Friday, August 12, 2011

LEGAL FRAID ? 14 lawyers, no charges, 177 clients, no penalty : Lord Advocate & Crown Office face questions over refusal to prosecute legal aid frauds

Crown OfficePolicy of non-prosecution : Scotland’s Crown Office failed to go after legal aid fraudsters. THE CROWN OFFICE & PROCURATOR FISCAL SERVICE, Scotland’s £100 MILLION A YEAR prosecution team headed by the Lord Advocate, currently Frank Mulholland QC, is facing questions over its role in walking away from hundreds of fraud prosecutions after it emerged a staggering ONE HUNDRED & SEVENTY SEVEN CASES reported to the Crown Office by the Scottish Legal Aid Board (SLAB) for legal aid irregularities dating back as far as 2005, saw little or no action, and no financial recovery or penalties imposed on lawyers & clients alleged to have defrauded the huge taxpayer funded legal aid budget under the term of now former Lord Advocate Dame Elish Angiolini DBE QC.

This latest revelation, which raises significant questions about the determination of the Crown Office to go after lawyers & their clients who seek to defraud Scotland’s £160 MILLION LEGAL AID BUDGET comes after the Sunday Mail newspaper and Diary of Injustice revealed in July the Crown Office had failed to prosecute any of FOURTEEN solicitors who had been investigated by the Scottish Legal Aid Board and reported to the Crown Office for alleged legal aid fraud.

SLAB number of legal aid fraud referrals to COPFS_Page1Scottish Legal Aid Board reported lawyers & clients to Crown Office for legal aid fraud, yet no results. The information revealed by the Scottish Legal Aid Board in response to a Freedom of Information request detailed that on top of multiple cases of alleged legal aid fraud committed by 14 solicitors reported to the Crown Office, a further 177 claimants had been reported to the COPFS for prosecution yet it appears no prosecutions took place in any of the cases even after lengthy investigations had taken place by SLAB at significant cost to taxpayers. The numbers of claimants reported by the Scottish Legal Aid Board to the Crown Office for alleged legal aid fraud revealed in 2005/06, 14 cases were reported for prosecution. In 2006/07 the number increased to 32. In 2007/08 the number increased again to 36. In 2008/09 another increase, resulting in 39 reports. In 2009/10, the number of claimants reported for fraud dipped to 27 and in 2010/2011 numbers increased again to 29.

The Scottish Legal Aid Board response went onto state with regard to solicitor only cases : In all solicitor cases, the Board’s initial findings are shared with the COPFS in the first instance. This is to enable the Crown to assess whether, prima facie, a case exists that would warrant further examination, offer direction on the focus of any enquiry and secure the assistance of the relevant police force which will be required to conduct the formal investigation. It is for the Procurator Fiscal to decide if a prosecution should be pursued.

CRU FOI no recovery of legal aid fraud ScotlandNot Beyond Suspicion : Crown Office Civil Recovery Unit admits it recovered nothing from legal aid fraudsters. After secret information was supplied to Diary of Injustice about several of the cases, all of which saw little or no action, the Crown Office admitted through an additional Freedom of Information request it had not recovered ONE SINGLE PENNY from any of the legal aid fraud cases reported to it since 2005, other than the James Muir £1.8 MILLION legal aid fraud case where solicitor Mr Muir threw himself in front of a train after being raided by the authorities for a long running legal aid fraud racket.  Crown Office officials stated  in the Muir case : “The sum of £971,000 was recovered by the Civil Recovery Unit under an extra-judicial settlement” and “under the same agreement  the sum of £779,000 was to be paid to the Scottish Legal Aid Board.”

Clearly there is a problem with the Crown Office where no prosecutions or financial recoveries for legal aid fraud have taken place in all the cases reported since 2005, other than in the one single case of a deceased solicitor who was not able to bring the full weight of the legal profession and the Legal Defence Union to his defence.

