Sunday, June 02, 2013

‘Judicial Independence’ gives vested interests, tax dodging, rich judges an immunity from transparency says top judge as Lord Gill refuses to answer MSPs questions over register of judicial interests

Judicial Immunity from transparency - Lord Gill will not answer questions over judge’s financial interests. SCOTLAND’S top judge, Lord President Lord Brian Gill has again refused to attend the Scottish Parliament to answer questions from MSPs who are considering the issues of judicial transparency raised in Petition PE1458: Register of Interests for members of Scotland's judiciary, filed by Scots law journalist Peter Cherbi.

The petition, which has caused several run-ins with Lord Gill, who was previously viewed as more open to change in the justice system, calls on the Scottish Parliament to legislate for a requirement that all members of the Judiciary in Scotland to submit their interests & hospitality received to a publicly available Register of Interests.

The latest letter from Lord Gill to the Convener of the Public Petitions Committee, David Stewart MSP, which is dated 28 May 2013, cites issues of “constitutional principle” and the “independence of the judiciary” as reasons for Lord Gill’s refusal to attend the PPC to give evidence on judge’s interests and provide details on how the current system of judges recusing themselves operates in Scotland. The response from the Lord President also fails to answer questions now put twice to the Lord President, asking for statistical information on how the system of judges recusing themselves operates.

Again, the Lord President sidestepped all the questions from MSPs and merely stated “The Lord President has been responsible for matters concerning the conduct of judicial office holders since April 2010. During that period there has been no case in which a judge has been found guilty of misconduct for a failure to recuse.”

Lord Gill has now been asked twice by MSPs to provide information on how many judges have been recused and whether there is more detailed evidence on the effectiveness of the current system. Clearly these are not questions Scotland’s top judge can or is willing to provide answers to, raising serious questions over the honesty and integrity of Scotland’s judiciary.

Lord Gill went on to cite the Scotland Act, reminding MSPs they may not require a judge to attend proceedings for the purposes of giving evidence, claiming the missing part of the Scotland Act was not a loophole, rather a protection mechanism for protecting the independence of the judiciary from politicians. However, many will see this as a mechanism for covering the backs of the unelected judiciary who are bitterly resisting transparency and hold such power they can easily strike down legislation with one mere comment or opinion in court.

In an attempt to placate his stubborn position on the protection of judges vast secret & financial interests, as well as records of criminal convictions including Benefits Cheating, Lord Gill again cited an EU report which itself has been prepared and written by judges who have a vested interest in preventing any register of judicial interests going ahead. The report,which Lord Gill and the Scottish judiciary are relying on to keep their dirty linen secret, is available here : GRECO FOURTH EVALUATION ROUND Corruption prevention in respect of members of Parliament, Judges and Prosecutors.

Lord Gill conveniently left out of his letter to the PPC Committee Convener, any references to his judicial colleagues who had signed up to be interviewed to complete the EU report, rather than attending the Scottish Parliament to answer questions on their own secretive financial interests.

Lord Gill ended his letter by offering to meet the Committee Convener in private to discuss the constitutional implications of the Public Petitions Committee’s invitation. The irony of Scotland’s to judge holding secret meetings to discuss a call for transparency within the judiciary will not be lost on legal observers to this on-going battle over the hidden secrets of Scotland’s judges.

Lord Gill’s letter to the Convener of the Public Petitions Committee David Stewart MSP, in full :

Lord Gill’s second refusal to answer questions on judges secret & financial interests PUBLIC PETITION PE1458

Thank you for your letter of 18 April 2013. I regret that I again have to decline your committee's invitation to appear before it. I do so for reasons of constitutional principle. I intend no discourtesy to your committee.

Judges have from time to time given evidence to committees of the Scottish Parliament on matters that affect the administration of justice in Scotland. I hope that that has been helpful in the legislative process. Judicial participation in the work of the committees must however be kept within prudent limits.

Section 23(7) of the Scotland Act provides inter alia that the Parliament may not require a judge to attend its proceedings for the purposes of giving evidence. This is not a loophole. It is a necessary part of the constitutional settlement by which the Parliament is established. Its purpose is to protect the independence of the judiciary, a vital constitutional principle that is declared in section 1 of the Judiciary and Courts (Scotland) Act 2008.

