Friday, April 24, 2015

PURGE LAW: ‘Reform minded’ Legal complaints chief ousted for Law Society insider as solicitors regulatory body retakes control of ‘independent’ Scottish Legal Complaints Commission

Law Society’s Neil Stevenson retakes complaints quango for lawyers.THE LEGAL profession’s definition of ‘independence’ took a full turn yesterday as the ‘independent’ Scottish Legal Complaints Commission (SLCC) and the Law Society of Scotland announced long time Law Society insider Neil Stevenson is to be the SLCC’s latest Chief Executive, replacing former Foreign Office careerist Matthew Vickers who took on the role in June 2012.

Stevenson’s appointment to the tarnished position as head of the pro-lawyer anti-client SLCC – created in 2008 and at a staggering cost since to Scots clients of over £20 million in complaints levies paid by solicitors and recovered via legal fees to clients – comes after widely reported evidence showing the SLCC has failed to live up to expectations of dealing with rising numbers of rogue solicitors who rip off their clients.

And, the Law Society’s decision to retake control of the ‘independent’ SLCC by placing one of their own in charge also comes after a challenging year for self regulation of the legal profession – left reeling from the effects of the damaging BBC Scotland investigation “Lawyers Behaving Badly” -  which blew the mask off lawyers investigating their own and legal aid fraud.

For the past fifteen months since the BBC programme aired in January 2014,  the Law Society have demanded significant changes at the SLCC after concluding the hapless complaints quango – staffed mostly by former Law Society insiders – failed to stand up for lawyers during the BBC Scotland investigation.

And, earlier this year, further friction between the two legal regulators emerged when the SLCC criticised a rigged poll organised and funded by the Law Society which claimed solicitors are ‘well liked’.

Articles on the client satisfaction poll - published in some media outlets were written by the Law Society’s own president Alistair Morris in which the Law Society President extolled the virtues of lawyers, backed up with dodgy statistics.

However the full extent of how the poll had been rigged -  featured in an investigation by DOI reported here: OWNED POLL: Law Society ‘scripted’ survey criticised by Scottish Legal Complaints Commission - new data reveals few clients of dodgy lawyers ask legal regulators for help

Another twist to the friction between the SLCC & Law Society emerged after it was revealed a series of communications between the SLCC and law reformers brought about a tipping point forcing Law Society bosses to act.

The communications - which fell into the hands of the Law Society - ‘in real time’ – appear to have helped the decision to force out the then SLCC CEO – Matt Vickers – who stood down out of the blue earlier this year to pursue a career at Ombudsman Services, reported here: GONE MEDIATIN’: Pro-lawyer legal regulator loses another CEO as Matthew Vickers leaves Scottish Legal Complaints Commission for Ombudsman Services role

The replacement of an outsider with a Law Society insider as head of the SLCC have led to further suggestions the anti-consumer quango can do nothing without a say so from the Law Society.

In an announcement the SLCC said yesterday: The Scottish Legal Complaints Commission, the independent body for complaints against solicitors, advocates and other legal practitioners in Scotland, has announced the appointment of Neil Stevenson as its new Chief Executive Officer.

Neil Stevenson has been with the Law Society of Scotland since 2004.  He is currently the Society’s Director of Representation and Professional Support.  He will be joining the Commission in mid-July.

As the new CEO Neil’s priorities will be to drive the full implementation of the SLCC’s strategy – to provide an excellent complaint resolution service for legal complaints in Scotland, to provide guidance on service standards to the profession and consumers and to raise the confidence in the legal profession in Scotland.

Bill Brackenridge, Chair of the SLCC welcomed the appointment. He said : “I am delighted to welcome such an accomplished professional to the Commission; he will inspire our staff to deliver their challenging role and move the Commission to a higher level.

Neil Stevenson, the new CEO said “I have thoroughly enjoyed my time with the Law Society and am grateful to have all the opportunities and challenges afforded to me.  I am looking forward to joining the SLCC and working with the staff to deliver some very challenging objectives.”

The Society's chief executive, Lorna Jack commented: "I am delighted for Neil and congratulate him on his appointment. As someone who understands the legal profession and with his passion, good judgment and positive attitude, I know Neil is going to make an outstanding contribution as SLCC chief executive.”

Jack continued: "Whilst I am sorry to lose Neil from the Law Society, we will benefit from his hard work for many years to come. In his time as director of representation, he has helped to transform the range of services and support we offer the profession. He has championed our innovative new Smartcard project, ensured we remain a leader on equality and diversity, and has helped develop our new long term strategy. All of us at the Law Society are grateful for everything he has done.

"I am now looking forward to working with Neil in his new role. The relationship between the Law Society and the SLCC has improved greatly over the last few years. Given the specific roles we play in the regulation of solicitors, this has been important, particularly for the public who depend on both of our organisations to work together to protect their interests."

