Friday, June 17, 2011

First Minister Alex Salmond ‘could rely on Crown Immunity’ in row over Supreme Court comments & legal action threat from Human Rights solicitor

Alex_SalmondScotland’s First Minister may rely on Crown Immunity to avoid possible court challenge by solicitor. THE ROW over Alex Salmond’s comments on rulings from the UK’s Supreme Court took another twist today as senior legal figures claimed CROWN IMMUNITY for Scottish Ministers may come to the rescue of Scotland’s First Minister, Alex Salmond in the issue over comments the First Minister made against Professor Tony Kelly, who Mr Salmond accused in an interview for Holyrood magazine of making “an incredibly comfortable living by trailing around the prison cells and other establishments of Scotland trying to find what might be construed as a breach of human rights of an unlimited liability back to 1999”.

Mr Kelly, a solicitor whose clients have included the man convicted of the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie Scotland in December 1988, has threatened to bring legal action in the English courts against the First Minister as reported in yesterday’s Herald newspaper. However if Crown Immunity is claimed by the First Minister, it is unclear if the case could proceed.

The Herald newspaper yesterday reported : “Human rights solicitor Professor Tony Kelly claims Mr Salmond “has called into question my professional integrity”. And he added: “With regret, I have had to take legal advice and following upon that, given the nature of attacks upon me, I have decided to formalise my opinion.”. Today’s Herald newspaper reports Mr Salmond has refused to apologise for any of his comments made on the Supreme Court, its judges, rulings and comments made against Mr Kelly.

In the interview for Holyrood magazine, Mr Salmond said of Mr Kelly : “You are talking about giving thousands of pounds going to people like Beggs, for example. If a system does that then it falls into total and utter disrepute because there is not a single person, outwith Professor Kelly [Tony Kelly, the human rights lawyer] who was the instigator of many of the actions, that believes that the judicial system is there to serve their interests and to make sure they can make an incredibly comfortable living by trailing around the prison cells and other establishments of Scotland trying to find what might be construed as a breach of human rights of an unlimited liability back to 1999 and that is what we were faced with.”

Mr Salmond continued : “The judicial system does not exist to serve Professor Kelly, it exists to serve the people and any judicial system which allows that to happen would fall into disrepute and what’s more, it costs lives because if you take £100m out of the justice budget you cost lives; less police, less courts, less effective justice and incidentally, less Legal Aid and it is an inevitable consequence of that sort of thing.”

In the same interview, Mr Salmond also attacked Lord Hope, a Scottish judge on the Supreme Court, saying : “All I would say to Lord Hope is that I probably know a wee bit about the legal system and he probably knows a wee bit about politics but politics and the law intertwine and the political consequences of Lord Hope’s judgements are extreme and when the citizens of Scotland understandably vent their fury about the prospect of some of the vilest people on the planet getting lots of money off the public purse, they don’t go chapping at Lord Hope’s door, they ask their Parliament what they are doing about it. I am perfectly happy if Lord Hopes wishes to exercise his freedom of speech and I hope he is happy with mine but at least I went to the bother of being elected, it may be an inconvenience but none the less has to count for something.”

In response to continuing criticisms over the First Minister’s comments on the Supreme Court and Lord Hope, and Professor Kelly, the First Minister said : "I conducted the interview with Holyrood magazine two weeks ago when we were engaged in a vigorous debate on these matters. Since then I have appointed, under Lord McCluskey, a panel of people of eminence and expertise to advise this Parliament, and then to have their views debated in this Parliament so we can address the underlying issue. I think this is the way we should do this.”

Mr Salmond continued : "The integrity of the criminal law of Scotland is a matter of concern. It was never meant to be second guessed in the way that's happening at the present moment. "As well as a right of free speech, we have a duty as parliamentarians to articulate the public concerns and try and bring proper remedy. It is not, as Iain Gray represents it, that everyone should have human rights. It is whether this Parliament, this jurisdiction, this legal system stands in equality with every other jurisdiction in Western Europe."

Legal insiders today claimed Mr Salmond as a Scottish Minister may rely on “Crown Immunity” from any court action brought against him, alleging the issue had already been discussed at senior levels of the Government.

