Wednesday, February 22, 2023

LEGAL EXPENSES SCRUTINY: Probe of Legal Expenses Insurance providers operating in Scotland’s legal services market – reveals lack of regulation, insurers going back on agreements to pay legal fees & an in-house complaints system designed to protect insurers against clients

Files show Insurer agreed to pay claim INVESTIGATIONS of cases funded and managed by Legal Expenses Insurers operating in Scotland – suggest insured clients are not adequately protected by Scotland’s legal regulator the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission (SLCC).

Files made available to the media across several Legal Expenses Insurance cases reveal on many occasions - client’s insurance policies end up being charged wild fees of tens of thousands of pounds at a time with little or no work to show

And, insured clients – from members of the public to business owners - often see their legal expenses insurer underwritten policies turned against their own cases and litigation - by solicitors and member law firms of the Law Society of Scotland & Advocates and Kings Counsel of the Faculty of Advocates.

Documents handed to journalists show clients are often forced to take poor & inadequate legal advice, with some clients intimidated by their own legal teams into signing secrecy agreements & walking away without settlements, clients litigation fees & insurance policies ripped-off on an industrial scale.

In one case currently under investigation, a Legal Expenses Insurer and several law firms appointed to represent a claim, appear to have spent nearly forty thousand pounds of the client’s insurance policy – with absolutely no result for the client, other than the inaction & delays resulting in potential time bar affecting certain parts of cases.

A case example currently under investigation by journalists reveals a named Legal Expenses Insurance provider appointed a series of law firms to represent a claim, in which a named KC of some seniority gave advice on expectation of loss of contracts and loss of business in relation to an identified Scottish public authority.

And during a meeting with the Counsel who was confident in his advice, the audio of which has been made available to legal regulators – the Kings Counsel clearly stated litigation should commence on certain aspects of the claim, yet for unexplained reasons, the law firm assigned to represent the claim failed to act.

Files from later dates within the same case identify additional law firms assigned to the claim by the Legal Expenses Insurer – however additional audio from meetings which has been handed to legal regulators reveals bizarre conversations with legal representatives who refuse to consider evidence and material obtained via Freedom of Information legislation.

The files – which currently cannot be published for legal reasons – then show delays and inactivity of hundreds of days where law firms are withdrawn from acting, then another law firm achieves an outcome relatively easily, then a new law firm refuses to act – leading to the Legal Expenses Insurance provider authorising the client to obtain legal representation due to there not being any alternative panel solicitors to represent the claim.

A communication to the client of 27 May 2022 – which has been made available to journalists – reads as follows “Please provide the contact details of the solicitor you wish to appoint so we can make contact with them. You have already exhausted our panel solicitors so we are unable to appoint another panel solicitor.”

An examination of documents appear to show indemnity for the claims associated with the case was never withdrawn by the Legal Expenses Provider.

Files then show a new law firm was approached by the client, with the permission and backing of the Legal Expenses Insurer.

Once work commenced via the latest law firm, the insured client presented fee notes to their Legal Services Insurance provider, which obtained the following email response dated 6 December 2022: “As agreed with your solicitor, they will be invoicing us for their costs upon conclusion of the claim”

However, after a series of disputed opinions, and issues raised in relation to conflict of interest which are now being investigated by journalists – the latest law firm withdrew from acting in the case after providing a new Counsel’s opinion which is directly at odds with two other opinions issued by Kings Counsels in the same insured claim.

This case which is subject to an ongoing media investigation illustrates how poorly clients of Legal Expenses Insurers are treated in Scotland, with a complete lack of oversight and regulation of the insurers activities.

It is highly likely parts of the case featured in this article will end up in the Scottish Courts, where some of the very detailed evidence of wrongdoing within Scottish public authorities, and a series of less than coincidental acts by members of Scotland’s legal profession delayed any earlier litigation in the case – as specified by the original Kings Counsel who was first consulted over two years ago.

Legal Expenses Insurers, like all other financial services providers operate in-house complaints processes which almost always are used by the provider to whitewash any wrongdoing – as clients, consumers and regulators are very familiar with over the decades.

Comment on this article and an ongoing media investigation into consumers experiences with Legal Expenses Insurers will be sought from the Scottish Court & Tribunals Service, and Scots legal regulators.

