Mill 4Douglas Mill resigned as Law Society Chief Executive after revelations of secret ‘anti-client’ dealings with insurers Marsh. Ms Masterman’s resignation, while officially over ‘ill health’ almost identically mirrors a similar chain of events after Mr Swinney revealed a set of Mr Mill’s own memos, showing secret communications & meetings between the Law Society of Scotland & its Master Policy insurers, Marsh UK which eventually led to the resignation in January 2008 of the then Law Society Chief Executive Douglas Mill, after video footage of the confrontation between John Swinney & Douglas Mill before the Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee was posted to You Tube. I reported on Douglas Mill’s own resignation, here : Breaking News : Law Society Chief Executive Douglas Mill who lied to Parliament, pursued 'personal vendetta' against critics - to resign

The memos, written by Mr Mill and his associates at the Law Society depicted a sequence of events where officials including Mr Mill were apparently engaged in operations to target and deny clients any access to legal representation in cases involving the recovery of financial claims against ‘crooked lawyers’. The costs of claims against ‘crooked lawyers’ are met by the Master Policy, operated by Marsh and funded by insurers Royal Sun Alliance PLC.

Cabinet Secretary Swinney was asked for comment on Ms Masterman’s resignation and the discussion between his office & Ms Masterman over the meetings between the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission & Marsh. His spokeswoman said in response : “John Swinney has no comment to make on this matter.”

The Scottish Government & Scottish Legal Complaints Commission were both asked for comment today on Ms Masterman’s resignation. A spokeswoman for the Scottish Government said : “We do not comment on individual staffing cases.”. The Scottish Legal Complaints Commission did not give a comment at the time of publishing.

Scottish Legal Complaints Commission - Eileen Masterman steps down  as Chief  Executive 19 April 2010SLCC statement on CEO Eileen Masterman. In an update to the original article, the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission issued a public release on 19 April 2010 regarding Ms Masterman’s position, stating : “The SLCC has now informed its staff and stakeholders that after a period of illness, Eileen Masterman, Chief Executive Officer of the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission (SLCC) has left the organisation. The Commission wishes her well for the future. Jane Irvine, SLCC Chair, confirmed that Rosemary Agnew, the SLCC Head of Investigations, will continue in her role as Accountable Officer and Acting Chief Executive until further notice. The position of Chief Executive is filled through the Public Appointments process run by the Office of the Commissioner for Public Appointments in Scotland (OCPAS). The recruitment process will commence in due course.”

55 comments:

Anonymous said...

Rosemary now gets the £1,350 a week - lucky her !

Anonymous said...

No doubt Ms. Masterman's chums at the law society can find her some alternative employment, she has after all always been a loyal servant.

Alternatively, perhaps Glasgow University could find her a position alongside Douglas Mill in the Law Department there?

Anonymous said...

Impressive.
Meeting with Marsh is a sure fire way to end your career by the looks of it.

Perhaps Masterman can join Mill's consultancy ?

Anonymous said...

So much for the SLCC being a cure for the Law Society's ills.

Back to square one ?

Anonymous said...

Looks to me like John Swinney got rid of her too.What a good sport!
How lucky you are to have friends in high places Mr Cherbi.Who else is for the chop ?

Anonymous said...

"Masterman & Mill" - I dont think so !

What about Scanlan & Paterson.They should also go after those emails you exposed.

Keep up the pressure !

Anonymous said...

What exactly are the grounds of Masterman's "ill health" ?

I just ask because plenty clients who have to complain to this SLCC are also suffering "ill health" after what their lawyers did to them.

Anonymous said...

She will turn up again in a few months time at the Law Society or somewhere else.

Maybe Mr MacAskill will find her a nice quiet quango position paying much the same as she got at the SLCC.

Peter Cherbi said...

# Anonymous @ 16.19

Whatever the case, I'm sure we have not heard the last of Eileen Masterman in the field of regulation of the legal profession ...

# Anonymous @ 17.28

I wouldn't ...

