Thursday, September 22, 2011

Legal Aid officials hid details of dodgy claims scandal as ‘Pay-Up threats’ from £600K legal aid rogue lawyer leaves pensioner, 70, starving, homeless

SLAB’s secret deal with Law Society of Scotland & LDU kept info on legal aid accusations against solicitor from clients. A VULNERABLE PENSIONER was left HOMELESS & HAD TO STARVE HERSELF to pay legal fees after being threatened by Kilmarnock solicitor Niels S Lockhart over a missed £100 payment of legal bills which were originally being paid by Legal Aid. Esther Francis, 70, had gone to Niels Lockhart for help in a dispute with her housing association and was originally put on legal aid by the lawyer who has already claimed around SIX HUNDRED THOUSAND POUNDS of legal aid money in previous years for other clients, however she was not told by the Scottish Legal Aid Board (SLAB) her solicitor, Mr Lockhart had ‘voluntarily’ withdrew himself from being able to provide legal aid, AFTER he was accused by SLAB of making excessive legal aid claims.

Speaking to Diary of Injustice, Esther Francis spoke of the horrific situation her solicitor Mr Lockhart had put her in, which became so bad she was forced to put in a complaint to the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission (SLCC) about how she was treated. Esther has since found another solicitor but Mr Lockhart is now withholding her files so her situation regarding a resolution to her legal problems is far from certain until the SLCC and the Law Society of Scotland act against Mr Lockhart.

Esther said : “It started off with me due legal aid then unknown to me, him stopping legal aid, then he told me he couldn't keep me on as a client as he told me he was going private and he sent me to Saltcoates for another lawyer,,which was a a wasted journey, then Neil Lockhart got back in touch with me about 6 weeks later, about Nov-Dec last year, telling me to come into his office and he will take me back on if i paid private.”

“He told me he usually charged £195 an hour but he will give me a reduced rate of £70 per meeting, so I agreed as he told me all the money I give him will be refunded back to me, when it goes to court, so I believed him and he then put the 3 week meetings up by £10, then I was paying £100 at the end. He wanted £140 but I told him I couldn't afford it, so this went on for 6 or 7 months until I realised I wasn't getting anywhere with him, so I cancelled my last appointment with him in June this year as I could not afford to pay him and was unwell.”

“When I told him I couldn't manage down he then phoned me back to get money off me, as he told me to pay him either by bank card over phone or send a cheque to pay him, when I questioned him re;my claim he was dealing with on my behalf for over a year, he told me that my case couldn't go to court as it costs a lot of money, so he lied to me by stringing me along for money I never had and couldn't even afford, so when he never got any more money off me, this is when he sent that threatening letter to me for money to finish my claim off, but it wasn't progressing and he was wasting my time,and my claim would have been never ending, so i realised he was getting money off me under false pretences by lying to me.”

“That letter he sent me is now with the SLCC complaints dept with my complaints about him. I am an oap aged 70 and I have now been in touch with another lawyer who is taking me on for legal aid that I am entitled to, but Neil Lockhart is withholding my files because he is mad at me for dumping him, if he wasn't greedy and never lied to me, this wouldn't have happened.”

“I was due legal aid from day one and didn't know at the time that Neil Lockhart got taken off legal aid due to his excessive legal aid claims and that's why he couldn't get any more legal aid, because he was too greedy for money. I starved myself, couldn't pay my bills and then had to sell all my furniture because of Neil Lockhart and give up my council house as I couldn't afford to stay there and now I am in lodgings and homeless because of him and I still owe debts because I was paying him instead of my other bills as he promised me my claim was being dealt with.”

“It was that bad that my daughter wrote to him unknown to me, twice, to tell him to drop this case as I couldn't afford it, and told him that I was due legal aid and that I was unwell and not eating properly, struggling with bills and not being able to afford to heat flat,but he took no notice.”

slabScottish Legal Aid Board did not tell Lockhart’s clients their solicitor could no longer do legal aid work. Crucially, the Scottish Legal Aid Board DID NOT tell Esther her solicitor had ‘removed himself’ from the legal aid register or that he had been accused of making ‘excessive legal aid claims’ by SLAB after a lengthy investigation into his claims. SLAB officials also did not inform Esther or any of Mr Lockhart’s clients that a complaint had been filed with the Law Society of Scotland about Lockhart’s legal aid claims. Esther only became aware of the fact her solicitor Mr Lockhart could not provide legal aid after she read the Sunday Mail newspaper article, reported HERE.

Esther told Diary of Injustice : “I wasn't aware of him getting struck off legal aid in October, as he just told me he was going private at a reduced rate, and when i saw him in the Sunday Mail, i realised I was being conned by him as he was not doing much to assist my claim. I was never contacted by the Scottish Legal Aid Board to tell me about Niels Lockhart had been taken off legal aid. I had to read about Niels Lockhart in The Sunday Mail newspaper.”

Today, legal insiders who have studied media reports & details of what happened to Esther Francis believe most of Esther’s mounting legal problems and the negative effect of Mr Lockhart’s poor service on Esther’s health could all have been avoided if SLAB officials had communicated directly with Esther to let her know her lawyer was no longer entitled to provide her with legal representation funded by legal aid.