If you have been subject to poorly treated by a Legal Expenses Insurance provider, journalists would be interested to hear your experiences. Please contact the blog via

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

NHS COVER-UP: Deputy FM John Swinney accuses NHS Grampian of damaging medical providers - seeks action from Health Secretary on report detailing how NHS Grampian Executives & staff deliberately targeted & discredited medical companies to switch contracts, cover-up Procurement Fraud & conceal Patient Safety risks

Health Sec. must act on NHS Grampian – John Swinney. SCOTLAND’S Deputy First Minister has demanded action from the Health Secretary on a report containing evidence of a malicious campaign carried out by named NHS Grampian Executives and staff who targeted medical companies to remove their business, hand the same contracts to former colleagues in the NHS, and cover-up their own use of untested chemicals on hundreds of patients.

The report – sent by John Swinney to Health Secretary Humza Yousaf with a written demand for action – quotes references from the probe of how NHS Grampian Executives and staff colluded in a discrediting campaign against medical providers to switch their business to other companies & colleagues.

Mr Swinney’s letter highlights conclusive findings which state: ”In investigating, it appears that from June 2018 there has been an unnecessary need to engage with Wassenburg as the preferred contractor of choice and that need has created some poor decision making including what appears to be discrediting MDUK to meet that need.”

Since early 2021, journalists have been examining the evidence in relation to the NHS Grampian scandal, submitting several FOI requests to obtain disclosure on events around procurement corruption, unlawful removing of contracts from certain medical providers and handing their business to former NHS employees, and a wider range of allegations of corruption around several individuals at NHS Grampian.

Some of the information obtained by journalists examining this case, and certain documents obtained via Freedom of Information and other sources, has been published on Twitter in a lengthy thread, which begins at the following link: FOI confirms NHS Grampian conducted thousands of invalidated procedures & covered-up incidents

An initial Freedom of Information request to NHS Grampian confirmed the NHS Trust has conducted thousands of invalidated procedures & covered-up the incidents- potentially putting thousands of patients’ at risk - after a whistleblower medical supplier – Medical Devices UK - reported NHS Grampian were using incorrect processes in endoscopy equipment.

A collection of documents released in response to Freedom of Information requests from journalists - detail the extent of discussions between NHS Grampian staff who were attempting to cover their tracks on using untested chemicals on patients can be found here: NHS Grampian Patient Safety Chemicals misuse probe FOI2021732

During the ongoing investigation, material was also obtained by journalists in relation to a secret internal NHS Grampian report authored by an NHS Grampian employee Mr Peter Gilchrist.

The original unredacted version of this report, which is also held by Deputy FM John Swinney - can be found here: DR GRAYS - Peter Gilchrist Report 20-12-19

Mr Gilchrist’s internal report details significant and serious wrongdoing within NHS Grampian, and goes into considerable detail on how contracts and business were removed from medical providers, accusing NHS Grampian Executives and staff of mounting a discrediting campaign against medical providers, at significant cost to taxpayers.

The report also identifies by name - NHS Grampian Executives and staff who were involved in a highly organised campaign, targeting medical providers to remove their business and hand it to former colleagues who previously worked in the NHS.

However, when journalists requested a copy of the report via Freedom of Information legislation, the version of the report released to journalists by NHS Grampian – was found to have been deliberately re-worded for FOI release – and omitted key evidence terms finding NHS Grampian Executives and Staff deliberately set out to discredit existing medical providers.

On studying the report, and further FOI material - it has become clear NHS Grampian employees were acting in a common cause - with an intention to remove business from medical providers – in this case – Medical Devices UK, and switch MDUK’s business to ‘preferred bidders’.

Further enquiries by journalists have established the ‘preferred bidders’ who were handed MDUK’s business - turned out to be former NHS employees.

Currently, the Scottish Information Commissioner is examining material and statements from journalists in relation to NHS Grampian’s re-wording of Freedom of Information disclosures.

The Scottish Information Commissioner’s office has also asked journalists if they are willing to speak to Police Scotland on this matter.

It is worth noting, this same report authored by Peter Gilchrist of NHS Grampian - in original form - was held by John Swinney for two years prior to NHS Grampian’s disclosure of a false version in late 2021

At this time, there is ongoing work by journalists in relation to this case, and further articles will appear detailing specific incidents, including NHS Executives discussing how to alter and rig evidence for presentation in the Court of Session.

Journalists are also examining material which indicates a former Cabinet Secretary for Health – Shona Robison – appeared to understand the extent to which Scottish Ministers were being deliberately misled by NHS Grampian Executives.