# Anonymous @ 18.06

Yes indeed ... back to square one and I'm sure things can only get worse ...

# Anonymous @ 18.58

I agree ... there are still far too many individuals at the SLCC who appear to be prejudiced against clients & consumer organisations ...

# Anonymous @ 19.21

Good point ...

# Anonymous @ 19.53

Only time (or FOI) will tell on that one ...

Anonymous said...

I'm curious about why the SLCC has kept this quiet for 6 months.Was it just so she could draw sick pay then quietly go or is there some other motive in play here ?

Very fishy as usual with anything to do with lawyers in Scotland.

Keep on their tail Peter although I'm quite sure you dont need anyone to tell you that !

Anonymous said...

How do we get you onto this SLCC Mr Cherbi ?

It seems you are more the expert on regulation than all of them put together.

Anonymous said...

How long before Agnew follows the same path ?

Anonymous said...

Peter, what can I say, lovely jubbly, keep the pressure on.

Miss Masterman, if you cannot stand the heat you are right to get out of the kitchen. You see lawyers and clients are like oil and water, they do not mix. End self regulation.

Anonymous said...

Good man Peter, Lorna Jack will get her a job. Keep up the pressure.

Anonymous said...

Good riddance.
I have a letter from Masterman last year telling me to stop writing to the SLCC after they threw out my complaint about my solicitor.He was so innocent he went on to steal money from another client and the Law Society is supposedly now investigating him.Cover up crooks thats all the SLCC are no matter who is in charge.

Anonymous said...

Its all very well Mrs Masterman sliding away into obscurity for a few months but what about the issue with Marsh and the meetings ?

John Swinney should get stuck into the board members who are ultimately responsible for Masterman's conduct.Lets face it with the headlines this slcc has been generating it could do with a clean sweep of whats currently in charge!

Anonymous said...

First I've heard of this and why no announcement on the SLCC website?
More cover ups?

Anonymous said...

and where are our timid press on this story ?? obviusly its a biggie with the Finance Secretary kicking out 2 of the big names in crooked legal complaints over meeting up with an equally crooked insurance company

Anonymous said...

http://www.scottishlegalcomplaints.com/news/new-chief-executive.aspx

Scottish Legal Complaints Commission New Chief Executive
01/06/2008

The Scottish Legal Complaints Commission has announced the appointment of their first Chief Executive. The Commission, which will commence later this year, have appointed Eileen Masterman as their inaugural CEO. Eileen brings extensive experience in senior roles in both the private and public sector and has held a number of public appointments in Scotland and the UK. Eileen is a former Chief Executive of Homes for Scotland and was previously Director of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors in Scotland. Her current complaints investigation role at the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman reflects past similar positions, notably with the Commissioner for Local Administration in Scotland. In addition Eileen has been a volunteer lay representative dealing with complaints of professional misconduct and poor professional service.

The Commission will handle service complaints against legal practitioners in Scotland, oversee handling of misconduct complaints by the Law Society of Scotland and the Faculty of Advocates. Approximately 44 staff will work at the Commission

Chairing Member of the Commission, Jane Irvine, said in announcing Eileen's appointment "I am very pleased that Eileen has agreed to join the Commission. She brings with her a wealth of experience and the skills in complaints and dispute resolution from various professional backgrounds. These will be necessary to manage the new processes we are introducing to resolve complaints about legal services within Scotland.

DIDN'T LAST LONG WITH ALL THAT EXPERIENCE SHE BROUGHT NOW DID SHE !

Anonymous said...

Clearly Swinney & Cherbi make a good team against crooked lawyers!

Peter Cherbi said...

#Anonymous @ 20.18

The only reason the story has broke now is because an MSP, James Kelly asked questions in Parliament over the state of the SLCC ... too much of the spotlight eventually caught them out so it all had to become public ...

# Anonymous @ 20.25

No thanks .. I wouldn't take a position on the SLCC due to its contamination by the legal profession & Law Society. I couldn't be in an organisation where the only thing I could trust would be the Chair's pet dog Dougie.

