Thursday, July 21, 2011

Emphasis on gifts, less on upheld ‘crooked lawyer’ cases as FOI forces publication of Scottish Legal Complaints Commission ‘Hospitality Register’

SLCCFOI legislation shines a much needed light into murky world of gifts for law complaints regulator. THE use of Freedom of Information legislation and its application to scrutinise the duties & somewhat abysmal performance of the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission (SLCC) has finally forced the notoriously anti-client law complaints quango to publish its register of gifts & hospitality, some three years and several scandals since the SLCC was created in 2008 at huge public expense of TWO MILLION POUNDS to deal with complaints against ‘crooked lawyers’.

While a steady stream of gifts & hospitality flowed into the SLCC, the organisation’s latest annual report for 2010-2011 revealed in three years, it had only upheld one single complaint while sending most others back to the Law Society of Scotland. Earlier this year, the SLCC announced yet another cut in the complaints levy, effectively gifting a whopping ONE MILLION POUNDS back to the legal profession after the quango revealed it had at one point, a £1.8 million cash surplus in its bank accounts.

An SLCC insider speaking to Diary of Injustice said the organisation had decided to throw in the towel and publish its Hospitality registers after receiving several Freedom of Information requests from the media & individuals over the past three years which asked questions on undisclosed links & Hospitality between law firms and the SLCC’s Board members & staff. The SLCC on the other hand, claimed the move was a result of its commitment “to the principles of openness and transparency”, however legal observers view this as a victory for Freedom of Information legislation in Scotland.

The move was confirmed by the SLCC’s response to a Freedom of Information request earlier this week in which the SLCC indicated its hospitality registers would now be published on its website at the following link : SLCC Gifts & Hospitality Registers with updates to be applied quarterly.

2010_11 staff gifts and hospitality register redacted_Page1The Hospitality Club : More gifts than complaints findings at Scotland’s law complaints quango. The SLCC’s registers of gifts & hospitality contains items such as invitations to dinners, drinks parties, lectures events and other gifts offered by several personalities from Scotland’s legal world including past Law Society Presidents Ian Smart & Jamie Millar, law firms such as Pagan Osborne, Shepherd & Wedderburn, Anderson Strathern, Beveridge & Kellas SSC, auditors KPMG & Deloitte, consumer organisations Consumer Focus Scotland & Which?, the Law Society of Scotland, Faculty of Advocates, the Institute of Chartered Accountants Scotland, the Medical Protection Society, the Administrative Justice & Tribunals Council Scottish Committee (AJTC), Scottish Government & others. While some members of staff are identified, others apparently are not, leaving a degree of suspicion over who attended some of the events such as law lectures at the Balmoral Hotel in Edinburgh.

A full summary of the SLCC’s Hospitality Register from 2008 to the publication date of this article can be viewed online here : Scottish Legal Complaints Commission hospitality & gifts 2008-early 2011

A legal insider commenting on the register this morning said : “Perhaps the SLCC should focus on some of the duties the public expected it to be getting on with now such as monitoring the Master Policy & Guarantee Fund  rather than going to dinners & parties with members of the legal profession.”

The insider also noted some of the law firms mentioned in the SLCC’s now published hospitality register had been identified in serious complaints made by clients against their provision of legal services, and one firm of auditors appearing in the hospitality register has been identified in a long running scandal currently dragging on in the Court of Session which has also been brought to the attention of the SLCC by way of a complaint involving a law firm which the Law Society of Scotland have apparently purposely delayed consideration of for several years.

SLCC resisted Freedom of Information requests to reveal secret payoff for SLCC Chief Executive Eileen Masterman (pictured in foreground). While this is a small victory for Freedom of Information & a small degree of openness in the world of regulation of the legal profession, readers may wish to note the SLCC has stubbornly refused to disclose what is rumoured to be a massive payout to former SLCC Chief Executive Eileen Masterman, who remained in her £1350 a week position at the law complaints quango’s lavish Edinburgh offices for just over six months before quitting allegedly on grounds of ‘ill health’.