In a letter dated 2018 to John Swinney, the then Health Secretary Ms Robson informed Mr Swinney she backed a resolution to the affair – in which Ms Robison indicated the working relationship between NHS Grampian should be restored with reliable medical providers who had been subject to a concerted and malicious campaign by NHS Grampian Executives and staff.

And, prior to the Deputy First Minister’s demand for action on this scandal, John Swinney wrote directly to NHS Grampian in February 22, stating the actions of NHS Grampian staff had damaged the business of Medical Devices UK – damage which is backed up by evidenced material disclosed via Freedom of Information legislation.

Mr Swinney wrote: “As I have looked at a number of matters raised by Mr Donnelly, I am concerned that his business has been damaged by the unwarranted actions of some NHS Grampian personnel. I have been trying to secure satisfactory answers for some time but am frustrated by the lack of progress. Consequently, I now believe that the only appropriate way to resolve the series of issues connected with this case is through an independent investigation. I will therefore be writing to the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Care, Humza Yousaf MSP, to raise this matter with him and to ask that such an investigation takes place.”

Journalists have this week, attempted to establish why there has not yet been a response from the Cabinet Secretary for Health, Humza Yousaf, to the Deputy First Minister’s letter of 8 March 2022.

It has since been made known Mr Swinney’s office is currently seeking a response to the Deputy First Minister’s points in relation to the actions of NHS Grampian.

DFM John Swinney’s letter to Cabinet Secretary for Health Humza Yousaf:

I write on behalf of my constituent, Mr Jason Donnelly. Mr Donnelly is the Managing Director of Medical Devices UK Ltd, a company that provides an independent testing and validation service for decontamination facilities. The company previously provided these services at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary and a number of other NHS sites.

For nearly four years, I have been making representations on behalf of Mr Donnelly regarding ongoing issues his company has had with NHS Grampian. My representations have centred around my constituent’s concern that NHS Grampian was trying to discredit his company, allegations of manipulation of procurement frameworks, concerns over the transparency of NHS Grampian throughout this process and, latterly, the apparent editing of documents obtained via Freedom of Information requests.

In both September 2017 and February 2018, Medical Devices UK identified potential patient safety risks within NHS Grampian facilities due to attempted changes to the existing processes for cleaning equipment and storage of endoscopy equipment to ensure effective decontamination.

As a result of performing this contracted work and flagging the safety breaches to NHS Grampian staff, Mr Donnelly believes that senior figures within the health board have attempted to discredit his company, prevent his company from obtaining other work within NHS Scotland and ultimately blame his company for the safety breaches which were recorded as mandatory failures by NHS Grampian staff in the investigation report to MHRA.

As a result of the fallout from the incidents in September 2017 and February 2018, Mr Donnelly subsequently lost his business with NHS Grampian. This has been the cause of significant financial difficulties for my constituent’s business.

Mr Donnelly has shown me documentation that leads my constituent to believe that NHS Grampian has acted in a dishonest manner. For your convenience, I have included copies of these documents for your perusal.

Appendix 1 is an e-mail trail from May 2019 that shows a senior figure within NHS Grampian contacting NHS Tayside to warn them against using Medical Devices UK as a contractor. Several other FOI communications now reveal this was more widespread.

I have also included Appendix 2, which is an NHS Grampian Internal Report. On page 10 of this report, it reads: “In investigating, it appears that from June 2018 there has been an unnecessary need to engage with Wassenburg as the preferred contractor of choice and that need has created some poor decision making including what appears to be discrediting MDUK to meet that need.”

The above-statement from the NHS Grampian Report makes reference to Wassenburg Ltd, another company that can provide services similar to that of Medical Devices UK.

My constituent is concerned that, following the potentially malicious removal of his company’s existing three-year contract with NHS Grampian, Wassenburg were one of the companies awarded the contract by NHS Grampian to take over Medical Devices UK’s duties, allegedly without any satisfactory procedural process being followed. Mr Donnelly advises that NHS Grampian have subsequently been found to be in breach of contract.

Mr Donnelly has since obtained further material via Freedom of Information requests that contain communications between staff of National Services Scotland and NHS Grampian. Mr Donnelly states that these documents contain e-mail discussions between staff over how to ensure Medical Devices UK are not selected for any contracts, how to evade rules and the tendering process.