John lamontJohn Lamont MSP, Conservative Justice Spokesman & member of Holyrood’s Justice Committee. Asked about the Crown Office failure to punish legal aid fraudsters, Conservative Justice Spokesman John Lamont MSP said “This is totally unacceptable. The legal aid budget is one of the largest components of the Scotland’s justice budget and must be controlled carefully. If anyone abuses this system then they must be punished – what kind of message does it send out if they are not?”

A Scottish Government insider today backed up the results of the investigation by Diary of Injustice into the lack of legal aid fraud prosecutions, claiming Procurator Fiscals had a poor understanding of complex fraud cases and were perceived by many as being reluctant to prosecute cases they felt they would not be able to win.

He said : “In all of the cases reported to the Crown Office alleging legal aid fraud, I understand the Scottish Legal Aid Board were very sure of their position & evidence yet after the effort & expense of ‘solid investigations’ by SLAB, when the cases were reported to the Crown Office, it was perceived there was no will on the part of PFs to put the cases through the courts.”

He continued : “The public and politicians alike have a right to be concerned that after a lot of taxpayers money has been spent on these investigations by the Scottish Legal Aid Board, the Crown Office, which itself receives over one hundred million pounds a year to prosecute Scotland’s criminal elements, did nothing. Clearly there is a problem at the Crown Office.”

A legal insider speaking to Diary of Injustice on the issue blamed elements of the legal profession for attempting to bully the Scottish Legal Aid Board and the Crown Office over prosecutions of solicitors for legal aid fraud. He also named the Legal Defence Union as a key player in many of the cases involving solicitors “who were clearly on the take”.

He said : “I have some sympathy with the Scottish Legal Aid Board and Crown Office due to my understanding both organisations have been subject to a barrage of organised obstruction from elements within the legal profession over these cases involving legal aid fraud. For instance, I understand the Legal Defence Union have indulged in very bitter, aggressive and almost threatening discussions over solicitors accused of legal aid fraud in order to prevent them appearing in court. Clearly this kind of behaviour is contrary to the course of justice.”

He continued : “It appears very clear to me the Legal Defence Union are not operating in the public interest. I would therefore suggest the Crown Office & SLAB now review how they deal with the LDU instead of being eager to engage in back door deals to avoid high profile prosecutions which taxpayers have a right to expect in cases of millions of pounds of public funds being defrauded by Scottish solicitors.”

Lawyer pocketed 600K Legal Aid in Two Years Sunday Mail March 27 2011Legal Defence Union intervened in the case of Niels S Lockhart and brokered deal for no charges or pursuit of complaint. The Legal Defence Union, founded by the Glasgow Bar Association and the Scottish Law Agents Society (SLAS), has itself been linked to secret submissions to the Scottish Legal Aid Board which ensured no prosecution against Niels S Lockhart and 13 other solicitors accused of legal aid irregularities. Diary of Injustice revealed secret submissions from the Legal Defence Union had helped block any further proceedings against solicitor Niels S Lockhart, after an exclusive report in the Sunday Mail newspaper on the Lockhart case.

Jane IrvineSLCC’s Chair Jane Irvine held secret ‘no records’ meetings in Balmoral Hotel with Legal Defence Union bosses. Further revelations about the relationship between the Legal Defence Union’s relationship with solicitors regulators came to light in an investigation by Diary of Injustice which established a series of SECRET MEETINGS between an LDU Solicitor Director William Macreath, also a partner at law firm Levy McRae and the Chief of the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission (SLCC), Jane Irvine, on off-the-record-no-notes-kept terms at Edinburgh’s expensive Balmoral Hotel, just across from the SLCC’s lavish Stamp Office HQ, where both officials agreed “there would be no formal records of any element of the discussion.”.