When a committee invites a judge to give evidence before it, I have to decide whether the subject matter might infringe the principle of judicial independence; and whether the evidence required could be satisfactorily given in writing.

In my correspondence with you I have set out carefully why I believe that a register of interests for the judiciary is both unnecessary and unworkable. I have directed you to an independent scrutiny of the judiciary in the United Kingdom that has on two occasions considered and rejected the need for such a register. I have also directed you to the decision of the United Kingdom Government to accept that finding, and to the decision of the United Kingdom Supreme Court not to create a register. That I think, is as much useful evidence as I am in a position to give on the subject; but if there is any further information that you feel would be relevant and helpful to the committee, please let me know and I will consider the matter further.

In your letter you have asked whether any central record has been kept of failures by judges to recuse themselves. The Lord President has been responsible for matters concerning the conduct of judicial office holders since April 2010. During that period there has been no case in which a judge has been found guilty of misconduct for a failure to recuse.

If you would find it helpful I would be pleased to meet with you to discuss the constitutional implications of the Committee's invitation.

Lord Gill earlier refused to attend the Petitions Committee to discuss issues raised in Petition PE1458, reported here : Scotland’s top judge Lord Gill refuses to attend Scottish Parliament to face questions over opposition to register of judicial interests

Diary of Injustice reported on an earlier meeting of the Petitions Committee on 5th March 2013 where MSPs initially invited Lord Gill to attend Holyrood, here : SILENCE IN COURT : Scotland’s top judge Lord Gill summoned to Parliament over ‘vested interests’ attempt to block Register of Judicial Interests petition and video footage of that earlier meeting is also available online here : Petition PE1458 Register of Judges Interests 5 March 2013 Scottish Parliament.

All previous reports from Diary of Injustice and further information on the drive to create a register of interests for Scotland’s judiciary can be viewed here : A Register of Interests for Scotland's Judiciary

A full report on the story along with details of judges jet setting around the world, and support from the Judicial Complaints Reviewer Moi Ali for the register of interests proposal, can be viewed in the Sunday Mail newspaper today HERE


Courts Judges Scotland montagePetition PE01458: Register of Interests for members of Scotland's judiciary calls for the Scottish Parliament to urge the Scottish Government to create a Register of Pecuniary Interests of Judges Bill (as is currently being considered in New Zealand's Parliament) or amend present legislation to require all members of the Judiciary in Scotland to submit their interests & hospitality received to a publicly available Register of Interests. Diary of Injustice has featured coverage of the petition in earlier reports, Register of Interests for Judges.

The petition also features references to debate in the Parliament of New Zealand who are considering legislation to create a register of interests for the judiciary. It is time for Scotland to move in the same direction and create a similar register of interests for the judiciary of Scotland and all its members, increasing the transparency of the judiciary and ensuring public confidence in their actions & decisions.

The full details of the New Zealand Register of Pecuniary Interests of Judges Bill, should be looked at for a model of similar legislation in Scotland, can be viewed online here  Register of Pecuniary Interests of Judges Bill.

The New Zealand Law Commission’s discussion paper on a register of judicial interests which recommends further inclusion of court staff in a register of interests, can be downloaded here : NZLC IP21 - Towards a New Courts Act: A Register of Judges pecuniary interests? (pdf)

In comparison to New Zealand’s effort to ensure transparency in the judiciary, Scotland’s judges and the Scottish Government have, unsurprisingly backed away from any similar measures, even concealing criminal charges and convictions of Scottish judges, where in one case a Scottish judge was charged with fiddling benefits claims, exposed in a Diary of Injustice investigation into Judge’s financial fiddles, here : CAREER CROOKED : Investigation reveals Scottish judges are CONVICTED CRIMINALS, Drunk Drivers,Tax Dodgers & alleged BENEFITS CHEATS

The on-going investigation by Diary of Injustice into members of Scotland’s judiciary has already revealed a series of judges appear to be involved in OFFSHORE TAX AVOIDANCE schemes, associations with convicted criminals & organised crime, prostitution rackets, accepting hospitality & payments from well known corrupt solicitors representing dodgy law firms while others on the bench are engaging in questionable investments & duties which appear to be in conflict with their positions as members of the judiciary. More on these findings can be read 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


Anonymous said...

