Scots judges ‘influence’ building – Lord Gill. ONE ITEM which stood out in evidence given by former top judge Lord Brian Gill to the Scottish Parliament’s Public Petitions Committee last November, was the ‘influence’ Scotland’s judiciary pride themselves in being able to exert over courts and judges in other jurisdictions across the world.
As the top judge muddled through his evidence, rants on transparency, aggression, and accusing US justices of basing their careers on corporate cash, Brian Gill told MSPs “It is important that the public should know that the Scottish judiciary enjoys a reputation throughout the judicial world that is out of all proportion to the size of our small nation.”
Gill, who was answering questions on his opposition to judicial transparency, continued: “The influence that it exerts in judicial thinking is enormous. The Scottish judiciary is admired, is respected and plays its part in the international world of judicial affairs.”
And the former Lord President was not kidding in what he said.
At least, not the part about meddling and peddling influence in other countries – which appears to emanate from members of the Judicial Office for Scotland who often award themselves off-the-books diplomatic roles, backed up by wads of taxpayers cash.
As for admired and respected, well, not really. Headlines on how judges look down upon the community they are paid to serve - reveal little proof of Lord Gill’s ‘world respected’ Scottish judiciary.
Though, of course, it is a good thing those from far off jurisdictions come to Scotland to learn of our legal system. Who would deny that.
But, when someone with close judicial ties hints to a visiting legal figure - they know a company who can provide a “must have” legal service, anyone looking in realises the whole gathering is just about money, rather than sharing experience, building influence and enduring a boring legal conference.
And, spare a thought for foreign companies who are handed the line they can only do business in Scotland’s courts, if they pay a certain legal firm vast legal fees to do so – a legal firm who just happen to employ members of the judiciary in various causes.
As a parliamentary probe and media investigation into judicial influence rumbles on, documents on judicial 'seminars' released by the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service shed a little more light on the closed off world of judicial influence peddled by such bodies as the Judicial Institute for Scotland.
Via palm pressing, plush taxpayer funded dinners, unpublished hospitality, trinkets and ‘lectures’ to visiting foreign judges, Scotland’s judiciary has indeed, as Lord Gill said himself - built up a finger in every pie, from courts in China and links to wealthy elite, to influence across justice systems around the world.
However, it is not too difficult to notice where our judges go, business follows – eager to lobby for legal services contracts abroad, sometimes in countries which can ill afford such ‘luxuries’ and in many cases, could well do without.
The column of corporate vested interests following in the wake of Scotland’s judicial ermine is so obvious, it stands out like a line of tanks against a violent orange-red sunset.
And these same corporations, among others, appear in the Judicial Rich List investigation - the very same companies and vested interests doing business in Scotland’s courts, and in which our judges hold undisclosed financial stakes they are scared to death of declaring in a register of interests - Petition PE1458: Register of Interests for members of Scotland's judiciary.
Not too difficult to spot, if you know what to look for. Company note pads in a far off distant rural court, a judge or civil servant in a legal department who develops lifestyle changes and expensive tastes - after schmoozing with Scots judges & the legal profession. Gotcha.
The more obvious ones such as a public official now promoting a huge corporate legal services contract to his colleagues in an area of a developing country where it does not make sense to spend millions on a commercial legal service a judge in Scotland advocates as a “must have”, solely due to the fact that very same judge in Scotland holds shares in the company.
But, let us remind ourselves, we are, after all, talking about influence peddling by Scotland’s judiciary - a judiciary that spent four years battling proposals in the Scottish Parliament to create a register of judicial interests. Just imagine for a second how this looks to the outside world.
Remember, for this was a Lord President who preached ‘Transparency is insidious’ to a gathering of ‘respected’ lawyers and judges.
Gill’s exact words at the 2015 Commonwealth Law Conference in Edinburgh were: “The threats to judicial independence do not always come with a knock on the door in the middle of the night. In a society that prides itself on the independence of its judiciary, the threat may come in insidious ways, even at the hands of well-meaning governments and legislators, in the name of efficiency and, ironically, in the name of transparency.”
