Showing posts with label Quangos. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Quangos. Show all posts

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

£70K Chief Executive ‘missing for 6 months’ at Scottish Legal Complaints Commission as Justice Secretary dodges questions on scandal-hit law quango

MacAskill tight lippedJustice Secretary Kenny MacAskill. KENNY MACASKILL, Scotland’s Justice Secretary remained as tight lipped as ever in answers to questions raised in the Scottish Parliament over the abysmal performance of the SCOTTISH LEGAL COMPLAINTS COMMISSION, once hoped by many to repair much of the scandal surrounding the Law Society of Scotland’s notoriously corrupt closed shop client complaints process against its member solicitors, which has seen thousands of consumer complaints against Scottish lawyers swept under the carpet each year by the legal profession’s own self regulator.

james_kellyJames Kelly MSP for Glasgow, Rutherglen (Labour) James Kelly MSP, Labour MSP for Glasgow Rutherglen and a member of the Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee put several questions to the Scottish Government on issues of performance, expenses, budget and costs of the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission, which were answered by Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill, who appointed the current board & staff to their positions at the SLCC.

SLCC 1.7m public funds to Sept 2008£2million of taxpayers money was lavished on the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission. Amid calls for the SCLCC to be made to pay back , the public purse its massive formation costs, from its huge reserves of £1.5 million, the Justice Secretary refused to answer any questions relating to budget, expenses & costs of the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission, and simply stated any such enquiries should be made directly of the SLCC itself. Mr MacAskill in his replies to Mr Kelly appeared unwilling to disclose to Parliament, the millions of pounds of public funds lavished on the expensive, anti-client law complaints quango, which has now drained up to £2million from the public purse.

The Justice Secretary also refused to confirm the extent of the SLCC’s massive surplus funds of £1.5 million, which are now also the subject of criticism from the Law Society of Scotland & the Faculty of Advocates.

SLCC members expenses SLCC Board members claim staggering amounts of money on expenses while employed in other quango jobs at public expense. I reported on the extent of the costs to the taxpayer of the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission in an earlier article. here : Scottish Legal Complaints Commission refuse to repay £1.7million public funds as board member revealed to sit on Govt. Accounts scrutiny quango. In that article I revealed some of the SLCC’s members were claiming up to £15K a year in expenses while holding other well paid quango positions and ‘advisory roles’ to Scottish Government organisations.

Also in an earlier article I covered the SLCC’s annual report, which revealed it had done little work on complaints, preferring to pass most complaints back to the Law Society of Scotland : Scottish Legal Complaints Commission reveals it passed most complaints about lawyers back to Law Society, has failed to act on Master Policy report

SLCC website before & after questions asked in Parliament March 2010SLCC’s website ‘changed overnight’ after questions were raised at Holyrood over its performance & cost to taxpayers. While Justice Secretary MacAskill avoided disclosing much in the way of details in his answers to the parliamentary questions set by Mr Kelly, the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission appeared to shake itself up somewhat, publishing all minutes of meetings since July 2009 which it had previously withheld from publication. The SLCC’s Board Minutes for 2009, and those available for 2010 now published in albeit ‘redacted’ form, can be downloaded here : SLCC 2009 Board meetings & here : SLCC 2010 Board meetings

Eileen MastermanSLCC Chief Executive Eileen Masterman on a staggering £1350 a week, now absent for 6 months. The SLCC’s meetings from November 2009 onwards reveals its Chief Executive, Eileen Masterman, on a salary of £1350 a week, has apparently been absent from Board meetings and her post since late November 2009, being replaced temporarily in December 2009 by the SLCC’s Chair, Jane Irvine who from papers appeared to take on the Acting CEO role, which was then passed onto the SLCC’s Rosemary Agnew, according to the Board minutes for January 2010.

The Scottish Legal Complaints Commission were asked for comment on Eileen Masterman’s absence as CEO, however at time of publication have not replied to media enquiries …

The questions raised by James Kelly MSP to the Scottish Government regarding the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission :

James Kelly (Glasgow Rutherglen) (Lab): To ask the Scottish Executive what plans it has to review the performance of the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission.

(S3W-32561)

Kenny MacAskill: We have no plans to carry out a review of the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission at this time. It is too early to assess the effectiveness of the commission as it has only been operational since October 2008 and transitional processes remain ongoing.