More about the SLCC’s refusal to hand over any details of the secret Masterman Payoff, which was secretly passed by the Scottish Government, can be found here : HUSH & MONEY : Former SLCC law complaints Chief Executive Eileen Masterman received secret Scottish Government approved payoff in deal with lawyers

Diary of Injustice revealed how members of the public had been shut out of the SLCC’s latest research into the Law Society of Scotland’s notoriously corrupt Master Policy, when heavily censored documents were released by the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission in response to Freedom of Information requests for details of the latest Master Policy research project.

The censored documents released by the SLCC revealed Marsh UK, a subsidiary of the Marsh McLennan Companies, the US insurers convicted of criminal charges several years ago, had been entrusted to hand out questionnaires to selected individuals it would be hoped would give the Master Policy a more favourable write up than those in the Manchester University of Law School’s 2009 report, which liked the Master Policy to : Suicides, illness, broken families and ruined clients reveal true cost of Law Society's Master Policy which 'allows solicitors to sleep at night'

36 comments:

Anonymous said...

LoL and people are worried about the Met Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson dining out with News International Execs!

Isnt it a bit off for any regulator to get too cosy with those they are supposed to be investigating?

The hacking scandal at NoW seems to prove it!

Anonymous said...

Any bungs not declared?

Anonymous said...

Nice picture of Jane & Eileen on Calton Hill
Good thing they didnt go up after dark or they might have bumped into married judge Lord ********** and his rent boy doing the undeclared biz

Anonymous said...

Clearly the hospitality from Which? & Consumer Focus Scotland did little for the SLCC's understanding of consumer protection.They should claim it back.

Anonymous said...

If this much is being showered on the SLCC I wonder what the Law Society hands out to others by way of hospitality?

Anonymous said...

Seems to be a lot of hospitality changing hands at this slcc so little wonder they dont give a toss about bent lawyers

Anonymous said...

The message here is if you complain about your solicitor to the SLCC dont worry because they will send Jane Irvine and her pals a box of muffins and your complaint is f*cked.

I think people should start asking themselves if they really want to waste their money and lives dealing with the great quantity of scum in Scotland's legal profession.

Anonymous said...

1st comment echoes much of what I am currently thinking on Peter's latest.

At least the Police Commissioner resigned and had a swipe at Cameron while doing so.These SLCC'ers will just sit back and eat a few more cream cakes courtesy of some bent law firm.

The gravy train continues!

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

Any bungs not declared?

21 July 2011 17:14

LOL !!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

Nice picture of Jane & Eileen on Calton Hill
Good thing they didnt go up after dark or they might have bumped into married judge Lord ********** and his rent boy doing the undeclared biz

21 July 2011 17:27

I wonder if judges or sheriffs have their own hospitality register?

Did the sheriff declare any of his hospitality?

http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/scottish-news/2008/11/23/sheriff-accused-of-taking-part-in-spanking-and-whipping-session-at-sauna-quits-78057-20916993/

For gods sake be careful there is a picture here :

http://www.thescottishsun.co.uk/scotsol/homepage/news/article1962433.ece

and another

http://www.thescottishsun.co.uk/scotsol/homepage/news/article1985203.ece

Anonymous said...

Yes its definitely birds of a feather flocking together isn't it Jane.

I see from the hospitality info Peter has forced them into publishing the medical thugs invited the SLCC to their office opening in Edinburgh.

