Wednesday, October 26, 2011

JUDGE OUR JUDGES : Petition seeks ‘judicial transparency’, asks Westminster require judiciary to ‘declare all’ to a Register of Interests

Britain’s highly paid judges are unaccountable & currently refuse to submit to a register of interests, so let’s change their minds in the public interest. A REGISTER OF INTERESTS FOR JUDGES will provide greater transparency within the judicial system, will assist in the administration of justice & public confidence in its procedures, and most of all, will avoid any conflicts of interest in the judiciary which currently go unnoticed due to the fact judges have until now REFUSED to hold themselves to a higher standard of transparency & accountability than most politicians & public servants who are required by Government or Parliamentary rules & even the law itself to register their financial & other interests & any hospitality received.

E-Petition to Downing Street Petitions website asks for judges to be required to declare all to a register of interests. An E-Petition, filed yesterday on the No10 website asks the following : This petition requests the Government bring about a Register of Pecuniary Interests of Judges Bill (as is currently being considered in New Zealand's Parliament) or amend present UK legislation to require all members of the Judiciary to submit their interests & hospitality to a publicly available Register of Interests.

PLEASE CLICK THIS LINK AND SIGN THE PETITION : Register of Interests for UK Judiciary

In an age of public expectations of full accountability & transparency, it is time to end some or indeed all of the myths created around the judiciary by the legal establishment, vested interests and even the judiciary itself, by bringing the UK’s highly paid, if not always highly respected or respectable judges into line with all other public servants in requiring them to comply with a full register of interests & hospitality.

While this e-petition relates only to members of the judiciary in England & Wales, it does apply to members of the UK’s Supreme Court, who for now have said in an online document : “… The Justices have decided that it would not be appropriate or indeed feasible for them to have a comprehensive Register of Interests, as it would be impossible for them to identify all the interests, which might conceivably arise, in any future case that came before them. To draw up a Register of Interests, which people believed to be complete, could potentially be misleading”.

Politicians and other public servants simply cannot get away such a statement with excusing themselves from transparency & accountability via a register of interests & hospitality, so why should members of the judiciary. Judge our judges by signing the petition.

Here in Scotland, the judiciary have also REFUSED to submit to a register of interests or hospitality, however their reasons for refusing to bring greater transparency to the judicial process in Scotland may well have something to do with the fact no all Scottish judges have been honest in excusing themselves from cases where they have conflicting interests with vested interests before them in court or in their private lives, as I reported in an earlier article here : Offshore trusts, property holdings, insurance syndicates, hospitality from dodgy lawyers, yet no plans for a register of interests for Scottish judges 

A spokesperson for the Judicial Office for Scotland, commenting on the lack of a register of interests for Scottish judges who receive up to £230K a year plus expenses & massive gold plated pensions, stated : “The Judicial Office for Scotland does not hold a register of hospitality for members of the judiciary and there are no plans to do so. The Lord President has set out formal guidelines to the judiciary in the STATEMENT OF PRINCIPLES OF JUDICIAL ETHICS. Para 4.9 and 7.2 address this particular point.”

Lord Hamilton judicialLord Hamilton, Scotland’s Lord President has REFUSED to create a register of interests for Scottish judges. Lord President Lord Hamilton said in his statement : “While attempts to corrupt the judiciary are virtually unknown in this jurisdiction, a judge should be circumspect in the acceptance of any gift, hospitality, or favour from any private source. Where the benefit sought to be conferred upon the judge is not commensurate with an existing family or social relationship between him or her and the donor, or host, it should normally be declined. However, it is recognised that a judge may, from time to time, legitimately be entertained by legal, professional or public organisations or office-holders, in furtherance of good relations between them and the judiciary as a whole, or representatives of it. Furthermore, nothing said here should be understood as inhibiting judges from accepting invitations to give lectures, addresses, or speeches of a non-legal nature at dinners, or other occasions, or, in such an event, from accepting commensurate hospitality, tokens of appreciation for their efforts, or appropriate expenses of travel or accommodation.”

