Sunday, April 27, 2014

SILENCE IN HIS COURT: Top Judge tells MSPs - Vested Interests & Justice Secretary support Lord Gill’s anti-transparency campaign against Holyrood Register of Judicial Interests proposal

Top judge tells MSPs he has backing of judges vested interests, Justice Secretary against judicial register plan. SCOTLAND’S top judge, the Lord President Lord Brian Gill has told MSPs he has the support of judicial vested interests across the  UK & EU who are too scared to declare their wealth & connections to big business, the UK’s Westminster Government, and even Scotland’s Cabinet Secretary for Justice Kenny MacAskill who all back Lord Gill’s campaign against Petition PE1458: Register of Interests for members of Scotland's judiciary which calls for the Scottish Parliament to consider legislation which would require judges to declare their full interests in a publicly available and regularly updated register of judicial interests.

And in a shocking stance declaring double standards are the order of the day in judicial life, Lord Gill also claimed in his letter to David Stewart MSP, the Convener of the Scottish Parliament’s Petitions Committee, that just because the top judge and six other members of the judiciary make declarations of some interests in terms of their position on the board of the Scottish Court Service, the same standards of transparency SHOULD NOT and need not be applied to judges acting in their judicial capacity as high earning judges sitting in the courts.

It has also emerged that it took a further 21 days from the date of Lord Gill’s claim to MSPs of Scottish Government support for the Lord President’s anti-transparency campaign against the Scottish Parliament's investigations into the thorny question of judges undeclared interests, for Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill to follow up the Lord President’s earlier letter informing MSPs he backed Gill’s now widely known hostility to the judicial register plan.

Did Lord Gill add Justice Secretary to his rising portfolio of interests? Letter from Scotland’s top judge Lord Gill declaring judicial interests declarations off limits was eerily echoed by Justice Secretary who recently blundered badly on corroboration:

Lord Gill’s letter to David Stewart, Convener of the Public Petitions Committee 1 April 2014:

PE01458 Register of Interests  for Members of the Scottish Judiciary

Thank you  for  your letter of  6  March  2014. I apologise to you  for this  late  reply.

I appreciate that  you  should  wish to follow up  the  question  of the  Scottish Court Service  register of  interests  that I  raised  at  our  meeting.

I have  carefully  set  out for  the  Committee  my reasons  for  believing  that  a register  of interests  for  members  of the  judiciary  is  unnecessary. My view is  shared by  the Scottish Government,  the UK Government,  and the  Chief Justices in the  other jurisdictions  of the  UK. It  is  a view  that  has  been endorsed  by external  interactional scrutiny  through  the  work  of Council  of Europe's  Group  of States against  Corruption (GRECO) in its evaluation  reports  in  2001  and2014.

The  position  of the  judicial  office  holders  on the  board of the  SCS  is  entirely different. The requirement  of  those judicial  office holders  who are  members  of the  SCS  to register  their  interests  arises  in  the  context  of their  membership  of  a public body. The disclosure  of their  interests  arises  from  their  work as  board members,  which may involve  the placing  of  contracts  and employment  questions. It  is  not related to  their holding judicial  office.  As  members  of the  SCS  they  do  not exercise judicial functions.

A register  of interests  for  the  judiciary  would, for all the  reasons  I  have previously given to the Committee,  be  fundamentally  different  from  that  of the SCS.

Twenty one days after Lord Gill’s response to MSPs declaring judges interests off limits once again, the Cabinet Secretary for Justice Kenny MacAskill issued his own backing for Gill’s stance in a letter to the Convener of the Public Petitions Committee:


Thank you for your letter of 6 March 2014 regarding the above Public Petition. I apologise for the delay in responding.

You ask whether the Scottish Government will review its position on whether members of the judiciary ought to register their interests. I note the evidence the Committee has gathered on this issue and, in particular, the arguments presented by the Judicial Complaints Reviewer (JCR) that a register of interests would increase transparency and public trust in the judiciary.

The JCR considers that there is merit in a register of interests for members of the judiciary. I do not think it necessary to establish such a register. I continue to be of the view that there are already sufficient safeguards in place to ensure the impartiality of the judiciary. These have been set out in previous correspondence and comprise the judicial oath, the Statement of Principles of Judicial Ethics and the rules made under the 2008 Act. I do not consider that the case has been made that these existing safeguards are not effective.


Scotland’s judiciary are a group of select, predominantly white, extremely wealthy influential lawyers who have an unelected and almost unchallengeable power to stall or close debate on their own secret vested interests, change any of our lives at the stroke of a pen, or strike down legislation desired by the greater community and voted through by democratically elected politicians in our own Scottish Parliament.