A solicitor speaking to Diary of Injustice condemned the Scottish Legal Aid Board for not writing to Esther directly to inform her that Mr Lockhart had been taken off the legal aid register. He accused SLAB of being directly responsible for the predicament of Ms Francis and many others who find themselves in the same position when their lawyers are found out as legal aid fraudsters.

He said : “The Scottish Legal Aid Board have contact details for all claimants of legal aid. SLAB should have written to Ms Francis immediately to inform her that her claim for legal aid could not continue under Mr Lockhart because he was no longer able to carry out legal aid work. In my opinion SLAB have as much a duty to inform clients of their solicitor’s legal aid status, as they do to protect legal aid from fraudulent claims, however it appears SLAB cannot perform either role very effectively in the case of Mr Lockhart.”

An official from one of Scotland’s consumer organisations also criticised SLAB over the case. She said : “The Scottish Legal Aid Board receive over £160 million pounds a year to hand out to solicitors in legal aid and it costs nearly £13 million pounds a year to run the board. Given the enormous amounts of public money being thrown at legal aid in Scotland, I think most people would expect the Scottish Legal Aid Board to make sure any client on legal aid who is put in a situation where their solicitor is taken off the legal aid register, gets to know about it immediately from the board directly, rather than simply leaving it up to the solicitor to tell their clients, which we see from this case and others we know about, does not happen.”

Several clients have told Diary of Injustice there appears to be no warning system in place for them to be directly told by SLAB of their solicitors change in legal aid when their certificates are withdrawn and why they have been withdrawn. A solicitor who works on legal aid confirmed there is no ‘warning system’ as such for clients in place that he is aware of.

He said : “SLAB are a bit worried if they tell a solicitor’s clients their solicitor’s legal aid certificate has been revoked, they might get complaints from the Law Society and hassle from the legal profession. However I agree these are no reasons to keep such critical information from clients.”

In a previous FOI response to Diary of Injustice, the Scottish Legal Aid Board refused to release details on complaints it had made to the Law Society of Scotland on the basis that : “The fact that a complaint was made by the Board might be misconstrued to the detriment of the individual solicitor involved, particularly in circumstances where the complaint was a)not by a member of the public, b) in relation to the solicitor’s engagement with board policies and procedures, and finally c) not upheld by the Society.”

The Scottish Legal Aid Board said releasing the information may cause the solicitor unwarranted substantial damage or distress.

The Scottish Legal Aid Board were asked for comment on why clients of solicitors who are removed from the Legal Aid Register are not told of the change in circumstances by SLAB, however SLAB have yet to issue a statement.

Esther’s story was reported in the Sunday Mail newspaper on Sunday 18 September 2011 :

Lawyer 600K legal aid hassles pensioner over 100 billLAWYER WHO RAKED IN £600K LEGAL AID HASSLES ESTHER,70, OVER £100 BILL

Sep 18 2011 Lauren Crooks, Sunday Mail

ROGUE lawyer Niels Lockhart is being probed by legal watchdogs over his treatment of an OAP client. Esther Francis, 70, says Lockhart left her in financial ruin and threatened her over bills she couldn't afford.

The lawyer was hired by Esther two years ago to sort out a dispute with a housing association, with his fees paid by legal aid. But Esther wasn't told Lockhart had been rapped by the Scottish Legal Aid Board for "unnecessary and excessive" claims "not appropriate to a competent and reputable solicitor".

He accepted a legal aid ban earlier this year but continued acting for Esther while charging her £80-an-hour. She paid Lockhart £560 but missed a £100 payment - and then received a threatening letter from him in June.

Esther complained to the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission and is demanding a refund.

She said: "I was worried when I got his threatening letter because he said he'd sue me and it would cost hundreds. "I starved m yself, couldn't pay my bills then had to sell my furniture."

Esther, who lives in Motherwell, Lanarkshire, added: "I still owe debts because I was paying him instead of other bills. He has left me in ruins. "I think he knew I was vulnerable and thought I'd just do as he said. He took advantage of me."

Lockhart, who raked in £600,000 of taxpayers' cash over two years, was rapped earlier this year for ramping up his claims. He could not be contacted for comment. He accepted a legal aid ban but was not reported to police nor struck off and still works in Kilmarnock.

Diary of Injustice used Freedom of Information legislation to expose the secret deals done between the Scottish Legal Aid Board, Law Society of Scotland & the Legal Defence Union to prevent complaints against Lockhart being heard at the Law Society while also ensuring no criminal charges were asked for by SLAB officials over accusations of his inflated legal aid claims.

However, after the Sunday Mail newspaper published the full extent of Mr Lockhart’s legal aid claims in March 2011, worried officials at the Law Society of Scotland demanded SLAB withhold the Law Society of Scotland’s report on Niels Lockhart, a story I covered in April, here : Something to Hide : Legal Aid Chiefs ordered to withhold Law Society’s report on Niels Lockhart as law regulator demands secrecy on legal aid scandals

If the Scottish Legal Aid Board had put in so much effort & public expense to investigate Mr Lockhart for inflated legal aid claims, only to close their case with a secret agreement they refused to publish along with one of now revealed to be many Law Society attempts at a report in the case, surely SLAB could have easily contacted Mr Lockhart’s clients to inform them of the situation and how it may affect their access to justice.



