Papers just released show the Scottish Government’s Justice Department, acting on the authority of its Minister, Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill attempted to impose a blanket of secrecy and lies to protect the legal profession over their release of inaccurate details of lawyers and their regulatory or service histories, who the Justice Secretary personally appointed to the 'independent' but now discredited Scottish Legal Complaints Commission.
Scottish Government attempted to gag independent Appointments Commissioner over lawyers service details :
Amazingly, not only did the Scottish Government attempt to gag the Commissioner over disclosing the truth about the lawyer appointments, the Government also demanded that OCPAS swap their disclosure of the actual material for an entirely false statement which was to read as follows :
Kenny MacAskill’s Justice Dept ordered OCPAS issue the public a misleading statement : "It is in our view that in this case the information in its present form should not be released without the consent of the individuals concerned. However, a general statement that no appointees had findings of professional misconduct recorded against them would be acceptable"
It is of little surprise the Scottish Government's Justice Department were so desperate to gag the Office of the Commissioner for Public Appointments in Scotland (OCPAS) over the release of documents, which now conclusively prove there were no proper disclosures from the legal profession over Kenny MacAskill's sleaze appointments of lawyers and former Law Society Committee members to the 'independent' but now discredited Scottish Legal Complaints Commission.
The Office of the Commissioner for Public Appointments in Scotland thankfully refused to be drawn into the Scottish Government’s web of secrecy, and promptly released the documents, which I covered in an earlier report here: Legal Complaints Commission discredited after revelations Law Society lied during ‘stage managed’ appointments process
All this may cause some to wonder why the Justice Secretary is so determined to protect the Law Society of Scotland and his own appointees to the discredited legal complaints commission.
Kenny MacAskill – I will always defend lawyers …
Well .. there isn't much need to wonder, because not only does the release of the Law Society documents make the Justice Secretary look at best, misleading, the released documents now also contradict responses given by the First Minister, Alex Salmond, who was asked in January to conduct a full investigation into the appointments to the SLCC after revelations of sleaze.
First Minister's letter now contradicted by Law Society disclosure ".. we must abide by the OCPAS Code of Practice which ensures that selection is based on merit and individuals selected will be those who have demonstrated that they best match the skills, knowledge and personal qualities requiredfor the appointment in question.Candidates were also probed on probity and potential conflicts of interest.As you may be aware from the recruitment literature shortlisted lawyer candidates were subject to checks on their disciplinary records”
however, from my earlier report here :
Philip Yelland only gave limited information on the lawyer applicants : "I should point out to you that in terms of upheld complaints the only issues which it seems to be would be relevant would be if there were findings of professional misconduct against any of the individuals. Service complaints run against firms rather than individuals."
So, clearly the First Minister was misinformed by the Law Society and his Justice Secretary over the state of the checks on the appointees disciplinary records, because there were none – only the Law Society’s say so, which has now been revealed to be inaccurate in its content.
It does stretch the bounds of credibility Mr Salmond wasn't able to find out for himself what really happened .. and make no mistake - what really happened was that the legal profession, along with elements of the Justice Department of the Scottish Government stitched up what was to be an 'independent' complaints commission which has now been turned into just another rubber stamp quango for 'crooked lawyers', as many of you are attesting to yourselves in comments and emails.
Scottish Government feared stories of impropriety on MacAskill’s jobs for lawyers and ex-cops on law complaints quango appointments : “Chief Superintendent Douglas Watson is facing an internal inquiry after he walked out on his wife to be with an officer he hand-picked for a specialist squad.Watson, the former head of CID, was picked by Chief Constable Paddy Tomkins to head up the Capital Project, which will completely change the way Edinburgh is policed and create a single 1,000-officer super-division….”
Apparently OCPAS were denied access to material relating to the internal investigations into SLCC appointee and former Police Chief & Law Society Committee member Douglas Watson, nor were details of those investigations made public, raising questions on why the Justice Department covered it up.
Its a pity that our own fellow Scots in the current Scottish Government are going along with this, protecting crooked lawyers and an ever corrupt Scots legal system from reform and genuine change. Is that what 'Scottish Government' is all about these days ?, bending over to the professions, promoting injustice, and protecting the dishonest and crooked at any cost ?