Wednesday, October 31, 2012

CALLED TO THE BARS : Drink fuelled & ‘hate filled’ emails of MacAskill appointees ruined credibility of Scottish Legal Complaints Commission claim Govt insiders

SLCCAlready wounded over refusals to investigate complaints against corrupt lawyers, the SLCC became “a laughing stock" in email revelations. A DRINK FUELLED hate-filled rant between a now former Board member of the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission (SLCC) who was personally appointed by Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill, and a former Chief Executive who mysteriously resigned over ill health then turned up again at the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman has been identified by Scottish Government insiders as the spark which left the SLCC with no credibility as an impartial regulator or of Scottish solicitors.

The bizarre rants, attacking campaign groups and clients making financial damages claims against dodgy Scottish lawyers were written by Glasgow based divorce lawyer Margaret Scanlan OBE, then a Board member of the SLCC in 2008, to Eileen Masterman, the legal regulator’s third and most controversial Chief Executive who spent only a few months in the job before being accused of lying by Scotland’s Finance Secretary, John Swinney MSP, reported by Diary of Injustice here : Scottish Govt. Finance Chief John Swinney blasts Legal Complaints Commission as liars over secret meetings with Law Society insurers Marsh UK

In the bitter email exchanges, revealed after Freedom of Information requests were made by Diary of Injustice, Mrs Scanlan went on to single out a former complaints campaign group for special attention, demanding the SLCC give no recognition to such groups in a forthcoming investigation into the Law Society of Scotland’s Master Insurance Policy & Guarantee Fund, both of which have been roundly condemned as being “institutionally corrupt” by Consumer rights groups, submissions made to Scottish Parliament investigations and hundreds of clients who have ended up financially ruined as a result of involvement with the Scottish legal profession.

Mrs Scanlan also branded claimants to the notoriously corrupt Master Insurance Policy as “chancers”, yet a ground breaking investigation carried out by the University of Manchester’s law school later that same year in July 2009, linked the Law Society’s Master Policy with suicides of clients of solicitors who were involved in damages claims against the Master Policy compensation scheme after being financially ruined by their lawyers.

0011Margaret Scanlan was ‘on the razzle again’ while clients of ‘crooked lawyers’ burned. Yesterday, the Sunday Mail newspaper featured email correspondence obtained under Freedom of Information laws in which SLCC board member Margaret Scanlan, a solicitor with Russells Gibson McCaffrey in Glasgow, confessed to the Commission she was suffering from the effects of a hangover after being “'out on the razzle again last night”. Stunningly Scanlan in her emails then went on to tear apart consumers hopes the SLCC would fulfil its intended monitoring role of the ‘crooked lawyer compensation schemes, operated by the Law Society of Scotland, known as the Guarantee Fund & Master Insurance Policy which are designed to (but do not) protect consumers funds from crooked lawyers who steal money or mishandling client’s legal affairs.

Margaret Scanlan : “Was out on the razzle, again, last night so bit cross-eyed this morning. Please excuse any consequent gibberish. Here are my comments on Master Policy and Guarantee Fund…. The consultation should be viewed with some caution. It provides very little by way of a sound evidential basis for us to do anything…. One unidentified responded … reports complaints about difficulty in finding solicitors to pursue a claim under MP (Master Policy). Apart from fundamental misunderstandings about MP which is for benefit of practitioner and in respect of which consumer has no rights ..”

0012Margaret Scanlan condemns claimants against crooked lawyers as “chancers”. However, further emails from Margaret Scanlan have now emerged which depict the same Law Society style 'anti-consumer-anti-claims culture' operating at the supposedly independent Legal Complaints Commission, where Scanlan stunningly labels claimants to the Guarantee Fund as "chancers" indicating she may have personal knowledge of cases, despite the fact that claims to the Guarantee Fund are supposedly confidential.

Margaret Scanlan : "The only complaints I am aware of on the functioning and extent of the GF [Guarantee Fund] have come from corporate bodies eg lending Institutions whose claims have largely not been entertained on basis that is not what GF is for. This includes our friend **** (censored) whose cause is vigorously espoused by **** (censored) but is a complete chancer in my opinion."