Lawyer pocketed 600K Legal Aid in Two Years Sunday Mail March 27 2011Legal Aid Chiefs accused lawyer Niels Lockhart of excessive claims yet no prosecution or repayment took place. A SECRET REPORT by the Scottish Legal Aid Board (SLAB) into “excessive” claims for legal aid made by Kilmarnock based solicitor Niels S Lockhart who raked in over £600,000 in legal aid claims over two years can now be published, revealing the full extent of SLAB’s accusations against the sole practitioner, the FOUR YEAR WAIT for the Law Society of Scotland to rule on the case and the intervention of the Legal Defence Union who brokered a deal allowing Mr Lockhart to walk away from all accusations over his claims for legal aid.

On 5 June 2005 the Scottish Legal Aid Board sent a report to the Law Society of Scotland in terms of S32 of the Legal Aid (Scotland) Act 1986 against the sole practitioner firm of Niels S Lockhart, 71 King Street, Kilmarnock. The secret report, obtained under Freedom of Information laws, can be downloaded here : SCOTTISH LEGAL AID BOARD S31 COMPLAINT REPORT TO THE LAW SOCIETY OF SCOTLAND : NIELS S LOCKHART (pdf)

The Legal Aid Board’s report outlined a number of issues that had been identified during the review of case files & accounts which raised concern about Mr Lockhart’s conduct and which fell to be considered as a breach of either Regulation 31 (3) (a) & (b), relating to his conduct when acting or selected to act for persons to whom legal aid or advice and assistance is made available, and his professional conduct generally. These issues illustrated the repetitious nature of Mr Lockhart’s failure to charge fees “actually, necessarily and reasonable incurred, due regard being bad to economy”

The heads of complaint submitted by the Scottish Legal Aid Board to the Law Society of Scotland were :

(1) Excessive attendances, (2) Lack of Progress, (3) Splitting/Repeating Subject Matters, (4) Inappropriate Requests for Increases in Authorised Expenditure, (5) Matters resubmitted under a different guise, (6) Standard Attendance Times, (7) Attendances for Matters Not Related to the Subject Matter of the Case, (8) Unreasonable Charges, (9) Double Charging for Correspondence, (10) Account entries not supported by Client Files, (11) Attempt to Circumvent Statutory Payment Procedure for Property Recovered or Preserved, (12) Continued Failure to act with Due Regard to Economy.

The report by the Scottish Legal Aid Board revealed that, of all firms in Scotland, the sole practitioner firm of NS Lockhart, 71 King Street, Kilmarnock, granted the highest number of advice and assistance applications for "interdict" (392) for the period January-October 2004.The next ranked firm granted 146, while the next ranked Kilmarnock firm granted only 30.

The report stated : “While conducting a selective analysis of Niels S Lockhart's Advice and Assistance accounts, it was clear from the outset that much of his business comes from "repeat clients" and/or members of the same household/family, whom he has frequently admitted to Advice and Assistance. The analysis revealed persistent patterns of excessive client attendances, the vast majority of which are irrelevant, unnecessary and conducted without due regard to economy.”

“It was also clear that Niels S Lockhart makes grants for a number of interlinked matters, where there is clearly a "cross-over" of advice. Consecutive grants are also often made as a continuation of the same matter shortly after authorised expenditure has expired on the previous grant.”

“This appears to the Board to be a deliberate scheme by Niels S. Lockhart to make consecutive grants of Advice and Assistance on behalf of the same client for the same matter, for personal gain. By so doing, he has succeeded in obtaining additional funds by utilising new initial levels of authorised expenditure for matters where, had further requests for increases in authorised expenditure under the initial grant been made to the Board, they would with every likelihood have been refused by Board staff.”

“Closer scrutiny of Niels S Lockhart's accounts and some client files has given rise to a number of other serious concerns, e.g. numerous meetings, standard of file notes, encouraging clients to advance matters while demonstrating a lack of progress.”

“After a meeting between SLAB officials & Mr Lockhart on 14 April 2005, Mr Lockhart was advised that SLAB’s Executive Team had approved of his firm’s accounts being removed from the guarantee of 30-day turnaround for payment of accounts, and that henceforth, to allow the Board the opportunity to satisfy itself that all fees and outlays had been properly incurred and charged by the firm, he would be required to submit additional supporting documentation and information with his accounts (including client files).”

The report continued : “Over the next few months, Mr Lockhart telephoned Accounts staff many times, often on a daily basis, repeatedly asking questions about the type of charge they considered acceptable or unacceptable in a variety of situations. Staff reported that, despite their having given Mr Lockhart the same answers time and again (both via correspondence and over the telephone),he continued to submit accounts with unacceptable charges. In a final effort to counter these continuing problems and to emphasis the Board’s stance in relation to the various issues of concern, our Accounts Department sent him a letter on 23 December 2005.”

“Mr Lockhart did not provide a written response to this correspondence. He did however contact Mr McCann of the Legal Defence Union, who wrote to the Board seeking a meeting with Board officials to try to resolve the payments issue. Our view however was that this would not advance matters as Mr Lockhart had been given a clear steer both after the April 2005 meeting and in the December when Accounts wrote to him on a number of matters.”

