Monday, June 27, 2011

Supreme Court judge Lord Rodger who found Law Society lied over dishonesty claims in stitch-up of former solicitors ‘who championed underdog’, dies

LordRodger1Former Lord President who became Supreme Court judge, Lord Rodger dies after a short illness. LORD RODGER, the former Lord President of the Court of Session who found the Law Society lied over dishonesty claims in a famous case involving former Edinburgh solicitors Gordon & Maria Thomson who were hounded out the profession for taking too much legal aid business, and who went on to become a judge in the UK Supreme Court, itself recently involved in controversial rulings on Scottish Human Rights cases which have changed the face of Scotland’s notoriously corrupt, antiquated legal system, has died after a short illness, it has been announced.

Lord Alan Rodger studied at the University of Glasgow, graduating with an MA, and at the University's School of Law, taking an LLB. He became an advocate in 1974 and was Clerk of the Faculty of Advocates from 1976 to 1979. He was a Member of the Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland from 1981 to 1984, and was appointed Queen's Counsel in 1985.He was an Advocate Depute from 1985 to 1988 and was appointed Solicitor General for Scotland in 1989, being promoted to Lord Advocate in 1992, at which time he became a life peer as Lord Rodger of Earlsferry, of Earlsferry in the District of North East Fife, and was appointed to the Privy Council.

Lord Rodger was appointed a Senator of the College of Justice, a judge of the High Court of Justiciary and Court of Session, in 1995, and became Lord Justice General and Lord President in 1996. He was appointed a Lord of Appeal in Ordinary in 2001, upon the retirement of Lord Clyde. He and nine other Lords of Appeal in Ordinary became Justices of the Supreme Court upon that body's inauguration on 1 October 2009.

Among the many rulings Lord Rodger will be remembered for, is that of the famous case where former Edinburgh solicitors, Gordon & Maria Thomson, who were hounded out of the Scottish legal profession by establishment elements and the Law Society of Scotland for taking ‘too much’ of the legal aid business. In a ruling on a petition to the nobile officium, Lord Rodger, then the Lord President, along with Lords Coulsfield & Marnoch, found the Law Society of Scotland, who had rigged an investigation into the Thomsons, and subsequent hearings before the Scottish Solicitors Discipline Tribunal which struck off the Thomsons as solicitors, had not removed allegations of dishonesty which were part of the Law Society’s concerted effort to strike down the Thomson’s popular legal business. The ruling from Lord Rodger and his colleagues on the bench stated :

This petition to the nobile officium by Gordon Thomson and Maria Thomson comes before the court on a motion for a first order for service. Among those upon whom service is sought are the President and Council of the Law Society of Scotland. It appears, however, that a copy of the petition was faxed to the Law Society some days ago and in any event the existence of the petition was reported in the press. The Law Society were accordingly represented at the hearing by Mr. Macdonald, Q.C.

The petitioners were the subject of proceedings in the Solicitors Discipline Tribunal, the hearing in which took place over several days in 1994 and 1995. On 22 March the Fiscal and the petitioners reached a substantial measure of agreement and the proceedings were adjourned until 5 April 1995. After sundry procedure, the Tribunal issued an interlocutor on 7 April and on 8 June 1995 they issued their formal Findings which comprised seventeen numbered paragraphs. In due course the petitioners appealed to this court. Their appeal came before an Extra Division who allowed it and remitted the matter to the Tribunal. In the opinion delivered by Lord Prosser, in a passage which we do not repeat but which was based on the submissions made at the hearing of the appeal, the court indicated that they were not satisfied that all the allegations of personal dishonesty against the petitioners had been withdrawn. In the present petition the petitioners state that the position of the Fiscal at the original hearing before the Tribunal was, and the position of the Fiscal at the new hearing is, that all such allegations have been withdrawn. The petitioners therefore ask the court to exercise the nobile officium and inter alia: "to hold that the Opinion of the Court should be recalled and re-written omitting any imputation of personal dishonesty by either Petitioner and publicised accordingly...."

However great the powers of this court may be, we cannot rewrite history. Nor can any interlocutor recall the words of an opinion or unsay what the court has said in an opinion which has been issued. The petition is therefore self-evidently incompetent.