I have written to your two predecessors, Shona Robison MSP and Jeane Freeman, regarding my constituent’s concerns. I was grateful for their substantive responses to my correspondence, but my constituent has repeatedly stated via information obtained from FOI disclosures that the information being provided to the Scottish Government and Scottish Ministers by NHS Grampian was inaccurate and misleading. Mr Donnelly has confirmed to me that he is in possession of several pieces of evidence that prove this to be the case.

An example of NHS Grampian’s potential lack of transparency is the editing of a document obtained via Freedom of Information.

Throughout this ongoing process, Mr Donnelly has obtained a significant number of documents via FOI requests. One such document was a copy of Appendix 2, the previously- discussed internal NHS Grampian report that was sent to Mr Donnelly in 2019.

I have attached as Appendix 3 a copy of the report, which was received in 2021 by Mr Donnelly under FOI. Whilst this document should be an exact copy of the original document in Mr Donnelly’s possession, it has subsequently been edited at some point prior to being issued via FOI.

On page 10, the report now reads: ”In investigating, it appears that from June 2018 there has been an unnecessary need to engage with Wassenburg as the preferred contractor of choice and that need has created some poor decision making on the part of both and including what appears to be a clear attempt by to bring into disrepute MDUK so as to achieve a desired outcome.”

I wrote to Professor Hiscox, Chief Executive of NHS Grampian, regarding this matter in October 2021 (Appendix 4). She replied stating that the NHS Grampian Board Secretary, Sarah Duncan, would investigate this matter. I have attached Professor Hiscox’s reply with Ms Duncan’s findings as Appendix 5. As you can see, no satisfactory answer was provided as to why this document was edited.

I believe that the concerns raised by my constituent are of such a serious nature and that there are serious questions over the reliability of the information that NHS Grampian has provided and their transparency throughout this ongoing affair.

Given the protracted nature of this dispute, and the legitimate concerns over the conduct and transparency of NHS Grampian, I believe that the most appropriate way to investigate the concerns raised by my constituent would be via an independent investigation.

I am grateful for your consideration of this matter and I look forward to your reply.

Further articles and developments on this growing NHS Grampian scandal will be published in due course as material obtained by the media is studied, investigated and released to publication.

Thursday, October 20, 2022

SCOTS LAW: Legal Highs, Legal Lows. A legal profession which prides itself in preying on clients, ripping-off Legal Aid, fixing court outcomes, concealing malicious prosecutions & judicial conflicts of interest, obstructing public access to justice - and - Why you should really question much of what your lawyer tells you.

World leading? Not a chance M'lud. ONE DAY is a long time in Scotland’s legal world, let alone a full year – but we all can be assured the consistency of wrongdoing, industrial scale dishonesty, legal fee overcharging & outright malice - from Scotland’s legal profession - whether it be in dealing with clients, working in court in civil hearings or in criminal trials, or working for public authorities – is never ending.

While blog journalists have been working on real life cases for the past year, it may be worth reminding readers your rights with regard to regulation of your legal representatives, are as ineffective and futile as they have ever been in Scotland, right up to this date.

After all, since 2008 and some Thirty Five Million pounds plus, later – much of it recovered from fees you pay to your solicitors *and perhaps money & assets your solicitor strips you of when your case goes not the way you were told it would - the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission (SLCC) has not once named a corrupt solicitor or law firm – or actually had any impact on standards of legal service in Scotland.

Fourteen years for the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission - billed in 2008 as an “independent” regulator of Scotland’s legal services – to have absolutely zero material impact on the scale of dishonesty in Scotland’s legal profession – is itself a tribute to how corrupt Scotland’s legal mcmafia really is, and – an indicator of the sheer level of control exerted by professional groups such as the Law Society of Scotland, and Faculty of Advocates (to name but two) on how MSPS and the Scottish Government can or cannot give increased rights to consumers of legal services in Scotland.

For instance, are you looking for a lawyer right now to conduct legal business or perhaps pursue a civil claim, or defend you in a criminal trial?The fact is, if you are trying to find out if a particular solicitor or law firm has any record of complaints, discipline issues, or are just plain corrupt - you - the consumer - are not going to find out.

So, why would you even bother going to a lawyer or a law firm who has perhaps fleeced one hundred clients before you go through their doors? Think first, readers .. do you really need to spend Five thousand pounds on a batch of letters to, say - your next door neighbour for the next Five years over a fence which is 10cm higher than it should be … and then lose the case in court and have to pay your own solicitor say .. another Twenty Thousand pounds for losing, and then end up sequestrated by the solicitor’s good friend the local Sheriff – when you cannot pay the legal fees?