A legal source said : “Mr Salmond like all Scottish Ministers, has the availability of Crown Immunity open to him should he require to use it. However the irony of Scotland’s First Minister who has an ultimate goal of independence relying on Crown Immunity to walk away from litigation brought by a solicitor who did nothing other than represent his clients on Human Rights issues will be a sad reflection on the legal system and leave Mr Salmond open to continuing widespread criticism on legal issues.”

The legal source pointed out Mr Kelly’s law firm, Taylor & Kelly already have a track record on cases involving Crown Immunity in post-devolution Scotland where the Scottish Government had lost rulings on its use of Crown Immunity defending previous cases brought by Taylor & Kelly.

Pressed on a statement the use of Crown Immunity amid rumours in legal circles Mr Salmond would claim it if faced with legal action from Professor Kelly, the Scottish Government said : “We do not wish to be drawn on the issue of Crown immunity.”

Yesterday, the Law Society of Scotland & Faculty of Advocates issued a joint statement condemning the First Minister’s remarks against senior members of Scotland’s legal profession and the judiciary.

Responding to recent comments from the First Minister; Richard Keen, dean of the faculty of advocates and Cameron Ritchie, president of the Law Society of Scotland said : "The independence of our judicial system and the need to respect the rule of law are fundamental aspects of Scottish society, as they must be of any democratic society. This is affirmed by the Judiciary and Courts (Scotland) Act, an Act of the Scottish Parliament which obliges the First Minister and the Justice Secretary to uphold the independence of the judiciary, including the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom . Our judges must be free to decide cases independently, according to law and upon evidence. Any attempt to influence the outcome of litigation by reference to political wishes or a politician's perception of popular opinion is a challenge not only to the courts but to the rule of law.

The statement continued : "The Scottish Government talks about the unintended consequences of establishing the UK Supreme Court. The First Minister and the Justice Secretary need to carefully reflect on the consequences of what are perceived to be repeated and now highly personal attacks on respected members of the legal profession. Such comments contribute nothing to any sensible debate on how best to provide a justice system that properly and effectively meets the needs of our changing society."

Mr Salmond’s attack on the legal profession and members of the judiciary on issues of Human Rights rulings & criminal law may well strike a chord with some, however as a journalist & long time law reform campaigner, I have to wonder why does the First Minister not make similar criticisms or public attacks on the now very obvious corruption at the Law Society of Scotland who, as the regulator of Scotland’s legal profession continue to allow rogue solicitors to work as normal while hundreds, now thousands of ruined clients are denied any justice, any access to justice and any chance of recovery of millions of pounds stolen each year by solicitors from their clients.

John SwinneyJohn Swinney’s constructive criticism of the Law Society over corruption at the Master Policy earned him much respect. Perhaps Mr Salmond can learn a thing or two about criticising the legal profession from his number two, John Swinney, who, very singularly, took on the Law Society of Scotland at its highest levels at the Justice 2 Committee in 2006 and exposed the word of the Law Society’s Master Insurance Policy and its targeting of solicitors clients who attempted to pursue their crooked lawyers to the courts. The scandal revealed by Mr Swinney eventually led to the resignation of the Law Society’s then Chief Executive Douglas Mill. Mr Mill announced his resignation in January 2008 which I reported on HERE after video footage of the heated exchanges between Mr Swinney & Mr Mill were published on video sharing website You Tube in December 2007.

John Swinney’s attack on the Scottish legal profession’s handling of client complaints & damages claims was far more relevant & to the mark than Mr Salmond’s raging against the Supreme Court.

If Mr Salmond wants to take on the Scottish legal profession, there are far more important issues & scandals for the First Minister to raise in public of how the legal profession & the Law Society affects & treats Scots when it comes to access to justice, than his current criticisms of Human Rights rulings of the Supreme Court in London.

If Mr Salmond did choose to use his office & Holyrood majority to clean up Scotland’s legal profession, cure its corrupt regulatory practices (including the useless Scottish Legal Complaints Commission) and resolve the legal profession’s injustice against thousands of clients over the decades, a matter I once brought before Holyrood’s Petitions Committee, which was in turn killed off by Law Society demands, well, that would be another subject entirely .. and one worthy of considerable support.

Mr Salmond would also do well to bring forward the full implementation of the Lord Justice Clerk Lord Gill’s recommendations in the Scottish Civil Courts Review, which for now, is itself under review as I reported HERE.


Anonymous said...

I'm sure he would too!

Anonymous said...