Those present, laughed, and agreed. The legal profession and justice system is supreme over all. Governments - They are subordinate to all things law, and the judiciary write the law.
Gill, was on a roll. Managing a quip to his esteemed legal audience about the execution of protestors in the centre of Edinburgh, Lord Gill said: “Two years ago, I was crossing the square outside my court when I noticed two individuals standing, perhaps appropriately, at the Heart of Midlothian, the scene of public executions in Edinburgh in former times. They were holding a large banner. It caught my eye. It said "Lord Gill - Resign!" I never discovered what their reasons were; but I thought what a privilege it was to be a judge in a society where the public could make a constructive suggestion of that nature without being taken away by the police.”
The Speech given by Lord Gill to Commonwealth Law Conference Glasgow 2015, which could be described as more of an assault on free thinking & expectation of judicial transparency, was given just before Brian Gill led a column of judges including Lord Neuberger out of the conference, desperate to flee the earth shaking sight of Julian Assange on a giant screen.
Assange, Wikileaks, the media, even the Scottish Parliament - exist to represent transparency, openness, and ensure the public know what is going on.
Yet Scotland’s judiciary view transparency as insidious, and fear a knock on the door at night. Brian Gill, the Lord President, said so himself - to cheers, and perhaps the odd gasp of shock.
Many of the events listed are run by the Judicial Institute for Scotland – a quango created by Lord Brian Gill to give on the job training to Scotland’s judiciary.
Diary of Injustice reported on the creation of the Judicial Institute by Lord Gill during his first few months as Lord President, in January 2013, here: Teaching old dogs new tricks - Judicial Institute for Scotland aims to drag Judges out of “Victorian” era ways with training, technology, & business as usual.
In a speech detailing the creation of the quango, Lord Gill, emphasised the importance he placed on providing judges in Scotland with high quality training in order to ensure that they are in a position to deal with the raft of new legislation and case law, and that they are fully conversant with courtroom technology and case-management expectations.
Gill said: “Judicial training is not simply an optional extra for the judiciary. We have an obligation individually and collectively to ensure that we maintain a professional approach throughout our judicial life. This new learning suite will enable us to ensure that judges in Scotland benefit from the latest technology in helping them to meet the challenges that lay ahead”
However, what was initially claimed to be little more than a meeting place for Sheriffs and more senior judges to meet and exchange views, the Judicial Institute for Scotland quickly turned into a cover for largesse, hospitality and travel junkets including overseas trips, conferences at expensive venues & hotels, and posh dinners for judges and their guests - all paid for by taxpayers cash.
As journalists continue an investigation into judicial connections around the world, the scale of judicial meddling & peddling around the world in the past two years becomes more apparent in documents obtained via Freedom of Information legislation.
Bear in mind these events are dressed up as legal gatherings. But as they say, it if’s worth doing, it’s worth doing for money, M’Lord.
And, rather than spending their days in the Court of Session, the judges you pay £40 million a year of public cash, are busy operating their own business and influence peddling machine:
4 April 2014 Sheriff T Welsh QC (Director of the Judicial Institute) Sheriff A Duff (Deputy Director of the Judicial Institute) Visit from Bosnia and Herzegovina: The delegation spent the morning with the Institute, during which we demonstrated and discussed Scotland's support technology for vulnerable witnesses. Held in Edinburgh £28
8 April 2014 Sheriff T Welsh QC (Director of the Judicial Institute) THEMIS Competition Europe-wide debating competition for trainee judges and prosecutors and Judicial Institute contributed towards cost of reception Held in Glasgow. £541.20
14-16 April 2014 Lord Gill Visit to Qatar Lord Gill was invited to address the judges of the Supreme Court on developing a judicial code of conduct. £2,855.52 (overall cost of the visit) The visit actually lasted five days, according to travel expense claims.
16-22 April 2014 Sheriff T Welsh QC (Director of the Judicial Conference) Sheriff Duff (deputy director of Judicial Institute) International: The director and deputy director of the JI presented a session at the conference entitled 'The Role of the Judiciary in Promotion of a Culture of Tolerance'. Held in Islamabad, Pakistan. All costs met by host country.
