Robert Graham was convicted of the attack on former Chief Accountant Leslie Cumming of the Law Society of Scotland. ROBERT GRAHAM (aged 46), an alleged ‘paid hitman’ who stood accused of an attempted ‘murder hit’ which took place in January 2006 at Murrayfield, Edinburgh against Leslie Cumming, the now former Chief Accountant of the Law Society of Scotland, was convicted today at the High Court in Edinburgh after a trial lasting nine days. Mr Graham was found guilty by a majority jury verdict and was remanded in custody to appear for sentencing on 15 December. Mr Graham was extradited back to Scotland from Australia last year to be charged with repeatedly striking Mr Cumming on the head and body with a knife or similar instrument to his severe injury, permanent disfigurement and to the danger of his life in the attack which took place six years ago.
The High Court heard earlier this week from Graham who denied attempting to murder the Law Society accountant, claiming he did not assault Mr Cumming, rather he intervened in the attack, (allegedly carried out by another party), to stop Mr Cumming getting “a bigger hiding”. During the accused’s testimony, Graham told the court he was born in Ireland as Paul Francis McGhee before emigrating to New Zealand at the age of nine but in Britain he called himself Robert Graham. The court also heard from a witness that Graham had confessed to a colleague that he had "done a judge in" and was paid £10,000 by a guy in a BMW to give him "a good working over".
The witness who told the court of the alleged boast by Graham, scaffolder Nicholas Wells said he started work at Wembley Stadium in January 2006 and Graham joined a few weeks later. In a statement to police, he said: "He told me around this time he had done a judge in in Edinburgh, having jumped out some bushes at him. I can recall him telling me the guy from the BMW paid him £10,000 to do the job and told him to give the guy a good working over." Mr Wells told the court he had been approached by the police at a site he was working on in Edinburgh in 2009. Asked if he had told them the truth, Wells replied: "As I remember it at the time." He added: "I was taking a lot of drugs at the time. I was taking a lot of sleeping tablets ... it is hard to remember it all clearly now."
The court heard that during the assault, Mr Cumming grasped the balaclava worn by the attacker in an attempt to pull it off while further DNA evidence was recovered from the Barbour jacket Mr Cumming was wearing at the time of the attack. Additional DNA material was taken from Mr Cumming before doctors treated his wounds, and the DNA was linked back to Graham in tests.
Forensic scientist Amanda Pirie, 39, told the High Court last Friday it had been a "full" match which was "as good as it gets" and left a one in a billion chance that it belonged to someone else. She added that another match had been made with DNA found on the jacket Mr Cumming was wearing when he was attacked. She said: "In our opinion the scientific findings from examination of the jacket and the left hand swabs are consistent with Robert Graham having assaulted Leslie Cumming as alleged."
At the conclusion of the trial today, John Logue, Area Procurator Fiscal for Lothian & Borders, said: “In 2006 Robert Graham targeted and tried to kill Leslie Cumming because he was paid to do so. Today, almost six years later, he has been found guilty of this vicious and cowardly attack after being extradited from Australia.”
Mr Logue continued : “He was brought to justice by the perseverance and diligence of officers in Lothian and Borders Police who tracked him down, assisted by Interpol and authorities in New Zealand and Australia. I hope that today’s successful prosecution will secure the confidence of the Scottish public that those who try to evade justice will be pursued and brought before the courts.”
Leslie Cumming, former Law Society of Scotland’s Chief Accountant. At the end of the trial, Mr Cumming commented : "The police perseverance and professionalism and the Crown Office input have been vital in securing the result. It's important to me that I got that closure and I just want to thank the members of the team who were involved in this complicated case for their efforts on my behalf. The actual event was horrific and bloody and having to explain to the court in such detail as we could recall at this time was traumatic for my wife and me. I hope now the trial is complete and the result is known that this nightmare has ended for us and we can get back to normal life."
Commenting after the majority verdict convicted Robert Graham of the attack on Mr Cumming, the Solicitor General for Scotland, Lesley Thomson QC, said : "He uses the name Robert Leiper Graham in this country and Paul Francis McGhee in New Zealand. The Crown is not in a position to say he is either of these people at this stage." Ms Thomson also said when Graham left New Zealand in 1999 there was an outstanding warrant out for him and that a notice had been served on him in a move to deport him from Britain.
Detective Chief Inspector Keith Hardie, of Lothian and Borders Police, said: "We welcome today's verdict which sends out a clear message that Lothian and Borders will quite literally pursue people to the other side of the world to bring them to court. He is a devious character, who has lived a lie for most of his adult life, and there were major concerns he would do his best to continue to evade justice."
