Thursday, May 26, 2011

Victorian,prejudiced,politicised & definitely a little crooked, yet First Minister feels Scotland’s justice system should be its own final arbiter

Scottish judgesScotland’s “Victorian” justice system in the dock after UK’s Supreme Court overturns yet another criminal conviction. AS the ash cloud caused by the Supreme Court’s ruling on Nat Fraser’s appeal continues to spark protests from First Minister Alex Salmond & Justice Secretary MacAskill of the necessity of the Scottish legal system being the final arbiter of cases brought before it, we would all do well to remember that Scotland’s justice system which has been branded Victorian, prejudiced, restrictive, most certainly a little crooked, open to political manipulation and by all accounts certainly racist and even sectarian, cannot in any circumstances be regarded as a justice system fit for a modern democracy which gives those brought before it in criminal law, or those who must use it for civil law, a right to a fair hearing or even a right to access to justice itself.

Yesterday’s ruling by the UK Supreme Court which overturned Nat Fraser’s conviction after a jury at the High Court in Edinburgh in 2003 found him guilty of killing his wife Arlene who vanished from home in April 1998 has led to accusations yet again that the Supreme Court in London threatens the independence of Scotland’s criminal legal system. However, the only real threat to the independence, (and don't forget the integrity & credibility) of Scottish justice and Scots Law, is Scots Law itself.

First MinisterFirst Minister Alex Salmond being sworn in by .. Scottish judges. Predictably, the First Minister reacted bitterly to the perceived intervention of a court outside Scotland which decided Mr Fraser’s rights to a fair hearing had been breeched. Mr Salmond said : “I have no comment on the specifics of the case, which is live. But what needs to be addressed is the underlying issue - the principle that Scotland has, for hundreds of years, been a distinct criminal jurisdiction, and the High Court of Justiciary should be the final arbiter of criminal cases in Scotland, as was always the case.”

Mr Salmond continued : "Before devolution, the House of Lords had no jurisdiction whatever in matters of Scots criminal law. The increasing involvement of the UK Supreme Court in second guessing Scotland's highest criminal court of appeal is totally unsatisfactory, and creates additional delay and complexity which cannot serve the interests of justice.As we said in our evidence to the Scotland Bill Committee, the Scottish Government believe that the UK Supreme Court should have no role in matters of Scots criminal law, whether by way of devolution issues or appeal."

A legal observer, commenting on the ruling & the criticisms of the Supreme Court by the First Minister pointed out the Scottish legal system, with Scotland currently a member of the EU must be ECHR compliant. He said : “First thing is that the London Supreme Court was simply upholding the ECHR, which applies to the UK and by direct application, Scotland.”

Criticising the now notorious woes of Scots Law, he continued : “The Scottish legal and political system is the worst in the British Isles, even worse than the system in the Republic of Ireland. I´m all for further intrusion by the Supreme Court in the Scottish criminal system.”

Let us take a closer look at the Charges facing Scotland’s Justice system, both criminal & civil :and judge for ourselves whether it is fit for a modern democracy as we are supposed to be.


Lord GillLord Justice Clerk, Lord Gill branded Scots civil law “Victorian” yet clearly Scots criminal law also has major problems. It wasn't too long ago Scotland’s Lord Justice Clerk, Lord Brian Gill said in a speech to a Law Society of Scotland conference which preceded publication of his Civil Courts Review, branded Scotland’s civil justice system as “a Victorian model that had survived by means of periodic piecemeal reforms … in substance its structure and procedures are those of a century and a half ago. It is failing the litigant and it is failing society.” Clearly the judge said it, so it must be true. Lord Gill said a lot more and put forward many recommendations to fix Scotland’s “Victorian” justice system yet the reaction of the Scottish Government to Lord Gill’s damning indictment of Scotland’s civil justice system was to launch another review of Lord Gill’s review, which I reported on here : Scottish Government delay reforms on costs of litigation & access to justice as Minister announces 18 month 'time wasting' review by retired sheriff.