However, a key error was made by the Legal Aid Board, who stunningly failed to interview any of Mr Lockhart’s clients despite SLAB’s claims of excessive legal aid claims.

The SLAB report revealed : “Board staff have not interviewed any of Mr Lockhart’s clients as we have no reason to believe that, for example, the multitude of meetings that he held with them—sometimes more than twice daily—did not take place; our concern is that they DID take place and he has sought to claim payment for these multitudinous meetings,very few of which could be described as necessary and reasonable. We believe that such work had no regard to the principle of economy: our contention is that it is highly unlikely that any private paying client would be willing to meet the cost of the service provided by Mr Lockhart. That aside, there are cases set out in the report where it is difficult to see what advice or assistance has actually been provided. Our Accounts staff are continuing to assess a number of his accounts and examining the corresponding client files which indicate repetition of the issues that gave rise to our initial concerns.”

Outline of Correspondence SLAB-LSS re NS LockhartSLAB’s report was heavy on accusations yet achieved little, as did their complaint to the Law Society. The Scottish Legal Aid Board presented its report & complaint to the Law Society of Scotland on the 5th June 2006 but had to wait until a stunning FOUR YEARS until August 2010 before the Law Society even got round to sending SLAB a copy of the Law Society investigator’s report, which recommended that 11 out of 12 of SLAB’s complaints were “made out” and also recommended that the Law Society exercise its powers to exclude Niels Lockhart from giving advice & assistance to or from acting for a person to whom legal aid is made available.

However, two months later in October 2010, Mr Lockhart’s legal representative James McCann of the Legal Defence Union approached SLAB with a prospective offer that Mr Lockhart would withdraw fully from providing legal aid if SLAB’s S31 complaint was withdrawn. A Minute of Agreement was drafter and agreed with Niels Lockhart & the Legal Defence Union outlining the voluntary and irrevocable withdrawal by Mr Lockhart and the firm from the provision of all firms of legal assistance (funded by legal aid).

The Minute of Agreement also outlined the Board’s intention to make a press release detailing that following SLAB’s investigation into the firm and their subsequent complaint to the Law Society of Scotland, SLAB had accepted this permanent withdrawal by Mr Lockhart and the firm from providing all forms of legal assistance.

Letter to LSS, 11-10 redactedLegal Aid Board asked Law Society to withdraw complaint after secret deal was reached with Legal Defence Union. “In November 2010 SLAB advised the Law Society of Scotland that they had negotiated with Mr Lockhart his voluntary removal from the provision of legal assistance with effect from 1 November 2010 and acknowledged that the Society had separately received information from Mr Lockhart signalling his intention to withdraw from provision of all types of legal assistance. In the light of this, we sought to know from them whether they accepted SLAB’s withdrawal of the S31 complaint against Mr Lockhart.”

“In December 2010 the Law Society wrote to SLAB advising that they had accepted SLAB’s withdrawal of the complaint and that they were closing their file and taking no further action.”

All that effort on behalf of the solicitor, yet no effort to inform or protect clients of Mr Lockhart or other solicitors who withdraw from legal aid work or are stripped of their legal aid certificates. This is not justice. This is certainly not consumer or client protection from a legal profession which claims to speak for the public interest as well as represent the interests of its members. Clearly Ms Francis interests and those of many other clients caught in the same circumstances, some second to the interests of solicitors and the legal profession as a whole.


Anonymous said...

SLAB’s secret deal with Law Society of Scotland & LDU kept info on legal aid accusations against solicitor from clients. A VULNERABLE PENSIONER was left HOMELESS & HAD TO STARVE HERSELF to pay legal fees.
Perhaps these people could have run the camp at Treblinka, or Auchwitz. There is nothing I could hear about lawyers that would shock me. They are simply evil people who care nothing for the people they abuse to make money.

A lawyer left a member of my family to starve too, so I am not shocked by this latest report Peter.

Anonymous said...


Where are the Police we are paying to lock robbers up?

What about the Legal Aid? Are they too busy flying around the world and hold up in hotels to write a letter to someone telling them their lawyer has had it as far as legal aid goes?

SLAB unfit for purpose along with the rest of the participants in this legal aid fraud game.

A Lawyers hard work always him wealthier said...

All that effort on behalf of the solicitor, yet no effort to inform or protect clients of Mr Lockhart or other solicitors who withdraw from legal aid work or are stripped of their legal aid certificates.
What we have here is a form of social engineering where legal criminallity is condoned because lawyers are important and the public are regarded by lawyers as Untermenschen (subhumans). Lawyers and bent MSP's run the system and they hone it to protect their interests instead of the interests of those who elect them.

Again we see an individual who is above the law abusing the weak, why because he has the approval of the state allows him to.

I wonder how these people sleep at night, do they think they do no wrong or do they simply not care. They are evil make no mistake, and they want web sites closed and they would crush the press.

I would rather have a bullet through my head and stand up to these scumbags than let them carry on torturing human beings for money. This guy is at the tip of the iceberg.