Let me tell you something about the Medical Protection Society and how they funded a law suit against Channel 4 Dispatches and the Sunday Times.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dispatches_%28TV_series%29

MMR: What they didn't tell you

Broadcast on 18 November 2004, MMR: What they didn't tell you, featured an investigation by Sunday Times journalist Brian Deer into the campaign against the MMR vaccine by British surgeon Andrew Wakefield. Among a string of allegations, Deer revealed that, when Wakefield claimed a possible link between the vaccine and autism, his own lab had produced secret results which contradicted his claims, and he had registered patent claims on his own single measles vaccine.[6]

Following the programme, Wakefield, funded by the Medical Protection Society sued Channel 4, The Sunday Times and Deer personally for libel, but sought to have his lawsuit stayed by the court, so that he did not need to pursue it. The case became high profile when Channel 4 obtained a court order compelling Wakefield to continue with his lawsuit or abandon it. During two years of litigation, three High Court judgments were obtained against Wakefield from Mr Justice David Eady, including new law that the General Medical Council was required to supply materials from its own investigations to defendants facing libel actions from doctors.[7] In his first judgment,[8] Eady said:
“ I am quite satisfied, therefore, that the Claimant wished to extract whatever advantage he could from the existence of the proceedings while not wishing to progress them or to give the Defendants an opportunity of meeting the claims. ”

In pleadings submitted to the court, Channel 4 spelt out what they said the programme had alleged. It said that Wakefield:[9]

(i) Had dishonestly and irresponsibly spread fear that the MMR vaccine might cause autism in some children, even though he knew that his own laboratory's tests dramatically contradicted his claims and he knew or ought to have known that there was absolutely no scientific basis at all for his belief that MMR should be broken up into single vaccines.
(ii) In spreading such fear, also acted dishonestly and irresponsibly, by repeatedly failing to disclose conflicts of interest and/or material information, including his association with contemplated litigation against the manufacturers of MMR and his application for a patent for a vaccine for measles which, if effective, and if the MMR vaccine had been undermined and/or withdrawn on safety grounds, would have been commercially very valuable.
(iii) Caused medical colleagues serious unease by carrying out research tests on vulnerable children outside the terms or in breach of the permission given by an ethics committee, in particular by subjecting those children to highly invasive and sometimes distressing clinical procedures and thereby abusing them.
(iv) Has been unremittingly evasive and dishonest in an effort to cover up his wrong-doing.

In January 2007, Wakefield discontinued[10] his claim and paid Channel 4's and Deer's costs.[11][12]

You can read more on Brian Deer's own website here :

http://briandeer.com/wakefield-deer.htm

The Medical Protection Society and the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission are like two peas in a pod.

Well done Peter for keeping up your investigations into them.You are a true son of Scotland the brave.

Anonymous said...

Another example of the SLCC's new friends the Medical Protection Society who defended a surgeon in a horrific story about the deaths of 35 babies at Bristol Royal Infirmary.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2001/jul/23/1

Surgeon in baby heart scandal still on a bonus
* James Meikle, health correspondent
* guardian.co.uk, Monday 23 July 2001 08.54 BST

James Wisheart, the surgeon at the centre of the Bristol babies heart scandal, is still receiving £20,000 a year in NHS merit payments topping up his pension, it emerged yesterday.

The government found that it could not stop the bonuses, but says new rules mean doctors who fail to maintain standards will be unable to keep such payments.

One bereaved mother, Helen Rickard, whose daughter's heart was retained by the Bristol Royal Infirmary without her knowledge, described the payments as an insult.

Mr Wisheart, who was struck off the register of doctors by the General Medical Council, was first awarded nearly £40,000 a year on top of his salary by senior doctors in 1994, years after poor surgical outcomes at the Bristol heart unit first caused concern.

The final report of the Kennedy inquiry into the tragedy concluded last week that up to 35 babies under a year old died unnecessarily and a third of all heart babies referred to the Bristol Royal Infirmary received less than adequate care. About 160 of them probably suffered long-term as a result.

Mr Wisheart resigned from his job in March 1997, but kept half his merit award. It is estimated that he has received about £240,000 from this source since concerns over his work were first raised.

Frank Dobson, when health secretary, committed himself to removing the award. But the Department of Health said yesterday: "After looking at the situation fully and looking at all aspects we weren't actually able to take away Mr Wisheart's merit awards retrospectively.

"The system has now been changed so that if award-holding doctors are not maintaining high standards of conduct, awards can be removed."