Under the Legal Profession and Legal Aid (Scotland) Act 2007, the commission is required to publish a report, as soon as practicable after the end of the financial year, reporting on the discharge of its functions in that year and such action as the commission proposed to take in the following year. Scottish Ministers laid their 2008-2009 Annual Report in the Scottish Parliament on 8 February 2010.

James Kelly (Glasgow Rutherglen) (Lab): To ask the Scottish Executive what discussions it has had with representatives of the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission since its inception and regarding what issues.

(S3W-32562)

Kenny MacAskill The Scottish Government has been in regular contact with the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission on a range of issues such as the appointment of board members, the publication of the Commission's annual report, the Legal Services (Scotland) Bill and the transitional arrangements for complaints relating to the time before the Commission’s inception. Such discussions have been conducted on the basis that the Commission is largely independent of Government in how it fulfils its statutory responsibilities.

James Kelly (Glasgow Rutherglen) (Lab): To ask the Scottish Executive what the cost has been to the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission of complaints that it has itself investigated.

(S3W-32563)

Kenny MacAskill: The Scottish Legal Complaints Commission is responsible for setting its budget and any questions about its costs and spending should be directed to the Commission.

James Kelly (Glasgow Rutherglen) (Lab): To ask the Scottish Executive how much the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission has received from levies paid by the legal profession in 2009-10 and, of that income, how much has been spent on (a) running costs and (b) investigations.

(S3W-32564)

Kenny MacAskill: The Scottish Legal Complaints Commission is responsible for setting the levy and any questions about this should be directed to the Commission.

James Kelly (Glasgow Rutherglen) (Lab): To ask the Scottish Executive whether the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission has a budget surplus.

(S3W-32565)

Kenny MacAskill: The Scottish Legal Complaints Commission is responsible for setting its budget and any questions relating to this should be directed to the Commission.

James Kelly (Glasgow Rutherglen) (Lab): To ask the Scottish Executive who monitors the expense claims of board members of the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission.

(S3W-32566)

Kenny MacAskill: The Chief Executive of the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission is the accountable officer and is responsible for ensuring the propriety and regularity of the finances of the Commission and questions relating to financial monitoring should therefore be referred to the Commission.

The Commission is subject to audit by the Auditor General for Scotland and is required to lay the audited statement of accounts before the Scottish Parliament.

James Kelly (Glasgow Rutherglen) (Lab): To ask the Scottish Executive what the total amount of expenses paid to board members of the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission (a) was in 2008-09 and (b) has been in 2009-10.

(S3W-32567)

Kenny MacAskill: The Scottish Legal Complaints Commission is responsible for setting its budget and questions about its spending should be addressed to the Commission.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Having difficulty obtaining legal aid in Scotland ? spare a thought for SLAB's new board members on £212 a day, Chairman on £301 a day

MacAskill tight lippedJustice Secretary Kenny MacAskill. While many Scots face great difficulty & obstruction in attempting to claim legal aid funds to enable their access to justice or legal services, the many unfortunate claimants among us may or may not wish to spare a thought for workload of the latest appointments to the Scottish Legal Aid Board, announced last week by Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill, where four new board members (Alastair Kinroy QC, Sheriff Ray Small, Ray MacFarlane and Bill McQueen CBE) are to receive £212 a day for a time commitment of 3.5 days per month while the reappointed Chairman, Iain A Robertson CBE, makes do with an even more modest £301 a day for a time commitment of 2 days per week.

While most of us have to make do, or more usually can hardly cope with one job, many of those appearing in this round of appointments seem to have three or more well paid positions on various other quangos & Scottish Government institutions as the following Scottish Government release reveals.

SG lawyers salariesScottish Legal Aid Board appointments

The Cabinet Secretary for Justice today announced the appointment of four new members and the reappointment of the Chairman and two members to the Scottish Legal Aid Board.

The new members are Alastair Kinroy QC, Sheriff Ray Small, Ray MacFarlane and Bill McQueen CBE.

Alastair Kinroy QC has been a member of the Scottish Bar since 1987 and a Queen's Counsel since 2005. Previously he was a court solicitor in Edinburgh. His practice has been mostly in the Court of Session, with occasional Sheriff Court work. In his early years at the Bar he did a volume of Family Law work; in more recent years commercial work has been a significant part of his practice. His practice has always had a large element of personal injury work and professional negligence cases. He holds no other Ministerial public appointments.

