Thursday, October 06, 2016

PUBLISH & BE JUDGED: As Lord President, Lord Hamilton gave nod to transparency after media interest prompted decision to publish judges’ expenses claims

Former Lord President Lord Hamilton, now of Qatar court. TRANSPARENCY has not always been the perceived sworn & deadly enemy of Scotland’s jet setting, boozing, partying, public-funds-cheating & tax-avoiding-island-hopping-bank-fiddling Judiciary of Scotland  - as one former Lord President proved when confronted by journalists investigating the veil of secrecy around our ermine clad public servants.

For the story of how Scotland’s judiciary finally surrendered details of their own cash splurging expenses claims – began with an investigation by Diary of Injustice during 2010 – prompting a decision by the then Lord President – Lord Arthur Hamilton – to publish judges expenses claims on a quarterly basis ever since.

The task – to break the secrecy around how much public cash our judges were burning up for junkets here, there and everywhere – was admittedly difficult.

The Scottish Government – initially claimed they held no such figures - and none existed.

The same was true of the Scottish Courts Service – eager to keep the open wallet policy of throwing cash at the judiciary out of the headlines.

But, there was Freedom of Information – a tool to be used by all – media and public alike – to break the secrecy of our public institutions no matter how high up the ladder they regard themselves.

Compared to England & Wales – where the judiciary were required to publish their expenses claims and had done so for many years, going that little bit further in Scotland appeared almost impossible, with the resistance encountered from public bodies responsible for  the figures.

The more resistance, the more suspicion there was … something to hide.

On top of judicial salaries in 2010 – around £6.1 million, the judges were topping up their positions with cumulative expenses claims of £200K.

Admittedly perhaps not in the Westminster Parliament’s expenses fiddling league – but getting there – if left secretive and unchecked.

However, once told of the queries - Lord Hamilton – the top man - was having none of it - and the Scottish Courts Service were ordered to make the figures public on a rolling basis – every quarter.

And since 2010, on a more often than not regular basis, the public are able to read up on how much Scotland’s eerily secretive, not-very-diverse-or-representative-of-the-wider-community judges plunder from the public purse by clicking here: Judiciary of Scotland - Judicial Expenses Claims

In one quarter alone this year – from 1 April to 31 June, our Court of Session Senators on salaries of up to £225K a year - claimed a whopping £17,331.57 extra in expenses.

Lord Carloway – who is otherwise occupied in fighting proposals before the Scottish Parliament to create an even greater and more effective level of transparency – Petition PE1458: Register of Interests for members of Scotland's judiciary – claimed £1315.66 expenses in the last quarter available.

Lady Dorrian – The Lord Justice Clerk – claimed a mere £338, Lady Smith - £176.55. Lady A Carmichael- £121. Lord Kinclaven claimed a whopping £6,195.35 – most of which falls under the heading of “accommodation and subsistence”. Lord Brailsford required £14.85 from the public purse – the same judge whose name appears on the title deeds of the Laigh Hall – as a “trustee” for the Faculty of Advocates who swiped it from public ownership. Lord Matthews claimed £308.70. Lord Pentland claimed £385.86. Lady Stacey claimed £741.50. Lord Tyree claimed £490.52. Lord Stewart claimed £3,990.75. Lord Burns claimed £103.80.Lord Armstrong claimed £2,709.50. and Lady Rae claimed £439.53. Bringing a grand total of £17,331.57 for a mere three months work for a handful of judges.

It’s a tough life being a Senator of the Court of Session.

All that jet setting, sitting in court, gatherings with the legal crowd at taxpayers expense. resisting declaring their interests.

A tough life indeed – but at least Lord Hamilton allowed the media and the public the chance to peer a little deeper into how our cash flowed out on judicial jet set junkets and judicial expenses claims.

Since retiring as Lord President, Lord Hamilton now serves on the supplementary panel of the United Kingdom Supreme Court (UKSC).

Additionally, from April 2015 - the former Lord President now holds a position on the Qatar International Court and Dispute Resolution Centre – where big business can confront each other over – as the title suggests – disputes.

The Qatar International Court (QIC) is based in Doha, Qatar. The Court’s mission statement from their website states: “To provide a world-class international court and dispute resolution Centre that will maintain the highest ethical standards, act in accordance with internationally recognized best practices and deliver justice fairly and efficiently with a firm commitment to upholding the Rule of Law.”

The court is led by QIC President, The Rt. Hon. The Lord Phillips of Worth Matravers – former Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales who served as President of the Supreme Court of the UK from 2009 to 2012.

Appointed along with Lord Hamilton was Edwin Glasgow QC from England, Gopal Subramaniam from India and Justice Laurence Li, a former supplementary judge of the Qatar International Court, from Hong Kong.

The QIC comprises the QFC Civil and Commercial Court and the QFC Regulatory Tribunal established pursuant to QFC Law No 7 of 2005, as amended by QFC Law No 14 of 2009. The QIC has internationally renowned judges with expertise in complex commercial disputes and serves to uphold the rule of law, applying the highest quality international legal standards to civil and commercial disputes between individuals and business entities operating both in and outside the QFC.

