Wednesday, December 06, 2017

CRY WOLFFE: Judicial Office hit with new conflict of interest claims as Court of Session papers reveal £9 million damages claim against Chief Constable & Lord Advocate James Wolffe QC was set to be heard by the Lord Advocate’s wife - Judge Lady Wolffe

Court details reveal judge scheduled to hear case against her own husband. SCOTLAND’S judiciary are facing fresh allegations of conflict of interest after it emerged a multi million pound damages claim against the Lord Advocate and Scotland’s Chief Constable for wrongful arrest and financial damages – was set to be heard by a judge who is the wife of the Lord Advocate.

The NINE million pound damages claim against Scotland’s top cop and top prosecutor has been lodged by David Whitehouse – a former administrator at Rangers FC – who is seeking financial damages from Police Scotland's Philip Gormley and Lord Advocate James Wolffe QC.

A copy of the Court Rolls handed to the media at the time reveal Lady Sarah Wolffe QC – an outer house senator of the Court of Session – was scheduled to hear the case involving the claim involving the Lord Advocate - her own husband - A295/16 David Whitehouse (represented by Urquharts) v Liam Murphy &c (represented by Ledingham Chambers for SGLD - Scottish Government Legal Directorate) - on November 15 2017.

Liam Murphy is currently listed as a Crown Office Procurator Fiscal on “Specialist Casework”.

However, Lady Wolffe appears to have been removed from the hearing, with no official comment from the Judicial Office or Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service (SCTS).

Claims have since been made Lady Wolffe was suddenly dropped from the hearing when it ‘emerged at the last minute’ her husband – Lord Advocate James Wolffe - was involved in the case.

A report from a source claims a second Court of Session Judge - Lady Wise QC - was then scheduled to hear the case.

However, the silent replacement of Lady Wolffe with Lady Wise - has now raised serious questions as to why there are no references to any note of recusal made by Lady Wolffe – who clearly had a conflict of interest in the case given one of the core participants in the action is her own husband – the Lord Advocate.

The case then takes another turn after media reports of the hearing on Wednesday 15 November reveal a third judge – Lord Arthurson QC – eventually heard the case, and has since arranged for a four day hearing for legal arguments.

The background to the civil damages claim stems from when David Whitehouse and Paul Clark were appointed to the former Rangers Football Club PLC in 2012 after owner Craig Whyte declared the business insolvent.

The Duff and Phelps administrators faced a failed prosecution bid by the Crown Office in relation to the collapse of the Ibrox oldco, while Mr Whyte was found not guilty of fraudulently acquiring the club during a trial in June.

The charges against David Whitehouse and his colleague Paul Clark were later dropped.

Both PoliceScotland Chief Constable Phil Gormley and Lord Advocate James Wolffe claim police and prosecutors acted in accordance with correct legal procedure.

Yet questions remain on how the Crown Office acted in this case, and many others where prosecutions which ultimately collapse, appear to be based on flimsy or even non-existent or unprovable evidence.

Police arrested and charged Mr Whitehouse and Mr Clark during the investigation into businessman Craig Whyte's takeover of the club in 2011. Charges were dropped following a court hearing before judge Lord Bannatyne in June 2016.

Lawyers acting for Mr Whitehouse claimed their client was "unlawfully detained" by detectives in November 2014. They also said that throughout the period of detention, there was no reasonable grounds to suspect that Mr Whitehouse had broken the law.

Mr Whitehouse also claimed that police obtained evidence without following proper legal procedure. An indictment against Mr Whitehouse was issued without any "evidential basis", his lawyers said.

It is also claimed the actions of police and prosecutors are said to have damaged Mr Whitehouse' reputation of being a first-class financial professional and led to a £1.75m loss in earnings.

A legal document states: “He lost income, in particular his entitlement to bonus payments and future earnings. His reputation was severely damaged.”

At the hearing on Wednesday 15 November  – originally scheduled to be heard by Lady Wolffe -  lawyers acting for Mr Whitehouse appeared during a short procedural hearing where it also emerged Mr Whitehouse's colleague Mr Clark is also suing the chief constable and Lord Advocate.

At the hearing, Court of Session outer house Judge Lord Arthurson arranged for a four-day hearing into the legal issues surrounding the case to take place at a later date.

Given the similarities of the two claims, lawyers are now examining whether the two actions should be rolled into a single case.

The case has emerged from the circumstances surrounding Mr Whyte's takeover of Rangers in 2011. Mr Whitehouse and Mr Clark worked for Duff & Phelps and were appointed as administrators of the club in February 2012. Four months later, the company's business and assets were sold to a consortium led by Charles Green for £5.5m.

Mr Whitehouse believes that his human rights were breached as a consequence of the actions of the police and prosecutors.

The chief constable and the Lord Advocate claim that police and prosecutors acted in accordance with correct legal procedure.

Lawyers acting for the top cop & Lord Advocate claim that Mr Whitehouse's human rights were not breached and that he did not suffer any loss or injury as a consequence of the actions taken by the police and prosecutors.

Lawyers acting for the Chief Constable & Lord Advocate also claim should be dismissed because the Lord Advocate is exempt from civil action from people who were the subject of a legal investigation.

However, the use of the Lord Advocate’s immunity from civil action - in times where the Crown Office have often been found to have got things wrong in court, or have acted improperly during investigations and the application of criminal charges, should now come under increased external scrutiny and ultimately be withdrawn from legislation.

The Judicial Office, and the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service have both refused to issue any further comment or statement on this case, despite the Judicial Office informing journalists a statement would be issued, over two weeks ago.