# Anonymous @ 20.41

Not long .. from what I heard this evening ...

# Anonymous @ 20.48

Yes, I agree .. end self regulation of the legal profession .. it is the only way to give consumers & clients the full protection & rights they deserve ...

# Anonymous @ 21.02

I'm sure she will .. after all, Ms Masterman was on a Law Society committee prior to her appointment at the SLCC ...

# Anonymous @ 21.19

I'd like to hear more about your case .. contact me and I will publicise the letters if you wish ...

# Anonymous @ 21.46

Yes, I agree ... the SLCC's Board should now be held accountable for Ms Masterman's conduct ...

# Anonymous @ 21.58

It's called "putting off announcements until there's so much news going no one will notice" .. only the plan was cracked when questions were asked at Holyrood ...

# Anonymous @ 22.11

I'm sure the Law Society will be doing their usual to keep the real news buried ...

# Anonymous @ 22.18

What a difference a year and a meeting with Marsh makes ...

# Anonymous @ 22.41

The credit all goes to Mr Swinney .. I simply report the facts ...

Anonymous said...

You are too much of an expert not to be on the SLCC Mr Cherbi however I take your point about not being able to trust any of the crowd already there.

Anonymous said...

Whatever they announce you can bet nothing that you have mentioned will be in it.Rather one of those glowing appraisals that could only bring a tear to the eye of the living dead.

Anonymous said...

Once again this blog gets there first.

No wonder newspaper sales are in terminal decline, their main priority is to pretect their advertising revenue and do whatever their solicitors (and others) 'advise'.

Anonymous said...

No coincidence perhaps that that this resignation occurs very discretly during the holidays, and when attention is distracted by a general election campaign.

Anonymous said...

Well honestly I think Swinney has a bit of a cheek issuing a "no comment" (even though you seem to have said it all for him in great detail) when he is clearly responsible for what happened here just like with the Mill case.

Also the Scottish Executive coming up with a "we dont comment on staff cases" is just not on with all the public money (you also point out) has gone into this quango.

Very disturbing the whole mess of this slcc.

Anonymous said...

The SLCC have just announced Masterman left because she tripped over a piece of paper!

Anonymous said...

Mill and now Masterman have met their fate over secret meetings with Marsh - Good to see that dealing with a crooked insurer what caused suicides of poor clients has bitten back against those who live off such immorality!

Anonymous said...

Peter DONT YOU DARE ACCEPT ANY POSITION ON THIS CROOKED SLCC ! YOU ARE THE ONLY PERSON WHO MAKES SENSE IN THIS DEBATE ON THE SIDE OF CLIENTS AND ALL THEY WILL DO IS BUY YOU OFF AND SILENCE YOUR VOICE AGAINST THEIR CORRUPTION !

Peter Cherbi said...

# Anonymous @ 01.30

Yes, quite ...

# Anonymous @ 08.35

Yes I agree ... advertising budgets appear to come before informing the public in certain cases ...

# Anonymous @ 08.38

An 'insider' said almost exactly that to me yesterday evening ...

# Anonymous @ 10.21

Yes I agree .. the Scottish Government should have issued a statement given the circumstances .. and I hear the Justice Department has been involved in this affair to a much higher degree than they will ever admit ...

# Anonymous @ 11.10

Yes, a good point against those who turn a blind eye to the suicides of consumers, simply to protect a financial agreement between lawyers designed to allow the legal profession to sleep easy at night ...

# Anonymous @ 11.40

Don't worry .. there's no danger of that !

The SLCC are not a consumer friendly organisation, and I would not join something which has been contaminated by the Law Society of Scotland ...

Anonymous said...

"The SLCC are not a consumer friendly organisation, and I would not join something which has been contaminated by the Law Society of Scotland ..."

HERE HERE !

Anonymous said...