More on the SLCC’s secret meetings with the LDU can be read here : Investigation reveals Scottish Legal Complaints Commission's links, secret 'off the record' dealings with lawyers lobby group Legal Defence Union

The Legal Defence Union has also been linked to the suicide of a married Oban family man in the SLCC’s 2009 report into the Master Policy. The Oban suicide case was the subject of at least two reports by the now superseded Scottish Legal Services Ombudsman, who was at the time, Linda Costelloe Baker. Mrs Baker in her reports condemned the Law Society of Scotland’s failures in the case. The current Chair of the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission), Jane Irvine, succeeded Linda Costelloe Baker as SLSO, and is known to be aware of events yet has failed to mention in any public documents the SLSO’s reports on the suicide and the LDU’s involvement in the Oban suicide case.

BACKGROUND TO CROWN OFFICE FAILURE TO PROSECUTE LEGAL AID FRAUDSTERS

Information disclosed by Scott Pattison, the former Director of Operations for the Crown Office, now a Sheriff, to a Freedom of Information request which forms part of an ongoing investigation by Diary of Injustice into widespread systemic corruption & fraud in the Scottish legal profession which receives up to £160 MILLLION POUNDS of taxpayer funded legal aid from the Scottish Government each year, stated :

FOI Reply_Page1• Since the start of 2005, SLAB has submitted nine reports to Crown Office alleging criminal offences by a total of thirteen solicitors. One report related to a firm of five solicitors;

• The allegations relating to eleven of these solicitors were marked for no action on the basis of an insufficiency of evidence. This related to seven separate reports (for which Crown Counsel’s Instructions were obtained in three);

• A report relating to one of the eleven solicitors referred to above was referred to the Civil Recovery Unit for their consideration;

• One solicitor died before criminal proceedings were commenced;

• One solicitor was placed on indictment for Sheriff and Jury proceedings for fraud. That solicitor entered a preliminary plea in bar of trial on the grounds of insanity which was sustained by the Court.  In light of that decision, the case was deserted pro loco et tempore; and

• In relation to the final solicitor, the matter remains under consideration.

FOI Letter Page1Crown Office admitted even more lawyers escaped prosecutions over legal aid frauds. A further admission on lawyers referred by the Scottish Legal Aid Board over legal aid irregularities was made from the Crown Office relating to an additional case which had not been initially disclosed to Diary of Injustice. The admission contained details of yet another lawyer accused of allegations of a criminal nature, stating SLAB made allegations of a criminal nature against a solicitor and sought preliminary advice from Crown Office. SLAB did not submit a crime report but were assisted by the police in carrying out further enquiries.  A report was thereafter submitted by the police to the local Procurator Fiscal rather than Crown Office. The case was marked for no proceedings by the Procurator Fiscal.

BACKGROUND TO THE LEGAL DEFENCE UNION

According to the Scottish Law Agents Society website, the Legal Defence Union (LDU) was formed in 1987 for the specific purpose of promoting and protecting the welfare of solicitors in Scotland. Indeed, the concept of an independent defence body for solicitors received unanimous support at the 1987 Annual General Meeting of The Law Society of Scotland. The LDU was the result of a joint initiative by the Scottish Law Agents Society, one of the oldest solicitors’ organisations in Scotland and the Glasgow Bar Association.

The Legal Defence Union also claim “it is committed to protecting the interests of all solicitors in Scotland whether engaged in court, conveyancing or commercial work, in town or country, and in all areas of activity.”

The Legal Defence Union offers a refuge to solicitors in trouble by providing prompt, expert and wholly confidential professional advice. Assistance is available on a local or national basis and there is no restriction on choice of adviser. It has extensive experience in advising on the problems which may affect solicitors. These include the most serious emergencies of professional life; for example, the threat of contempt of court, police raids on the office, Law Society or Guarantee Fund inspections or a citation to appear before the Discipline Tribunal. The LDU can also help with the many lesser sanctions facing solicitors such as Inadequate Professional Services, problems of conflict, conduct, confidentiality and other risk areas.