Today, a senior source in the Scottish Government’s Justice Department claimed the revelations which ended up in the media, “revealed the regulator’s institutional contempt for members of the public who make complaints against crooked lawyers”. The source also went on to criticise the Justice Secretary himself for allowing the legal profession to dictate terms on a daily basis as to how the supposedly “independent” SLCC investigate complaints made by clients of poorly performing Scottish solicitors.

However, the anti-client culture at the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission did not end with just one board member, a fact revealed in continuing investigations by Diary of Injustice after sources within the SLCC leaked details of bitter meetings where consumers, campaign groups, individuals and clients of well known corrupt lawyers were openly slated and derided by the highly remunerated Board members who were taking hundreds of pounds a day in expenses claims.

Further revelations revealing the strongly anti-client, anti- consumer views of the SLCC’s board emerged again in 2010 after Scotland’s then Information Commissioner, Kevin Dunion, ordered the release of further bitter email exchanges showing David Smith, husband of Court of Session Judge Lady Smith, who regularly branded victims of crooked lawyers as “frequent flyers” in emails the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission fought to keep the public from reading. Diary of Injustice reported on Mr Dunion’s decision and the scandal surrounding Mr Smith’s treatment of victims of rogue lawyers in an article here : FOI Chief Dunion orders Scottish Legal Complaints Commission to release board member’s anti-client jibes, Master Policy study details

Frequent Flyers SLCCSLCC’s David Smith expressed anti-client jibes in emails around the anti-consumer law complaints quango. Among the papers ordered to be disclosed in a decision published late last week by Mr Dunion are emails containing anti-client jibes from one of the SLCC’s board members, David Smith who was personally appointed to the SLCC by Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill. Mr Smith, a lawyer who served much of his career at law firm Shepherd & Wedderburn, who themselves often act for the Master Policy in protection of questionable solicitors against negligence claims, referred to participants in the Master Policy survey & deceased clients who had committed suicide as a direct result of involvement with the Master Policy, as “Frequent flyers”, a term (among many unprintable) apparently widely used among SLCC Board members & staff against anyone who submits complaints against solicitors.

A Justice Department insider condemned the use of such language, describing the words used in the email written by Smith as “being filled with hate for people who complain about their lawyers”. He further commented : “No wonder the SLCC fought against the Information Commissioner to keep it from public gaze as this depicts a very anti-client culture permeating the entire board of the SLCC.”

David Smith, Margaret Scanlan and Eileen Masterman are of course no longer at the SLCC, yet attempts to re-float the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission since the media revelations of how badly it views members of the public have consistently failed, with most people forced to deal with the prejudiced regulator ending up viewing the SLCC as little more than “a front company for the legal profession to put complaints against their members to bed”.

Eileen Masterman resigned from the SLCC, receiving a huge payoff personally backed by Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill, reported exclusively by Diary of Injustice here : HUSH & MONEY : Former SLCC law complaints Chief Executive Eileen Masterman received secret Scottish Government approved payoff in deal with lawyers. After allegedly being too ill to work, Ms Masterman went back to work for the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman, her new position exposed after allegations of a whitewash by the SPSO and a hospital over the death of a baby, reported here Deputy First Minister to look into death of baby McKenzie Wallace after parents complain of ‘whitewash’ report by SPSO investigator Eileen Masterman

The Sunday Mail newspaper reported on the anti-consumer views of the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission as follows

Margaret Scanlan - Called to the Bars - Sunday Mail  15 March 2009 emailCalled to the Bars : Top lawyer admits talking gibberish at work due to hangover

Mar 15 2009 By David Taylor

A TOP legal watchdog admitted to her boss she was talking gibberish - because of a hangover. Lawyer Margaret Scanlan made the confession in a email which described herself as "cross-eyed" after a night on the tiles.

