Friday, April 14, 2006

Disclosing the regulatory history of lawyers in Scotland to help give choice to the consumer

The Scotsman 'obtained' a Freedom of Information request showing how many Police officers in Scotland had criminal records .... answer - at least 158 Scottish Police officers have criminal records - or more truthfully - the158 cases are the ones they were prepared to admit to .... so, who really knows ....

But of course .. how about making a request under the Freedom of Information Act to see how crooked your lawyer is, or how many lawyers in Scotland have had serious complaints made against them - or how many lawyers have criminal records, or have ripped off their clients - well - there's no chance of that one being answered - because the Law Society of Scotland secured immunity from the Freedom of Information Act for the legal profession ..... how do you feel about that then ? .... and how do you feel about that ? Policemen of Scotland ? .... one rule for you, another rule for the people who infrequently ruin your arrests & cases ? .....

Well, wouldn't you, a member of the public, want to know if a lawyer is a crook, or a criminal, or even a sex pervert or child molester ? ... damn right you would ! ... and you know what, you SHOULD have the right to know too .... what with lawyers up and down the length of Scotland being caught & arrested for molesting & abusing children, downloading illegal porn, indulging in public sex acts, embezzlement of client funds, stealing from charities & the dead, ruining firms for personal gain even, allegedly taking out murder hits on colleagues ... etc .... would YOU want such a person handling your legal affairs or having access to your family ? .. I wouldn't ...

Remember what the statistics say about lawyers in Scotland - 5000+ complaints a year .. and a lot more which the Law Society of Scotland denies ... and since there are only around 10,000 solicitors in Scotland, that means every one of them has probably had a complaint made against them - and their firms too .... many of those complaints of a VERY SERIOUS nature ....

.... so, don't you think you should have the right to know if lawyers have a history of being crooked or have criminal records, just as we have found out about the Police ? well, for me, at least, the answer to that is obviously YES .. these are people who, like the Police, are trusted with upholding & respecting the law - and acting in legal matters .. so we need to know the regulatory history of lawyers, for such information to be available to any client who wishes such a disclosure, and for that diclosure to a client to be a matter of course when a client wishes to give a solicitor work ...

This should be something which was in the new Legal Profession & Legal Aid (Scotland) Bill .. but of course, it was omitted - because the Law Society of Scotland don't want us, the general public, to know how crooked Scottish lawyers have been in the past - probably because if we found out the truth, we wouldn't trust them with a bag of bird seed ....but there is still time for all of you to write into the Justice 2 Committee of the Scottish Parliament and suggest this insertion into the new legislation ...

Here's the article from "The Scotsman" on the Police story - with another from the "Daily Record" to follow, on a senior lawyer in Linlithgow on charges of exposing himself to a young boy in a public bathroom ..

158 Scots officers have criminal record

* Police dismay as figures show 1 in every 100 officers convicted of a crime
* Two inspectors and nine sergeants of Strathclyde police have records
* Chief police officers vow to establish national vetting procedure

Key quote "You cannot have someone who has been convicted of drink-driving arresting a member of the public for the same thing" - senior police source

Story in full

AT LEAST 158 serving police officers in Scotland have convictions for offences ranging from assault and drink-driving to attempting to pervert the course of justice, The Scotsman can reveal.

The figures - obtained under the Freedom of Information Act - reveal six of Scotland's eight forces employ officers convicted of criminal offences, including inspectors and sergeants.

Politicians and police board members yesterday expressed their surprise at the high figure and pledged to ask questions of chief constables. And senior officers told The Scotsman of their concerns that some forces were being too lenient on some crimes committed by their staff.

The Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland (ACPOS) is so concerned by the issue it is now drawing up a set of national vetting rules which is likely to list convictions that will automatically bar someone from joining the service.

The issue was thrown into the spotlight by Fabian Wright, a former constable with Grampian, who was jailed last month for dangerous driving for his part in an off-duty accident that killed 16-year-old Lisa Marie Wyllie in Aberdeen last year.

Following his trial, the force admitted the 28-year-old had a previous conviction for theft before he joined the police.

Deputy Chief Constable Pat Shearer revealed another 24 serving officers in Grampian have convictions for offences committed before and during their police career, but insisted the force had introduced stringent new vetting procedures to weed out unsuitable candidates.

But the figures obtained by The Scotsman show the issue goes far further than one force. In Strathclyde, 82 police officers have records - 24 of whom had convictions before joining the force. Of the 82, two are inspectors, nine are sergeants and 71 constables, including six "specials".