Mr Wisheart was unavailable for comment yesterday. But the Medical Protection Society, which represents him, said: "It should be remembered both the GMC inquiry and the Bristol inquiry report summed up by clearly stating James Wisheart was dedicated to the NHS and worked tirelessly for it.

"The fact people have criticised various aspects of his work does not diminish this fact."

Evan Harris, the Liberal Democrat health spokesman, said: "The fact that health ministers were unable to legally reduce the pension of a doctor whose incompetence was implicated in the Bristol heart scandal will, curiously, come as a relief to the Department of Health's own officials who were also implicated in the scandal.

"It also represents yet another example of how ministers make rash promises in response to a scandal without in the end being able to deliver."

Miss Rickard, a member of the Bristol Heart Children's Action Group, said parents had known about the payments for many years. She added: "It just makes a joke of the whole system."

Anonymous said...

"The final report of the Kennedy inquiry into the tragedy concluded last week that up to 35 babies under a year old died unnecessarily and a third of all heart babies referred to the Bristol Royal Infirmary received less than adequate care. About 160 of them probably suffered long-term as a result."

Ah right.Lawyers representing doctors on huge bonuses while babies are dying in huge numbers and their regulators and insurers sitting down to a coffee together.These people deserve each other but they dont deserve to have any influence over the rest of us or be in any positions of responsibility in my opinion.

Christ this is getting to be one f*ing twisted country and look at all the jobs these people at the slcc have according to Peter's own investigations earlier posting here
http://petercherbi.blogspot.com/2011/01/more-jobs-for-boys-than-action-on.html

Anonymous said...

Hmm the SLCC & Law Society manage to disgust me even more each time I read about them.Now they are associated with the Medical Protection Society too.Words fail me somehow.

Anonymous said...

All those accounting firms giving hospitality to the SLCC are involved in huge financial scandals all over the world and plenty about the lawyers too on google.Taken with this stuff someone posted on teh Medical Protection Society I'd say Peter's points about the SLCC are PROVED FOR ALL TIME.

Talk about keeping bad company!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for putting this up.

I read through the full register you published however there is only one board member mentioned,Linda Pollock.

Given what you have written about the SLCC and those on it I find it very hard to believe only one board member received any form of hospitality!

Anonymous said...

I see.

These people have no common sense at all.How would it appear to the public if rapists and muggers had dinners with the Police ? (maybe this does happen now that I am thinking about it)

Really shocking and you know whats more shocking?They are getting away with it as if its normal!

Anonymous said...

Should we rename them the Slimy Legal Complaints Commission??

Anonymous said...

So on one hand they publish a hospitality register and on the other they cover up a secret payoff to keep Masterman from suing them for her ill health.

Why isnt someone shutting this SLCC down?

Peter Cherbi said...

Thanks for your comments on this article, particularly those containing information relating to the Medical Protection Society ...

I will do some more research on the MPS for a future article, meanwhile if any readers have any experiences with the Medical Protection Society and complaints or claims against the medical profession, please contact me via scottishlawreporters@gmail.com

Anonymous said...

Rotten to the core and they dont care about it - thats my take on it Peter.

Anonymous said...

Well spotted about the Medical Protection Society and the SLCC.

The company they keep is a good indication of their own ideals/motives ie NONE in anyone elses interest except lawyers!

Anonymous said...

Makes the Murdochs look innocent at least they were going after bent politicians etc and publishing it while this lawyer lovin mob just sit back and take the gifts.

Anonymous said...

Ha!
They wont be so keen to publish it next time!

Good thing we have Peter here to keep us posted on all these legal scandals and snouts well and truly in the troff!

Anonymous said...

I must say Peter you have a huge talent to be able to rip into the legal profession and dispel all the myths about it every time you do a write up.

Anonymous said...

Nice to know there are as many chancers giving hospitality to the SLCC as there are within it!

Anonymous said...