Financial support to conduct a solicitor’s defence is also provided if required. Members are automatically covered by Legal Expenses insurance for legal representation to defend their rights as solicitors before a professional disciplinary body, Law Society committee, criminal court on a matter of professional conduct, or in certain civil matters. In some instances, membership provides other prosecution defence and employment disputes benefits. General advice can be obtained from any of the solicitors on the LDU board, 13-strong panel of solicitors, which includes the presidents of the Glasgow Bar Association and the Scottish Law Agents Society. Membership is open to all solicitors practising in Scotland. There are 3 categories of membership - CORPORATE, EMPLOYED and INDIVIDUAL.

47 comments:

Anonymous said...

No doubt about it,legal aid fraud is not a topic for prosecution in Scotland and again it takes Peter Cherbi to tell us all about it.

Maybe Westminster should cancel the £160 million from the Scottish budget until these idiots get it right?

Anonymous said...

Very odd an entire class of criminal complaint has no one charged or sent to jail in six years,surely?

I sense we are back to lawyers rubbing shoulders too much with each other they dont want to prosecute themselves.

About the 177 clients it looks a touch off SLAB went after more of those than solicitors,as after all its the solicitors who receive the legal aid payments NOT the clients.

Anonymous said...

The whole thing sounds corrupt to me.Really rotten to the core!

Anonymous said...

This coming from the bunch of people who convicted Megrahi for Lockerbie well it doesnt surprise me one bit

You scratch my back I scratch yours all very cosy

Anonymous said...

100 MILLION A YEAR FOR THE CROWN OFFICE COMPLETELY WASTED

HEY KENNY WHAT WAS THAT YOU SAID ABOUT HE WHO PAYS THE PIPER CALLS THE TUNE?

THE PUBLIC SHOULD BE CALLING THE TUNE ON LEGAL AID ROBBER LAWYERS BEING SENT TO JAIL!

Anonymous said...

I think these lawyers will be putting out a murder hit on you Peter after these kinds of investigations.You are getting to the bone of things and why the shysters keep power and all the money for themselves.

Its a scandal in anyone's book and good on you for writing about it!

Anonymous said...

"LEGAL FRAID"

I like your headline!

Anonymous said...

While unemployed disaffected young criminals loot our cities our rich overemployed crooked lawyers loot millions more.

These hundreds of millions wasted on subsidies to the legal profession have got to stop.Some might say its all about providing people justice but I say its just about keeping thieving bastard lawyers in business.

If the courts werent as corrupt as they are we wouldnt need all these crooked swines claiming they can sue XXX or YYY for us and get millions or keep taking people to court for no obvious reason or pretending to defend people on criminal charges then doing some dodgy deal with the prosecutors or police to bang them up anyway.

Really sickening isnt it all!

Anonymous said...

I dont think its any accident none of these cases went to trial.Even if they had done the claimants alone the lawyers involved might have ended up as witnesses.

Anyway who gets legal aid?
The lawyers,right?

Anonymous said...

Im assuming all the lawyers who work at the Crown Office are also represented by the Legal Defence Union if need be.

Very incestuous to say the least.
Very corrupt to tell the truth.

Anonymous said...

Its about time the Crown Office was scrapped in its current form.Too big too unwieldy too costly and full of cliques who let their friends off the hook when it suits.

Anonymous said...

If you want the answer to this question simply ask someone like Mr Michael Scanlon, former President of the Law Society of Scotland and currently employed by Russell Gibson and McCaffrey in Glasgow.

Anonymous said...

So lawyers have their own mafia to run to when in trouble and the clients?Well they can drop dead of course and get added to the stats like everyone else.

CORRUPTION!

Anonymous said...

Crown Office clearly at fault here - SLAB are doing their best and then it falls down once it reaches the useless PFs and by the way I dont believe for one second the lack of prosecutions is down to a reluctance to get involved in fraud cases.More like closing ranks or orders from on high.

Anonymous said...

The LDU should not be allowed to interfere or become involved in criminal cases or legal aid investigations.Of course if it hadn't been for you no one would have known about it so good work Peter as always.