Seems you are correct,SLCC confirmed Masterman's gone and Rosemary Agnew the new CEO.

I will be looking into this further as I feel the post should have been advertised rather than simply filled via a promotion.

Anonymous said...

She will turn up somewhere else shortly of that I have no doubt.Meanwhile the slcc sit back and do nothing against crooked lawyers just as the plan always was from the beginning.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps SG's comment should have read : “We do not comment on individual stUffing cases.” !

Anonymous said...

another one falls to protect drew penman ?
that'll teach Yelland and his cronies a lesson or two

Anonymous said...

She wont be missed. Lawyers and cover up corruption go hand in hand.

Anonymous said...

6 months of ill health then leaves under a cloud of arguments with the Scottish Govt smacks of cover up.

Also nothing yet from the slcc in the papers so they must be trying to fit up their announcement to miss out most of the facts.I hope you've kept some back to counter the crap we will eventually get from Irvine on this one !

John Swinney for Justice ! said...

Clearly John Swinney should take over the Justice portfolio as MacAskill is just making a mess of everything to protect his pals in the legal fraternity.

Anonymous said...

I would have thought the SLCC would be making the most of the volcanic ash cloud thing today by slipping out Masterman's going.Good thing you got there first.

Peter Cherbi said...

# Anonymous @ 15.00

Oh yes ... there are a pile of leaked documents just waiting to be published ...

Anonymous said...

"Oh yes ... there are a pile of leaked documents just waiting to be published ..."

Jane and her gang must be tuned in by now.They must be sh*tting themselves over whats coming next !
Looking forward to reading more !

Anonymous said...

I heard the SLCC & Justice Dept were talking about cancelling any release due to your own coverage.Seems they dont want to give you any more ammunition on Masterman's leaving.

Anonymous said...

A golden goodbye perhaps ?
You better check that one out !

Anonymous said...

I wonder who will leave the sinking SLCC next?

No doubt Jane Irvine will be 'considering her future', and what little remains of her credibility.

Anonymous said...

Dont stop at Masterman,the whole SLCC should be sacked and replaced with people who WILL do good for clients not Law Society lackeys who cover up all the complaints as they are trained to do.

Anonymous said...

MacKaskill should resign too.

Anonymous said...

Even if they dont make an announcement we all have a right to know what went on here.
Anyway this quango should be shut down.I've read many of your links now and I doubt anyone thinks the slcc has a shred of honesty about it.

Anonymous said...

Hi Peter.
The Law Society team at the SLCC hate your guts after what you wrote about Masterman.The SLSO staff aren't too bothered though.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

Hi Peter.
The Law Society team at the SLCC hate your guts after what you wrote about Masterman.The SLSO staff aren't too bothered though.

I dont expect Peter to be too upset over that because all the Law Society and their staff ever do is cover up complaints against crooked lawyers.

A case of old habits never die now they are working at the SLCC ?

Anonymous said...

Brilliant work Peter, is there anything honest about lawyers, I doubt it.

Peter Cherbi said...

This article has been updated as of 19 April 2010, with a copy of the release from the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission announcing Eileen Masterman's resignation.

Anonymous said...

£1,350 a week plus pension.Jesus I think I will apply myself !

I hope you dont stop there Peter,there are clearly a few others at the SLCC in need of the Cherbi BOOT !

Anonymous said...

You should put in for the job Peter because clients need someone they can trust at the slcc..

Peter Cherbi said...

# Anonymous @ 19.52

I'm working on a few more reports for publishing soon ...

# Anonymous @ 11.16

No thanks ... however, I understand the Law Society are already lining up their candidates to fill Ms Masterman's shoes at the SLCC ...

Anonymous said...

The SLCC have just announced it on their website although they dated the announcement 12.4.10 which is clearly a lie as I have been watching the website for news since you posted this story last week.

http://www.scottishlegalcomplaints.com/news/chief-executive-leaves-following-illness.aspx

More reason to mistrust the SLCC when they fiddle the dates of their public announcements.