Gill should be removed from his job.

Anonymous said...

This judge must be bonkers trying to argue against a register of interests in the wake of all this stuff about mps in London caught taking money in the lobbying scandal but at least Westminster have said today they are going to bring in a lobbyists register instead of this wig telling us he and his judge chums dont need to be transparent

Cabinet minister Francis Maude promises action after lobbying scandal
The Government will bring in a statutory register of lobbyists and give voters the powers to sack disgraced MPs, Cabinet minister Francis Maude has said.

Anonymous said...

“constitutional principle” and the “independence of the judiciary”

allows judges to be benefits cheats tax dodgers and do things like this

Anonymous said...

Gill must be the most anti client member of the Judiciary by his own inaction. I mean we know now his Civil Courts Review was never intended to become a reality. Now he wants more judicial cover up. No surprises about this.

Anonymous said...

The same people who defend stuff like this as the same sycophants who defend politicians and lawyers on the take - They will show up soon to defend their idol Lord Gill and his merry men of the Scottish judiciary vested interests club

Anonymous said...

Yes I have been reading this today in the Sunday Mail,very good and glad to see the newspapers standing up for openness instead of these judges who want to keep their millions and other interests secret.

You know what the most scary thing is though ? This judge doesn't care about what the rest of us think of him or his kind and that is why he is writing the way he is because he can get away with it and obstructing a proper inquiry as he is doing by refusing to show up and answer the questions in public instead of the usual back room offer of a quick deal etc

Anonymous said...

Much to hide Lord Gill?

If someone did this in your court you would order them jailed on contempt of court and order their interests produced before you

Anonymous said...

Oh well I hope people are learning a lesson never to trust judges because they are just as corrupt or likely to be as the rest of society.

So much for all that bs about judicial independence making judges respectable!

Anonymous said...

Perhaps the benefits cheating judge could give the petitions committee a lesson on how he/she did it and managed to keep all the details out of the press,court rolls and so on until it showed up on the paper!

Keep at it Peter I fully support your register of judges interests 110%!

Anonymous said...

Mr Gill likes digging holes for himself doesn't he.. and what's with this private meeting with the committee?

Why is this not being said and Gill appearing in open committee like they said it was going to be?

What is so secret about these judges the public cannot hear it?

Anonymous said...

The Scotland Act is not meant to protect the identities of benefits cheats and drunk drivers who are judges

Anonymous said...

This Gill and his slippery letter need to be questioned in public forums like the Scottish parliament

Anonymous said...

The judge seems not to care he has no credibility left in his argument against your petition

Anonymous said...

Interesting that Lord Gill does not want to 'say' anything to the Public Petitions Committee but will meet them privately for a chat?

i.e. he cannot risk the Scottish Public hearing what his reasons are for rebutting a reasonable Petition?

i.e. his explanations are to be kept a secret from the Scottish Public?

i.e. anything he tells them in the privacy of his own Chambers, cannot be relied upon at all because anything said in secret can be denied?

Is this machiavellian conduct acceptable from the top Scottish Judge and has he not brought his post into disrepute by disrespecting the People of Scotland in disregarding their best interests in favour of partial self-interest?

Anonymous said...

Wait a God-Darn-Minute........we all know that the Scottish Judiciary is not independent of politicians influence through the Megrahi corrupt case and the Hollie Greig Case, so this Independence of the Scottish Judiciary is a big fat RED-HERRING?

So, given that this false claim is a ruse, then why-oh-why can we not have the Judiciary being able to be accountable to the Scottish People?

It would seem that Lord Gill's warped view of accountability is where he wants the Scottish Judiciary to answer to himself solely and that his judgement on the matter will suffice?

Well, the way that Mr Gill has handled this scandal about secrecy regarding vested interests and by virtue of the fact that he promised the People of Scotland radical reforms of a broken, irrelevant and unfit for purpose Judicial System and then did the opposite, would seem to exemplify the point rather succinctly, that His judgement and ability to act according to the high standards required of such Office cannot be trusted?