Slimy Legal Complaints Commission fits the bill for me.I have a complaint in with the SLCC and it has been passed back to the Law Society so many times they dont know what is going on with it.Too busy accepting hospitality to bother about complaints.

Anonymous said...

Ermm has anyone noticed Masterman is in the register for a date in 2010 when I thought she was supposed to be off work and ill?

Anonymous said...

Shameless by the looks of it and will accept gifts from anyone!
No wonder they are calling it a front company for the crooked lawyers society

Anonymous said...

The entire legal profession is on the take if its not with their customers money its probably with taxpayers!

Anonymous said...

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-14234792

A website which claims to name and shame under-performing lawyers is facing legal action from the Law Society for alleged defamation.

The site, Solicitors from Hell, was set up by Rick Kordowski after a dispute with a solicitor ended badly.

It invites users to post detailed testimonials about poor service, directly naming the lawyers involved.

But the Law Society says there is no system for substantiating the negative comments on the site.

Defamation claims have already been brought against Mr Kordowski, a graphics designer, by individual law firms. The latest was in the High Court last week.

But now the Law Society is planning to pursue two cases against Mr Kordowski, one on behalf of solicitors already on the site, and another on behalf of the profession.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's You and Yours programme, Law Society Chief Executive Desmond Hudson described the site as "littered with untruths and abusive comments", and accused it of not giving lawyers a right of reply.
==================================
WELL MR HUDSON YOU ARE INSURED BY ROYAL SUN ALLIANCE, SO THAT WHEN I GO TO A LAWYER TO ASK HIM TO SUE MY CROOKED LAWYER THE MASTER POLICY IN SCOTLAND NEVER PAYS OUT, I ASSUME THE SAME ARRANGMENTS APPLY THROUGHOUT UK.

THE REALITY IS THAT LAWYERS LIKE YOU SCREAM ABOUT LAWYERS NOT HAVING A RIGHT OF REPLY BUT IF THE LAW SOCIETY PROTECTED THE PUBLIC ON EITHER SIDE OF THE BORDER THE WEBSITES WOULD HAVE NOTHING TO COMPLAIN ABOUT. HERE IS A LITTLE MESSAGE FOR YOU ABOUT LAWYERS THAT YOU CANNOT REFUTE.

LAWYERS CANNOT BE TRUSTED DUE TO INSURANCE ARRANGEMENTS AND PROFESSIONAL LAYALTY.

HERE IS THE REASON WHY.

ALL LAW FIRMS ARE INSURED BY ROYAL SUN ALLIANCE THROUGH THE LAW SOCIETY MASTER POLICY.


ALL LAWYERS ARE THEREFORE INSURED BY ROYAL SUN ALLIANCE.

ALL DOCTORS ARE INSURED BY ROYAL SUN ALLIANCE.

ALL EMPLOYERS ARE INSURED BY ROYAL SUN ALLIANCE.

ACCOUNTANTS ARE INSURED BY ROYAL SUN ALLIANCE.

TRY GETTING A LAWYER TO SUE LAWYER, LAWYER TO SUE AN ACCOUNTANT, DOCTOR, YOU ARE DEAD IN THE WATER, BECAUSE THE LAWYER YOU TRUST, YES HIS INSURERS ROYAL SUN ALLIANCE WOULD BE PAYING YOUR DAMAGES. SO YOU CANNOT SUE ANY OF THESE PEOPLE.

THIS IS WHY LAWYERS MAY TAKE YOUR CASE ON.

BUT THEY WILL NEVER BE WORKING FOR YOU.

IF THEY GOT DAMAGES FOR YOU THEIR 'INSURERS' WOULD BE PAYING THE DAMAGES?

HOW CORRUPT IS THAT!

THIS IS ON THE SOLICITORS FROM HELL WEBSITE AND IT IS FACT, AND THE LAW SOCIETY DO NOT WANT THE PUBLIC TO KNOW THIS FACT.

AND NO WIN NO FEE, LAWYERS REGULATED BY THE SOLICITORS REGULATORY AUTHORITY, WHO ARE ALSO AGAINST NAMING AND SHAMING.