None the less, as the petitioners point out, the opinion of the court has been published on the Internet and elsewhere. If the Law Society's position is actually that the Fiscal at the original hearing withdrew the allegations of personal dishonesty and that the Society do not allege personal dishonesty, then it is proper that this state of affairs should be given equivalent publicity. In the course of the short hearing we accordingly asked Mr. Macdonald to clarify the position of the Law Society. He readily did so. Based on what he told us, for the avoidance of doubt, we record that the Law Society of Scotland agree that the findings of the Discipline Tribunal issued on 8 June 1995, so far as inferring personal dishonesty on the part of the petitioners, did not reflect the pleas tendered by the petitioners and accepted by the Fiscal and those findings should therefore not have been made by the Tribunal.

Struck off mavericks celebrate legal victoryFormer solicitors Gordon & Maria Thomson were targeted in a fit up by the Law Society of Scotland over their law business. Gordon and Maria Thomson were originally struck off in 1995 after a 16-day tribunal hearing over what many now see as widely fabricated allegations by the Law Society of Scotland of a "substantial catalogue" of professional misconduct. The couple had become widely known through television commercials which featured Mr Thomson in biking leathers, astride a Harley- Davidson motor cycle. They were judged by the Law Society to have been too hungry for fees and to have run their Edinburgh practice in a manner which allegedly brought the profession into disrepute. Their firm, Gordon Thomson & Co, operated from the Sighthill shopping centre in Edinburgh. It also had branch offices, dubbed "law cafes", in Methil and Glenrothes in Fife. In his advertising Thomson portrayed himself as a champion of the underdog, and clients were called "friends". His theme tune was Tina Turner's Simply The Best. The offices were run almost as drop-in centres where members of the public could go for a coffee and a talk with one of the staff. The Law Society condemned this as soliciting clients of other lawyers and thus decided to kill off their business, and practising certificates.

Unbeknown to myself at the time, a firm of Edinburgh solicitors who were representing me in the case of the crooked Scottish Borders solicitor, Andrew Penman, and my attempt to take the Law Society of Scotland to court, had been appointed to wind up the Thomson’s legal practice by the Law Society. One of the firm’s solicitors went onto confess the whole thing had been about money, because many Edinburgh law firms were anxious the Thomson’s were taking their business, and particularly the legal aid money which effectively subsidises some of Edinburgh's most noted, if most useless and sometimes most crooked, law firms.

421Law Society’s Chief Executive Douglas Mill & Philip Yelland, head of Client Relations during the fit up of the Thomsons. It is worth noting that throughout the Law Society of Scotland’s determined pursuit of the Thomsons, its Chief Executive was Douglas Mill, who was forced to resign his position after video footage of a confrontation between Mill & the Scottish Government’s Finance Secretary John Swinney at a 2006 meeting of Holyrood’s Justice 2 Committee was published on the internet. It is also worth noting the same individuals who were wrapped up in the Thomson case, Mr Mill & Philip Yelland, the Law Society of Scotland’s Client Relations & Regulation Chief at the time of the Thomson case, were both also involved in the same highly personalised & bitter pursuit of myself, blocking all my attempts to take Andrew Penman, his law firm Stormonth Darling, the Master Policy,  and the Law Society of Scotland to the Court of Session.

Scotland’s serving & previous Lord Advocates issued their own tribute to Lord Rodger in a Press Release from the Crown Office :

Following the sad death of Alan Rodger, Lord Advocates past and present have paid tribute.

Speaking of Mr Rodger, Frank Mulholland QC, Dame Elish Angiolini QC and Lord Boyd of Duncansby QC issued a joint statement saying: "It is with great sadness that we have learnt of Alan Rodger's death. Those of us who have had the privilege of working with or appearing before him held him in the highest regard.”

"His sharp intellect allied to his humanity and humility made him one of the great Lord Advocate and Lord Presidents. Scotland's legal profession is poorer for his passing. He bore his illness with great courage and has left a legacy of significant jurisprudential thinking which will stand Scotland well for many years to come. Our thoughts are with his family at this sad time."

The Law Society of Scotland issued its own tribute to Lord Rodger

In tribute to Lord Rodger, Cameron Ritchie, President of the Law Society of Scotland said: "Lord Rodger was an eminent and distinguished figure within the Scottish legal profession. He held some of Scotland's most distinguished positions, including Lord Advocate and Lord President, where he demonstrated immense ability and intellect. "His more recent role as a member of the UK Supreme Court; one of only two Scottish Judges served to underline his considerable contribution, not only to the justice system but to society as a whole. Above all he was a great ambassador for the Scottish legal profession and someone who will be greatly missed."

Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond, who recently launched highly personalised attacks on the Supreme Court judges over their ruling in the Nat Fraser case, delivered his own commentary on Lord Rodger’s death, saying : “Lord Rodger made an outstanding contribution to public life in Scotland over many years both as a judge and as Lord Advocate. He was held in the highest regard by all those who worked with him in public service, and dedicated himself to the interests of justice during a long and hugely influential career."

Yet in early June, the First Minister and his Justice Secretary, Kenny MacAskill publicly criticised the Supreme Court & its judges, (two of whom were Scottish, Lord Hope and Lord Rodger, now deceased) of being part of a ”court in London that is made up of a majority of judges who do not know Scots Law, who may have visited here for the Edinburgh Festival”.

Mr MacAskill went on to threaten to withdraw funding for the Supreme Court, saying : “When I go to the Law Society I say that I will not routinely fund ambulance-chasing lawyers. It should be said that I am not going to pay for ambulance-chasing courts. As a Government we have to pay for the Supreme Court of the UK and I think they should recognise that we’ll pay for our fair share of what goes there. But I am not paying money that would come out of the police budget, or prison budget or community payback budget because they are routinely taking cases that we as a country do not think should be going there. He who pays the piper, as they say, calls the tune.”

40 comments:

Anonymous said...

Interesting.Perhaps we need some more adventurous judges like Lord Rodger to take on the Law Society?

Anonymous said...

"He who pays the piper, as they say, calls the tune"

Whats your tune now Kenny ?

Anonymous said...

I hope you know what you are doing because you may have just given the Thomsons new grounds to sue the LSoS

Anonymous said...

Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond, who recently launched highly personalised attacks on the Supreme Court judges over their ruling in the Nat Fraser case, delivered his own commentary on Lord Rodger’s death, saying : “Lord Rodger made an outstanding contribution to public life in Scotland over many years both as a judge and as Lord Advocate. He was held in the highest regard by all those who worked with him in public service, and dedicated himself to the interests of justice during a long and hugely influential career."

What a hypocrite!

Anonymous said...

How unsurprised I am to read of Mill & Yelland being around during the Thomson/Law Society affair.

Anonymous said...

Unbeknown to myself at the time, a firm of Edinburgh solicitors who were representing me in the case of the crooked Scottish Borders solicitor, Andrew Penman, and my attempt to take the Law Society of Scotland to court, had been appointed to wind up the Thomson’s legal practice by the Law Society. One of the firm’s solicitors went onto confess the whole thing had been about money, because many Edinburgh law firms were anxious the Thomson’s were taking their business, and particularly the legal aid money which effectively subsidises some of Edinburgh's most noted, if most useless and sometimes most crooked, law firms.

deffo litigation material (if they didnt know about it at the time)

Anonymous said...

”court in London that is made up of a majority of judges who do not know Scots Law, who may have visited here for the Edinburgh Festival”.

and NO apology!

Anonymous said...

RIP to the judge who found the Law Society to be liars

Anonymous said...

Comment @14:03

I doubt the Thomsons will be interested as this is all some years ago now and anyway the Law Society will not welcome Cherbi appearing against them!

Anonymous said...

Salmond & MacAskill look a pair of right idiots now

Anonymous said...

I'm sure President Salmond will be jumping up and down at the chance of getting his own man onto the bench or maybe even himself.

Anonymous said...

What was up with the Thomsons?
Did they not bend over enough to the dreaded Council?

Anonymous said...

If the Law Society's position is actually that the Fiscal at the original hearing withdrew the allegations of personal dishonesty and that the Society do not allege personal dishonesty, then it is proper that this state of affairs should be given equivalent publicity. In the course of the short hearing we accordingly asked Mr. Macdonald to clarify the position of the Law Society. He readily did so. Based on what he told us, for the avoidance of doubt, we record that the Law Society of Scotland agree that the findings of the Discipline Tribunal issued on 8 June 1995, so far as inferring personal dishonesty on the part of the petitioners, did not reflect the pleas tendered by the petitioners and accepted by the Fiscal and those findings should therefore not have been made by the Tribunal.

Ah I see - the Law Society wanted to leave in the dishonesty findings to justify their position.

Not very honourable especially considering everything you have written about the effort the Law Society goes to keep lawyers out of trouble.