Legal privilidge and self regulation, these allow criminals with stethoscopes and law robes to engineer any outcome they want. Put money or reputations on the line and you will learn what they really are.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Here's what the Law Society's own mouthpiece had to say about Lockhart.Notice no mention any clients were told about it (just as you said in your own reporting) and no mention of his dodgy claims and SLAB withdrew the complaint themselves of course and they dont even mention he already claimed 600K of public money!

Kilmarnock firm withdrawn from legal aid
13 Dec 10
N S Lockhart no longer to provide funded assistance following investigation

A Kilmarnock legal firm will no longer provide any form of legal aid cover, following an investigation by the Scottish Legal Aid Board.

The Board announced today that it has accepted the voluntary and irrevocable withdrawal by the firm of N S Lockhart Solicitors, and its sole partner Niels S Lockhart, from the provision of all forms of legal assistance. Mr Lockhart will no longer provide publicly funded legal assistance or have any involvement in any capacity as an agent or working for any other firm or solicitor in any matter which involves publicly funded legal assistance.

A statement by the Board added that following the investigation and a subsequent complaint to the Law Society of Scotland, a report prepared for the Society in July confirmed the Board's concerns about practices adopted by Mr Lockhart, which had resulted in the submission of many accounts which were not consistent with the principle of working with “due regard to economy” and were not acceptable practices for a solicitor undertaking civil legal assistance.

As a result of Mr Lockhart’s permanent and binding withdrawal from legal aid, the Board has withdrawn its complaint to the Society.

A spokesperson for the Board stated, “Public money has been protected as we have only paid the firm for work which we thought to be reasonable. Any work thought not to be reasonable was not paid.”

Under its current powers, the Board can stop solicitors undertaking criminal legal aid work but cannot do so in respect of civil legal assistance. When the Legal Services (Scotland) Act 2010 comes into force, the Board's powers will extend also to civil legal assistance.

Anonymous said...

Why is this guy allowed to do any work as a lawyer when he's been accused of all these things?

SLAB are just as guilty for failing his clients.Its dreadful really and my best wishes go out to Esther Francis for what she's going through.

What a drain on someone's life to have to endure these dirty tricks from lawyers its about time Scotland did something about it and its good to know you are there exposing these thugs!

Anonymous said...

Good thing its in the papers because the SLCC wont be able to give him a pass now.
If they do make sure they are nailed in more headlines Peter.

Anonymous said...

"Esther has since found another solicitor but Mr Lockhart is now withholding her files so her situation regarding a resolution to her legal problems is far from certain until the SLCC and the Law Society of Scotland act against Mr Lockhart."

After what he's all been up to he now keeps these poor people's files?

I would not trust him with my legal problems why should anyone else?

Well done Sunday Mail for exposing it and yourself of course.

Anonymous said...

QUESTION: How many VULNERABLE & HOMELESS people are there working at the Scottish Legal Aid Board ?


Anonymous said...

Throwing people onto the street starving and homeless is one of the main hobbies of lawyers these days.

They go out and have parties about it later on discussing how many lives they ruined that day.Scum.

Anonymous said...

In a previous FOI response to Diary of Injustice, the Scottish Legal Aid Board refused to release details on complaints it had made to the Law Society of Scotland on the basis that : “The fact that a complaint was made by the Board might be misconstrued to the detriment of the individual solicitor involved, particularly in circumstances where the complaint was a)not by a member of the public, b) in relation to the solicitor’s engagement with board policies and procedures, and finally c) not upheld by the Society.”

Well this proves the Scottish Legal Aid Board are certainly NOT on the side of clients.

What a disgrace.Get Swinney to shut this lot down and distribute the 13m it take to run it to needy causes like hospitals and other more deserving services!

Anonymous said...

Shocking and actually I better not say any more because its too disgusting what is going on with these lawyers.

Anyone who treats a 70 year old woman like that should be behind bars along with all those who cover up for them.


Anonymous said...

Where's our £600,000 of taxpayers' cash over two years Mr Lockhart?

No wonder the Law Society protects rogues like this - they are all at it every last one of them.

Anonymous said...

saw it in the paper on Sunday and wondered when you'd get round to writing about it
you dont disappoint!

Anonymous said...

I hope the good people of Kilmarnock and surrounding area are paying attention to how this lawyer treats his clients.

Anonymous said...

Its enough to make you sick what these hoods get up to.
Where are the decent lawyers?Are there really any around in Scotland?
They are noticeable by their lack of condemnation of those like Lockhart who are increasing in numbers all the time.

Anonymous said...

The Scottish Legal Disgrace Board should be scrapped!

Anonymous said...

As I have said many times before it is their law so let them keep it. After being ripped off three time in the past by local crooked lawyers I decided to do everything myself without going near them I have even sold four houses without going near an estate agent or a lawyer and also drew up my own will. It is much less bother and costs nothing but your own time.

It is simple don't go near the bastards because "YOU DO NOT NEED THEM" it will amaze you how easy it is to do, not to mention the money you will save.

Do you really want to be hounded by crooked lawyers no different from lockhart?

Anonymous said...

Brilliant work Peter and at least you have the guts to go after these crooks unlike a certain broadcaster we all have to buy a license to watch or we are thrown onto the street & made homeless.