MR HUDSON I TELL MY KIDS EVERY DAY TRUST NO LAWYER, IT IS NOW PART OF THEIR PSYCHE.

LONG LIVE THE DISSIDENT WEBSITES AGAINST PEOPLE WHO THINK THEY ARE ABOVE QUESTIONING.

Anonymous said...

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-14234792

John Flood, professor of Law and Sociology from Westminster University, defended the Solicitors from Hell website, saying it filled a gap in the market.

"I don't think the site would be there if there wasn't a considerable amount of dissatisfaction with the way legal services were being delivered in this country," he said.
===================================
I AGREE PROFESSOR FLOOD, THE DISSIDENT WEBSITES ARE A CONSEQUENCE OF LAW SOCIETY PREJUDICE AGAINST THE BRITISH PUBLIC AND THEY ARE THE MEANS BY WHICH CLIENTS ARE FIGHTING BACK.

DISSIDENT WEBSITES CUT THROUGH THE LAW SOCIETY LIES. THE STRATEGY IS PERFECT, WARN THE SUPPLY SIDE BECAUSE THE OMNIPOTENT LEGAL ESTABLISHMENT PROTECT THEIR MEMBERS WHO BELONG IN PRISON. THE WEBSITES ARE ERRODING THE LAWYER OMNIPOTENCE AND THEY HATE IT.
================================
ANOTHER GREAT REPORT PETER ON OUR BLIND PREJUDICED SLCC.

Anonymous said...

Peter I am convinced the Law Society and SLCC will never see clients as anything other than things to be abused. It is the work you do and other websites that convey the truth and that is why the lawyers do not like it.

They are very immature people, they ruin people and expect forgiveness, this is how the mind gets affected by self regulation.

They have had it their own way for too long, ruined too many people and now they want to kill the legitimate backlash. Immature people indeed.

Learn from my experience said...

Lawyers are bad to the bone, trust none of them. You see

Good judgement comes from experience, and experience - well that comes from poor judgement.

My poor judgement was trusting a lawyer, please do not make the same mistake as I did, they are a rotten evil network of criminals who cover each others backs.

Anonymous said...

http://www.solicitorsfromhell.co.uk/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=15&Itemid=1

SFH Editorial - July 2011
Many thanks to our supporters

On 14th July 2011 Rick Kordowski was in the High Court in London before Mr Justice Tugendhat against the firm of Gabbitas Robins Solicitors. Judgment was reserved on one aspect of the case relating to damages. We await with interest the full judgment.

For the first time in all his many hearings Rick Kordowski was legally represented by senior counsel Jonathan Crystal who has acted for the likes of Jenson Button, Brian Lara and Amir Khan. It is a mark of the significance of the issues involving freedom of speech on the Solicitors From HELL facility that caught the interest of Jonathan Crystal who is acting pro bono for Kordowski. Court 14 was full and as expected the Law Society were present - furiously typing every word uttered by Jonathan Crystal. The Law Society, of course, have promised major action against Kordowski to close down the Solicitors From HELL website. They will be up against the formidable talents of Jonathan Crystal should a claim materialise.

The Times newspaper were also at court represented by journalist James Dean (formerly of the Law Society Gazette) who wasted no time in publishing an article the same day subtitled: ‘The legal profession has been wrongfooted by Rick Kordowski’s website, which is a thorn in its side’. It would be fair to say that we have a supporter in the Times newspaper. Indeed, thus far, the Independent, the Guardian, the Evening Standard, the Law Society Gazette and the Lawyer have all given positive reviews on Kordowski’s raison d’être. More to the point the public have shown tremendous interest by reason of the vast number of complaints posted on Solicitors From HELL as well as ample commentary on internet blogs. A heartfelt thanks to you all for your support which is very much appreciated.

Anonymous said...

A bunch of flowers and a box of muffins seems to secure a crooked lawyer from any offence!
Some regulator!