Anonymous said...

Look at all this money floating around the justice system and noting done about the thieves who are stealing it.

If Swinney wont pull the plug on this orgy of corruption London should!

Anonymous said...

"The Oban suicide case was the subject of at least two reports by the now superseded Scottish Legal Services Ombudsman, who was at the time, Linda Costelloe Baker. Mrs Baker in her reports condemned the Law Society of Scotland’s failures in the case. The current Chair of the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission), Jane Irvine, succeeded Linda Costelloe Baker as SLSO, and is known to be aware of events yet has failed to mention in any public documents the SLSO’s reports on the suicide and the LDU’s involvement in the Oban suicide case."

Nothing like an honest Ombudsman,huh?

Anonymous said...

Will we prosecute clients?
Answer; Of course.

And lawyers?
Err........(no longer available for comment).

Anonymous said...

If the London looters had all been LDU members they wouldnt have need to worry about silly things like criminal charges and jail time..

Anonymous said...

Who trusts the Crown Office anyway?

Also notice who was in charge of all this while the lawyers were getting off - yes, Angiolini.

Does anyone think this will change under Mulholland who was her junior? I dont!

Anonymous said...

Why report 177 people for prosecution when they already knew all the lawyers were getting away with it?
Strikes me as a bit vindictive especially if you think about who gets the legal aid at the end of the day (the lawyer)

Anonymous said...

Crown Office should be called Corrupt Office..

Anonymous said...

These idiots who throw themselves in front of trains are out of their minds and obliviously very guilty consciences.Dont they realise they could potentially kill everyone on a train doing something stupid like that?How irresponsible when there are other ways to off themselves or better still walk into a Police station and confess to the whole thing.

Anonymous said...

I must say Peter this James Muir case is getting very interesting.

http://www.copfs.gov.uk/news/releases/2007/10/september-news-update

The Crown Office website says this "The Civil Recovery Unit, using powers under the Proceeds of Crime Act, recovered a total of £971,000 from the estate of solicitor James Muir, deceased, accrued as a result of criminal conduct by making fraudulent legal aid claims. In addition, almost £800,000 will be returned to the Scottish Legal Aid Board (SLAB) so that there is no loss to public funds.

The agreement comes after the Civil Recovery Unit showed that the money was obtained by defrauding the Scottish Legal Aid Board over seven years by fabricating documents to obtain legal aid payments. SLAB started investigating the frauds in 2004, but after Mr Muir's death no criminal action could be taken."

So SLAB and the Crown Office let this go on for 7 years before doing anything about it?Someone must have known yet nothing was done and he conveniently dies so they dont need to take any criminal action to disgrace a lawyer (although judging by what you have exposed regarding the Legal Defence Union he would probably have been fully protected anyway)

I am sure there is more to it than just this so keep digging and watch out for acts of vengeance from people who might not want this elaborate fraud exposed because I am sure more are involved.

Anonymous said...

£100millon doesn't seem to be very well spent if they are all getting away with it.
Does John Swinney not bother insisting on value for money or has he got to deal with MacAskill always standing in the way of a good prosecution?

Anonymous said...

After Lockerbie and all the other miscarriages of justice Scotland is famous for who would believe anything the Crown Office says?

ALso its funny how Mulholland shows up in Parliament to talk about rounding up football fans for singing songs yet turns away from jailing lawyers stealing millions every year in legal aid..

Anonymous said...

Not wishing to sound too melodramatic however the comment at 16:40 has a point.

People kill for a lot less than 100million and these crooks have a lot to lose if someone exposes their criminal behaviour.Better be careful Peter.I have no doubt there are no depths to which the Crown Office or these lawyers will go to stop more reporting about these non prosecutions.

Anonymous said...

Without doubt this is about the legal profession closing ranks.Orders to drop all cases against lawyers will have come down from the Law Society or the Scottish Executive/Government who dont want to see their precious scumbags dragged through the courts and newspapers.
Give em hell Peter..