Sheriff Ray Small has been a Sheriff at Hamilton, since 2001, having previously served as a Temporary and Part Time Sheriff, for three years. Before appointment to the bench, he qualified as a Solicitor in 1982 and practised in Glasgow, specialising in civil and criminal court work. He joined the Bar in 1992 and practised there until his Shrieval appointment. Sheriff Small also acts as a Director of Family Mediation, South Lanarkshire, and as an Independent Chair of the Scottish Football Association's Appeals Tribunals. He was involved in the Youth Court pilot scheme at Hamilton and is a contributor to legal textbooks on court procedure. He holds no other Ministerial public appointments. As Sheriff Small remains a Sheriff, he receives no remuneration for this appointment.

Ray Macfarlane practised as a solicitor in Glasgow before moving into senior management roles with Scottish Enterprise and HBOS plc. She is Deputy Chair of the Scottish Arts Council and Scottish Screen, a Trustee of the National Galleries of Scotland and a Non-Executive Director of the Scottish Housing Regulator. Ray receives remuneration of £2,280 p.a. for the latter role. She holds no other Ministerial public appointments.

Bill McQueen CBE is a former Deputy Chief Executive of the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service and has extensive experience of central government and its sponsored bodies, having also worked in the Scottish Office and Scottish Executive in a number of policy areas including Transport, Management and Organisation, and delivery of Corporate Services. Bill is currently a member of the Accounts Commission for Scotland (£6200 p.a.), a Non-Executive Director of Disclosure Scotland (£215 per day) and a Lay Member of the Employment Tribunals (Scotland) (£174 per day). He holds no other Ministerial public appointments.

Reappointments

Iain A Robertson CBE (Chairman) was chief executive of Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) from 1990 to 2000 having previously spent 15 years with BP, latterly as director of acquisitions and divestitures in the USA. In addition to other senior industry and voluntary sector roles, he has served as a member of several boards, including the Scottish Tourist Board, Locate in Scotland Supervisory Board and the Cairngorms Partnership.

Iain is a member of the Accounts Commission (£6216 p.a.), an independent member of the Business Innovation and Skills Legal Services Group Board (£4800 p.a.), an independent member of HMRC Solicitor's Office Strategic Management Group (£4800 p.a.) and Chairman of the Coal Liabilities Strategy Board at the Department of Energy and Climate Change (£750 per day). He holds no other Ministerial public appointments.

Paul McBride QC joined the Bar in 1988 and became the youngest Queen's Counsel in the UK in the year 2000. He specialises in criminal defence work and has served as an Advocate Depute. He holds no other Ministerial public appointments.

Graham Watson retired from the Royal Air Force in 2003 as a Group Captain after 31 years' service. He is a professional engineer with over 30 years of senior management experience in a wide range of appointments. He is currently a member of Fife NHS Board where he is Chair Glenrothes and North East Fife Community Health Partnership for which he receives remuneration of £16,016 p.a.

These appointments and reappointments will be for 4 years and will run from April 1, 2010 to March 31, 2014.

The members posts are part-time and attract a remuneration of £212 per day for a time commitment of 3.5 days per month.

The Chairman's post is part-time and attracts a remuneration of £301 per day for a time commitment of 2 days per week.

SLAB is an Executive Non-Departmental Public Body established under the Legal Aid (Scotland) Act 1986 to manage legal aid in Scotland. Its primary aims are to deliver efficient, effective and value for money legal assistance services; to broaden access by exploring new ways of providing and supporting quality assured legal advice services; to contribute to the improvement and effective operation of the justice system.

These Ministerial public appointments were made in accordance with the Commissioner for Public Appointments in Scotland's Code of Practice.

All appointments are made on merit and political activity plays no part in the selection process. However, in accordance with the original Nolan recommendations, there is a requirement for appointees' political activity within the last 5 years (if there is any to be declared) to be made public.

Paul McBride has declared that he is currently the Advisor to the Conservative Party on Scottish and UK Law and Order and has previously spoken and canvassed on behalf of both the Labour Party and the Conservative Party. None of the other appointees or reappointees have been involved in any political activity.