Scanlan was appointed to her job in the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission by anti-booze crusader Kenny MacAskill. She wrote: "Was out on the razzle, again, last night so bit cross-eyed this morning. Please excuse any consequent gibberish."

Divorce lawyer Scanlan sent the lengthy email at 11.30am one day in November last year to watchdog chief Eileen Masterman. It was also copied to Alan Paterson, a law professor at Strathclyde University.

Campaigner Peter Cherbi, who champions legal and consumer issues, said: "This is not the sort of service the people of Scotland deserve. "It's not very good conduct for people who are supposed to be in some of the most respectable positions in the legal profession."

Scanlan was hand picked by Justice Secretary MacAskill as one of five lawyers to serve on the SLCC - a "one-stop shop" for complaints against lawyers. MacAskill plans to enforce mimimum prices for drink to combat alcoholism and drink-related problems.

The SLCC was set up by the Scottish Government to "modernise the legal complaints" system and ensure gripes are resolved quickly and effectively. It was formed after complaints that self-regulation by the Law Society of Scotland often protected crooked lawyers through cronyism.

Scanlan's email - about an insurance policy to cover solicitors' mistakes and misuse of clients' cash - was released to legal reform campaigners through a Freedom of Information request. The request also released emails from Scanlan attacking outspoken legal reform group Scotland Against Crooked Lawyers.

In one email, she wrote: "I would prefer that we not give any recognition to SACL. "I do not see why we have to name them even if we are bound to engage with them. "Their website is offensive and so far as I am aware no reputable organisations has anything to do with them"

Scanlan is a specialist in family law at Glasgow-based Russells Gibson McCaffrey.

She has also tutored in family law at Glasgow Caledonian University and was deputy chair of the Scottish Legal Aid Board between 1997 and 2007. She was also director of the Legal Defence Union between 1998 and 2002. She earns £350 a day plus expenses for her work with the SLCC.

When asked about the emails, Scanlan told us: "I have nothing to say."

Saturday, October 27, 2012

£8 MILLION of YOUR MONEY spent on ‘BULLY BOY’ agents as papers to MSP reveal Accountant in Bankruptcy secretly seize benefits of disabled, trashing lives of Scots on the brink

Accountant in Bankruptcy KilwinningPlush offices of Kilwinning based Accountant in Bankruptcy, who target disabled benefits cash. AT THE END of a week when the Scottish Government announced there have been 4,063 personal insolvencies in the past year, it may well come as a surprise to learn that papers now in the hands of MSPs and an MP, reveal that Scotland's Accountant in Bankruptcy (AIB) is conveniently looking the other way while its highly paid, ‘bully boy’ agents routinely seize Scots benefits cash in attempts to force unnecessary payments out of even the long term sick and disabled victims of the current recession.

It can also be revealed the same ‘bully-boy’ firms of private accountants who go on to seize the bank accounts of sequestrated individuals, are being paid millions of pounds of public money by the AIB to do it, and when victims are forced to complain about their benefits being withheld, contrary to laws put in place to prevent this, the Accountant in Bankruptcy and their agents refuse to allow external investigations by banking & finance regulators.

Journalists from Diary of Injustice who have been looking into this huge bankruptcy scam on the public purse, recently made Freedom of Information requests to the Accountant in Bankruptcy, asking for details of expenditures of public money on private accountants acting as the AIB’s “agents” and the numbers of complaints made against each of the AIB’s agents.

In it’s response. the Accountant in Bankruptcy revealed that at least EIGHT MILLION POUNDS of taxpayers cash (£8,021,756.62) has already been spent on private accountants working for the already overstaffed multi million pound budgeted public body in charge of sequestrations. The AIB have also revealed a litany of complaints made against its agents but it refused to release any details of the actual complaints and confirm whether matters were in fact resolved.

The AIB ‘s FOI response, available to view online HERE, states :

I can confirm that Armstrong Watson is one of those Providers. Since the commencement of this contract in April 2009, until 31 March 2012, Armstrong Watson has been paid £1,051,627.12 for the administration of cases on behalf of The Accountant in Bankruptcy. To date they have been allocated 2062 cases. I can confirm that there have been 11 complaints made to AiB in respect of Armstrong Watson, from 1 April 2009 to date, 2 August 2012.