The sooner the old wood is hacked away from the tree the better to allow new pure and fresh growth to replace it the better?

Anonymous said...

Sounds like Lord Gill is ready to do a backroom deal with the Petitions Committee's representatives, no doubt over a malt whiskey and with much back slapping.

I wonder how those on the Committee who are excluded from this cosy chat will feel?

Anonymous said...

Oh well now we know for certain, Scotland is NOT a democracy.

Anonymous said...

Did the EU judges who wrote the report say it was ok for the Scottish judges to keep their criminal convictions hidden too?

I think Lord Gill is well out of touch with reality and public right to know

Anonymous said...

Scotland laughs in the face of Banana Republics?

We have managed to fall lower than the low?

Anonymous said...

What were those hardworking MSP's thinking about by trying to protect the rule of law and the interests of the Scottish People?

Don't they know what the rest of us know, that the Scottish lawyers run Scotland and act according to their own cause and that nothing is allowed to stand in their way?


Anonymous said...

This is just a disgrace - these judges are not fit for purpose along with the justice system they are paid to waste around in

Anonymous said...

That judge of yours is talking absolute garbage in his letter to your politicians.If your Scottish Parliament has any balls they get on with it and make it law.

Anonymous said...

Further proof, if it were needed, that the whole purpose of the Scottish Judicial System is a power play for Scottish lawyers and how it is run is of NO CONCERN to the people of Scotland?

Anonymous said...

Scotland is the only Banana Republic that cannot actually grow bananas?

However, we have any number of banana brains at the helm?

Anonymous said...

The Public Petitions Committee must stand up against the Law Society of Scotland on this issue and insist that Lord Gill has to answer the difficult questions?

If they do, they will have the respect of the public?

If they capitulate to these crooks then no doubt there will be a public backlash and they will forever be known individually and collectively as traitors of the Scottish People and can forget about getting any votes in a future election?

Stand up and do the right thing?

Anonymous said...

"Judges have from time to time given evidence to committees of the Scottish Parliament on matters that affect the administration of justice in Scotland. I hope that that has been helpful in the legislative process. Judicial participation in the work of the committees must however be kept within prudent limits."

They pick and choose what subjects they will speak about (not their own secretive interests or criminal convictions)

Anonymous said...

‘Judicial Independence’ gives vested interests, tax dodging, rich judges an immunity from transparency says top judge as Lord Gill refuses to answer MSP's questions over register of judicial interests.
Refuse, what kind of legal system do we have when the top man does not want any scrutiny of Judge's interests. He is not fit ethically to be in his job. This situation is the result of a process of political evolution which challenged the Monarchy's power and did not deal with the Judiciary. Yes legal outcomes must not be influenced by politicians but these Judges want to operate in a secret system where they are unaccountable to everyone. Every time an Act is passed into law it always has protection for the judiciary as an integral part of it's machinery and it is a scandal. Gill is only fueling greater mistrust because he wants to be an oligarch in a democratic country. He is Victorian.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

Oh well now we know for certain, Scotland is NOT a democracy.
No it is not it is a small country with a democratic system of voting for candidates. The question is where does real power lie? And the answer if with the MSP's because they can change the law to remove the protections in the Scotland Act or Westminster can do it because if they cannot they are powerless and if they can and don't want to they are malevolent against the voters. Gill is using these powers because he is ALLOWED to do so. Secret courts cannot be tolerated, and secret Judges even more so. Crooks masquerading as upholders of law and justice.

Anonymous said...

So King Gill runs Scotland then. He says A, B or C and that is it?

Anonymous said...

We should not forget that this secrecy being jealously guarded has so far kept it secret from the public that some of the Judiciary are criminals themselves and if it was not for DOI then it would still be hidden from us?

If lord Gill is keeping the likes f this a secret from the people, then what else is being kept from us?

Are there even more skeletons in their cupboards?

How can we trust Gill's word that everything is fine here; nothing to see here, please move along; when he is so opposed to doing the right thing?