Must be something to do with lawyers me thinks.

Anonymous said...

I know this **** He has been at it for awhile and the legal aid people are lying if they deny it.

I'll be buying the Sunday Mail from now on!

Anonymous said...

Big man this lawyer is throwing a little old lady onto the street with nothin just so he gets a few more £'s

Anonymous said...

That was a very thorough investigation from you Peter.I dont think SLAB,the Law Society,LDU or this Lockhart character have a leg to stand on now.

How do these people sleep at night I wonder?Its just terrible to see all this happening to an elderly lady especially when the lawyer has taken so much public money in 2 years.

More than 1/2 million for a lawyer from legal aid in 2 years is a disgrace.How can it be allowed to stand?

Anonymous said...

"I was never contacted by the Scottish Legal Aid Board to tell me about Niels Lockhart had been taken off legal aid. I had to read about Niels Lockhart in The Sunday Mail newspaper"

So what do the Scottish Legal Aid Board actually do in their offices?

Do they just sit back and cover up the legal aid crooks so they dont upset the Law Society across the road?

A client must have a right to be told what is going on with their lawyer when their case is on legal aid,its just not fair to them if they are left in the dark.I hope you are going to pursue this all the way Peter this is a dreadful story and the woman is probably lucky to have survived it all.

Anonymous said...

This is like some horror story with the monster getting away with it

The attitude of Scottish Legal Aid Board is very bad,so bad there should be an investigation into what they really do for legal aid and clients

Anonymous said...

Just so you know a client of Robertson & Ross in Paisley (I'm sure you know about this bunch) went through a a lot of problems with SLAB after the legal aid investigation at that firm.Their client my brother said SLAB were as bad as the lawyers they didnt want to know his side and were treating him as a criminal.

Anonymous said...

I like your Scottish style of naming & shaming!
With a bit luck everyone now knows what Lockhart has been up to and wont get the same treatment Esther did.
I hope her case is resolved by the SLCC and this joker gets struck off.It is terrible to think lawyers are treating their clients like this probably a lot more times than we'll ever know.

Keep up the good work Peter you are a credit to the world of journalism.

Anonymous said...

Clearly you are not safe using any lawyer in Scotland whether its on legal aid or by your own money.


I hope her case is resolved by the SLCC and this joker gets struck off.
Lockhart will NEVER get struck off, people have committed suicide due to these bastards already, evil, evil evil. The SLCC and Law Societies are EVIL.

Anonymous said...

Tip of the iceberg.I've heard about 50 stories like this running round the profession so far this year yet nothing in print other than from you and the Sunday Mail.

The Scottish Press have become too deferential to the LSoS

Anonymous said...

SLAB also look after their own as you can see from this Herald story from 2000 :

Legal aid official at centre of inquiry retires

John McEachran

14 Aug 2000

A LEGAL Aid official at the centre of an investigation into financial irregularities has taken early retirement through ill health. Mr Stephen O'Connor was so frail he could not be questioned by accountants at the Scottish Legal Aid Board who were inquiring into payments to lawyers.

Mr O'Connor was suspended in March last year from his post as director of operations for the board. His solicitor, Mr Rod McKenzie, said: "He suffers from hypertension, heart problems, and diabetes. The Scottish Legal Aid Board wanted to interrogate him but his doctors said that was out of the question.He was certified unfit for work immediately after the suspension but he had been ill off and on before. We never knew what he was supposed to have done. They would not tell us."

Mr O'Connor's suspension was imposed during a period of turmoil for the board. Chief executive Richard Scott resigned in December 1998 after differences of opinion with board members. The board was also under pressure to cut the level of payments to lawyers for handling criminal work in the Scottish courts.

But in cutting its operating budget, Mr O'Connor was accused of scrapping some money-saving checks on lawyers' work. An investigation, costing around £1m, into his procedures resulted in new operating guidelines being introduced in November last year.

Mr O'Connor's early retirement was taken in May this year without him ever returning to his desk. A spokesman for the board said Mr O'Connor had not been implicated in any wrong-doing.

Anonymous said...

Esther Francis like so many others is a victim of LEGAL PERSECUTION. I say legal because if no actors act against Lockhart he can do whatever he wants.

In the realm of British civil law there are laws to live by. But if certain actors get away with corruption because of that cancer called self regulation, the justice system is invisible, or ceases to function because an organised powerful group can abuse an unorganised larger group.

The Law Societies want to close web sites for a number of reasons.

Their members reputations being ruined.

The Lockharts careers will not be affected.

The Societies will lose money because the crooked law firms will end up with few clients.

The attempt to close web sites is so that the Law Societies can keep their membership clean no matter what they do. Only clients can regulate lawyers.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Alex Salmon, Kenny McAskill and John Swinney.

This report, no doubt just one example of many people who have suffered a similar fate, is a result of your 'cosy relationship' with the Law Society of Scotland and its monopoly on regulation and access to justice.


Anonymous said...

Who shall guard the legal guardians, the Lord Hamilton's of this world and his subordinates.