I can confirm that Hastings & Co are one of those Providers. Since the commencement of this contract in April 2009, until 31 March 2012, Hastings & Co have been paid £608,605.96 for the administration of cases on behalf of The Accountant in Bankruptcy. To date they have been allocated 1040 cases. I can confirm that there have been 8 complaints made to AiB in respect of Hastings & Co, from 1 April 2009 to date, 2 August 2012.

I can confirm that Invocas is one of those Providers. Since the commencement of this contract in April 2009, until 31 March 2012, Invocas has been paid £284,346.77 for the administration of cases on behalf of The Accountant in Bankruptcy. To date they have been allocated 875 cases. I can confirm that there have been 6 complaints made to AiB in respect of Invocas, from 1 April 2009 to date, 2 August 2012.

I can confirm that KPMG is one of those Providers. Since the commencement of this contract in April 2009, until 31 March 2012, KPMG has been paid £3,706,744.79 for the administration of cases on behalf of The Accountant in Bankruptcy. To date they have been allocated 6585 cases. I can confirm that there have been 28 complaints made to AiB in respect of KPMG, from 1 April 2009 to date, 2 August 2012.

I can confirm that Miller McIntyre & Gellatly (now mmg archbold) is one of those Providers. Since the commencement of this contract in April 2009, until 31 March 2012, MMG have been paid £303,745.48 for the administration of cases on behalf of The Accountant in Bankruptcy. To date they have been allocated 710 cases. I can confirm that there has been 1 complaint made to AiB in respect of MMG, from 1 April 2009 to date, 2 August 2012.

Since the commencement of this contract in April 2009, until 31 March 2012, Wylie & Bisset have been paid £2,066,686.50, for the administration of cases on behalf of The Accountant in Bankruptcy. To date they have been allocated 3703 cases. I can confirm that there have been 18 complaints made to AiB in respect of Wylie & Bisset, from 1 April 2009 to date, 27 July 2012.

After looking into cases brought to the attention of Diary of Injustice, it has now been confirmed several of the firms identified in the above FOI response have been subject to serious complaints relating to how sequestrations have been handled, including matters involving the freezing of bank accounts and access to state funds.

Papers relating to one such case now in the hands of Perth MSP John Park confirm that agents acting on behalf of the Accountant in Bankruptcy have blocked access to disability benefits payments made to individuals who have suffered sequestration under highly questionable circumstances, for up to SEVEN MONTHS at a time.

The case being handled by MSP Mr Park, involves a Mr William Gordon of Perth who’s plight has previously been reported by the Herald newspaper, online law news websites and Diary of Injustice, featuring the case here :

An investigation of Mr Gordon’s case on Scots law website Scottish Law Reporter identified a firm Glasgow accountants, Wylie & Bisset who have been acting for the Accountant in Bankruptcy against Mr Gordon.

The Herald newspaper & Scottish Law Reporter have previously reported that Wylie & Bisset, who have been paid a whopping TWO MILLION POUNDS of public money to act for the AIB in sequestration cases, had also attempted to seize Mr Gordon's home  (which he does not own) and the home of an unrelated family in another town in order to pay off questionable debts claimed by a Perth based law firm, Kippen Campbell.

Diary of Injustice has previously reported on Mr Gordon’s case, after Kippen Campbell decided to bankrupt Mr Gordon, their former client, over a fees dispute, even though documents produced to the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission revealed Kippen Campbell had left their client on the doorstep of the Court of Session without legal representation after a long battle to bring a personal injury claim.

It has shockingly turned out that since the last report on Mr Gordon’s case, where his accounts were unfrozen, the agents acting for the AIB along with Lloyds TSB, Mr Gordon's bank, froze his accounts again, and have since refused to offer any explanation for their conduct.