Clearly any group in society which has this almost limitless power, must above all, be as transparent as other branches of government and society to which it applies its rulings. However, as Scots have discovered during a full year of debate at the Scottish Parliament’s Public Petitions Committee, if anything, the judges are even more secret than the secret service itself when it comes to the thorny question of judges pecuniary and other interests.

Their personal, undeclared wealth including extensive family and business links throughout the legal profession, offshore ‘tax efficient’ trusts, ownership of numerous and high value properties through a variety of interesting arrangements, investments, directorships and shareholdings, collectively generate millions of pounds in earnings for the judges and their families each year.

Yet, to-date, not one court user, not one member of the public, not one accused person, nor the media or even our own members of the Scottish parliament have had the chance to scrutinise and question judges about their vested financial interests, as there is no register of judicial interests or any effective method of ensuring the judiciary declare their positions, connections and interests in a publicly available document as called for in Petition PE1458: Register of Interests for members of Scotland's judiciary.

Moi Ali, Scotland’s first ever Judicial Complaints Reviewer (JCR) - who also supports the plan to make judges more accountable by declaring their interests, gave testimony to MSPs at Holyrood on the benefits of a register of judicial interests, reported along with video footage of the testimony, here : As Scotland’s top judge battles on against transparency, Judicial Complaints Reviewer tells MSPs judges should register their interests like others in public life

Gill’s use of Scotland Act against MSPs was reported in the media. Writing in a letter to msps, Lord Gill even threatened Holyrood with the law which founded it: “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”

The judge continued: “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.”

However, time has moved on, and since the top judge’s hysteria over the debate on judges secret interests boiled over into a series of threats & private meetings, it has emerged some declarations of interests by Scotland’s top judge and only six other members of Scotland’s vast, sprawling ranks of a multi million pound well salaried & well pensioned judiciary, feature in the 2012-2013 Annual Report of the Scottish Court Service. Pages from the SCS Annual Report show a handful of judges including Lord Gill do declare at least some of their interests:

Lord President – Rt. Hon. Lord Gill:
•  Director of Scottish Redundant Churches Trust, a company limited by guarantee registered in Scotland (SC162884) •  Director of the Royal School of Church Music, a company limited by guarantee registered in England (Reg’d No 250031) •  Trustee of the Carmont Settlement: a trust for the support of retired priests of the Roman Catholic Church •  Trustee of the Columba Trust: a trust for the benefit of the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland •  Trustee of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland Endowment Trust: a trust for the benefit of RCS and its students •  Trustee of the Royal Conservatoire Trust: a trust for the benefit of the RCS and its students •  Trustee of the Royal School of Church Music: a registered charity for the promotion of church music in the Christian Churches (Reg No 312828) •  Vice President of the Royal Conservatoire

Lord Justice Clerk - Rt Hon Lord Carloway: • None (Nothing to declare)

Sheriff Iona McDonald: •  Deputy Lieutenant for Ayrshire and Arran •  Partner in property rental firm

Sheriff A Grant McCulloch: •  Chair West Fife Education Trust •  Chair Relationship Scotland- Couple Counseling Fife •  Committee Member Cammo Residents Association

Johan Findlay OBE: • Honorary Sheriff• Justice of the Peace

Hon Lord Bannatyne:
•  Chester Street (Limited Partner) Ltd on behalf of the Board of the Cathedral Church of St Mary the Virgin, Palmerston Place, Edinburgh •  Member of the Board of the Cathedral Church of St Mary the Virgin, Palmerston Place, Edinburgh •  Shareholder as Trustee for the Cathedral Church of St Mary the Virgin, Palmerston Place, Edinburgh, in Chester Street (General Partner) Ltd •  Member of the Clergy Disciplinary Tribunal of the Episcopal Church

Sheriff Principal Alastair Dunlop QC:
•  Commissioner of Northern Lighthouses •  Trustee of St John’s Kirk of Perth Trust •  Member of Stirling University Conference •  Chair of local Criminal Justice Boards in Tayside Central and Fife •  Elder of Gorebridge Parish Church of Scotland •  Member of Royal Northern & Clyde Yacht Club •  Member of the New Club, Edinburgh

A further six individuals ranging from the Chief Executive of the Scottish Court Service to lawyers and others also sit on the SCS Board, apparently declaring their own interests with ease and none of the fuss which Scotland’s top judge insisted would bring the justice system to a stand still.