Many of the same failings of the civil justice system are also true of Scotland’s criminal law system, which is clearly out of touch on many occasions with human rights issues, so out of touch the Supreme Court also had to correct the rights of accused to be able to consult a solicitor when being interrogated by Police, as occurred in the Cadder (Appellant) v Her Majesty’s Advocate (Respondent) (Scotland) (pdf) ruling which caused similar huffing & puffing from Mr Salmond & Mr MacAskill, who were apparently keen to maintain the lack of such rights to accused, before the Supreme Court’s ruling.

A review of a very damning review and attempts to restrict the rights of individuals already accepted across Europe does not inspire confidence in the need to update a justice system Mr Salmond claims is already fair and should be its own final arbiter.


Do you need legal aid to fund legal representation ? Whether its a civil or even a criminal case, the Scottish Legal Aid Board may very well refuse it, clearly hindering your right to a fair hearing or a fair trial. Legal Aid refusals appear to be based more on personal prejudices of some in the justice system rather than whether a case stands a chance of success or not.

Don't have a lawyer ? then don't expect to get into court, and expect a lot of grief if you try to do it. Try taking a civil case to the Court of Session as a party litigant after being denied legal representation simply because solicitors do not wish (for a variety of reasons including orders from on-high) to progress your case. Never has a class of litigant been so prejudiced in the entire UK as party litigants are in Scottish courts. The eyes of the £200,000 a year judge and equally costly defending counsel before you in the court say it all “Why does this person exist. What gives this person the right to intrude into our cosy club and challenge our right to stand here with the full backing of the legal establishment and decide who should come before us.”


From the Law Society personally targeting the lives of those who complain against their solicitors, to our judges being controlled by male prostitutes, to Police Officers leaking data to criminals to fingerprints being planted at murder scenes, to lawyers getting away with legal aid fiddles, to the law itself being manipulated by its servants to bring charges against individuals, one may argue the Scottish justice system is a lot more crooked than the media can keep up with all the scandals requiring exposure.


The Lockerbie Trial, and the controversy that will never go away over the hearings at Camp Zeist and the subsequent conviction of Abdelbaset Al Megrahi for the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland in December 1988. Just imagine what may have happened if, rather than being conveniently released on compassionate grounds by Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill, who was obviously keen on avoiding making the Scottish Court of Appeal look even more a fool than it is, Abdelbaset Al Megrahi had finally been able to take his appeal to the Supreme Court in London ? If the court had ruled in his favour and quashed his conviction, how much huffing & puffing would the First Minister and Justice Secretary done in that event ?


In the case of Surjit Singh Chhokar, the Crown Office was and still is, branded as “institutionally racist”. There is little doubt race and racial discrimination places a huge part in Scotland’s justice system today, no matter how many statistics the Crown Office may tout on hate crimes or race crimes.

As the Telegraph newspaper reported at the time : “SCOTLAND'S most senior lawyer announced sweeping reforms of the Scottish criminal justice system yesterday following the publication of two damning reports into the murder of an Asian man. Although the reports reached conflicting conclusions on institutionalised racism, both investigations uncovered serious mistakes by the prosecution service in its handling of the Surjit Singh Chhokar case.”

“Comparisons between the Chhokar case and that of Stephen Lawrence had been made following the acquittal of three men accused of murdering the Sikh waiter three years ago. Addressing the Scottish Parliament, Colin Boyd, the Lord Advocate, admitted that the legal system had "failed the Chhokar family" and offered his apologies to them. Mr Boyd accepted the findings of a report by Raj Jandoo, Scotland's most senior Asian advocate, which found evidence of institutionalised racism in the way police officers and the Procurator Fiscal dealt with the bereaved family.”

We all of course remember what happened to Scotland’s most Senior Asian Advocate Raj Jandoo after he wrote the report, BBC News reported Mr Jandoo was convicted of endangering an aircraft and breach of the peace for mentioning a bomb and being regarded as terrorist causing fear and alarm to passengers and crew. Meanwhile other [white] Scottish legal luminaries dragged off aircraft & charged with offences, had their charges dropped.

Racism is still very much alive in the Scottish justice system today.


Surprise ! Even though no one wants to admit it, Scotland’s justice system is just as sectarian as those individuals or groups the Justice Secretary now seeks to legislate against with what will probably be poorly thought out laws rushed through the Scottish Parliament which may well end up being challenged on ECHR compliance later on, possibly in the Supreme Court once again.

According to a report authored by Dr Susan Wiltshire of Glasgow University for the Scottish Parliament’s Petitions Committee, there is firm evidence to show the Scottish Justice system is itself sectarian, holding harsher positions, verdicts & gives out longer term sentences against catholic defendants and other religious minorities than other groups who come before it on criminal (and quite possibly civil) matters, according to coverage from Scottish Law Reporter, available here : Report published by Holyrood Committee says justice system may be prejudiced against Catholics, confirms higher numbers in Scots jails.

The report, which msps were reluctant to publish, presumably because it revealed there were indeed sectarian issues in the Scottish justice system itself, can be downloaded from the Scottish Parliament’s website, here : Offender Demographics and Sentencing Patterns in Scotland and the UK: Research commissioned by the Public Petitions Committee in consideration of PE1073 (203KB pdf)

Is such a justice system worth defending when clearly it fails to serve Scotland and the Scottish people, rather only serving its own vested interests and of those who support it ?

First Minister Alex Salmond’s criticisms of yesterday’s Supreme Court ruling and his views on Scotland’s justice system being its own final arbiter are not consistent with the realty of justice in Scotland. Little wonder therefore that those who require a fair hearing in criminal or civil law should now look to the Supreme Court and even Europe because Scottish justice is unfair and all the things above.

Of course, Mr Salmond, you’d know all this anyway if you actually spent some time in the justice system yourself …


Anonymous said...

You give no quarter in your criticisms Mr Cherbi

Anonymous said... tells you plenty about the corrupt scottish justice system

Anonymous said...


Surprise ! Even though no one wants to admit it, Scotland’s justice system is just as sectarian as those individuals or groups the Justice Secretary now seeks to legislate against with what will probably be poorly thought out laws rushed through the Scottish Parliament which may well end up being challenged on ECHR compliance later on, possibly in the Supreme Court once again.

I agree!

Anonymous said...

Yes quite right Peter and dont forget the fact Lord Hope is a Scottish judge so Mr Salmond is very wrong about an English court meddling in Scottish affairs.

Anonymous said...

Hmm very interesting.

So as well as being completely corrupt and full of judges linked to rent boys the Scots legal system is institutionally racist and full of sectarianism.

How Alex Salmond proposes to take such a 'Bonnie Scotland' independent is beyond me!

Anonymous said...

You hit the nail on the head Peter.Scots justice is guilty on all counts.

Anonymous said...

Excellent reporting which clearly outlines the deficiences in the SNP 'logic' and shows them to be parocial, selfish and keen to see the Scottish Public continuing to be held prisoner by a 'Justice System' which has repeatedly failed to deliver.

The sooner the Scottish system is abolished and amalgamated with UK law the better.

Anonymous said...

Fancy that - there are as many bigots in the justice system as there are in the football stadiums.I imagine some of the judges have a good old sing-a-long when they get the chance themselves.

Anonymous said...

I'm for more Supreme Court intervention too.Its about time the Scottish justice system was sorted out as you say even some of the judges say it should be done yet the Scottish Government do nothing except make another review!

Anonymous said...

With the kind of corruption going on in legal circles I think its reasonable to expect even without a Scottish parliament report there is sectarianism racism & bigotry in the justice system and probably a lot more than any of us think.

Anonymous said...

The eyes of the £200,000 a year judge and equally costly defending counsel before you in the court say it all “Why does this person exist. What gives this person the right to intrude into our cosy club and challenge our right to stand here with the full backing of the legal establishment and decide who should come before us.”

You sum up the court experience so eloquently Peter.

I would compare it to being in front of a firing squad because judges have no time for anyone else but themselves

Anonymous said...

Speaking of Lord Gill where is he?
Did he suddenly lose the ability to speak or something?
All that stuff about not cherry picking his precious review and now look whats happened another review?
Anyone's credibility drops even a judge if they dont follow through on their promises or recommendations..

Anonymous said...

All very true Peter but Mr Salmond cares not.Just look at him in the picture as proud as punch in front of the judges.He's already one of the club and has been for many years.He's not about to clean up anyone's justice system because it suits his ends to a T.Judicial corruption bring it on for the SNP as much as possible and crack out the gas chambers for anyone who dissents!You just know they want to do it just like all parties with the word national in their title have done before.

Anonymous said...

didnt some lawyer end up in the papers for singing sectarian songs or something like that awhile back? if lawyers do it some of the judges are probably as bad anyway theres deffo sectarianism in the justice system i hear it all the time and some of the worst are cops at the courts and on forums too

Anonymous said...

As you say Peter the judge said the Scottish justice system is victorian therefore it must be true.Good he backed you up even though you've been saying this kind of thing for years!

Anonymous said...

I agree with everything you wrote

Anonymous said...

Is Salmond going to do this stunt every time there's a Supreme Court ruling against sucky Scottish law? it must be very embarrassing for all of those who bother to fight for human rights in Scotland!

Anonymous said...

I seem to remember a Mr Findlay QC, a director of Rangers FC, who was filmed singing a 'song', but perhaps he was the exception?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the tip on Dr Wiltshire's report

Anonymous said...

Peter's posting is an excellent synopsis of the problems facing Scotland's out of touch justice system both criminal and civil as you rightly point out there are both to consider not just the one.

Messrs Salmond & MacAskill's frantic objections to the Fraser ruling appear to be based more on the fact the ruling came from an English based court than anything else so perhaps your tag of racism should also include the First Minister's developing habit of attacking anything from south of the border which shows up Scotland in a big light.

Anonymous said...

corrupt and rotten to the core there is no part of the justice system that can be trusted whatever the politicians say

Anonymous said...

Lord Gill must be doing his nut at this but why the silence?
If his review is being reviewed and sod all being done about it why no complaints?
Is he another one now silenced by the establishment?

Anonymous said...

Your description of what Scottish judges & counsel think of party litigants is 100% accurate


MaAskill rants about justice when his owm lawyer flock are the most prejudiced crop of criminals Scotland has ever had.

Now in England or Soctland I believe the Law society want to shut down Solicitors from Hell accusing the site of defamation, imagine these bent bastards accusing anyone of corruption.

Their Victorian justice system, they would use the rack to torture clients if they could. They want to maintain it as it protects their incomes and reputations.

Never trust a lawyer.

Anonymous said...

No Findlay is no exception there are plenty others in the legal system and up to much worse sectarian stuff than just singing a song.
Also its well known the cops know about them but nothing is done.Could that be because they are working in the justice system itself?

Anonymous said...

Isnt it odd we've had over 2 weeks of jumped up lawyers and politicians on tv and in the newspapers shouting about sectarianism at football matches and now it turns out the bloody justice system is even more sectarian than all the footie fans combined!
Why was this report kept secret and why didnt all these top lawyers and the Salmond brigade act sooner because they obviously knew there was and is sectarianism in the justice system not just at footie matches!

Anonymous said...

Fantastic Peter!The only one out there telling Scots justice as it really is!
I bet some singalong judge choked on his rent boy when reading this hahahaha bloody great!

Anonymous said...

Spot on about Megrahi.If he had been refused his appeal in Scotland he could have gone to the Supreme Court and it would have served Hamilton & co right if they had ruled in his favour and then what would Salmond & MacAskill have been saying about a higher power?!

Anonymous said...

Scotland has been blighted by sectarian attitudes and behaviour - bigotry, which can all too often lead to abuse, violence and even murder.

Ministers believe that sectarianism has no place on Scotland's streets, at football grounds or in workplaces and have acted with the aim of eventually making Scotland a sectarian free zone.


Right Mr Salmond.The justice system is also a workplace so what are you going to do about the sectarianism in the justice system?Nothing?

Anonymous said...

You'll be happy now - everything you said about Salmond and the SNP on the justice system is now coming true

no justice for us!

Anonymous said...

The Law Society are biggots, not in religious terms but they hate clients.