9 May 2014 Sheriff T Welsh QC (Director of the Judicial Institute) Lord Brodie Visit by delegation from the China University of Political Science and law and the Baowei Corporation: The main purpose of the visit was to gain an insight into the Court of Session and the public law litigation system in Scotland, in light of China's recent revision of its Administrative Litigation Law Held in Edinburg. £103.35
22-26 June 2014 Sheriff McFadyen International Society for the Reform of Criminal Law Conference in Vancouver, Canada: Sheriff McFadyen was invited to address Crimes and Punishments from Beccaria to Present on preventing crime and promoting speedy trial: what would Beccaria think of us? Held in Vancouver, Canada £1,408.31 (overall cost of attending the conference).
19 August 2014 Sheriff A Duff (Director of the Judicial Institute) Punjabi Judicial Academy Via Skype Participation in training course being delivered to Pakistani judiciary No costs
5 September 2014 Sheriff A Duff (Director of the Judicial Institute) Visit by Norwegian delegation of judges and court staff To observe court proceedings and judicial training in Scotland. Held in Edinburgh. No costs
16 - 17 September 2014 Sheriff A Duff (Director of the Judicial Institute) Visit to High Judicial and Prosecutorial Council of Bosnia and Herzegovina: To demonstrate the Scottish approach to the issue of witness protection and the giving of evidence by vulnerable witnesses.Held in Bosnia and Herzegovina All costs paid by host country £21.00
14 Nov 2014 The Judicial Institute Board - Lord Malcolm (Chairman of the Judicial Institute) Lord Woolman (Vice Chairman, of the Judicial Institute)Sheriff A Duff (Director of the Judicial Institute) Sheriff A Cubie (Deputy Director of the Judicial Institute) UK and Ireland Judicial Studies Council annual meeting Edinburgh: The UKIJSC consists of representatives of the judicial training institutions throughout the UK and Ireland. It meets annually to exchange ideas and information about judicial training £249.50
26 March 2015 Lady Scott Visit by Japanese Supreme Court Justice Takehiko Otani The Judicial Institute hosted an afternoon visit to the Sheriff court and High Court Held in Edinburgh. No costs
12 April 2015 Lord Gill Commonwealth Chief Justices Association Conference Scotland's turn to host the event Held in Glasgow £1741.56
22 June 2015 Lord Malcolm (Chairman of the Judicial Institute) Sheriff A Duff (Director of the Judicial Institute) Visit from Jiangxi, China: The Judicial Institute welcomed a delegation from Jiangxi for a half day visit to learn about Scotland's legal system. Held in Edinburgh. No costs
24 June 2015 Lord Carloway International Society for the Reform of Criminal Law Conference: Lord Carloway delivered a speech on the use of digital technology in the fair and efficient presentation of evidence. Held in Edinburgh. No costs
2 July 2015 Lord Woolman (Vice Chairman of the Judicial Institute) Visit from Seoul Central District Court, South Korea The Judicial Institute for Scotland hosted a visit from Judge Dohyoung Kim who wished to learn about warrants in the Scottish legal system. Held in Edinburgh. No costs.
31 August - 4 September 2015 Sheriff A Duff (Director of the Judicial Institute) EJTN Exchange Visit The Judicial Institute hosted a visit from Judge Frieda San Jose Arrongo who visited the Judicial Institute for Scotland as part of the EJTN exchange programme. Held in Edinburgh All costs met by EJTN
4 September 2015 Sheriff A Duff (Director of the Judicial Institute) Sheriff A Cubie (Deputy Director of the Judicial Institute) Visit from Hubei High People's Court, China: The Judicial Institute hosted a half-day visit of senior judges who wished to discuss areas including the management and supervision of judges as well as alternative dispute resolution and IT. Held in Edinburgh. No costs.