Anonymous said...

There is an easy solution to all of this.
Make the solicitor completely liable in law for the legal aid application because they get paid the money anyway not the person who walks into their office.

I think its daft going after 177 people when the lawyer benefits from the lot!

Anonymous said...

John Swinney's chief distinguishing characteristic since he attained 'cabinet' office is his miserable, self-serving and thoroughly selfish silence.

Truly, deeds speak louder than words.

Anonymous said...

If I am reading this post correctly the Crown Office is your Attorney General or a District Attorney?

Seems there is enough evidence of a cover up in your investigation for a grand jury to bring charges against those at the top who must have known the details of these cases involving the attorneys.

Good blog we need some more like you.

Anonymous said...

Here's another non prosecution from the Crown Office
ADVOCATE OUIZZED ON SEX ATTACK; EXCLUSIVE High-flier accused by male lawyer.
Apr 30, 2006
Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
By JANE HAMILTON

A HIGH-FLYING lawyer has been accused of sexually assaulting a male solicitor at a legal function.

Advocate Gavin Anderson, 34, was reported to the procurator fiscal over the allegation.

Although prosecutors decided he would not face criminal charges, he will now be investigated by the Faculty of Advocates, his professional body.

The alleged victim is based in Glasgow. He says he was assaulted at a function in the city by Anderson, who is from Edinburgh.

A source close to the Faculty of Advocates said: "A complaint has been made following a report to the police and is subject to investigation by the discipline committee.

"They will take their time examining all the evidence before deciding what action, if any, to take.

"It's very unusual for an advocate to be subject of a police investigation and most people are very surprised."

Aberdeen University graduate Anderson became a member of the Faculty of Advocates five years ago after winning a scholarship.

At 29, he was one of the youngest lawyers ever to become a member of the body, which regulates Scotland's elite trial lawyers.

He is a member of the Westwater Stable - or group of advocates - and his professional interests include criminal trials and fatal accident inquries.

A team of investigators for the Faculty, which has 460 members, have been instructed to interview all those concerned in the case and report their findings to the disciplinary committee.

A Faculty spokesman said yesterday: "It is not our policy to discuss whether or not a member of the faculty is the subject of disciplinary proceedings."

A Strathclyde Police spokesman confirmed that a report had been submitted to the procurator fiscal last year over an allegation of indecent assault.

A Crown Office spokesman said: "The fiscal received a report from police last year regarding an allegation of indecent assault but decided not to proceed with the case."

When approached at his Edinburgh flat, Anderson refused to comment.

Anonymous said...

And this is a profession with a tradition and history to be proud of Mr MacAskill?

End self regulation NOW.

Anonymous said...

As bad as the Law Society and the SLCC put together if that is possible!

Anonymous said...

Clearly the Crown Office has no determination at all to go after legal aid fraudsters and the fact it is lawyers who are actually paid legal aid (not clients) will weigh heavily on this decision.

1 or 2 cases not prosecuted may not be noticeable.5 or 6 cases not prosecuted might look careless.All 14 cases not prosecuted in 6 years on top of this 177 claimant figure looks like a policy decision not to prosecuted lawyers for legal aid fraud.If this is the case many will perceive it as corruption.I certainly do.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

Why report 177 people for prosecution when they already knew all the lawyers were getting away with it?
Strikes me as a bit vindictive especially if you think about who gets the legal aid at the end of the day (the lawyer)

12 August 2011 21:35

I AGREE!

Anonymous said...

Just incredible really these people can be in positions of trust.What about the 14 lawyers who escaped prosecution?If Lockhart is anything to go by the rest of them will be still at large and no one knows who they are.
Not a very good day for justice in Scotland.

Anonymous said...