Earlier this week, Diary of Injustice was handed copies of papers now in the hands of John Park MSP, and the SNP’s Pete Wishart MP at Westminster, which show the AIB’s agents, Wylie & Bisset have even refused requests from the Financial Ombudsman to investigate complaints made about the case by Mr Gordon, a move which suggests private firms acting on behalf of the Accountant in Bankruptcy are effectively unregulated, and can do as they please to victims of the credit crunch, brought about by the antics of corrupt, greedy bankers & their colleagues.

Speaking to Diary of Injustice yesterday (Friday), an official with one of Scotland’s Consumer protection bodies condemned the treatment of Mr Gordon and others at the hands of the AIB.

She said : “It is a disgrace that firms of private accountants who are apparently being paid millions of pounds of public money by the AIB are freezing benefits payments made to the sick & disabled and those who can ill afford any further expenditure after being made bankrupt.”

She added that the matter was so serious it must be raised in discussions with a view to making amendments to the coming Bankruptcy Bill, proposed by the SNP to be brought before the Scottish Parliament at a later date.

After Mr Gordon’s plight became public, Diary of Injustice received numerous emails from individuals caught in similar circumstances where agents acting for the AIB have also blocked access to state benefits payments, in what appears to be a popular policy of holding the poorest in society to ransom, in an effort to extort unnecessary payments back to the AIB’s agents who are already raking in millions of pounds of taxpayers money.

No one from the Accountant in Bankruptcy has answered or explained why it has not acted over complaints about bully boy tactics by its own agents in cases where bank accounts and state benefits payments to victims of disabilities have been frozen for such long periods of time.

If you have encountered difficulties with the Accountant in Bankruptcy or their agents, please let us know via Anyone in such a situation should also ask for help from their MSP, in the light of the planned new legislation on bankruptcies in the Scottish Parliament.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

In-Court advice centres in the dock as Scottish Legal Aid Board negotiate deal with Hamilton CAB team who sent clients to crooked lawyers posing as dead lawyers

Gilbert Anderson lawyer gets paid by us refers to O'Donnell Sunday Mail 20 May 2012Hamilton In Court Advice Service suspended after media reports of dodgy dealings funded by taxpayers. MEDIA REPORTS of ‘dodgy dealings’ at a Scottish Government funded In-Court advice service based at Hamilton Sheriff Court, where members of the public in desperate need of legal advice have been passed onto crooked lawyers posing as dead lawyers, have apparently led to the suspension of the Citizens Advice administered service while negotiations for new funding take place with the Scottish Legal Aid Board, according to claims made late last week to Diary of Injustice.

The Scottish Legal Aid Board (SLAB) who are in charge of the funding, acknowledged there are on-going negotiations with Hamilton Citizens Advice Bureau over the service. However, a spokesperson for SLAB refused to comment on the status of the current In-Court advice team based at Hamilton, claiming instead that “No public funds are released to projects before they agree to the terms and conditions set by the Board.”

Exclusive  Dodgy Lawyer back at it - Sunday Mail 22 April 2012Investigation revealed Citizens Advice scheme sends consumers to a crooked lawyer posing as dead lawyer. The Sunday Mail newspaper earlier reported on shady goings on at Hamilton In Court advice service, where its employee, Gilbert S Anderson, had been reported to CAB Managers for recommending clients to notorious solicitor John G O’Donnell, who is known to have been rebuked many times by the Law Society of Scotland and even placed on suspension. More on the Sunday Mail investigation can be found here : Crooked lawyer impersonates DEAD COLLEAGUE to lure clients in fraud scam as Law Society of Scotland’s self regulation of solicitors fails yet again

Although Hamilton CAB sought to deny all allegations of impropriety on Mr Anderson’s behalf, the explanations offered by Citizens Advice chiefs did not stand up to scrutiny, and ran counter to evidence provided by victims whose legal interests now appear to have been severely harmed by persons working for the In Court advice service, a matter reported by Diary of Injustice here : Taxpayer funded Court adviser who sent widow to crooked lawyer ‘off the hook’ as Hamilton Citizens Advice Chiefs close ranks with Law Society.

