Scots judges run up £43K taxpayer bill for overseas junkets. SCOTLAND’S judiciary ran up a taxpayer funded £43K bill on overseas travel junkets in just one year, travelling around the globe on what the Judiciary of Scotland and Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service (SCTS) claim is official ‘judicial’ business.
But the huge increase in judicial jetting around the globe - which doubled in cost from £22,605.92 in 2015.16 to £43,354,91 in 2016/17 – flouts previous attempts by former top judge Brian Gill to “take control” of judges demanding to go on foreign trips to luxurious destinations, with hotels & golf clubs & ‘hospitality’ added to the mix.
And, chief among the big time spenders of public cash on air miles is the Lord President himself - Lord Carloway - who already earns a public salary of £222,862 a year.
Carloway – real name Colin Sutherland - who also goes by the title of Lord Justice General - took a taxpayer funded £4,189.96 jet flight to Washington DC on what the Judicial Office claim is a “UK/USA Legal Exchange” held in Philadelphia and Washington.
While his number two – Lady Dorrian – Scotland;s first ever female judge serving as Lord Justice Clerk earning £215,216 a year - racked up the most expensive flight on taxpayers in the past year – a £6,188.99 trip to attend the Commonwealth Law Conference held in Melbourne Australia.
Also added to the grand list of judicial jet setting across the globe by Scotland's judiciary is a double overseas junket taken by Lord Matthews and Sheriff Norman McFadyen – who were travelling to the ISRCL - Halifax, Nova Scotia legal seminar in Canada.
Lord Matthews – a Court of Session Senator claimed £4017 costs for the trip, compared with Sheriff McFadyen’s £1842 bill to the public purse.
An investigation of this trip revealed Lord Matthews travelled in a separate business class seat compared with the Sheriff who was forced to fly premium economy class.
The trip by Lord Matthews & Sheriff McFadyen also breached judiciary guidelines on overseas travel issued in 2014 by Lord Brian Gill - which said, as a “general rule”, only one judge or sheriff need attend each conference.
Former Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland also appears on the list of travel junkets by Scottish Judges.
Mulholland was promoted by Lord Carloway to a seat on the bench in the Court of Session – after he blocked a criminal prosecution of footballer David Goodwillie for rape.
Mulholland also blocked criminal charges against the driver of the Glasgow bin lorry which ran out of control in December 2014 killing six people in the centre of Glasgow while injuring 15 others.
Lord Mulholland, as he is now known – took a two day trip on the taxpayer to the European Court of Justice meeting on the 18 - 20 Sept 2016 in Luxembourg, at a staggering cost of £1,216.34
Previous investigations into Overseas travel records released by the Judicial Office for Scotland have also revealed Court of Session judge Lord Brailsford enjoyed a £4,898.94 eight day taxpayer funded junket to Sydney Australia from 11 – 19 November 2015.
Lord Brailsford – who became widely known after his son escaped criminal charges for ‘rape & murder’ threats to a girl on twitter - was outed in published documents obtained from the Scottish Government as the listed owner of the Laigh Hall – which forms part of Court of Session buildings located at Parliament House, Edinburgh.
Earlier reports also revealed Lord Gill enjoyed a two day trip during the twilight days of his short, if stormy three year term as Scotland’s top judge - to the Forum of Chief Justice of British Isles - held in the tax haven of Jersey. Lord Gill claimed £302.09 expenses on top of the £231.60 cost of travel to Jersey - taking the cost of his last ‘confirmed’ judicial overseas junket as top judge - to £533.69.
A Scottish Sun investigation revealed Lord Brian Gill travelled to Qatar in 2014 on a five day £2,800 taxpayer funded state visit - while dodging invitations to attend the Scottish Parliament to face scrutiny on his opposition to increased transparency of the judiciary.
And in early 2016, Lord Gill billed the Scottish Parliament a further £267.75 worth of expenses claims - after the former top judge travelled 1st class to Edinburgh in November 2015 - demanding MSPs drop a three year probe on proposals to create a register of judicial interests as called for in Petition PE1458: Register of Interests for members of Scotland's judiciary.