Lothian and Borders would only give details about officers who had gained convictions since 2000, of which there are nine - three of whom were guilty of assault and six of breach of the peace.

Scotland has about 16,000 police officers, which means about one in every 100 has at least one criminal conviction. In at least 38 of the 158 known cases, the convictions were gained prior to the officer joining the service. At the moment, while every police officer is obliged to declare a criminal conviction, each of Scotland's eight police forces takes its own decisions on recruiting officers and for discipline if an offence is committed while serving.

A senior source within one force said: "We take pretty much a zero-tolerance attitude towards officers who are guilty of drink-driving. You cannot have someone who has been convicted of drink-driving arresting a member of the public for the same thing. Other forces may not take quite such a clear approach."

Jean McFadden, the convener of the Strathclyde Joint Police Board, said she was alarmed that police officers convicted of assault were still serving, and pledged to raise the matter with Chief Constable Willie Rae.

She said: "I'd be very surprised if someone convicted of assault isn't dismissed from the force. What I say to new recruits when they are sworn into the service is that a higher standard of conduct is expected of them than in other jobs, both on and off duty."

Kenny MacAskill, the SNP's justice spokesman, said: "It does seem a very high number. There are some offences where it would be very surprising if officers were able to serve, but a degree of discretion for more minor offences should be shown."

Deputy Chief Constable Garry Sutherland, chairman of the ACPOS professional standards business area, said that when considering applicants, forces must "take a balanced view and consider each individual on their merits".

now, to compare, here's a little story from "The Daily Record" .. reporting on an Advocate ! who was caught exposing himself to a 13 year old boy and charged ! .. and he's an Advocate ! from the Faculty of Advocates ! - imagine if he was on a case where he had access to children ? shouldn't it be the case that clients have the right to know such information about lawyers too ??

Apr 13 2006
By Derek Alexander

A SENIOR lawyer has been accused of exposing himself to a 13-year-old boy in a shopping centre toilet.Married advocate Mark Strachan, 47, appeared in court this week charged with committing an indecent act. He could face a jail sentence if convicted.

It is understood Strachan is still working in the courts despite the sex allegation. His lawyer, Iain Smith, said last night: "My client denies the charge against him."Police were called to the McArthur Glen designer outlet in Livingston, West Lothian after the alleged incident in a public toilet on the afternoon of February 13.

Strachan appeared at Linlithgow Sheriff Court on Tuesday, charged with lewd, indecent and libidinous behaviour. He made no plea or declaration and was freed on bail.A legal source said: "He will be very aware of how serious the charges are and the consequences of being found guilty."

Strachan earned £11,500 from the taxpayer for Legal Aid work last year, but is understood to make significantly more from private clients.He studied law at Aberdeen University in the 1970s before completing his legal diploma. After working as a solicitor in Aberdeen, he became an advocate in 2004.

Strachan's entry on the website of his professional body, the Faculty of Advocates, says he works in the appeal court, in criminal trials, and in employment and industrial relations cases.The advocate owns a modern flat in Linlithgow, West Lothian, overlooking a loch, after buying the property for £135,000 in 2003. He also has a home in Old Leslie, near Insch, Aberdeenshire.

The legal profession has faced a number of scandals in recent months.In February, Glasgow-based solicitor Angela Baillie admitted smuggling £1600 worth of heroin and valium to a client inside Barlinnie Prison.The 32-year-old solicitor handed a cigarette packet stuffed with drugs to the prisoner in an interview room.

Baillie is now understood to be in a drug rehab centre in England.She will be sentenced next week. Prosecutors are also trying to recover a total of £52,000 from her, claiming she made the cash from crime.Last year, a senior Glasgow prosecutor and a prostitute were charged with public indecency after allegedly indulging in a sex act in the city centre.

Procurator fiscal Stuart MacFarlane, 37, and Joanne Crane, 27, were arrested after the alleged incident in Bothwell Street, Glasgow in November.MacFarlane is also said to have resisted arrest.A legal insider said last night: "It's been a very embarrassing year for us. There seems to be one scandal after another at the moment."


Anonymous said...

Mr Policeman is very pissed off at this of course but Strachan is one of many smartarse lawyers & higher in Edinburgh who like the young boys.
Drop you a few names for your info ? emailing you now.

p.s. saw you on Princes Street on Wednesday. Stop & speak to your local bobby next time, mister 'it's chilly today'

Scott said...

fantastic idea Peter. Make those lawyers tell clients what they have been up to.

bloody good blog. ever thought of becoming an honest lawyer ?