Yes, it is that easy. It’s your money, your lives, your home, your family, your business – consumers. Think first, Tens of thousands of people have gone before you thinking they are smarter than a Scottish lawyer, and what happened next? Well, the statistics tell their own story. Thousands of complaints a year to Scotland’s so-called ‘independent’ legal regulators – staffed by lawyers and their families – and guess what, a tiny amount of redress if anything, and thousands of clients lives ruined.

The public debate on legal services in Scotland is rather odd, and very biased.

Mostly, any public debate on Scotland’s legal profession, is driven by the legal profession itself.

Having examined Scotland’s cliquey legal profession for decades, worked on thousands of cases, reported on hundreds more – and when assigned cases to assist clients through the often murky, dishonest world of legal services and Scotland’s institutionally dishonest courts system and not forgetting the institutionally everything bad Crown Office – it can be easily said – consumers of legal services in Scotland have about as much chance of obtaining a fair hearing, as a baked pie in front of a group of staring, salivating alligators with Scottish LLB Law degrees & judicial robes.

The world, of course – is a bigger place. And, with the advantage of the internet, and the ability to communicate on global platforms, away from the Scots legal mcmafia sponsored public relations spin, and bought up influencers, clients, consumers, journalists and readers can find a more open and less legal profession driven debate on justice, the courts, legal services, and just about anything else you can think of.

Example - If you are interested in US politics and the US Courts, and judiciary – and trust me – you should be - readers who want to expand their knowledge of what judges and lawyers do in and out of court, should start looking at how the US media cover America’s justice system and the US Supreme Court - because - in the US, journalists and lobby groups are much more open and willing to investigate and write up exactly what is going on with a judges' interests, conflicts of interest and recusals.

Even better, there are Law Professors and Academics in the US, who will tell you – the public - the absolute truth about the workings of the US Judiciary and 'SCOTUS' - otherwise known as the Supreme Court of the United States.

Expand your knowledge, people. Look at how other countries media deal with their justice systems and those parts of the judiciary which consider themselves too powerful to be held accountable to ethics, expectation of justice, or even – the law itself.

Reading up on how other countries report on their judges, courts and the workings of the justice system will easily bring even the occasional reader to conclude much of what you have just read, is never reported in Scotland or the UK. In fact, academics here can very easily be roped into (mostly willingly) in what are absolutely vicious campaigns against journalists looking at the workings of the judiciary.

There are of course, other advantages of reading media outside the sphere of Scotland’s legal profession reach in that journalists don’t have to put up with ranting calls from UK or Scottish Judicial Office Press Officers, who end up screaming down the phone at journalists and editors because the thorny question of judges conflicts of interest, judges unexplained wealth & lifestyle, and participation in political deals, lobbying, international bargaining and political lobbying here in Scotland come up for scrutiny.

As colleagues in the media have observed – reviewing the audio records of those calls, would indeed one day make a good book.

So, what have blog journalists been looking at in the past year.

A deep dive into certain long running news articles in relation to the plight of victims in all kinds of scandals, from medical to ill treatment at the hands of whichever Scottish public service, such as Health, Policing, Courts, Judiciary, Local and Central Government – have revealed that lawyers and their law firms quoted three paragraphs down in the articles – are demanding their ‘clients’ sign up to Non Disclosure Agreements – even before legal representation is taken on – and that any compensation recovered be subject to significant success fees for the law firm involved, with clients also forced to sign an agreement they will not raise a complaint, or their representation will be terminated.

And, it certainly does not take too long for lawyers who give quotes to the media on how they are so involved in representing their clients case – to call in a client for a menacing chat, which – now that we live in a world where everyone records everyone … is much more able to be reviewed by journalists and people outwith the legal profession.

The law firms involved, are – unsurprisingly – all “Award Winning Law Firms” – based in Scotland’s big cities and regularly quoted in whatever scandal is the headliner for the week, or weekend.

Still think you are smarter than a Scottish Lawyer? … hmmm!

Does the following example apply to anyone you know?

A meeting with your lawyer goes like this.

Hello, dear client. Tell me your case. Wow! I have never heard of your predicament before ... This is a disgrace! I can take you on as a client but first, you must sign up to our terms of business, give us Five grand, and you also have to sign a Non Disclosure Agreement - and while you are at it, we would like to store your property titles, just in case you cant pay our fat padded faked-up legal fees and we will take your house instead.