I see that the Guardian has recently reported;

A long-serving judge has been ordered to spend nearly 30 years in prison for his role in a bribery scandal that prompted the state's high court to overturn thousands of juvenile convictions.
Former Luzerne County Judge Mark Ciavarella Jr was sentenced on Thursday to 28 years in prison for taking $1m (£617,000) in bribes from the builder of two juvenile detention centres in a case that became known as "kids-for-cash".

Of course it couldn't happen here.

Full report at;

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/aug/11/kids-for-cash-judge-pennsylvania

Anonymous said...

Clearly an inquiry is needed and they should call in Angiolini to explain why her Crown Office failed to prosecuted all these legal aid thieves.

Anonymous said...

“The sum of £971,000 was recovered by the Civil Recovery Unit under an extra-judicial settlement” and “under the same agreement the sum of £779,000 was to be paid to the Scottish Legal Aid Board.”

This is a little ambiguous to put it mildly.

Did SLAB get the 1.8m back or not?This sounds like the Crown Office got 971k and SLAB 779k only.If so where did the 971k go and what was it spent on?

Anonymous said...

Whatever he did I'm sure the Crown Office would have waved him on!

http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/scottish-news/2011/08/03/suspended-lawyer-dies-in-erskine-bridge-plunge-86908-23316939/

Suspended lawyer dies In Erskine Bridge plunge

Aug 3 2011 Chris Musson

A lawyer who was suspended last year killed himself by jumping from a bridge.

Norman Cunningham, 56, took his own life at the Erskine Bridge, a notorious suicide spot on Monday evening.

Last October the twice-married dad, from Gourock, Inverclyde, was suspended as a solicitor after falling foul of strict practising rules.

At the time, he was the senior partner at the Port Glasgow office of law firm Blair and Bryden, specialising in conveyancing.

Despite the blow, he picked himself up and began working under supervision in May this year for Maitlands solicitors in Greenock.

Yesterday, the Law Society of Scotland said they were "saddened" to hear of his death.

A spokeswoman said: "We would want to pass on our sincerest condolences to Mr Cunningham's friends and family during what must be a distressing time."

Cunningham's first wife Rachel, an air hostess, tragically died in 1997, aged 44, after an illness.

In 2008, he married Adrienne Stewart, a revenue and customs officer.

Yesterday, she was being comforted by friends and family.

James Lamb, senior partner at Maitlands, was best man at Norman's first wedding in 1978.

He said: "Norman was a good friend and an excellent solicitor, and he will be missed by his many good friends and clients."

The Law Society of Scotland said Mr Cunningham's practising certificate had been "temporarily withdrawn" in October 2010 by the society under the Solicitors (Scotland) Act 1980.

A spokeswoman said: "He was subsequently granted a restricted practising certificate which allowed him to work as an assistant for Maitlands solicitors."

Strathclyde Police confirmed a 56-year-old man had died after jumping from the Erskine Bridge at around 4.50pm on Monday.

Anonymous said...

I agree it stinks none of these cases were prosecuted especially about the lawyers who are the major recipients of the legal aid.

Crown Office cant or wont do its job.Which is it?

Anonymous said...

No chance will a lawyer ever get prosecuted for legal aid when they have this Legal Defence Union to turn to.

Also your legal insider is wrong.There is no sympathy for the Crown Office or SLAB because they are both full of lawyers who when in trouble will run to their pals to escape penalty.

Anonymous said...

This will make you laugh Peter - after failing to prosecute the legal aid robbers now the prosecutors are losing their jobs!

http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/home-news/threat-to-courts-as-prosecutors-face-axe-1.1117580?

‘Threat to courts’ as prosecutors face axe

VICTORIA WELDON EXCLUSIVE

15 Aug 2011

TRAINEE and temporary prosecutors across Scotland will be out of a job by the end of the year because there is not enough money to pay them, leading to warnings of fewer prosecutions and more delays in court cases.

Trainee fiscals who have just completed a two-year course at the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) – and who in the past would have been offered positions with the organisation – have been told they face unemployment when their training comes to an end later this month.