However, the multi million pound investigation carried out by Lothian & Borders Police and the subsequent conviction of Robert Graham this week leaves more questions than answers over why the attack occurred in 2006, who allegedly paid Graham to carry our the attack and why Law Society of Scotland officials and a media outlet were so keen to pin the blame for the attack on critics & campaigners in a year where the Scottish Parliament had begun a major investigation into the Law Society of Scotland and its notoriously prejudiced closed shop handling of the regulation of crooked lawyers.
Over the years, insiders have claimed the Police have a good idea of exactly who ordered the attack on Mr Cumming, some even linking up the incident to other well reported frauds in Scotland which involved millions of pounds, well known crooked solicitors and a banker. However Lothian & Borders Police have said nothing officially on any of these claims.
The answer to the attack may well lie in Leslie Cumming's role with the Law Society of Scotland, where as its Deputy Chief Executive and Chief Accountant, Mr Cumming was in charge of teams of inspectors who audit the financial accounts of law firms to ensure compliance with the Law Society’s rules (rules to keep accounts, not rules to rip off clients as much as possible and undetected). Mr Cumming was also involved in disciplinary cases, of which there are many, many resulting in no criminal convictions where, for example a solicitor might make off with half a million pounds from a deceased’s client will, and get away with it, and be allowed to carry on working.
It is also noteworthy Mr Cumming in his role as Deputy Chief Executive played number two to the also now former Chief Executive Douglas Mill, who resigned in disgrace after a scandal involving the fiddling of Master Policy insurance claims against crooked lawyers which was exposed by the now Cabinet Secretary for Finance, John Swinney during a meeting of the Justice 2 Committee later the same year Cumming was attacked. The video footage of Mr Swinney’s exposure of Douglas Mill & the Law Society’s Master Policy fraudulent insurance fiddle scheme, can be viewed online HERE.
The conviction of Graham for the assault on Mr Cumming also closes the book on the Law Society’s attempt to fit-up critics & campaigners for the 2006 incident, where it was reported, senior Law Society officials had even provided statements to Police urging them to ‘collar’ persons the Law Society ‘did not get along with’.
Law Society of Scotland officials used Police, newspapers in attempt to link their critics to attack on Chief Accountant Leslie Cumming The Law Society of Scotland has of course, declined to explain why its senior officials gave private briefings to newspaper journalists just after the attack on Mr Cumming in late January of 2006, urging the publication of stories which were intended to pin the blame for the assault on Mr Cumming on critics & law reform campaigners who were seeking an end to self regulation of the legal profession (Cash laundering link to law chief stabbing, 29 January 2006, Scotland on Sunday). However, journalists at the time identified those at the Law Society who were involved in the private briefings & telephone calls to newspapers. Strangely, not one Law Society official was identified in the Scotland on Sunday story despite the highly charged accusations levelled against critics & law reform campaigners published in the paper.
A spokesperson for the Law Society of Scotland said of Mr Cumming : "He was a dedicated and popular member of staff and the attack was a great shock to his former colleagues. Leslie was determined not to let the attack stop him from living life to the full and he has done that in so many ways."
Like his former Boss, Douglas Mill who has a consultancy business, Leslie Cumming now runs his own consultancy business, Leslie Cumming Consultancy Services.
The trial of Robert Graham at the High Court in Edinburgh commenced on 7 November 2011 and last for 9 days. It was prosecuted by the Solicitor General for Scotland, Lesley Thomson QC, who was the Procurator Fiscal in the abandoned Fatal Accident Inquiry into the death of a young girl who was massively overdosed with radiation, the Crown Office made the usual claims “lessons will be learned”.
Mr Logue’s claims that those who try to evade justice will be pursued & brought before the courts apparently do not apply to lawyers who swindle millions of pounds from the legal aid budget each year in multiple frauds, as revealed by Diary of Injustice in an earlier report here : FOURTEEN lawyers accused of multi-million pound legal aid fraud escape justice as Scotland’s Crown Office fail to prosecute all cases in 5 years
In a double slap to Mr Logue’s contentions of what happens to those who evade justice, one of the FOURTEEN alleged legal aid fraudster lawyers who escaped prosecution by the Crown Office, was/is married to one of Mr Logue’s own Procurator Fiscal colleagues, reported here : Admissible Evidence ? Crown Office Prosecutor married to lawyer accused of legal aid fraud, both still working, Legal Aid Board ‘convinced of guilt’
Another of the fraudsters, who defrauded the Scottish Legal Aid Board of TWO MILLION POUNDS & committed suicide before being charged, was married to a Police Officer in training at Tulliallan Police College, who was, according to Scottish Government sources, due to pass out the same day her husband jumped in front of a train, reported here : Justice Secretary’s discredited defence for Crown Office in 14 legal aid fraud scandals as links between accused lawyers & Scots crime agencies emerge