Lord Hamilton's statement continues : “It is considered appropriate that a judge may write, lecture, teach and participate in activities concerning the law, the legal system, the administration of justice and related matters. However, to obviate the perception that judicial office is being exploited for personal gain, a judge holding a full-time appointment should not generally receive any remuneration for such activities, with the traditional exception of fees and royalties as an author or editor, although the acceptance of a modest gift in recognition of a service given would be unexceptionable. Where a judge is offered a substantial fee for the activities described, such fee should go directly to charity. There is, of course, no objection to a judge accepting reasonable reimbursement of the cost of any necessary travel or accommodation required in attending lectures, seminars, etc. In the event of a judge engaging in literary, or other creative or artistic activities, there can be no objection to that judge receiving the normal royalties, fees, or other payments in respect of the results of those activities.”

A similar petition has been filed with the Scottish Parliament’s Public Petitions Committee, which is now being discussed with Scottish Parliament officials prior to being published on the Scottish Parliament’s website, which Diary of Injustice will continue to report on.

A MODEL FOR OPENNESS : NEW ZEALAND MOVES AHEAD OF UK WITH JUDICIAL TRANSPARENCY

New Zealand’s Parliament will enact laws to require judges to comply with register of interests. In New Zealand, there is Member’s Bill in the New Zealand Parliament, known as the Register of Pecuniary Interests of Judges Bill, introduced in late 2010 by Dr Kennedy Graham of the Green Party to introduce a Pecuniary Register of Interests for all judges, after a scandal involving the resignation of Justice Bill Wilson rocked the New Zealand legal establishment and brought into question the interests & relationships between judges & others. Justice Wilson was forced to resign after it was reported he had failed to step down in a case or disclose his business and financial relationships with Auckland QC Alan Galbraith when sitting as a member of the Court of Appeal in an appeal in which Mr Galbraith successfully represented the Wool Board Disestablishment Company in their appeal against superfine wool producers Saxmere over wool board levies. There were allegations that Justice Wilson owed Mr Galbraith $242,804, which was not disclosed to the Court of Appeal hearing. The debt was denied by Justice Wilson. More on the scandal can be read HERE, HERE & HERE.

There are concerns similar relationships between members of the judiciary and law firms, lawyers & advocates have now been found to exist in Scotland and have now been found to significantly affect some cases where big business, members of professions including the legal profession and even the Law Society of Scotland itself have faced legal action in the courts, cases which all went the way of vested interests.

The full details of New Zealand’s intentions to bring about judicial transparency via a register of interests can be viewed online here Register of Pecuniary Interests of Judges Bill. Dr Graham’s bill states :

It is a time-honoured principle of Western democracy that public servants of every kind must be beyond reproach, and suspicion thereof. Public confidence in the standard of behaviour and conduct observed by leading servants of the people is a cornerstone of social harmony and political stability. A threshold of confidence to that end should ideally be enshrined in constitutional and legislative form. Little scope should be available for individual discretion or subjective perception.

The principle of transparency in this respect pertains in particular to issues of financial (pecuniary) interest. Nothing undermines public confidence in a nation’s institutions and procedures more than suspicion that a public servant may have, and especially proof that one has, suffered a conflict of interest arising from a pecuniary interest in a particular dealing in which he or she was professionally involved.

The correct balance in this respect appears to have been achieved over the years–the public interest in such annual statements is significant without appearing prurient, and few complaints have been voiced by those on whom the obligations are placed. There seems to be a general acceptance that such exercises are in the public interest and are neither unduly onerous nor revealing.

No such practice, however, has been observed in the case of the judiciary. Recent developments within New Zealand’s judicial conduct processes suggest that application of the same practice observed by the other two branches of government might assist in the protection of the judiciary in future.

Being obliged under law to declare pecuniary interests that might be relevant to the conduct of a future case in which one is involved would relieve a judge from a repetitive weight of responsibility to make discretionary judgements about his or her personal affairs as each case arises. Having declared one’s pecuniary interests once, in a generic manner independent of any particular trial, a judge may freely proceed in the knowledge that, if he or she is appointed to adjudicate, public confidence for participation has already been met. Yet care is to be exercised to ensure that the final decision is left to the individual judge whether to accept a case. There should be no intention of external interference into the self-regulation of the judiciary by the judiciary.