"The Law Society recognises that legitimate criticism made through fair and appropriate channels is entirely valid" Mr Hudson's letter


Legitimate channels, Douglas Mill in charge of the Law Soceity of Scotland, lied to the justice committee. The SLCC that has not damaged any lawyers reputation since its creation in October 2008.

Get real Mr Hudson, the Legitimate channels are bent that is why web sites are there. You mean YOUR IDEA OF LEGITIMACY. My sister had no money for five months because her Glasgow lawyer and doctor covered up her injuries and then cut off her money so she could not pay her bills. YOUR SCOTTISH COLLEAGES IN THE SO CALLED LEGITIMATE COMPLAINTS CHANNEL OF THE LAW SOCIETY OF SCOTLAND REFUSED TO INVESTIGATE THE LAWYER. Someone said dissent renews politics, and dissent will crush Law Society power and that is what terrifies you, losing your £400,000.00 salary.


Mr Mill said, "it is fine to have press reports about lawyers as long as they are positive reports. This tells us about the culture in the Law Societies, KILL THE COMPLAINT AND DRIVE THE CLIENT TO SUICIDE, WHO CARES AS LONG AS A SELF REGULATING CRIMINAL IS LEFT TO RUIN SOMEONE ELSE. NO MONE THIS EVIL MUST BE PURGED.

Anonymous said...

The English newspapers should be taking notice of all this and asking why the Chancellor is bothering to send hundreds of millions to Scotland for the justice system when its all going on fraudsters and conmen and civil serpents flying around the world.

There's no justice in Scotland clearly so why bother giving them any money to pretend there is.

Anonymous said...

Just think everyone reading this - this could happen to you, first your lawyer tells you legal aid is yours then its taken away you dont get to know the truth just the lies about going private and will give you a reduced fee to keep you on as a client etc then years later when you think you are getting to court NOTHING!


Rank Your Lawyer

This register is very similar to a restaurant rating register, where clients may rate their quality, service and style. Only difference being we are rating our legal eagles, and we are doing this in order for users to be able to know well in advance which legal eagles are great, and which ones are failing substantially in their capacity to provide decent legal service to our clients. We thank you for taking the time to present to us your knowledge and experiences, guarantee your anonymity and will be able to provide a long term rating / scale of our australian legal reps with this data.
To all of you lawyers at the Law Society and in society. Web sites are appearing around the world, are lawyers going to argue all are corrupt? What is happening is that clients en masse are repudiating the so called legitimate complaints channels because self regulation is not regulation. Lawyers controlling the complaints system is unjust. Parliament and the judiciary are meant to be seperate, so must lawyers and complaints about lawyers be seperate.

Trust no lawyer, check the web sites the Law society want to kill of, so they can keep their profitable abusive business model.


Anonymous said...

Quotes from the public to Desmond Hudson: Law Society of England and Wales.

“Shame on you for trying to stop this unfortunately necessary public service.”

“The BBC do exactly the same in the Cowboy builder programs etc - why should solicitors be any different?”

“I have had terrible experiences of solicitors abusing their authority, and there is no redress at all.”

“We live in a free country, what have you got to hide?”

“This website is about freedom, and should not be prevented from doing what I regard to be a public good.”

“In a society of free speech you have no right to impede that freedom.”

“Do you not care that the law has become one of those professions that appears to have no honour?”

“SFH gives voice to the ordinary man and assists the public in finding solicitors who act with integrity.”

“If the Utilities can be named and shamed I don’t see any reason why the Legal industry should be any different.”

“The intended action comes across that you have no interest in regulation and poor practice.”

“You are not there for the public but from what I have experienced you exist to protect the solicitors who pay you a fee.”

“Why you find this website is bad practice and harmful makes me question your ethics.”

“Be a man and do something real instead of pestering the chap brave enough to write about the solicitors from Hell.”

“SFH now gives me the platform to voice my grievances; I am delighted someone has taken this stand.”

“Leave the Solicitors From HELL site alone its doing a good job.”

“The majority are good but the few bad apples should be weeded out.”

“Most lawyers aren't listed on the website, only the inept few who will want you to take action.”

"Until the Law Society takes public complaints much more seriously websites such as SFH will become the norm."

"I have made a complaint to the Law Society in the past and had little or no feedback after submitting my complaint."

"I think the site is an excellent one. It reveals the shortcomings of what has become a protected industry."

"At the moment lawyers know they can get away with pretty much anything."

"Look at how many complainants have reached out to Rick for assistance."

"It would seem to me that your objection to the existance of this site is most unreasonable."

"Closing down SFH as apposed to dealing with the individual complaints is monstrously wrong."
Websites are a manifestation of self regulation, where clients are left without legal redress.

Anonymous said...

So we can take it from this little episode SLAB are not very interested in legal aid fraud if its by a lawyer.They cant even be bothered to call it fraud probably because the Law Society will bark at them.
Cowards on the public purse we dont need thank you very much.

Anonymous said...

Great expose Peter I heard all about it earlier in the week,you are very good at what you do.

Keep up the excellent work!

Anonymous said...