Hey folks, this happens a hundred times a week in Scotland. And, for years. Decades even. So, why not get wise to it instead of being ripped off. Don't say you haven’t been told!

Here’s a question for readers:

Have you ever wondered why – in the past fourteen years from 2008 to 2022 – hardly anyone ever gets to see the actual detail in complaints investigations, outcomes, quantum on actual losses by clients compared to the derisory compensation (if any) paid out by predatory law firms after an ‘investigation’ by the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission?

Small numbers, isn’t it. A handful. And, few if any law firms named – in the past Fourteen Years.

In an active case currently under scrutiny, journalists were handed recordings which reveal clients are being threatened during arbitration hearings organised by the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission.

Yes, you read that correct. Clients who agreed to arbitration hearings organised by Scotland's legal regulator - are being openly threatened and intimidated by solicitors - in front of 'qualified' arbitrators and Legal Complaints Commission staff.

Perhaps, upon reading this, you may think the Arbitrators and SLCC staff may step in, even offer to assist the client over the lawyer's shouting, threats and intimidation and their audible threats of using courts and Scotland's ever-puppet judiciary to go after clients.

Not a chance. In fact, the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission denied the Arbitrators or their own staff members hear or witness anything – yet the audio records confirm these events.

In fact - journalists have also been handed communications where the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission actually threatened clients - who had already been threatened at SLCC run Arbitration hearings - that if they uttered a word of what happened - the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission would act against them in some undefined way.

To say the above is corruption at work, would be an understatement at least - but you can be sure, when our investigation is complete, the material in these cases will be published.

Now, to some other issues journalists have been looking into.

Recent cases brought to this blog's attention reveal solicitors are requesting extra payments over legal fees from clients, in crypto currency.

These payments, in many cases appearing to be forced payments, with a threat that if they are not made legal work will cease on anything from claims against councils, to writing a will - are being demanded by law firms from a wide spectrum of clients, including the elderly - the latter of which first drew journalists attention to - as reports were coming in of elderly clients unable to handle technology to the point law firm employees were visiting home addresses to help their clients set up crypto currency accounts which would pay into accounts held by solicitors or 'other persons' connected to a law firm - but which strangely do not show up in the law firm's accounts to the Law Society of Scotland or HMRC.

So, if any readers have elderly or vulnerable relatives who are being forced into making off-the-books crypto currency payments to Scottish law firms - you can email this blog with the details to add to the information now being collected by journalists.

Oh, and if you were wondering how deep Scotland’s legal profession has dived into crypto currencies - to make it all nice and legal, the Scottish Government working group on crypto assets and crypto currency is headed by a UK Supreme Court judge - Lord Hodge.

A number of cases where criminal complaints and investigations have arisen in relation to activities at properties owned by Scots lawyers, and several members of the judiciary in EU countries and in the Gulf states, have been passed to journalists.

Allegations in respect of these cases range from financial crime to tax avoidance, domestic violence, and sexual assault.

Interestingly, many of those who have passed on information in relation to allegations and criminal complaints in such cases, are from Scotland or the UK, and have attended properties owned by certain high flying Scots lawyers & Advocates - in a guest role, of sorts.

Further information in relation to properties in the Gulf States - owned by leading figures of Scotland’s legal world, including the judiciary document cases where persons employed by the owners have been subject to threats, and in certain cases, swift deportation back to their countries of origin, mostly in Asia after events witnessed at the premises became subject to allegations and investigations.

Several key figures within Scotland's legal establishment - have sought to ensure these cases - do not come to light in the media, however the leads are now being investigated and publication may occur at a later date.

In a case which relates to a cover-up within Scotland’s NHS Estate – journalists have been investigating links between Scotland’s legal world & the misuse of evidence by key NHS organisations, over the past 15 months.

The case extends to cover significant patient risks, concealed by NHS Executives who were involved in switching multi million pound contracts and trying to cover their tracks.

Journalists have been investigating the NHS scandal involving NHS Grampian, in which NHS Executives and staff arranged, and colluded to target and discredit Scottish Medical Providers, in a malicious campaign to remove their business, and transfer the contracts to preferred providers.

The sums involved total millions of pounds, and investigating the trail of wrongdoing within NHS Grampian has led to the detection of organised fraud and collusion within Scotland's entire NHS estate and factual evidence revealing corruption right at the heart of NHS National Procurement.

Some of the documents in relation to the NHS Grampian fraud have been posted to Twitter. However a full investigation and publication of material will appear in due course.

Another issue journalists are looking into - is the wide and varied property ownership of solicitors and law firms.

In towns and cities across Scotland, local law firms and solicitors own and hold interests in multiple properties.

How these properties have come to be owned by solicitors is indeed, a very murky affair and a lengthy battle to reveal.

In many cases, there are solicitors who own twenty plus properties in very intricate ownership arrangements clearly designed to thwart persons from finding out the real owner.

Some lawyers have chosen to spread ownership around their families and relatives, whereas others have created offshore trusts and networks of companies of which the aim is clearly to defeat any link between the solicitor and the properties.

The family ownership link has been known about for some time, and frequently emerges when – for example – a solicitor’s partner decides to separate, and they then find out they own a selection of properties they were unaware of when their solicitor partner unleashes his colleagues on their subsequent separation and divorce.

An interesting revelation from the property scrutiny project – identifies solicitors who own significant numbers of rental properties and who are all receiving Housing Benefit paid rents from – in some cases – their criminal legal aid clients,

Yes, You read that correctly.

Solicitors are housing clients in what are in many cases – run down, rat infested flats and properties around Scotland AND – the rent on the property is paid to the solicitor in Housing Benefit, while the solicitor is also collecting Legal Aid cash for representing the client, his tenant in criminal trials.

There are hundreds of such cases currently being looked at. An example of one such case currently being investigated involves a solicitor and Tribunal judge - who represented a client who was found guilty of sexually assaulting paramedics. The client turned out to be the tenant of the solicitor, who was receiving Housing Benefit for his client’s rent, as well as Criminal Legal Aid for representing his client, found guilty of sexually assaulting paramedics.

Turns out the solicitor & Tribunal judge has been at this for years, raking in public cash for tenants he houses, and represents in criminal court at the same time – and – many solicitors are doing exactly the same.

The petition on the Register of Judges Interests. Yes, the petition rumbles on, and journalists await action by the Scottish Government. However, the time has been spent usefully studying the judiciary, watching how assets move, who talks to who, which judge is threatening who about transparency, and how judges waft around the world doing their wee bit for greed, avarice and sheer dishonesty in the legal world.

An update on the petition will be published in the coming weeks.

So, as you see - never a dull moment in the media, or in the legal profession.

And finally.

Whistleblowers. If you want to speak out on what is occurring in your public service, company or whatever the issue is - use an email service such as Protonmail or wherever, and contact the blog or a journalist that you trust and an editor who will not burn you to his friends in whichever public service you are speaking up against.

Monday, November 22, 2021

TRIBUNAL ROLE PROBE: Judge-appointed Vice-Chair of Scottish Solicitors Discipline Tribunal asks Court of Session to block Legal regulator probe of his conduct & role in “inappropriately brought” discipline case at Institute and Faculty of Actuaries

Tribunal Judge asks Court to block probe of his conduct. A SIGNIFICANT conflict of interest in how the legal profession investigates itself may play a role in one of three appeals to the Court of Session – after details emerged the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission (SLCC) – is facing legal action to block a regulatory investigation of three members of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (IFoA) – one of whom is Benjamin Kemp – the Vice-Chair of the Scottish Solicitors Discipline Tribunal (SSDT).

Material obtained by journalists reveal three separate appeals to the Court of Session against the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission’s decision to investigate Mr Benjamin John Tizzard Kemp and two additional members of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries. Mr Kemp is represented by Brodies LLP

The two additional IFoA members - Ms Emma Gilpin (Head of Regulation) and Mr Michael Scott (Head of Disciplinary) who also face investigation by the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission in the same complaint – have launched their own, separate appeals to the Court of Session which seek to overturn the SLCC's decision to commence an investigation of their professional conduct.

Details of the complaints lodged against the three Institute and Faculty of Actuaries members appear to relate to IFoA Disciplinary action which was thrown out by a Tribunal, which then awarded costs against the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries for bringing the case.

The complaints, submitted by Mr Rhodri Tomos, former Fellow of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries to the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission - relate to the bringing of a disciplinary action against Mr Tomos, from October 2019 to January 2021 after which the Disciplinary Tribunal Panel made a final determination the original disciplinary action was "inappropriately brought", "unconscionable" and "not in the public interest".

It has also emerged the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries were required to pay costs for the "inappropriately brought” disciplinary action.