This is the reasoning behind this draft legislation–the Register of Pecuniary Interests of Judges Bill. The purpose of the Bill, as stated, is to promote the due administration of justice by requiring judges to make returns of pecuniary interests to provide greater transparency within the judicial system, and to avoid any conflict of interest in the judicial role.

Additionally, in the New Zealand lawyer online, it was reported New Zealand’s Law Commission discussed the possibility the planned register of interests should be expanded to include all judicial officials who could affect a case, saying in Chapter 8.25 of their discussion paper. The Law Commission stated : “If there is to be legislation, should it apply to all judges, or only to judges of some levels, or to all judicial employees and officials such as prosecutors and registrars? An argument can be made that if there is to be financial disclosure it should be required of all officials whose positions give them sufficient potential to influence the outcome of a case, whether as a result of a bribe or other improper influence.” The New Zealand Law Commission’s discussion paper on a register of judicial interests can be downloaded here : NZLC IP21 - Towards a New Courts Act: A Register of Judges' pecuniary interests? (pdf)

The intentions of the New Zealand Parliament to move ahead with a register of interests for judges should serve as a model for a similar register of interests for all members of the UK’s judiciary, whether in Scotland, England, Wales or Northern Ireland. I also support the idea from the New Zealand Law Commission that all officials whose positions give them sufficient potential to influence the outcome of a case should be required to disclose their financial & other interests.

I therefore ask all of you who feel our judges should be more accountable, rather than being shrouded in myth & secrecy, to sign the Westminster version of the petition and the Scottish petition when it is published, to be featured on Diary of Injustice in the near future.

42 comments:

Anonymous said...

Judges speaking about ethics what a lot of rot!

Have you ever heard the saying AS BENT AS A JUDGE?

Anonymous said...

A great idea Peter.

I've always said you should start at the top and go for those who are controlling the courts and keeping justice out of reach for the rest of us!

Anonymous said...

Lord Hamilton says "attempts to corrupt the judiciary are virtually unknown in this jurisdiction"....no wonder everyone knows the Judiciary has longsince decided what side their bread is buttered on and stick ever so close to their self regulating buddies and former colleagues in the Law Society of Scotland.

Anonymous said...

I think these ARROGANT SMUG judges need a dose of reality instead of being able to hide behind all that BULLSHIT about no need to do stuff because we are judges etc

Anonymous said...

This was tried in 1999 by a Labour MP after the Pinochet case although nothing more came of it because the judiciary did their 'behind closed doors threats' and so you have statements such as the one currently on the Supreme Court website which you referred to.

See for yourself (although I hope your petition brings fresh interest to the issue)

http://www.thelawyer.com/mps-call-for-judges-to-register-interests/88470.article

MPs call for judges to register interests

22 March 1999

MEMBERS of Parliament are signing up to an early day motion calling on judges to register their interests.

This week they are calling for a shake-up in the judiciary and urging the Government to look at "further reforms" to modernise the system for selecting judges.

The demand for reform comes as Law Lords are due to decide the fate of the for mer Chilean dictator General Augusto Pinochet.

The Law Lords originally ruled that Pinochet should be extradited to Spain to face charges of torture, hostage taking and conspiracy to murder, but the ruling was quashed after it emerged that Lord Hoffmann - one of five Law Lords sitting in the first hearing - had failed to disclose his links with Amnesty International.

The Pinochet debacle has prompted MPs to call for a register of judges' pecuniary and non-pecuniary interests, a transparent system for the appointment of judges through a Judicial Appointments Commission and the allocation of more specialist judges to trials in complex, specialist cases.

Solicitor Andrew Dismore, the Labour MP behind the early day motion, says: "The Pinochet case has brought the judiciary into focus. There has to be a register of interests for judges."

Anonymous said...