Speaking to Diary of Injustice, a spokesperson for the Scottish Legal Aid Board denied funding had been withdrawn from Hamilton In Court advice service over the media reports relating to Anderson & O’Donnell, instead citing a new application made by Hamilton CAB for fresh public funding.

A spokesperson for the Scottish Legal Aid Board said : “The Board has not withdrawn funding for Hamilton Citizens Advice Bureau’s In-Court Advice Project based at Hamilton Sheriff Court. Funding for all projects taking part in the Board’s first programme of grant funding ended on 30 September.

“Hamilton CAB has made an application for funding through the new grant funding programme. We are currently in discussions about what we will fund and how our funding will be managed to deliver appropriate services at Hamilton Sheriff Court. The Board recognises the need for an advice service at Hamilton Sheriff Court and is committed to ensuring suitable provision is in place.”

“The Board monitors the performance of every project taking part in the grant funding programme, including checks that the project work follows established procedures and focuses on the remit agreed as part of the project agreement. Any failure to properly manage a project could be a breach of the Board’s funding.”

Letterhead of dodgy law firm revealed Gilbert Anderson’s name as an associate yet Hamilton CAB claimed otherwise. Mrs Campbell wrote in her complaint how Anderson hoped John O’Donnell (posing as Colin Davidson) would be able to lift a large fee from the vulnerable widow : “On the Client Record Sheet produced by Mr Anderson (which I found in Davidson Fraser’s file) it clearly states on two separate occasions that he would endeavour to recommend a Legal Aid Solicitor to me. Also, on the back of this Client Record Sheet is a handwritten note “possibly in my mind a cash for Colin £3000”. I have enclosed a copy of this Record – the original is with Elaine Motion who is acting the the Law Society.” The continuing saga of how Hamilton Citizens Advice tried to cover up serious failings in its In-Court advice service can be read here : HERE

Diary of Injustice pressed the Scottish Legal Aid Board for further information, given the seriousness of the allegations made against the In Court advisers at Hamilton, only to be told : “As we are still in discussions regarding what we will fund and how our funding will be managed to deliver appropriate services at Hamilton Sheriff Court it is not possible to comment on an undefined project. No public funds are released to projects before they agree to the terms and conditions set by the Board.”

Hamilton Citizens Advice and Citizens Advice Scotland were both contacted over the matter, however neither chose to respond to queries as to why the In Court advice service had been shutdown or whether the present In-Court advisers would continue in their roles.

However, a legal insider told Diary of Injustice the matter had been handled “stupidly” by Citizens Advice officials who he claimed “are not keen to talk about the Anderson-O’Donnell connection”.

The insider also criticised the lack of vetting undertaken by the Scottish Legal Aid Board of persons who are acting as In-Court advisers, a service which has been branded by some as “a publicly funded rehab for crooked lawyers”

The latest annual report of the Scottish Legal Aid Board reveals the Scottish Government handed over some THREE MILLION POUNDS of taxpayers money to fund the In-Court advice service across Scotland,

SLAB’s 2011 annual report states : In 2009, the Scottish Government made an additional £3 million available  to the Board, up to the end of 2010-2011, to help people  who need advice as a result of the economic downturn. Since then, the  Board has used this funding to :

-  provide grant funding of 16 projects to provide advice and representation services across Scotland
-  employ solicitors in Highland and Islands, Argyll and Bute, Edinburgh and Aberdeen to provide legal services
to people in need, particularly those facing repossession and other problems such as debt; and provide second tier advice to In-Court Advice projects and others
-  fund the 8 In-Court Advice projects across Scotland.
The success of these initiatives enabled us to  develop proposals  that generated support from the  Scottish Government for the continued funding of activities in 2011-2012.

However there is little by way of independent surveys of the service, or any believable reports of substantive successes of the publicly funded In-Court advisory scheme, leading to questions of whether the money is being wisely spent, or has become as some now see it, just another publicly funded subsidy for Scotland’s profit hungry legal profession and their colleagues.