The Sunday Mail newspaper also investigated judicial overseas junkets in 2015 - revealing three sheriffs spent £15,000 on an overseas junket to Zambia in Africa JUDGE JET: Sheriffs’ £15K tour of Africa adds to air miles racket of Scots judiciary - as top judges' clampdown on judicial jet set junkets takes flight.
And a report in the Sunday Mail on June 2 2013 revealed Scottish judges spent over £83,000 on overseas travel junkets in three years - while top judge Lord Gill refused calls to appear before the Scottish Parliament to answer questions on the judiciary’s secretive financial interests & links to big business, banks & the professions.
Lord Matthews was travelling to the same legal seminar in Canada but racked up a huge bill in first class while Sheriff Norman McFadyen went economy.
By Craig McDonald 14 MAY 2017 Sunday Mail
A judge ran up a £4000 taxpayers’ bill flying business class to a conference – while a sheriff who accompanied him sat in economy.
Judge Lord Matthews and Sheriff Norman McFadyen were travelling to the same legal seminar in Canada.
But Matthews claimed £4017 costs for the trip, compared with McFadyen’s £1842 bill to the public purse.
High Court judge Lord Matthews also filed £201 in expenses for the excursion to Halifax, Nova Scotia, last year.
Sheriff McFadyen, who sits at Edinburgh Sheriff Court, claimed no cash back.
The trip also appeared to breach judiciary guidelines issued in 2014 which said, as a “general rule”, only one judge or sheriff need attend each conference.
Another trip saw five High Court judges – Lords Brodie, Glennie, Doherty, Pentland and Lady Scott – attend a Strasbourg conference at a total cost of £4378.
It also cost £1408 to send four sheriffs – Corke, Reith, Mackie and Stewart – to a conference in Dublin.
The taxpayer coughed up £43,354 for foreign travel by the judiciary office last year. The figure was double the total of £22,605 in 2015.
Labour’s justice spokeswoman Claire Baker MSP said: “Questions should be asked about why one person is travelling at twice the cost of another.
“There will be legitimate reasons why the judiciary require to attend international events.
“However, this is an overall significant increase on the previous year and they need to be mindful that this is public money. All trips need to be proportionate.”
Scottish Tory justice spokesman Douglas Ross MSP said: “This is a huge increase in travel costs and needs to be explained.
“When guidelines state that one judicial member should be sufficient for each event, it’s questionable why so many have been travelling together.
“This is taxpayers’ money and shouldn’t be splashed out on needless flights.”
The judge and sheriff were attending the International Society for the Reform of Criminal Law seminar between July 24 and 28 last year.
In 2014, the then Lord President, Lord Gill, issued guidance on overseas travel in which he stated “it should only be necessary for one judicial office holder to attend a conference overseas”.
Lord Gill said it would only “be in exceptional cases that I am likely to consider it necessary for more than one person to attend”. He added: “In all cases where funding is being sought, I will require a business case to be produced.
“I will need a clear justification for any overseas travel.”
Figures for judicial travel for the 12 months to March 31 showed a total of 38 trips were made overseas.
The biggest single claim was for a £6188 trip to Australia by Lady Dorrian to attend the Commonwealth Law conference in Melbourne.
The least expensive was when Lord Tyre managed an Academy of European Law trip to Frankfurt at a cost of just £84. The High Court judge did claim a further £57 in expenses for the trip last April.
Lord Tyre also attended events in Brussels, The Hague, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Warsaw, Madrid and Rome.
One of the most widely travelled of the judiciary last year was Edinburgh Sheriff Gordon Liddle.
He attended the Commonwealth Magistrates’ and Judges’ Association in Georgetown, Guyana, at a cost of £3637 and a European Network of Councils for Justiciary event in Warsaw, Poland, costing £607.
Sheriff Liddle also attended events in Ljubljana, Slovenia, costing £383 and in Bratislava, Slovakia, costing £285.
A spokesman for the Judicial Office for Scotland said last week: “There will be occasions where it is appropriate to send more than one member of the judiciary to important legal conferences.
“Attendance at overseas conferences is only authorised by the Lord President where there is a clear justification.”