Very interesting Peter.
I look forward to reading about your Scottish petition when the Holyrood mob stop sweating over it!

Anonymous said...

The judges do not want a register of interests yet the Judicial Appointments Commission (the people who recommend judges for their jobs) already have a register http://jac.judiciary.gov.uk/static/documents/Q1_register_of_interests_2011.XLS

although I can understand why they want to remain secret if you have dug up stuff on their offshore tax fiddling etc

Good work Mr Cherbi

Anonymous said...

I'm all for judging the judges and also I'd like to suggest we have a system online where people can put all their experiences about judges for everyone to see just like Solicitors from Hell except call it JUDGES FROM HELL!

Anonymous said...

Yes a good idea Peter these judges have no right to say they don't need to be accountable to anyone I'll sign your Scottish petition when it's up.

Anonymous said...

To the comment at 16:21

What happened to the early day motion and why did nothing else happen?

Also no more Andrew Dismore because he lost his seat at the last election over the expenses scandal

Just look here
http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2009/nov/23/dismore-standards-commitee-resign-call
A second member of the parliamentary committee that regulates MPs' conduct is facing a call to step down over his expenses.

Andrew Dismore reportedly claimed £34,000 in second home allowances for a west London flat, where his girlfriend runs a homeopathy clinic, while declaring a property just a few miles away in his north London constituency as his main residence.

The Labour MP for Hendon, the longest serving member of the standards and privileges committee, then allegedly "flipped" his second home designation to the north London property and claimed another £31,000, according to the Daily Telegraph.

Last week Conservative backbencher David Curry stepped down as the committee's chairman and referred himself to the parliamentary commissioner for standards amid allegations he had claimed £30,000 for a constituency property, which his wife had banned him from using after an affair.

Anonymous said...

Some of these judges are going to be very angry reading about all this and all these ideas you are putting gin people's heads about judicial accountability etc

Anonymous said...

"A similar petition has been filed with the Scottish Parliament’s Public Petitions Committee, which is now being discussed with Scottish Parliament officials prior to being published on the Scottish Parliament’s website, which Diary of Injustice will continue to report on. "

So in other words the Scottish Parliament will be 'discussing' your petition with the Lord President and the lawyers to see how they can shut you up and stop this going ahead.

Anonymous said...

Peter,I believe this is what you are looking for.

Good luck with your own efforts on this.
R

http://www.parliament.uk/edm/1998-99/456

Early day motion 456

MODERNISATION OF THE JUDICIARY

Session: 1998-99
Date tabled: 19.03.1999
Primary sponsor: Dismore, Andrew
Sponsors:

That this House welcomes the Access to Justice Bill [Lords] as the most important reform of the justice system for over 100 years; and urges the Government to consider further reforms to modernise the judiciary during the passage of the Bill, including a transparent system of appointment of judges through a Judicial Appointments Commission, a register of pecuniary and non-pecuniary interests for members of the judiciary, and the allocation of more specialist judges to trials of complex specialist cases.

Total number of signatures: 106

Anonymous said...

These judges you are quoting sound as if they are either mad or drunk on power.
Bring them down a few pegs for all of our sakes please.

Anonymous said...

Yes quite right there should be a register of interests for judges who the hell do they think they are anyway?

Anonymous said...

The Kiwis are obviously streets ahead of us taking on their judges this way.I bet they are all having a laugh at our continuing f*ck ups with bent judges and lawyers all over the place

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

The Kiwis are obviously streets ahead of us taking on their judges this way.I bet they are all having a laugh at our continuing f*ck ups with bent judges and lawyers all over the place

26 October 2011 22:47

I think just about everyone else is streets ahead of us on all this crooked lawyer crap and how to deal with it while the SNP are harping on about getting a doing from some mp what a laugh on the tele tonight as if we dont have more to worry about bunch of loons

Anonymous said...

Do the judges put their rent boys on the register maybe?

Anonymous said...

These protesters who are having a go at the banks should be having a go atthe courts because its the justice system being used to back up all these repossessions and victimization of the people YES THICKOS READING THIS WHEN YOU ARE IN TROUBLE THE COURTS BACK THE BANKERS AND THE CROOKED LAWYERS DONT THEY NOT YOU

Anonymous said...