Questions therefore remain as to why a publicly funded project involving millions of pounds of taxpayers money which is regularly referred to by the Scottish Government as a tool to provide ‘access to justice’,  is allowing its staff to recommend dodgy lawyers posing as dead lawyers to members of the public who are often desperately in need of legal advice & assistance.

If you have experiences of dealings with In-Court advisers at Hamilton Sheriff Court, or any other Sheriff Court across Scotland, Diary of Injustice would like to hear from you. Email us more details via

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Scots Legal Aid ‘a £161Million public subsidy for legal profession’ as EU report reveals judges salaries & lawyers legal aid claims come before public's access to justice

Scottish justice in the Dock - Sunday Mail 30 September 2012EU report reveals Scots justice is more about lawyers & judges making money than delivering justice. A REPORT published by the European Commission for the Efficiency of Justice and featured in an article in Scotland’s Sunday Mail newspaper has revealed Scottish lawyers take tens of millions of pounds more in publicly funded legal aid representing the Scots population of just over five million people than lawyers working Italy, which has a population of sixty million, twelve times greater than that of Scotland.

The figures show that Scots lawyers ‘earned’ around ONE HUNDRED & SIXTY MILLION POUNDS of legal aid in 2010 while their Italian counterparts working for a much larger client base only took £100million, making the Scots legal aid bill, running at a cost of £31 a head, the most expensive in Europe in terms of population. The grim figures show that Scots legal aid is working out at a cost of £31 a head, with little in the way of access to justice to show for it.

The report, available on the EU website HERE (pdf) or online here : The European Commission for the Efficiency of Justice Report on Evaluation of European Judicial Systems also reveals Scots judges are paid the highest in Europe with Scottish Sheriffs taking home an average taxpayer funded salary of a staggering £120,000, while others on Scotland’s judicial benches take up to £200,000 a year plus expenses.

The eye watering figures show Scottish judges are earning up to 5.2 times the average salary of workers in Scotland, even though our justice system, both criminal & civil is now internationally famed as little more than a complete mess, branded a justice system akin to a Banana Republic by Hans Kochler, the UN Observer to the Lockerbie Trial.

Scotland’s civil justice system has also come in for repeated criticism in the 2009 Civil Courts Review, being described by the current Lord President, Lord Gill, in a speech reproduced in full here  as unfit for purpose, “Victorian”, out of date and that it is “failing society” yet despite Lord Gill’s attack on the credibility of Scots justice, little real reform has taken place in the past four years since he made his scathing remarks.

Among other issues covered, the EU report confirms there is a significant failure of self regulation of Scotland’s legal profession, where the report showed that Scotland disciplined only a handful of lawyers compared to countries of similar size, reporting that only three solicitors were struck off and thirteen reprimanded in 2010 while Denmark, a country with a similar population to Scotland took action against 309 lawyers, striking off six while another 145 were fined. Even Finland, with a similar sized population to Scotland manage to sanction 99 lawyers, leaving no doubt Scotland’s lawyers get away with looking after their own too much.

Here is the Sunday Mail's feature on how the Scots legal system is failing society, milking hundreds of millions of pounds of publicly funded legal aid while our judges take home huge salaries for presiding over our crumbling courts system … inescapable facts which show Scots justice does not translate into increased access to justice for ordinary Scots.

Scottish justice in the Dock - Sunday Mail 30 September 2012SCOTTISH JUSTICE IN THE DOCK : Scotland's lawyers earn more from Legal Aid than whole of Italy, shock report reveals

By Russell Findlay Sunday Mail 30 September 2012

THE European Commission report reveals that Legal Aid in Scotland cost 203million euros (£161million) in 2010 - more than in Italy, which has a population of 61million.

SCOTS lawyers collected more taxpayers’ cash for Legal Aid than their counterparts in Italy – a country 12 times the size.

A European Commission report reveals that Legal Aid in Scotland cost 203million euros (£161million) in 2010 – around 39 euros, or £31, for every one of our 5.2million people.