He added: “Lord Matthews flew business class, while Sheriff McFadyen flew premium economy/economy, which goes some way to explaining the difference in cost.
“Furthermore, Lord Matthews’ flights required to be booked closer to the date of departure as he was presiding over a trial.”
JUDICIAL JUNKETS – Judges cost taxpayers £43K in flights to ‘legal’ conferences, hotels with health spas, golf courses & hospitality in 2016/17:
The full list of Overseas trips for 2016-2017 currently acknowledged by the Judicial Office for Scotland:
10 - 12 April 2016 Lord President - CJEU Bilateral meeting - Luxembourg £673.83 £20.00 £693.83
10 - 12 April 2016 Lord Tyre - ENCJ Conference - Barcelona £284.76 £74.69 £359.45
21 - 23 April 2016 Lord Tyre - Board of Trustees of the Academy of European Law - Frankfurt £84.64 £57.09 £141.73
1 - 3 June 2016 Lord Tyre - ENCJ General Assembly - Warsaw £604.94 £73.97 £678.91
1 - 3 June 2016 Sheriff Liddle - ENCJ General Assembly - Warsaw £607.35 £32.86 £640.21
29 - 30 June 2016 Lady Dorrian - Joint meeting of the Working Party on e-Law with legal practitioners - Brussels £511.92 - £511.92
3 - 4 July 2016 Lord Tyre - ENCJ Executive Board Meeting - Madrid £464.59 £76.35 £540.94
24 - 28 July 2016 Sheriff McFadyen - ISRCL - Halifax, Nova Scotia £1,842.93 - £1,842.93
24 - 28 July 2016 Lord Matthews - ISRCL - Halifax, Nova Scotia £3,816.19 £201.74 £4,017.93
6 - 11 August 2016 SP Abercrombie - Representing the Scottish Sentencing Council -Salt Lake City, Utah. £230.98 £36.13 £267.11
14 - 23 Sept 2016 Lord President - UK/USA Legal Exchange - Philadelphia and Washington USA £4,189.96 £123.11 £4,313.07
18 - 20 Sept 2016 Lord Mulholland QC - Attending ECJ meeting - Luxemburg £1,131.03 £85.31 £1,216.34
18 - 22 Sept 2016 Sheriff Liddle - CMJA Conference - Georgetown, Guyana £3,637.78 - £3,637.78
26 - 27 Sept 2016 Lord Tyre - ENCJ Project Group Meeting - Rome £381.07 £104.93 £486.00
1 - 3 October 2016 Lady Dorrian - Opening Legal Year - Dublin £623.21 - £623.21
1 - 3 October 2016 Lord Doherty - Opening Legal Year - Dublin £623.21 £162.19 £785.40
3 - 14 October 2016 Sheriff L Drummond - FBIJCC Stage 2016 - Paris £3,185.32 £350.83 £3,536.15
16 - 21 October 2016 Sheriff O'Carroll - IAJ Conference 16 - 21 October 2016 - Mexico City £3,660.29 - £3,660.29
17 - 28 October 2016 Sheriff C Cunninghame - FBIJCC Stage 2016 - Bordeaux £1,899.73 £210.70 £2,110.43
20 - 22 November 2016 Lord Brodie - Bilateral between the European Court of Human Rights and the Senior Judiciary of Scotland - Strasbourg £740.14 £229.62 £969.76
20 - 22 November 2016 Lord Glennie - Bilateral between the European Court of Human Rights and the Senior Judiciary of Scotland - Strasbourg £817.23 - £817.23
20 - 22 November 2016 Lord Doherty - Bilateral between the European Court of Human Rights and the Senior Judiciary of Scotland - Strasbourg £817.23 £47.51 £864.74
20 - 22 November 2016 Lord Pentland - Bilateral between the European Court of Human Rights and the Senior Judiciary of Scotland - Strasbourg £827.43 £82.13 £909.56
20 - 22 November 2016 Lady Scott - Bilateral between the European Court of Human Rights and the Senior Judiciary of Scotland - Strasbourg £817.23 - £817.23
21 November 2016 Lord Tyre - ENCJ Executive Board meeting - Brussels £366.87 £87.16 £454.03
24 - 25 November 2016 Sheriff D Corke - 4 Nations Public Guardian Conference - Dublin £361.32 - £361.32
24 - 25 November 2016 Sheriff F Reith QC - 4 Nations Public Guardian Conference - Dublin £363.48 £39.65 £403.13
24 - 25 November 2016 Sheriff A Mackie - 4 Nations Public Guardian Conference - Dublin £298.19 £8.40 £306.59
24 - 25 November 2016 Sheriff N Stewart - 4 Nations Public Guardian Conference - Dublin £336.90 £336.90
8 - 9 December 2016 Lord Tyre - Attending ENCJ Independence & Accountability Project Team Meeting - The Hague £441.97 £63.21 £505.18