Yes Mr Salmond keeps missing the target.If he were only able to focus on what is REALLY rotten in the Scottish legal system instead of jumping into sound bite heaven on Nat Fraser he would gain a lot more respect from all of us.

Perhaps Mr Salmond needs some better equipped and more independent legal advisers than he is currently listening to..

Anonymous said...

I dont doubt what you say about Eck sliding away under Crown Immunity (not that I care very much given his comments are correct in my opinion) however I want to make a comment about this video you have with John Swinney and Douglas Mill.

John Swinney can be heard talking away to Douglas Mill but we never get to see him once.Was this by some strange affliction of ignorance on the part of the Holyrood cameraman or was this by arrangement?

Every time I've seem one of these clips where an msp has been having a go at someone during a committee hearing we always get to see their face yet in this case, no John Swinney.Indeed I only know its John Swinney because you tell us in your commentary and I know its him talking away in the background because I know his voice.Its all very strange really for someone with as high standing as he holds at Holyrood even during his time in opposition when this hearing took place.

Having said all that you are correct Mr Salmond should pull apart the Law Society.I for one would welcome it.They hold far too much power over legislation as you continually point out.Having the support of real Scots is more important than having the support of the money grabbing Law Society.

Anonymous said...

Clearly Salmond and his pal MacAskill has prejudiced all these people's rights to a fair hearing so he should be taken to court. FULL STOP

Anonymous said...

We know Salmond and the SNP have always been blinkered and parochial in their outlook, just look at his unconditional support for 'Piper' McAskill and his stubborn deafness regarding the very urgent changes which others have long since identified.

Once again too much 'highland mist' has got in Salmond's eyes and not for the first time he's got it badly wrong.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

I wonder why Professor Kelly is pursuing his action through the English Courts?.....perhaps he's been reading your reports!

Anonymous said...

This may be one of the reasons Tony Kelly is bringing the action in the English courts rather than in Scotland.

Mr Salmond is a Minister of a devolved assembly,his crown immunity should it exist or be used may not carry the same weight in an English court as it would in Scotland although I'm sure much money will be spent by the Scottish Executive arguing it does. If Mr Kelly were to take legal action and see it through the results could be surprising for both sides.

I'd say Kelly has a fight on his hands if this is correct however as you already are aware he is as equally dogged at pursuing controversial cases to a conclusion as you are as a legal reform campaigner!

Let's wait a bit and see what happens..

Anonymous said...

Now you've gone and made me watch this video clip too.

Correct about John Swinney.I can hear him talking away in the background yet no frontal face shot while he is talking,its all of Douglas Mill or the Committee room.

Was Mr Swinney trying to distance himself from the whole argument? (I doubt this) or had someone told the camera not to focus on Swinney during the debate?

Apart from getting rid of a rather nasty person from the Law Society I think this clip leaves more qustions than answers especially if you remember this was taken in 2006 and 5 years later the same scandals with different faces are cropping up on Peter's blog on a regular basis.

Mr Salmond please turn your fire on the arrogant Law Society for it is they who are truly the enemy of the people.

Anonymous said...

I suspected as much which is probably why they dont want to 'be drawn on the issue of crown immunity' although it will be a laugh if fatso isn't immune in England!

Anonymous said...

If Kelly actually does take him to court who will end up paying for it?Yes thats right,the taxpayer because Salmond will have access to a mountain of lawyers rubbing their hands at the very thought of slopping out poor old Alex from their esteemed colleagues across the benches!

Anonymous said...

He's drunk on power and put in a terrible performance in the Scottish Parliament at FMQs but well its no big deal I mean who really pays attention that mob anyway?

Anonymous said...

Swinney sitting next to Salmond this week was a picture!
The man who wanted to be somewhere else in a hurry!

Anonymous said...

"about the prospect of some of the vilest people on the planet getting lots of money off the public purse"

Wake up to reality Mr Salmond this has been happening for years in the form of lawyers fiddling legal aid yet you kept your mouth shut when it suited and did nothing.

Anonymous said...

If Kelly takes the case to England I doubt Mr Salmond's immunity will have any value because down there he is nothing just a visiting politician from a regional assembly.

Anonymous said...