Clearly the Thomsons were not towing the party line.

Out of interest which law firm represented you in the Penman case?

Anonymous said...

The Crown Office Lord Advoctes have some cheek after whats been said about the Cadder/Nat Fraser rulings!

Anonymous said...

and yet if you try to get alawyer to take a legal aid case against another lawyer they say they dont do legal aid so why the fuss because the Thomsons were taking all the clients

Anonymous said...

Interesting take on Lord Rodger.I doubt any other media outlet will be brave enough to delve as deep into his rulings against the Scots legal establishment.
Keep up the good work Peter.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

I'm sure President Salmond will be jumping up and down at the chance of getting his own man onto the bench or maybe even himself.

27 June 2011 14:44

Yes!
A chance to stuff the court in his favour finally and if not he will have something else to shout about.

Anonymous said...

Did you hear the one about the Law Society man who invited people out for drinks after the Thomsons were found guilty at the SSDT?

Anonymous said...

I've heard Douglas Mill on about you before - no wonder he hates you!

Anonymous said...

See Crocodile tears...see the Law Society of Scotland......

Anonymous said...

So what have MacAskill and Salmond got to say now the judge they hounded is dead?
What a disgrace for Scotland and who will be put in Lord Rodger's place?
Some appeaser to fat Salmond I hope not!

Anonymous said...

Did the Law Society drop the dishonesty allegations after all or was it left hanging in the air like everything else in Scottish legal history?

Anonymous said...

I like how you ended the tribute - with MacAskill & Salmond hacking away at the judges.Very good Peter as always!

Anonymous said...

Hmm I think the Law Society should have made their peace with you a long time ago.
I didnt know any of that about the Thomsons.Will they now sue?
I hope so and I hope you get the chance to tell all in a court!

Anonymous said...

It is also worth noting the same individuals who were wrapped up in the Thomson case, Mr Mill & Philip Yelland, the Law Society of Scotland’s Client Relations & Regulation Chief at the time of the Thomson case, were both also involved in the same highly personalised & bitter pursuit of myself, blocking all my attempts to take Andrew Penman, his law firm Stormonth Darling, the Master Policy, and the Law Society of Scotland to the Court of Session.

This is the way the Law Society perpetuates itself with total control over any threats and you sonny are a BIG THREAT to them and LONG MAY IT LAST!

Anonymous said...

Well as this is a story about someone who has died I wont say much other than its good to see Lord Rodger knew what the Law Society were up to and that the Thomsons got some kind of victory out of it.
Good on you for reporting it.We certainly do need more judges who are willing to rule against the legal thugs at the Law Society.

Anonymous said...

Saw McAskill interviewed last night attempting to disguise Lord McCluskey's proposals as a victory for the SNP.

What a prat.

Anonymous said...

A very commendable tribute to Lord Rodger and the ruling you made your topic.Headline needs a little work although most journalists never write their own headlines anyway.
How do you do all this Peter?
You seem to leave many of the newspapers standing on legal coverage at least from the clients point of view which is probably the most important point of view since if there were no clients there would be no legal profession.

Anonymous said...

Often when I read your blog I wonder what keeps the Law Soceity people out of jail.If anyone else did this they would be deservedly jailed yet the Law Society people you keep mentioning have probably ruined thousands of lives and nothing is done about it.Why? Is it collective fear of politicians or are these people just too powerful for their boots? Whatever it is it has to be stopped.

Anonymous said...

There should be no block to going to the Supreme Court that much we have learned because all human rights cases get stuck in Scotland BECAUSE THE EDINBURGH JUDGES DONT CARE ABOUT HUMAN RIGHTS

Anonymous said...

Never to hold a practising certificate again is what I heard

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

Never to hold a practising certificate again is what I heard

28 June 2011 18:45

Really?

I'd say the Thomsons have a good chance of getting theirs back and if not from the Law Society they should go to the Supreme Court and have a go there!

A right to a fair hearing,Article 6!

Anonymous said...

Mr Cherbi is the only man I know who dares to speak the truth about the legal system and its reprobates who run it so I hope he gets the chance to rip the Law Society to shreds in court!

Peter Cherbi said...

Thanks for all your comments on this article.

As far as I am aware the Thomsons do not currently hold a practising certificates from the Law Society of Scotland.