I like the idea of exposing just as much corruption in the judiciary as in the legal profession because both feed each other if you think about how the courts system works.

Keep up the good work!

Anonymous said...

I see these judges seem to believe they are only accountable to themselves rather than the rest of society who have to pay their 200K salaries.

Being a judge has clearly gone to their heads so I very much support your plan to make them sign all their interests up for everyone to see.Bravo to you and boo to the MPs who did sod all about it since 1999!

Anonymous said...

Good to see another petition from you Peter and best of luck for success!

Anonymous said...

I am fairly confident I know a judge in Edinburgh who is caught up in a huge gambling corruption scandal but nothing has come out yet because the cops and crown office are trying to cover it all up because of his decisions in criminal cases

Anonymous said...

What I find genuinely disturbing about the now former MP's early day motion in 1999 is that no MP or Government has since tackled the issue of a register of interests for the judiciary in the past 11 years.

This is an utter disgrace however I am very pleased to see you raise the issue Peter and I hope you get lots of interest and signatures for your petitions in England & Scotland.

Anonymous said...

Some of these judges will be up to no good probably the reason they stopped that other attempt to make them declare all their interests now they might come after you these are the people in the land who jail the killers so its reasonable to say some will have criminal friends who they may use against you so be careful and good luck its a great idea what you are doing!

Anonymous said...

As I recall judges, and judges alone, are allowed a heightend level of earnings/savings before tax rates at the otherwise relevant band apply - one law for all? I dont' think so.

Anonymous said...

Hi Peter

Any news yet from the Scottish end if they will let you make this petition?

I imagine they will try and stop it dead because I read your earlier story about this and the judges up there sound a right bunch of crooks!

Keep nipping at their heels laddie!

Anonymous said...

AS BENT AS A JUDGE IS AS GOOD A VIEW AS ANY THEY ARE ALL LITTLE HITLERS WITH ROBES AND THEIR SUPPORTERS SHOUT DOWN ANYONE WHO QUESTIONS THEIR DICTATORSHIP

Peter Cherbi said...

Thanks for your comments & contact on this article.

Also, many thanks to those who posted the details of the Early Day Motion from former MP Andrew Dismore regarding a Register of Interests for the Judiciary ...

I am looking into this to try to establish why nothing more was done, although it does appear from additional comments the Judiciary had their wicked way and took the issue out of mainstream discussion ...

# Anonymous @ 27 October 2011 17:33

Regarding what you say, I'd be interested to hear more ... email me via scottishlawreporters@gmail.com

# Anonymous @ 27 October 2011 20:58

According to a mole who came out early for Autumnwatch it is being discussed ...

# Anonymous @ 27 October 2011 20:47

It seems judges are also allowed a heightened level of tax evasion on offshore investments and gambling ... something to look forward to in future headlines ...

A Register of Interests for the Judiciary ... its not rocket science, its just transparency and accountability coming to people who hide behind their positions at the top of the legal system ...

If judges have nothing to hide, then they have nothing to fear from entering their financial & non financial interests in a published Register of Interests.

Anonymous said...

"A Register of Interests for the Judiciary ... its not rocket science, its just transparency and accountability coming to people who hide behind their positions at the top of the legal system ...

If judges have nothing to hide, then they have nothing to fear from entering their financial & non financial interests in a published Register of Interests."

Good for you Peter.Its great to hear someone talking like this and trying to get the job done instead of all these useless politicians who sit back and allow the legal mafia to ruin the rest of us.

Anonymous said...

Take care Peter these people you investigate are truly evil and will stop at nothing to keep their criminal gang in power

Anonymous said...

Twenty nine comments here and only 8 signatures so far on the petition - come on people get a move on!

Anonymous said...

This is possibly one of the most critical things you will ever do Peter - take on the judiciary itself and hold them to account.They are a terrible gang a law unto themselves and anyone who is brave enough to take them on is a good guy in my book.