“It started off with me due legal aid then unknown to me, him stopping legal aid, (THAT IS WHAT THEY DO) then he told me he couldn't keep me on as a client as he told me he was going private and he sent me to Saltcoates for another lawyer,,which was a a wasted journey (WE KNOW), then Neil Lockhart got back in touch with me about 6 weeks later, about Nov-Dec last year, telling me to come into his office and he will take me back on if i paid private.”
They can do whatever they want Esther I know as well as many other people how nasty and ruthless lawyers are. Going to other law firms is prolonging the torture, they have a bond no client will break hence why naming and shaming is our only option. They are against this because it will put them out of business.

The Law Society have never denied they are responsible for client suicides, evil people legally allowed to torture the public for money and the protection of reputations. You have our sympathy Esther, we know what you went through. Best wishes.

Anonymous said...

Esther has since found another solicitor but Mr Lockhart is now withholding her files so her situation regarding a resolution to her legal problems is far from certain until the SLCC and the Law Society of Scotland act against Mr Lockhart.

Not much chance of the SLCC or Law Society doing anything, Lockhart is one of their footsoldiers.

Anonymous said...

People have no rights against lawyers. The internet is the only medium available to clients and the Law Society have themselves to blame for the blogs against lawyers in the UK today.

Anonymous said...

January 2008

Douglas Mill, the Chief Executive of the Law Society of Scotland since 1996 "has decided to leave his position as chief executive of the Law Society of Scotland in October this year" - according to the Law Society of Scotland website.

He was protecting crooked lawyers, and the Law Societies say websites are defamatory. Prejudice blindness that is what they are suffering from. Trust No Lawyer.

Anonymous said...

Disgusting.Criminals are running Scotland no doubt about it.

Where is that stupid Parliament?Why are they not doing anything about this?

Anonymous said...

Any more of Lockhart's clients going through the same?I read in the paper some were asking the legal aid board to investigate him but they had refused to do it.What point is there of having a legal aid board if they dont investigate when asked to do it?

Anonymous said...

At least outside the control of the UK crooked lawyers gang these hoods get arrested when their time comes

HONG KONG -- A New York lawyer who fled the United States after allegedly embezzling $2.5 million from a client faces extradition after being arrested in Hong Kong, legal officials said Friday.

The city's department of justice said Douglas Arntsen of US law firm Crowell & Moring was arrested Monday following a request by the US government.

Anonymous said...

I wonder shouldnt the taxman be chasing all these lawyers who are taking millions on the legal aid?
What are they actually spending it on and why are their fees justified when they are doing bugger all for people like Esther?

Something needs to give here!

Anonymous said...

What were SLAb thinking of allowing this guy to escape justice?
How many more times has this happened without us knowing about it?

Anonymous said...

What was the point of the legal aid board making that complaint if nothing was done about it in the end?
I think that was the motive all along just to keep people in jobs supposedly investigating the likes of Lockhart with no outcome after its all over.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

I hope the good people of Kilmarnock and surrounding area are paying attention to how this lawyer treats his clients.

22 September 2011 19:14

me too

doing this to a pensioner is a disgrace

where are the friggin cops when we need them?

Anonymous said...

Hi Peter, I just want to say you are doing a great job with your reporting on the legal establishment.

The SLAB, LDU and Law society must be bypassed because this will make sure the line between corrupt lawyers and ones who try for their clients is made.

But we always are back to the fact that if lawyers will not sue each other no client has any rights and the web sites will ensure over time that lawyers who do not want named and shames may be forced to treat clients with respect.

If the Law society had protected your family A Diary of Injustice (and other sites) would not have been necessary. The Law Society cannot get it into their thick skulls that the many members of the public have no trust in lawyers. For people who are meant to be intelligent their open hostility to clients tells us about the culture of self regulators.

We trust you Peter because you tell it as it is, not as the Douglas Mill's of this world would like the public to swallow the propaganda pill that lawyers are honest.

They will be honest only when web sites report on lawyer corruption by naming them for the mendacious people they are.

Anonymous said...

Law Society of England & Wales Chief Des Hudson is accused of branding owner of critical website “a criminal” for naming crooked lawyers.

Good afternoon Mr Hudson. If we adopt the principle of what is good for lawyers is good for members of the public.

If Rick Kordowski is a criminal in your view, this statement demonstrates the prejudice from the Law Society, you are in charge of. Are you saying that all law firms and all lawyers on all websites are honest. If you believe that you cannot read the press, or read websites regularly.

Calling Rick Kordowski a criminal is actually stating all lawyers and all law firms on his site are honest in your opinion. That is quite frankly untrue, your Law Society, Lawyers, Surveyors, Accountants, employers, doctors are insured by Royal Sun Alliance fo a good reason. If one of your lawyers takes legal action against any of these professions and employers, the Law Societies insurers are paying the damages. The Law of Delict, or Tort south of the Scottish border requires a causal link. Your insurers causal link kills litigation dead after lawyers have enriched themselves with legal aid and the client is dumped with £0.00 damages. This system shows how honest the Law Societies are, in bed with the insurers of the Master Policy to protect criminals who protect each other.

Long live our freedoms to name and shame those who are above the law, and hide their corruption behind powerful clients hating unions.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

I hope the good people of Kilmarnock and surrounding area are paying attention to how this lawyer treats his clients.

The Law Society will pin a medal on his chest.