14 September 2015 Sheriff A Duff (Director of the Judicial Institute) Visit from Fredrikstad District Court, Norway: The Judicial Institute coordinated a visit by judges and staff who observed criminal trials, and took part in a panel discussion on a wide range of subjects. Held in Edinburgh, £262
16 October 2015 Lord Woolman (Chairman of the Judicial Institute) Sheriff A Duff (Director of the Judicial Institute) Visit from Beijing The Judicial Institute hosted a late afternoon visit of judges from Beijing High Peoples Court who wished to learn more about judicial training. Held in Edinburgh, No costs
8 - 14 December 2015 Sheriff A Duff (Director of the Judicial Institute) Sheriff A Cubie (Deputy Director of the Judicial Institute) Visit from Pakistan Judicial Training Academies: The Judicial Institute hosted a visit of two judges from the Punjab Judicial Academy who wished to learn more about the Scottish legal system and judicial training in Scotland. Held in Edinburgh. No costs
26 January 2016 Sheriff A Duff (Director of the Judicial Institute) Punjabi Judicial Academy Participation in training course being delivered to Pakistani judiciary Held via SKYPE. No costs
14 April 2016 Lord Carloway World Bar Conference: Lord Carloway was invited to speak at the World Bar Conference. This event brings together the members of independent boards of International Council of Advocates and Barristers. Held in Edinburgh. No costs recorded.
30 May to 2 June 2016 Lady Dorian Lord Pentland Lord Brodie Lord Menzies Lord Bannatyne Lord Woolman Lady Scott Sheriff A Duff JI AMB INTERNATIONAL CONGRESS: Members of Scottish Judiciary presented sessions on the Scottish Legal System over the 4 day conference and hosted a reception for the 180 Brazilian judges plus 70 invited guests Held in Edinburgh. £7,010.40
6 July 2016 Lord Pentland China Law Society Visit from members of the China Law Society which conducts research into all areas of legal and judicial reform Held in Edinburgh, No costs
So, next time you see a protest in another country, against a justice system which serves itself, rather than delivers justice for the community it serves, spare a minute and think, did our judges cause that mess to happen? The odds are, if you believe our own Lord President – Yes.
BRAZIL JUDICIARY’S £7K SUPPER: Scottish reception as investigation reveals UK & Scots judiciary’s links to bribe companies:
Scotland’s Judiciary serenaded Brazil judges while a major ongoing investigation by Brazilian authorities continues into British Companies who bribed their way round Brazil industry and government.
A recent investigation by the Guardian Newspaper and BBC Panorama has established one of the companies - Rolls Royce - may have benefited from use of alleged payments by network of intermediaries for years Rolls Royce - may have benefited from use of alleged payments by network of intermediaries for years
The latest investigation comes after the Guardian newspaper revealed last year Rolls-Royce was facing further scrutiny over bribery allegations in Brazil after a high-level congressional commission told the newspaper it will investigate the company in connection with a sprawling corruption scandal.
The Guardian further reported Rolls Royce were involved in two investigations in Brazil after the company admitted last it is cooperating with investigating bodies, believed to include Brazil’s federal anti-corruption authority. The commission confirmed the inquiry intends to examine Rolls-Royce’s relationship with Brazil’s state-owned oil company, Petrobras, currently ensnared in a multibillion-dollar bribery scandal which has prompted political turmoil in the country.
However, any prosecutions or legal action taken as a result of evidence accrued by investigators and authorities in Brazil - is likely to come before members of the AMB Association of Brazilian Magistrates - Brazil’s Judges Association – who were recently in Scotland on public cash junkets to ‘study’ the Scots judicial system and attend ‘law conferences’.
The Association of Brazilian Magistrates held their second International Congress in the United Kingdom from 23 May to 2 June, 2016. After a series of events in London, up to 200 delegates headed to Scotland as guests of events in Parliament House, the WS Library, Edinburgh University and Stirling University.
Information disclosed by the Judicial Office confirmed 180 judges from Brazil were serenaded at plush conferences and expensive dinners by Scottish judges who themselves hold financial stakes in companies also accused of bribery and inciting corruption around the world.
Also on Scottish judges shareholdings list is mining favourite BHP Biliton, who are linked to a massive lawsuit for $44 billion over the collapse of iron ore tailings dam in Bento Rodrigues, a subdistrict of Mariana, Brazil - which killed at least 17 people.
Previous articles on the lack of transparency within Scotland’s judiciary, investigations by Diary of Injustice including reports from the media, 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.