Commenting on the case - Mr Rhodri Tomos, former fellow of the IFoA who submitted the complaints to the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission in relation to the conduct of Mr Kemp and the other IFOA members, said:

"The IFoA Disciplinary Tribunal Panel threw out the IFoA's case against me very quickly in just a couple of hours, when the hearing was listed for 3 days.

The panel, chaired by an experienced Court Judge, criticised the disciplinary as inappropriately brought, unconscionable and not in the public interest. That's the exact opposite of what the IFoA disciplinary scheme is supposed to be there for. The panel awarded costs against IFoA in my favour.

No member of the public had complained about me or my work. It was an internal "executive referral" from IFoA, which triggered my resignation from IFoA in Oct 2019 after working so hard since 2001 to qualify as a Fellow. I then suffered a long and stressful 16 months disciplinary process from IFoA, who used internal and external lawyers, including a QC against me, an unrepresented individual, yet they still lost.

My complaint to SLCC about the lawyers involved is entirely reasonable based on the DTP's findings, which are final, and deserves a full investigation in the public interest. This matter is entirely self-inflicted by IFoA, who along with their oversight body the Financial Reporting Council have failed to investigate my complaints throughout. "

Earlier today, a potentially serious conflict of interest in the appeal by the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries members has been identified by legal sources – where one of the three IFoA members – Mr Benjamin Kemp now under investigation by the SLCC – also holds the position of Vice-Chair of the Scottish Solicitors Discipline Tribunal (SSDT).

The Scottish Solicitors Discipline Tribunal is the third, and effectively the judicial tier of legal regulation in Scotland - which acts on investigations carried out by the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission and hears ‘prosecutions’ of solicitors and advocates - undertaken by the Law Society of Scotland & Faculty of Advocates.

The appointment of Solicitors Discipline Tribunal members by Scotland’s top judge the Lord President, currently Lord Carloway (Colin Sutherland) - effectively makes all Tribunal members including Mr Kemp - judicial appointees.

Commenting on court challenge, a legal source said: “We have a situation developing in this appeal where the Vice Chair of the SSDT, the senior tier of legal regulation in Scotland whose members are appointed by Scotland’s top judge – is now asking the same judiciary to overturn a decision of Scotland’s statutory legal regulator to investigate complaints about his own professional conduct.”

The Scottish Solicitors Discipline Tribunal website confirms the role of Scotland’s top judge in appointing members of the SSDT, stating: “The Tribunal has both solicitor and lay members. All are appointed by the Lord President of the Court of Session – Scotland’s most senior judge. Solicitor members are nominated by the Law Society of Scotland, but may not also be members of the Council of the Law Society. Lay members are drawn from all backgrounds and walks of life, following open advertisement The principles of public appointment are followed by the Scottish Government in making recommendations to the Lord President.”

The Scottish Legal Complaints Commission were asked for comment and issued the following response: “As you are aware, we are legally quite restricted in what we can say – under s43 of our Act we can’t comment on any complaint, with the law making it a criminal offence. This includes confirming or denying whether a specific complaint has been received.  We are lobbying for this to be changed so we can be more transparent, but need to abide by the current legislation.”

The Judicial Office and Lord President were asked for comment on the position of Mr Kemp in this Court of Session appeal against the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission, given the inherent conflict of interest of Mr Kemp – effectively a judicial appointee, and Vice Chair of the SSDT - a key organisation in the regulation of solicitors, now asking the judiciary which appointed him - to overturn an investigation of the statutory body the SLCC to investigate complaints against himself.

No statement has been issued by the Judicial Office prior to publication, however any further statement or response will be added to the article.

It has not been confirmed by the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries as to whether the individual lawyers or the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries itself - is funding this appeal in the Court of Session.

In response to media enquiries, the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries said: “The IFoA does not comment on any live proceedings.”

It should be noted that cost orders have been awarded against the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (IFoA) for investigations previously dismissed by the Disciplinary Tribunal.

These cost orders are referred to in the 2020-2021 Annual report of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries Disciplinary Board, which states:

“Three cases were dismissed by the Tribunal panel without a hearing of the parties. Determinations where findings of misconduct are not made are not usually published by the Tribunal panels unless requested by the Respondent. Costs were awarded against the IFoA in respect of two of the dismissed cases. The total costs awarded against the IFoA was £69,248.73.”

The Institute and Faculty of Actuaries Disciplinary Board cost guidance states costs are awarded when IFoA bring cases inappropriately or negligently.