Last year’s trainees, many of whom remained in work on a temporary basis, will also find themselves out of jobs in the next few months when their contracts are not renewed.

The Trainee and Newly Qualified Society for lawyers claimed the job losses, which follow budget cuts, could lead to fewer prosecutions as more experienced staff are faced with an extra workload.

Society committee member Sofia Crolla said: “It might mean that staff at COPFS are now a bit more overworked. Trainees or newly qualified staff usually carry out more menial work for the people higher up in the Crown Office but other staff will now have to take care of that.

“It could mean that cases take longer to proceed to court and there are fewer prosecutions.”

Trainee solicitors are employed by COPFS on a two-year fixed term contract. The first year is spent at the Crown Office in Edinburgh before trainees are sent to a designated procurator fiscal’s office. During this time, they are taught how to prepare for and present a prosecution case in court – skills which some may now never get the chance to use.

A spokeswoman for the Scottish Young Lawyers’ Association said: “That the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service has not been able to retain any of its trainees this year is terrible for both the COPFS and the young lawyers affected.

“Over the past few years, trainee retention levels in the private sector have taken a serious blow and it is now being replicated in the public sector.

“Training a solicitor is a major investment, both in time and resources. For that investment to be lost by the training provider cannot be good for them in the long term, whether they be in the public or private sector.

“Hopefully this will be a short-term problem for all training providers in Scotland. The COPFS has always been able to attract some of the brightest graduates from Scotland’s universities.

“It would be terrible for the delivery of criminal justice in Scotland if graduates were deterred from training at the COPFS in the future out of fear of having no prospect of a long-term career with the service. This year’s COPFS trainees will join many others in a very competitive recruitment market for newly qualified solicitors.

“After two years of developing skills in a demanding area of the legal profession, it will be very disheartening for them to have to look elsewhere to continue their legal career.”

A total of 24 trainee prosecutors will be released when their training ends this month and last year’s trainees who are on temporary contracts will not have their contracts extended.

Miss Crolla added that the cuts were “consistent” with other areas in the Scottish legal profession.

She said: “The Crown should maybe look to reduce the number of trainees they’re taking on and then keep on more of them at the end of the training period.”

Part 2 to follow as I cant post the rest

Anonymous said...

Part 2

The Law Society of Scotland said that many organisations and firms are facing “challenging times”.

Lorna Jack, chief executive of the society, said: “Organisations and firms which take on trainee solicitors individually make decisions on whether to offer the trainees, or temporary solicitors, permanent employment based on a number of factors, including economic.

“We are seeing a really mixed picture with Scotland’s law firms and other organisations who employ solicitors. Many are still facing challenging times and having to make tough business decisions. However, others are reporting relatively healthy business.”

A spokesman for COPFS said that the service is currently unable to recruit any new staff.

He said: “As with other parts of the public sector, COPFS is unable to recruit owing to financial constraints, which means that those currently being trained will not be able to apply for jobs as fiscals on completion of their two-year training contracts.

“COPFS will continue to protect those already on permanent contracts in order to maintain our current high standard of service.”

A spokesman for the Crown Office refused to reveal the total number of job losses.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “The Crown Office is responsible for the management of its own budget and human resources

Anonymous said...

Fantastic Peter I always like to read your investigations getting to the heart of corruption in the justice system.The television might be keeping completely away from these topics but we all know who to believe because you are always so thorough in your writing and dont force us at the threat of handcuffs & house searches to pay a bloody license fee to hear all the usual distraction drivel.

Keep up the good work!

Peter Cherbi said...

Thanks for all your comments, contacts & emails on this article.

I have been provided with further information relating to the Crown Office's failure to prosecute solicitors .. more will be published on this in due course, however one thing is now crystal clear, Scotland needs a brand new prosecution service and that now serving, if nameless Scottish Government Minister who said "The Crown Office is the most corrupt institution in Scotland" has been proved correct once again ...