Anonymous said...

Peter look at this letter from the Herald its about a Sheriff who is clearly out of control and the Judicial Office refused to do anything about it!

http://www.heraldscotland.com/comment/herald-letters/it-is-not-surprising-that-there-is-a-backlog-of-court-cases-in-scotland-1.1131408

It is not surprising that there is a backlog of court cases in Scotland

Published on 27 Oct 2011

Lucy Adams writes of problems arising from delays in the justice system (“Fears justice delays will let people walk free”, The Herald, October 25).

My own experience offers an interesting and unexpected insight. After our property was damaged by an intoxicated individual who was apprehended by the police, my wife and I agreed to attend court as witnesses. On three occasions we received citations to attend, but each time the case was not heard. As we are both hospital doctors, on each occasion there was considerable inconvenience to ourselves and our hospital colleagues as work was rescheduled in order that patient care was not disrupted.

On the fourth occasion, we attended court only to find that the sheriff had cancelled the case at 3.30 pm saying there was insufficient time. This surprised us, the court staff and the depute fiscal, as there seemed plenty of time for a simple case with only three witnesses in which the accused had been caught red-handed. On protesting, we were told that the court staff and the depute fiscal were keen for the case to be heard, but were powerless as the sheriff would not co-operate. I complained to the Judicial Office for Scotland, who replied that our complaint was inadmissible as it concerned “judicial management of the court programme”, against which, apparently, complaints cannot be made.

It appears that although sheriffs exercise ultimate influence over the court programme, they have no responsibility for it on a day-to-day basis, and are unaccountable for it in a more general sense.

In the aftermath of rioting in England, courts sat in the evenings and at weekends, and this was considered such a success that it may become regular practice. It seems odd that in Scotland we struggle to hear cases beyond mid afternoon. No wonder a backlog of cases is developing.

The justice system in Scotland underwent a recent review whose four guiding principles were that the system should be “fair, effective, efficient and quick”. Our experience showed it to fail all four. If the Lord President is minded to improve Scottish justice, he might begin by considering how to instil into highly-paid senior judicial figures a sense of responsibility for the process of criminal justice.

Anonymous said...

Great Idea I hope to see lots being revealed about these judges and their links to lawyers and other crooks and how much money they are earning on the side when supposedly sitting in the courts

Anonymous said...

“… The Justices have decided that it would not be appropriate or indeed feasible for them to have a comprehensive Register of Interests, as it would be impossible for them to identify all the interests, which might conceivably arise, in any future case that came before them. To draw up a Register of Interests, which people believed to be complete, could potentially be misleading”.

Just imagine if the politicians came out with this crap.I wouldn't vote for anyone who said such a thing and they shouldn't be getting paid any public money.I am also appalled the politicians didn't do more on this since the 1999 thing in the comments I hope you are going to expose all this corruption Peter because they are rotten to the core the whole justice system.

Anonymous said...

No sarcasm intended however it is gratifying to see the Scottish forces of Peter Cherbi march south to clean up the English judiciary ;p

Anonymous said...

The arrogance of these judges is spectacular

Anonymous said...

You should try politics yourself Peter.I cant see you allowing an issue as serious as this lie for nearly 12 years without something being done about it!

Anonymous said...

I would have thought the SNP would be totally behind something like this move unless there is something worth hiding.From reading your write up it sounds like there is a lot being hidden!

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

No sarcasm intended however it is gratifying to see the Scottish forces of Peter Cherbi march south to clean up the English judiciary ;p

28 October 2011 19:20

lol!

It takes a Scotsman!

Anonymous said...

Judges in their own cause.

If turkies could vote, do you think they would vote for Christmas? No.

Does this mean the judges will have to declare their pre-hearing chats with Counsel in Chambers? Or would that be asking too much?

It is about time in 2011, that transparency in Scottish Courts can be taken as a 'given' by all parties in the process.

Every Hearing should be audio and visually digitally recorded, so that any 'mis-statements' can be reviewed and addressed, so that statements made in Court are not later changed when it comes to a written Decision or Interlocuter!