The declarations, required for the positions on the Scottish Court Service Board, appear to fly in the face of a series of excuses, complaints, accusations and veiled threats made by the Lord President in writing against the idea of creating a publicly available register of judicial interests, and raise questions over how Lord Gill has handed the judiciary’s battle against what is a simple call for transparency.

It also came to light some of Scotland’s judges have not declared their interests or recused themselves in court, contrary to claims made by the Lord President, and that persons wrongfully convicted have suffered even greater injustice when it was revealed that judges who once prosecuted them, had heard their appeals against wrongful convictions and kept quiet. A report on how the failure of judges to recuse themselves or declare their interests in cases which have led to miscarriages of justice features here: Failure to Recuse : Evidence handed to MSPs in judicial register of interests proposal reveals judges who blocked injustice appeal failed to declare interests in court

Previous articles on the lack of transparency within Scotland’s judiciary, investigations by Diary of Injustice including reports from the Sunday Mail & Sunday Herald newspapers, and video footage of debates at the Scottish Parliament’s Public Petitions Committee can be found here : A Register of Interests for Scotland's Judiciary


Anonymous said...

All the money getting behind Lord Gill to stop this becoming law.Just shows you there is a lot to hide!

Anonymous said...

Mr Gill I would never go to court because I know I could never win even when the lawyers knew I had a valid claim. The legal profession taught me the most valuable lesson of my life. There is no injustice in the lawyers world because their is no law enforcement. You have no power to keep you in awe. You can and think you have the right to do as you want. A serpent can only inject its venom if one gets too close. I will stay away because there is no anti-venom should I get bitten.

Anonymous said...

This top judge of yours has one massive power complex.

Is he going to call out the army to defend his undeclared interests if all these bullshit threatening letters to the parliament fail?

Anonymous said...

Scotland’s judiciary are a group of select, predominantly white, extremely wealthy influential lawyers who have an unelected and almost unchallengeable power to stall or close debate on their own secret vested interests.
THIS IS DICTATORSHIP, kind of kills off the principle that in a democracy all are equal before the law. And in court is you flout one of their contempt rules (who devised contempt rules in court) you are prosecuted by criminals in wigs and robes. Their power is that of the ancient church with the exception they cannot murder when they are offended.

Scotland's high court judges are criminals. Judges prove to us you are not. You have no defence.

Anonymous said...

After MacAskill's capitulation to the pedophile enablers in blocking the stop to corroboration and now his cosying up to his pal Lord No No reveals what all of Scotland thought was the case that the man has zero principles and can be bought and sold by vested interests?

How else do you explain his sickly sweet sychofantic performance?

Anonymous said...

oh well now we know it - the judges are just too corrupt to declare their interests and it is nothing to do with being afraid they are going to be picked on or anything else it all boils down to what they have is compromising to what they are

Anonymous said...

Top Judge tells MSPs - Vested Interests & Justice Secretary support Lord Gill’s anti-transparency campaign against Holyrood Register of Judicial Interests proposal.
Top Judge tells MSPs I am unelected and I am the King of Scotland with clandestine power to treat the Scottish people as I see fit. You OBEY.

Anonymous said...

Don't go to lawyers and you will be safe.

Anonymous said...

Don't go to lawyers and you will be safe.

Anonymous said...

Is this more back scratching or back slapping, either way this sickening nepotism turns your stomach?

What happened to Honesty, Integrity & Transparency?

MacAskill U-turns so often it's a wonder he is not spinning round like Mill's granny?

Anonymous said...

Gill and his entourage are the stranglers of justice, all powerful and shady corrupt oligarchs.

Anonymous said...

KENNY MacAskill faced major humiliation last night after shelving controversial plans to end the need for corroboration of evidence in Scottish criminal trials.

Opposition parties and the legal profession celebrated as the SNP Justice Secretary put his plans on hold.

Detailed scrutiny of the blueprint to ditch the general requirement for corroboration will now not go forward until after a review is completed next April.

MacAskill said he was still committed to the reform.

But, having staked his reputation on the legislation when he drove it through Holyrood, yesterday’s U-turn left question marks over his credibility.

The Criminal Justice (Scotland) Bill was already approved in principle by MSPs.

But concerns of many SNP backbenchers and the chair of the parliamentary justice committee, Christine Grahame, were swept aside by MacAskill.
And Lawyer corruption is swept aside by them all.

Anonymous said...

A Diary of Injustice and Corruption in Scotland.

Anonymous said...

The snuffing-out of all potential areas of objection. Hardly the conduct expected of the Head of Scottish Judges?

Anonymous said...

Who runs Scotland? It is not a democratic country where all are equal in terms of the law. Self regulation and Gill's intransigence for transparency clearly point to the fact that the systems is utterly corrupt. The Judiciary are Scotland's unelected government. Salmond is their puppet, he is as corrupt as they are working in concert to create injustice against the people Salmond claims to want to protect.

William Wallace would have sacked Edinburgh to remove the endemic corruption these people are involved in. Salmond tells us the English are giving us a raw deal. Dream on Salmond you little liar.

Anonymous said...

Lord Gill, who has been critical of plans to require judges to publish their financial interests, made the declaration in his capacity as a board member of a courts quango.

It can also be revealed that his predecessor as Lord President, Lord Hamilton, declared shares in dozens of companies when he was in post.

In a written submission to the Scottish Parliament's public petitions committee, Lord Gill argued that a register of interests for judges and sheriffs was unnecessary, adding that their privacy could be impacted by "aggressive media or hostile individuals".

He wrote: "The establishment of such a register therefore may have the unintended consequence of eroding public confidence in the judiciary."

The Lord President declined Parliament's invitation to elaborate on his argument in person, a snub he was within his rights to deliver as judges cannot be compelled by law to give oral evidence to Holyrood. The Lord President instead agreed to a private meeting with MSPs.

However, despite his hostility to a register, Lord Gill is required as a Scottish Court Service (SCS) board member to declare shareholdings and membership of outside bodies. Other board members include Lord Justice Clerk Lord Carloway, Sheriff Principal Dunlop, Lord Bannatyne and sheriffs Iona McDonald and Grant McCulloch.

These registers have recently been made available to the Sunday Herald. Lord Gill, the de facto leader of Scotland's judges, declared shares in Henderson UK Growth Fund, Newton International Growth Fund, Aviva Investors UK Equity Fund, Terrace Hill Group and Vestry Court Ltd.

Sheriff McDonald declared shares in seven companies: pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline, banks HBOS and Barclays, Royal Dutch Shell, Standard Life, Unilever and Equiniti.

Lord Hamilton, who was Lord President until two years ago, registered shares in 33 firms in 2011. These included Barclays, BSkyB, BP, Centrica, Nestle SA and Rio Tinto.

Also listed were shares in Statoil ASA, National Grid, HSBC bank and Edinburgh Dragon Trust.

The declarations have raised the question of why, if Lord Gill and other senior colleagues can register financial interests as SCS board members, all judges and sheriffs cannot do the same.

However, in a letter to the Committee, Lord Gill said the SCS entries were an "entirely different" matter. "The requirement of those judicial office holders who are members of the SCS to register their interests arises in the context of their membership of a public body," he said. "The disclosure of their interests arises from their work as board members, which may involve the placing of contracts and employment questions. It is not related to their holding judicial office."

Chic Brodie, an SNP MSP, said: "This shows there is no consistency. There should be a consistent set of rules across the judiciary."

A spokesperson for the Judicial Office for Scotland declined to comment beyond Lord Gill's letter.

Anonymous said...

Sunday 27 April 2014

A senior sheriff presided over a court hearing involving Tesco at the same time as he held shares in the multi-national supermarket giant.

Sheriff Principal Dunlop QC did not absent himself because having shares in a company that is party to a court action does not require a member of the judiciary to step down from a case.

A Holyrood committee is considering proposals that would require judges and sheriffs to publish their outside interests, including details of their finances.

Members of the judiciary, unlike other senior public servants, do not need to give any details of their external sources of income.

Anonymous said...

It must have taken MacAskill the 3 weeks to consult with his lordship before getting the letter out and then taking in to account he probably didnt want to make it look like he is taking orders from the judiciary.

Anonymous said...

Some say a man is judged by the strength of his enemies so having the UK Government the Scottish Government and all the judges in the entire history of the UK against you this must be some kind of badge of honor!

The judge said in his letter "I have carefully set out for the Committee my reasons for believing that a register of interests for members of the judiciary is unnecessary. My view is shared by the Scottish Government, the UK Government, and the Chief Justices in the other jurisdictions of the UK."

There cant be many journalists around who command this level of opposition!Letters from a top judge and a Justice Minister all against you no matter what!
Keep up the good work!

Anonymous said...

MacAskill is fast becoming known as the quasher of the truth?

Megrahi? Blood on his hands?

Corroboration? One of the most incredible about turns in human history?

Now he is apparently happy to keep these crimes swept under the carpet and kept secret from the Scottish People?

Kenny MacAskill Minister of Injustice in the Banana Republic that is Scotland?

Slogan: Vote for the SBRP, the party who will sell their soul in order to support vested interests against the best interests of the Scottish People?