Two comments have not been published as they relate to details of a case with named solicitors however I would like the individual to contact me via scottishlawreporters@gmail.com as the seriousness of the allegations merits newspaper coverage.

# Anonymous @ 28 June 2011 16:10

Power & influence from the Law Society is strongly exerted against any arguments for change or reform of regulation of the legal profession. Trust me when I say there is nothing, no act too low for the Law Society to engage in when going after its critics or anyone within its ranks who dissents from the Council ...

# Anonymous @ 28 June 2011 09:50

Yes I saw that Newsnight Scotland show too ... Mr MacAskill only wants to "move on" from his threat to remove funding from the Supreme Court and his other accusations against the judges ... not a very credible position for a Government Minister considering his words & actions have impacted on people's right to a fair hearing, along with the independence of the legal system & judiciary ...

As for who should fill Lord Rodger's position on the Supreme Court, well Lord Gill would be a good candidate, particularly as he has a good understanding of Scotland's "Victorian" justice system and the will, or at least the desire, to change it ...

Anonymous said...

I agree.Cherbi is a national treasure although from what I know of his case his exposes of the legal system come at an enormous price.The lad is lucky to be alive.I hope all of you bear this in mind when reading his postings.Take note and avoid using the slop of the Scots legal world if you can.

Anonymous said...

Trust me when I say there is nothing, no act too low for the Law Society to engage in when going after its critics or anyone within its ranks who dissents from the Council

Yes I believe you

Anonymous said...

Good blog and hot topics!

Anonymous said...

Personally I think Peter's blog demonstrates what should happen when a profession as out of control as solicitors makes haste with consumer rights.I for one am very happy to see the legal mafia being taken to task for once.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

I agree.Cherbi is a national treasure although from what I know of his case his exposes of the legal system come at an enormous price.The lad is lucky to be alive.I hope all of you bear this in mind when reading his postings.Take note and avoid using the slop of the Scots legal world if you can.

29 June 2011 00:13

Did the fuggers try to take him out?I'm not surprised because he speaks the truth about the lawyers

Anonymous said...

I too lament the passing of Lord Roger of Earlsferry, and I welcome your commendable article honouring a good and decent man as demonstrated in the Opinion you featured. From reading some of his judgements (mainly his House of Lords Opinions) he has appeared to me to be an exceptionally learned, erudite and decent human being who articulated Scots Law with a deep penetrative understanding of its fundamental principles. Lord Hope of Craighead remains the sole Scottish Judge at the Supreme Court (again a former Lord President, and again an outstandingly, exceptionally learned, erudite man, who articulates the principles of Scots Law with great gravitas and penetrative intellect). He was once described to me by a (now late) QC, as being a "goody two shoes" in his time as a QC, which I understood to mean a man whose principles and integrity overcame the ever present temptations of money and fame that aye lie in wait to lure the hard-grafting, the gifted and the able.
It is in consideration of those issues (integrity and principled conduct) that I share the fear of many posters here with regard to a Salmond/McAskill appointee.
Some thoughts - Lord Gill might be OK given the contents of the "Gill Review".
The present Lord President (Hamilton) would be a travesty (the man who appeared to mislead the public viz the 'McKenzie Friend' Petition to the Scottish Parliament being made a supreme court judge - gawd help us).
I don't know enough about many of the others in the College of Justice to make much more comment. The late Lord Macfadyen would have been a shoe-in in my view, but sadly he's no longer with us.
How about Lord Mackay of Drumadoon? - he's "impartial" viz the public -v- legal profession (i.e. he doesn't instinctively back their every argument against the client, but rather weighs it according to its merit - as it should be done), but what seniority is required?
All I can say is that I hope that Lord Hope's view carries the greatest weight in the matter - for the protection of us all. He'll know the who's who and what they're like, of those senior enough to be considered, as he'll have acted against many of them in years gone by as a QC, and will know which have the integrity and which are the slippery characters who think they're merely playing a game (for which they earn big fees) and who ought not become a Supreme Court judge.
Shyster politicians should be sidelined - but I think this may be the first time that the Supreme Court is picking a replacement and its the first time that its occurred outside the more genteel House of Lords instead in the full unguarded glare of the politicians' spite and bile. (thanks to McAskill/Salmond its a subject open to being a political football). Curse those two men, for their lack of integrity and their need to hide their political embarrassment at a judgement which exposed their disregard for Human Rights.