11 - 12 December 2016 Sheriff Liddle - ENCJ - Project Group Meeting - Bratislava £285.36 £22.15 £307.51
26 - 28 January 2017 Lord Boyd - Attending ECHR Judicial Seminar, Principle of international Law - Strasbourg £497.40 £32.53 £529.93
12 - 14 February 2017 Lord Tyre - ENCJ Executive meeting - Brussels £428.74 £30.39 £459.13
12 - 14 March 2017 Sheriff Liddle - ENCJ Project team meeting - Ljubljana £383.69 £26.78 £410.47
15 - 25 March 2017 Lady Dorrian - Commonwealth Law Conference - Melbourne Australia £6,188.89 £6,188.89
16 - 17 March 2017 Lord Tyre - ENCJ, Project meeting - Vienna £301.98 £12.25 £314.23
26 - 28 March 2017 Lord President - Judges Forum, 60th Anniversary of the signatures of the Treaties of Rome - Luxembourg £32.14 £32.14
30 - 31 March 2017 Lord Tyre - ENCJ, Digital Justice Seminar - Amsterdam £132.94 £132.94
Total cost of trips: £42,860.72 Total Expenses claimed: £2,323.82 Grand Total of Judicial Overseas costs to March 2017: £43,354.91
GUIDANCE BY GILL – Former Lord President Brian Gill’s guidance on judicial overseas junkets:
After several spats between members of the judiciary who were keen to take overseas junkets to luxurious destinations & enjoy tours, hospitality & golf instead of attending law conferences on taxpayers cash, Lord Gill attempted to curtail demands of greedy judges on the public purse.
Guidance issued by Lord Gill in 2014 stated:
I have been reviewing the arrangements to control expenditure to meet attendance at conferences by the judiciary, especially where the conference is taking place outwith the United Kingdom. I have also been considering the arrangements for the authorisation of all other overseas travel to be paid from public funds. With immediate effect the following arrangements are to apply to future requests.
Requests for funding for attendance at conferences and for all other overseas travel should be sought only from the Judicial Office . No request for support to meet attendance at conferences, or other overseas travel should be made to any other part of the Scottish Court Service.
In all cases where funding is being sought I require a business case to be produced by the judicial office holder or the judicial representative body that is seeking funding. The business case does not need to be long, but it must:
(i) identify the nature of the conference;
(ii) the number of judicial office holders it is suggested should attend;
(iii) why that number is necessary if it is more than one;
(iv) the benefit either to those attending or to the judiciary more widely from attendance at the conference;
(v) the likely costs of attendance ; and
(vi) the likely impact on the efficient administration of business.
The business case should be sent to the Executive Director of the Judicial Office for Scotland, Stephen Humphreys. He will assess whether funds are available to meet the costs of attendance and if so pass the business case to me.
I will then consider all requests and respond directly to the judicial office holder. I will need a clear justification for any overseas travel. As a general rule it should only be necessary for one judicial office holder to attend a conference overseas. It will only be in exceptional cases that I am likely to consider it necessary for more than one person to attend.
Where support is provided to attend a conference a report is to be prepared and sent to the Executive Director within one month of the end of the conference. The report will be placed on the Judicial Hub and the Judicial website. It is important that as many of the judiciary as possible are able to benefit from the investment of public money in attending the conference.
Lord President Lord Gill, July 2014
Previous articles on the judiciary’s use of public cash to fund judicial overseas junkets can be found here: Overseas travel of Scottish judges.