Readers will be familiar with Lord Brian Gill’s five day state visit to Qatar LORD JET SET: Scotland’s top judge Lord Gill takes 5 day STATE VISIT to Qatar as investigation reveals judiciary's international travel junkets spree.

Gill took the junket in preference to appearing before the Scottish Parliament to give evidence on A Register of Interests for Scotland's Judiciary


Anonymous said...

Doubtless his attitude on your register of judicial interests is unlikely to be different from his colleagues.
However you got him to change up a gear on publication of expenses.No bad thing.

Anonymous said...

Presumably he knew what would happen next a la Lord Gill and the NoNo headlines so went ahead and published the figs!

Anonymous said...

and he will be so chuffed you let everyone know he is now a judge in Qatar of all places!

Anonymous said...

"Lord Carloway – who is otherwise occupied in fighting proposals before the Scottish Parliament to create an even greater and more effective level of transparency – Petition PE1458: Register of Interests for members of Scotland's judiciary – claimed £1315.66 expenses in the last quarter available"


Anonymous said...

That may well be but you know as well as everyone else the Court of session and the entire justice system is more corrupt today than ever and all those at the top have to take responsibility.

Anonymous said...

Qatar that bastion of honesty and bungs FIFA springs to mind not transparency or dispute resolution!

Anonymous said...

Good to have you along changing the way the judges go about hoodwinking us!At least someone is on the ball to their tricks!

Anonymous said...

Took a look at the Qatar International Court they dont have a register of interests either so I wouldn't recommend anyone head there to have their billion dollar dispute judged by persons who may potentially have shares and other interests in the opposing side!

Anonymous said...

This is all public money and should be out in the open easy to see he only published because you started digging for the figures.

Proves once again if no media attention on this gang of dictators they do nothing instead continue to leech from public purse in the name of the law and a threat if the Exchequer refuse to cough up for ever rising salaries and pensions.

Not a justice system worthy of any world respect.

Anonymous said...

As a reasonably well-educated UK expat who has worked in such totalitarian states, such as Qatar, UAE and China, it beggars belief that UK Judges fall into the honey trap of subservience and allegiance to a dictator state. The lifestyle of ordinary UK expats can be quite enjoyable and 5 star providing that you can close your eyes to Human Rights abuses or permanently wear rose tinted sunglasses. The average ‘foreign’ worker of limited education but extremely hard working from say the Philippines or Sri Lanka can expect to earn just over £100 per month and guess what, it is Tax free, or is it? Their passports are confiscated and held for two years, the average length of contract, and they are provided shared accommodation in a remote compound that Hitler would be proud off. 12 hours duty of 6 days per week working is not what was ‘sold’ to them in the land of milk and honey, more like the land of sweat, blood and tears for ‘foreign’ workers. The Qatar government have bought the ex UK judges and should be proof enough that everyone has their own price and most likely bought to defend FIFA and all the rest that goes on. However, the Scottish and UK Governments are not much cleaner as past events have shown. Greed breeds greed. Keep it up Peter and never give up.

Anonymous said...

Peter, have you seen this Court of Session Opinion?

or [2016] CSIH 71 XA16/15

Seems the SLCC may have gotten things wrong all along.

Anonymous said...

I do not believe Hamilton would have created your register of judicial interests (maybe I am wrong) however I do feel he would have handled the matter far better than Gill perhaps giving you more than the incomplete recusals now shot down by Professor Paterson.

Anonymous said...

A Qatar based court is not one I'd trust and therefore anyone on it falls into the same category.If any other Scottish judges are crawling around the middle east warmonger states looking for cash please keep us informed as I know you will!

Diary of Injustice said...

Comment @ 7 October 2016 at 03:27

Good points.

Clearly the visiting judges including those from Scotland have little interest in human rights breaches, both abroad, and at home.

Comment @ 7 October 2016 at 03:41

Yes, this is being worked on for an article including focus on one of the judges in the case in relation to the ruling.

Anonymous said...

There are slave workers all over the gulf states and murders aplenty of anyone who disagrees with the powers that be.
Scottish and other UK judges will find themselves right at home in that environment.

Anonymous said...

The Gulf States and Qatar are all paying for wars and blowing Syria to bits hell some of them even own news outlets in the UK so no surprise our 'top' judges slope off to Qatar for some extra wallet fattening and the chance to interfere once more in global business and destroy people's lives.

As they say old habits die hard!

Anonymous said...

Where is Gill?He wont be far behind somewhere

Anonymous said...

Can't say I'd EVER recommend someone to head to a place like Qatar for a court hearing!

Anonymous said...

Would Lord Hamilton and Lord Gill like to tell us why British and Scottish judges are so attracted to Qatar and the gulf states.

Surely cannot be their record on Human Rights because none of the gulf states have any Human Rights as observed by the exceptional comment of 7 October 2016