Yes very interesting Peter and I see you managed to drag Douglas Mill back into the frame.Of course you should also point out it was Mill who threatened to sue the Scottish Executive on Human Rights grounds because they wanted independent regulation of the legal profession and we ended up stuck with the idiotic SLCC which you have so skilfully pulled apart.Have I missed anything out?
I dont think Mr Kelly will have any chance of success in a Scottish court so good luck to him in England.Personally I would love to see Salmond trying to justify his comments when he tells anyone else who asks for help "sorry we dont interfere with the legal profession or judiciary etc" blah blah

Anonymous said...

Crown immunity what an embarrassment for Eck!

Anonymous said...

Good luck to Tony Kelly I agree with him suing Salmond for what he said and if I was up before a court and had Salmond criticising my lawyer I'd support him just the same if he wanted to take him to court too

Anonymous said...

and what about Nat Fraser getting a fair re-trial now?
No chance!

Nat Fraser faces Arlene murder case retrial

Elgin businessman Nat Fraser has had his conviction for the murder of his estranged wife Arlene overturned but will face a retrial.

Mr Fraser was jailed in 2003 after his wife went missing in Moray five years earlier. Her body was never found.

In May, the UK Supreme Court remitted the case to the Court of Criminal Appeal in Edinburgh to decide on a retrial and to quash the conviction.

Judges at the Appeal Court in Edinburgh granted the application for a retrial.

The 52-year-old was remanded in custody following the decision.

The case began on 29 April 1998 when wife Arlene, 33, waved her two young children, Jamie and Natalie, off to primary school and then disappeared.

Mr Fraser appealed for her to get in touch but was later tried and jailed for a minimum of 25 years.

He lost an appeal against his conviction in 2008 but pursued his case to the UK Supreme Court in London after he exhausted all avenues in Scotland.

The Supreme Court found that Mr Fraser's human rights may have been breached because prosecutors failed to disclose some evidence in the case against him.

They returned the case to the Appeal Court in Edinburgh.

After consideration, Scotland's top judge, the Lord Justice General Lord Hamilton, sitting with Lords Reed and Carloway, formally overturned Mr Fraser's conviction.

The three judges granted authority for a fresh prosecution after being urged to do so by advocate depute Alex Prentice QC.

No date has been set for Mr Fraser to return to court.

Anonymous said...

Lovely and I hope Tony Kelly ruins him!

Anonymous said...

Very good insight Peter I like the way you write about these thugs.
I cant help but wonder if Mr Kelly will,because of his wish to take Eck to court,be subject to the rabid squad who target critics of nat policies.If he is I hope he reports them all to the cops to deal with once & for all.Scotland already does not have a free press because of some of these thugs so I think its important someone stands up to the man responsible for it all and we all know who that is.

Anonymous said...

First Minister Alex Salmond ‘could rely on Crown Immunity’ in row over Supreme Court comments & legal action threat from Human Rights solicitor.

I do not like you Mr Salmond, never have and I think Hans Kochler is correct about our Banana republic here in Scotland.

Anonymous said...

I have to say this Douglas Mill looks mild in the video compared with Alex Salmond at the Scottish parliament!
Swinney is clearly the brains of the operation.
Where are all those idiots who said Salmond stands head & shoulders above the rest in the parliament?haha what a joke!

Anonymous said...

Salmond is selective who he condemns in the Scottish Legal profession, a two faced crook in my view.

Anonymous said...

No Mr Salmond wont bother criticising the Law Society for all these crooked lawyers ripping off their clients because he doesnt give a sh*t about it.All he gives a sh*t is getting his face in the headlines all the time for another bout of Scotland v England and why we are so f*cking oppressed by the English which is all just a load of crap.
If he does have this Crown Imminity maybe they should strip it from him and see what happens in the real world when he opens his mouth against anyone who disagrees with him.

Anonymous said...

In yet another attack on Scots access to justice, Scotland’s Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill is reported to have threatened to remove Scotland’s £500,000 funding of the Supreme Court in London, as a way of preventing any human rights challenges to Scotland’s failing and rapidly deteriorating in terms of international standing legal system.

This latest attack by Mr MacAskill on the rights of Scots to a fair hearing under the European Convention on Human Rights legislation comes on the back of yesterday’s broadside against the judges of the UK’s Supreme Court, who Mr MacAskill accused of having gained their knowledge of Scots Law by visiting the Edinburgh Festival. Two of the judges on the Supreme Court are Scottish.


Anonymous said...

If vile people are getting £100million because Scottish justice is crap its the fault of the Scottish Parliament & Scottish Government for not updating the stupid Scottish legal system in the first place.

Anonymous said...