Lawyers in Italy, which has a population of 61million, got just £100million of public cash – £1.50 per person.

The 450-page Brussels report also found that Denmark, with 5.6million people, paid its lawyers only 88million euros (£70million).

And in Belgium – population 10.9million – legal aid cost 75million euros (£59million).

The revelations, in a 450-page report by the European Commission for the Efficiency of Justice – came as the Scottish Legal Aid Board banned three lawyers from claiming cash for criminal cases.

We can reveal that Gerard Tierney, Massimo D’Alvito and Andrew Brophy, of Blantyre, Lanarkshire, breached the board’s code of practice. Tierney and D’Alvito have been reported to the Crown Office, who will decide whether to prosecute.

The ban also extends to Tierney’s firm G Tierney & Co, of Auchinleck, Ayrshire, who have raked in £610,500 in Legal Aid over three years, and Edinburgh firm Massimo D’Alvito Defence Lawyers.

The European report looked at 47 criminal justice systems across the continent.

It found the cost per person of Legal Aid in Scotland was third-highest – behind only Northern Ireland and England and Wales. The cost per person was 53.5 euros in Northern Ireland and 45.7 euros in England and Wales.

The findings led to calls for a radical overhaul of Legal Aid.

Central Ayrshire Labour MP Brian Donohoe said: “It seems major organised criminals and terror suspects qualify for unlimited Legal Aid, yet I have constituents who don’t get a penny simply because they have a few thousand pounds of savings.

“The system in Scotland and the rest of the UK is out of control.”

Legal blogger Peter Cherbi added: “Legal Aid is no longer about access to justice for the poor, but a state subsidy for the legal profession – and one they don’t seem keen on talking about.”

The Sunday Mail has exposed a series of rogue lawyers banned from claiming Legal Aid. But none of the 14 reported to prosecutors was put in the dock, prompting claims that Scotland’s legal self-regulation system protects lawyers.

Kilmarnock solicitor Niels Lockhart, who took £600,000 in Legal Aid in just two years, was found to have made “unnecessary and excessive” claims. The Legal Aid board withdrew their complaint to the Law Society after he agreed to stop claiming.

Reacting to the Brussels report, the Scottish Legal Aid Board said: “Across Europe, there are substantial differences between judicial systems and very different approaches to the provision of legal aid and its cost.

“The Scottish system is highly regarded internationally for the efforts made to ensure access to justice.

“The Scottish Government’s budget allocation for the Legal Aid Fund has reduced significantly in 2011-12 and is planned to reduce further in future years.”

Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill hopes to cut the Legal Aid bill by making criminals pay some of their costs. The planned move, outlined in a Holyrood Bill, could save taxpayers around £3.9million.

• The Euro study showed that Scotland disciplined a tiny number of lawyers compared to countries of similar size.

Just three were struck off and 13 reprimanded in Scotland in 2010.

Denmark, with a similar population, took action against 309 lawyers, with six struck off and 145 fined. And in Finland, also close in size, 99 rogue solicitors were sanctioned.

Critics blame the Law Society of Scotland’s dual role of representing lawyers while also acting as regulator.

• A large proportion of alleged criminals reported to prosecutors in Scotland are not being put in the dock.

Of 265,830 cases sent to the Crown Office, only 41.7 per cent were brought to court. In England and Wales, 90.6 per cent of all cases resulted in court action.

The difference is thought to be partly due to Scotland’s recent introduction of spot fines and fiscal fines for what the authorities insist are more minor offences.

Critics claim such fines lead to a secret justice system.

• The report reveals that Scotland’s sheriffs top the European pay league.

Researchers compared the wages of lower court judges across Europe.

Our sheriffs, with an average salary of 150,106 euros (£120,000), were number one, ahead of the Irish and Swiss.

Next were sheriffs’ counterparts in England and Wales, who were paid 120,998 euros (£95,000).

Not only were sheriffs the highest-paid, they also topped the table comparing their earnings to the national average. They earned 5.2 times the average Scot’s wage.