However, questions remain as to why no recusal has been posted by the Judicial Office with regards to Lady Wolffe stepping aside from the case.

Clearly, had a register of judicial interests existed in a form currently being studied by MSPs of the Scottish Parliament’s Public Petitions Committee, incidences such as these could be avoided.

Lady Wolffe Biography:

The Hon Lady Wolffe was appointed a Judge of the Supreme Courts in March 2014.

Lady Wolffe qualified as a solicitor in 1992 and worked at the Bank of Scotland legal department from 1992 to 1993. She called to the bar in 1994 and until 2008 practised as a junior counsel, mainly in commercial and public law. From 1996 until 2008 she was also standing junior counsel to the Department of Trade and Industry and its successor departments. Since 2007 she has been an ad hoc advocate depute. She was appointed QC in 2008. As senior counsel she has practised mainly in commercial and public law. She was a member of the Disciplinary Tribunal of the Faculty of Advocates 2005-2008 and has been a member of the Police Appeals Tribunal since 2013. Mrs Wolffe emigrated to the United Kingdom in 1987.

Crown Office Specialist Casework Function:

The Crown Office Specialist Casework Function – currently led by Deputy Crown Agent: Lindsey Miller - comprises a number of specialist units involved in the delivery of case preparation and the provision of  other legal services in support of COPFS core functions where the nature, size and/or complexity of the case or subject matter means that it is most effectively dealt with within Specialist Casework. This Function is managed nationally by Liam Murphy, Procurator Fiscal Specialist Casework, but delivered from various locations throughout Scotland.

The Specialist Casework units are:

  • Appeals
  • Criminal Allegations against the Police
  • Health and Safety Crime (including the Helicopter Incident Investigation Team)
  • International Co-operation Unit
  • Proceeds of Crime Unit
  • Scottish Fatalities Investigation Unit   (including Road Traffic Fatalities Unit)
  • Serious and Organised Crime  (including Counter-Terrorism and Economic Crime)
  • Wildlife and Environmental Crime Unit 

The Civil Recovery Unit also sits within Specialist Casework.

The Specialist Casework and the High Court Functions together are known as Serious Casework.


Anonymous said...

ewww disgusting or what!

Anonymous said...

Surely this cannot be allowed to go on.Despite all your good work and the Scottish Parliament here we have the judiciary showing their true form and telling everyone to get lost because they can get away with whatever they like and this includes wives heading cases against their own husbands.
If it can happen to someone such as Mr Whitehouse who has lawyers working for him the same can happen to anyone and we are all vulnerable in the eyes of the courts.

Anonymous said...

Excellent article and I saw the court roll page you published.This is what I like about your blog Peter you always publish the evidence so there is nothing left to chance although as someone said on yesterday's article sometimes your articles are so heavy on detail they slow down computers or my ipad to read it! DO Not take this as any criticism rather praise for your attentiveness to detail!
Keep up the good work!

Anonymous said...

Corrupt as fk. This profession reeks of dishonesty. A law unto themselves.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

Surely this cannot be allowed to go on.Despite all your good work and the Scottish Parliament here we have the judiciary showing their true form and telling everyone to get lost because they can get away with whatever they like and this includes wives heading cases against their own husbands.

If it can happen to someone such as Mr Whitehouse who has lawyers working for him the same can happen to anyone and we are all vulnerable in the eyes of the courts.
Good Morning,

Yes indeed I they have no power to keep them in awe as Thomas Hobbes wrote about humans who had no government or other power to regulate disputes between parties. The system is set up by them, for them and they cover up everything that suits their interests and swing cases as they see fit to suit their interests. Even in criminal cases (and I am referring to the profession as a whole) I have no doubt these crooks would bend the law to suit the outcome they wanted. In fact law is words on paper until it is enforced by a human. The Scottish Legal Establishment are professional criminals masquarading as members of a justice system.
Like employers, lawyers, doctors, local authorities and more are all insured by the same company, another set of links that kill off litigation cases when it suits them. Stay away from lawyers is the best advice I can give.

Anonymous said...

So much for relying on the new rule introduced months if not years ago by Lord Carloway, the current Lord President, assuring us that all recusals would be recorded and available to the public.

This is a COVER UP pure and simple!

Anonymous said...

This is corruption no other word for it.Are they going to claim this was another clerical error like in the case of the secret Braccadale recusal you unearthed and the judges then backdated the info to make it look like nothing happened?

As I read in another comment and fully agree with - We can no longer trust the judiciary now we know what is going on and this is thanks to journalists who stand up to what is nothing short of judicial dictators.

Diary of Injustice said...

@ 13 December 2017 at 10:48

The SCTS have issued a statement claiming exactly this, however as you point out, a similar statement was issued after journalists uncovered the unpublished recusal by Lord Bracadale in the construction company waste dumping case - and that statement had no credibility and am reliably informed the latest claim re Lady Wolffe hearing the case against her own husband was not a mistake.

Interestingly the person who issued the statement on behalf of the SCTS left his job to transfer to another Scotgov department minutes after the statement.

Anonymous said...

obviously set up so the wife could hear it!

Anonymous said...

You were right all along Peter I was told yesterday there was a deliberate attempt to have Lady Wolffe hear this case and dismiss the claim

Frustrated Client said...

6 year battle to get justice after my solicitor drew up an agreement for a property in bought in solicitor charged me to register the document which he failed to do and then in 2012 claimed the original document was lost but failed to tell me this back in 2006 when he discovered it was lost !!.Since 2012 I have had to employ another solicitor to pursue my case ,during this time I have had excuse after excuse and now the solicitor who is still being paid byou me and legal aid refuses to communicate with me .Where do I go with this ?????????