The current biography of Neil Stevenson on the Law Society of Scotland’s website says: “Neil joined the education team of the Society in 2004, having previously worked on medical and dental training for NHS Education for Scotland. He holds an Edinburgh law degree and a masters in management, and has previous experience in the oil and gas sector and management research. Neil is responsible for the confidential helpline service provided by the solicitors in professional practice and for the provision of CPD to the profession through Update. The professional support team focuses on ensuring the Society listens to and learns from its members, campaigns on their behalf, and provides support services to individuals and firms. He is a director of both the independent charity LawCare and the Scottish Arbitration Centre.”

Stevenson’s directorship of “Law Care” – a charity set up by the legal profession to help and defend solicitors who have been found out for ripping off their clients – will be of interest to clients who end up in the unenviable position of having to approach the SLCC to make a complaint about their solicitor. The charity has filed numerous reports with the pro-lawyer SLCC & Law Society Complaints Committees - pleading for corrupt solicitors to be let off the hook on everything from embezzlement to faking up paperwork.

Stevenson’s directorship of the Scottish Arbitration Centre may also put him in conflict of interest with SLCC policy of forcing complainants into the murky world of arbitration – where clients who are ripped off for large sums of cash by their solicitor end up with only a pittance in return. The Scottish Arbitration Centre - started by the Scottish Government and backed by lawyers, is a sponge for taxpayers cash and international trips by lawyers & former judges who are trying to promote Scotland’s tarnished legal sector as a haven for international mediation.


The post of the SLCC’s Chief Executive has seen considerable controversy since the legal quango was created in 2008. Now, eight years on and five Chief Executives later, the SLCC is looking for another boss to steer it through troubled waters and continuing accusations of pro-lawyer bias.

mkmc slcc openingMacAskill as Justice Secretary backed secret payoff for ‘too ill to work’ former Chief Executive. The SLCC’s first ‘appointed’ Chief Executive - Eileen Masterman - held the role for less than a year, negotiated a secret, substantial payoff backed personally by the Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill, and resigned from her role at the SLCC on grounds of “ill health”. Eileen Masterman then returned to work for her former employer - the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (SPSO) as a “complaints reviewer”, and was accused of whitewashing the circumstances of the death of a baby at the NHS Forth Valley Hospital – reported by Diary of Injustice & the Sunday Mail newspaper here : Deputy First Minister to look into death of baby McKenzie Wallace after parents complain of ‘whitewash’ report by SPSO investigator Eileen Masterman

The SLCC’s first Chief Executive – civil servant Richard Smith - resigned from the role after disagreements about how the SLCC would act as a regulator. Mr Smith was then replaced by another civil servant before Mrs Masterman was eventually appointed as the first ‘official’ CEO.

Concluding a turbulent few months which saw exchanges of letters between current Deputy First Minister John Swinney and Masterman over claims and counter-claims about the Master Policy – reported here: SLCC’s Eileen Masterman resigns, questions remain on attempt to mislead Cabinet Finance Chief John Swinney over secret meetings with insurers Marsh’ Masterman stood down from the SLCC – which by that time had suffered significant reputational damage.

After a speedy recruitment round, Rosemary Agnew then became the SLCC’s fourth Chief Executive, reported here: The £80K job no-one wants : Lawyers lobby seek FIFTH time unlucky Chief Executive for Scottish Legal Complaints Commission role. However Ms Agnew later resigned to take up the post of Scottish Information Commissioner in early 2012.

The SLCC’s current and now outgoing CEO Matthew Vickers took on the role in June 2012, reported here: “Customer Service” main focus for Ex-Foreign Office Consul taking over as FIFTH Chief Exec at ‘anti-consumer’ Scottish Legal Complaints Commission.


Anonymous said...

At least there is no longer any pretending the SLCC is independent.

Probably all thanks to you and good worth at the beeb.

Anonymous said...

They don't last long do they?

No doubt because DOI Journalists keep exposing their dubious agenda.

I see another 'yes man' has been appointed, as the French say,........'everything changes, everything stays the same'.

Thank you Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP.

Anonymous said...

Appropriate lyrics to this as follows:-
Another one bites the dust
Another one bites the dust
And another one gone, and another one gone
Another one bites the dust!

Anonymous said...

So they axed Vickers because he was trying to reform the slcc??
Proves what you have been saying all along - this bunch of creeps are a quango too far and nothing short of a front for the Law Society.

Anonymous said...

Just more corruption of course anything to do with lawyers looking at their own pals is crooked we all know it Stevenson will not make a difference other than to keep the lid on it a bit more for his bosses at the Law Society.

Anonymous said...

What really happened here is the Law Society spent £20m fighting Peter Cherbi/the media and lost.

Another feather in your cap.

Anonymous said...

"too ill to work Masterman"

When was she too ill to work?

She ran back to the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman after MacAskill handed over the cash!

Oh yes I see you have it online so you are in the know too!

Anonymous said...

So no longer independent then?

Surely cannot be now a Law Society lackey has been put in charge of it all.

Anonymous said...

Just another lawyer parachuted in to keep the system working.Now get back to writing about judges cause it is much more interesting!

Anonymous said...