Clearly Mr Salmond cares nothing about injustice so dont expect any change of tune from someone so arrogant as to attack judges because he didn't like the verdicts showing up Scotland's well named victorian justice system

Anonymous said...

Forget it kid this is like a war between 2 parts of a mafia gang and they dont care who they hurt or take outin the process.

Anonymous said...

Eck claims to understand the legal system yet does nothing about it and lets the Law Society run the show.Only now for a headline does he come in to take the heat off MacAskill for his own stupidity.

Anonymous said...

The vile people getting all the money are those in the legal profession and Law Society Mr Salmond NEVER criticizes EVER


Have you been injured in the last three years and it was not your fault?

This is how the lawyers attrack clients but beware.

If the party you intent taking legal action against shares the same insurers as the lawyers and doctors you are dealing with you will receive £0.00 especially if your injuries are not visible and you need medical reports to argue this is the case.

Finally if the self regulators could not hide behind the corruption of self regulation they could not be guilty of crimes against their clients.

Just remember if you need to complain about one of those gods with medical or law degrees their colleagues will ensure they are exonerated. Transfer this power balance into a military context and a client is like person fighting with bare hands against a lawyer with a machine gun.

In Scotland state actors as MacAskill knows are above the law. Now if MacAskill got drunk and drove a car he would be prosecuted, but if he stole clients assets when he was a lawyer a secret Law Society would deal with that. I am not saying MacAskill is a thief, as I have no evidence of that but self regulation places these powerful people in secretive positions, not public courts, why because lawyers think the public are too thick to understand how they operate when the real reason is that they could not operate as they do if they were subject to public scrutiny, hence the creation of dissident websites.

Salmond loves the Law Society, and it is a mistake of the gravest magnitude to trust MSP's to deal with the omnipotence of self regulating criminals who control policymaking for the benefit of the few, to the detriment of the people who elected them. Scotland suffers from blindness when it comes to the power of state actors.

Law society SLCC safe houses for lawyers said...

A Glasgow lawyer represented me in a litigation case against my employer.

He failed to tell me my documents and medical records had been sequestrated by the court.

When I later checked with the court because my corrupt GP was angry my documents had been sequestrated there was no evidence in the court case file that the lawyer had ever represented me.

The clerk told me there was something seriously wrong.

The lawyer stated than he needed an expert to check the systems of work at my employers premises. He wrote to me and stated that my employer would not let the expert into their premises so the expert could not produce a report.

The lawyer then stated that he would apply for a court order so that the expert could go into my employers workplace. He never applied for a court order. Some months later he told me he was trying to get legal aid for another ergonomics expert. I said to him you did not get a court order for the last expert.
Now I know the lawyer was insured by Royal Sun Alliance the same as my GP and my employer. They covered my injuries up because they pay into the insurance company I was claiming against. The refusal of my lawyer to make things difficult for my employer is self explanatory.

This is why no one gets compensation for workplace injuries. This case has been repeated thousands of times with the same pattern and even if they do not share the same insurers they will spin the case out. The person injured will have their injuries covered up, no lawyer acts for an injured person, they take on the case knowing full well they are going to cover everything up.

Just like Peter when he attempted to get compensation against his lawyer, THE LAW SOCIETY KILLED OFF HIS LEGAL AID AND REFUSED TO PROSECUTE PENMAN, this is how the legal and medical establishment work they are all against their clients.

Finally a case about a lecturer in litigation against Motherwell college, four law firms to date over fifteen years. The lawyers and the insurers are different but they still string the case out.

Please never trust what a lawyer tells you because if they ruin you the Law society and Scottish Legal Complaints Commission are there for one purpose, to clear your lawyer and keep him out of the S**t.

Do your job right by clients Law Society and you will not need to try and close down client websites.

Anonymous said...

If only Mr Salmond had been so scathing of the Lockerbie trial and how willing the judges are to political power playing he might be more believable sadly not as we see its all down to insults and spin to keep up his popularity

Anonymous said...

Presumably he wont be calling on Crown Immunity now you've written about it..
I look forward to hearing more of Mr Kelly's legal action against Mr Loudmouth..

Anonymous said...

He could learn a lot from Swinney!

Anonymous said...

He is completely out of his depth - the Law Society will gobble him up!

Anonymous said...

He didn't say it inside the Parliament so I dont think his Crown Immunity argument will wash!