This investigative journalism article is the cherry on the cake.

The SLCC is the Law Society of Scotland and everybody and his dog knows it.

Did Matthew Vickers really leave on his own volition, or did he ultimately try to save his own reputation by eventually refusing to go along with and be part of the brazen crime committed by the Law Society of Scotland on a daily basis?

The Law Society of Scotland is in terminal decline, with several of it's Office Bearers surely destined for jail in the coming weeks for their part in defeating the ends of justice?

Vickers thought he would save his sorry skin by dobbing the Law Society of Scotland's criminal practices to the Scottish Government prior to him leaving them but unfortunately once he took the Law Society of Scotland's coin, his fate was sealed as you do not deal with the devil and then expect to walk away unharmed.

The Scottish Public need to be informed of the crimes being perpetrated to keep known criminal Scottish lawyers from the consequences of their actions.

Anonymous said...

Very amusing news story. The Law Society are so confident of being above the law, that they can make up their own rules and deceive the public, that they are no longer even trying to hide their insidious tentacles of control.

Anonymous said...

Morning Lorna.Good to see you have finally dispelled the myth of an independent SLCC.We always knew it was a cover for the Law Society now you have cleared all that up.Good show to the Diary team once more.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
Just more corruption of course anything to do with lawyers looking at their own pals is crooked we all know it Stevenson will not make a difference other than to keep the lid on it a bit more for his bosses at the Law Society.

24 April 2015 at 16:40

Do you still not get it?

Every single appointee as head of the SLCC is bought and paid for by the Law Society of Scotland, which is designed to allow the Law Society of Scotland complete and absolute control of what happens to their member lawyers and total power in causing harm and humiliation on the Scottish Public for daring to report their crooked Scottish lawyer?

Pure evil?

Above the law?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
So no longer independent then?

Surely cannot be now a Law Society lackey has been put in charge of it all.

24 April 2015 at 18:51

Yes, from the SLCC's inception it has been a trick on the Scottish People to change their perception into thinking that there was a 'new' system in place and it would be 'independent' of the Law Society of Scotland?

What an outrageous lie and a totally treasonable sham the SLCC is?

Anonymous said...

As the Diary of Injustice journalism team have correctly stated all along, the SLCC is a dead man walking organisation that is both morally defunct and mortally wounded at the same time?

The Scottish Public know not to trust the SLCC because it has the stinking stench of Law Society of Scotland death all over it?

The SLCC is a completely compromised entity and is now so crippled with an exponential reduction in cases being reported to it because the truth about who controls the SLCC is now common public knowledge?

The SLCC (like the SSDT) is to all intents and purposes dead?

Thank God?

Anonymous said...

The Law Society of Scotland and their SLCC are notorious for issuing joint Press statements that tell the Scottish Public what they want them to believe but which are totally disingenuous at best and downright stinking lies at worse?

One of the most insidious and unlawful organisations on the planet who laugh in the face of the Scottish Public who they hate?

Anonymous said...

Just think for one minute what a state Scotland would be in if it were not for the team of journalists at the Diary of Injustice?

Even more crooked Scottish lawyers would be getting let off Scot Free?

The Law Society of Scotland would be causing even more harm and distress to the Scottish victims of crooked lawyers? And

It would still be a State Secret that the SSDT & SLCC is the Law Society of Scotland and they would continue to act as if they are above the law?

Anonymous said...

Law Society of Scotland's insider to take control of the SLCC insiders.

Where is the news?

We already know the SLCC is a self protection sham organisation to protect Scottish lawyers

Anonymous said...

Your version is much better than the journalonline sycophantic muck.

Anonymous said...

A big ThankYou to the DOI team for blowing the whistle on these white collar criminals.

Anonymous said...

The SLCC has never been independent and never will be as long as the Law Society of Scotland have got their venomous hooks into them?

The SLCC was brought into law via a totally bogus piece of legislation the LPLA Act 2007?

It is common knowledge that the Law Society of Scotland demanded that the legislation was a paper exercise and that the whole purpose all along was to trick the Scottish People into altering their perception, to make them think that real change was being introduced when the reality was that the Law Society of Scotland had retained complete control of the regulation of lawyers, in order that they could continue to let them run wild, committing serious offences against the Scottish public with impunity knowing that the Law Society of Scotland would have their backs, where their game of Monopoly continued unchanged where the Law Society of Scotland issued them with an infinite number of get out of jail free cards?

Anonymous said...

Their crooked little conspiracy is blown wide open.

Send the builders round in the morning to brick up their front door, before any more innocent members of the public are victimised again.

Anonymous said...

I thought that the SLCC had been shut down months ago such that the Scottish public knew that it was a bogus organisation, run by the Law Society of Scotland?

Anonymous said...

Another Law Society of Scotland chosen apparatchik to preserve the Law Society's criminal agenda and to hide away the evidence of their crimes?

Is this the final straw that breaks the camel's back?

Anonymous said...

This is a cracking article especially the history of CEO failures you have covered at the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission.