Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Pressure on Scottish Legal Aid Board to stop public funds plunder as media reveals QC under Police investigation in alleged £60,000 legal aid fraud

SLAB_logoScottish Legal Aid Board called in Police over allegations of legal aid irregularities in advocate’s travel expense claims. AS THE PRESSURE MOUNTS on the Scottish Legal Aid Board (SLAB) to halt a collective string of abuse of legal aid funds by members of Scotland’s legal profession after the media revealed several recent scandals where solicitors had been let off the hook by SLAB, Lothian & Borders Police have now been called in to investigate allegations of fraud spanning nearly FIVE YEARS concerning some £60,000 in legal aid travel expense claims made by a well known advocate, Mark Strachan QC.

Strachan QC (52) is no stranger to publicity. He hit the headlines in 2006 when he was charged with allegedly flashing at a 13 year old boy in the McArthur Glen designer outlet in Livingston, West Lothian. The Crown Office dropped the proceedings against Mr Strachan, who is attached to the same stable as Donald Findlay QC, after it was claimed “new evidence” emerged in the case.

BBC News reported Strachan recently represented Ranald Matheson (69) of Muir of Ord who was jailed for four years for indecency offences against six young girls. During the case, Defence counsel Mark Strachan said Matheson denied any wrongdoing and that his client “had diagnosed with prostate cancer after surviving two previous bouts of cancer.”. However I’m sure most people’s thoughts were with the victims, not the convicted abuser.

The Daily Record reports :

Lawyer in 60K legal aid fraud quiz Daily Record 11 July 2011Lawyer in £60,000 Legal Aid fraud quiz

Cops probe travel claims Daily Record Date 11/07/2011 By David Taylor

A LEADING criminal lawyer is being probed by police over an alleged Legal Aid fraud. Advocate Mark Strachan, 52, is alleged to have swindled more than £60,000 in travel expense claims from the Scottish Legal Aid Board (SLAB).

It is claimed he visited a number of clients in the Aberdeen area in the same day - but then claimed he made several trips to the city to cash in on extra petrol money. The fraud is alleged to have been going on for the past four or five years. And Strachan, of Linlithgow, West Lothian, is accused of making regular false claims. Last month, SLAB officials called in Lothian and Borders Police to probe the situation.

Strachan, who specialises in criminal trials and carries out work at the Court of Criminal Appeal, made £91,600 from legal aid work last year, £79,800 in 2008-9 and £102,700 the year before that.

A legal source said last night: "Strachan clearly thought he was above the law and didn't have to adhere to the same rules as everyone else. He has apparently been making the claims for years which the Scottish Legal Aid Board believe to have been fraudulent. They have passed the information on to the police."

Having studied and practised law as a solicitor in Aberdeen, Strachan became an advocate in 2004.

A spokesman for the Faculty of Advocates said: "It would be inappropriate to comment at this time."

A Lothian and Borders police spokesman said: "An investigation is taking place."

No one from SLAB was available for comment.

The Daily Record report of an earlier incident involving Mr Strachan :

Lawyer accused of flashing at boy, 13 -  Daily Record April 13 2006LAWYER 'FLASHED' AT BOY OF 13 IN OUTLET CENTRE

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...

Is this what our legal aid is going on?

Anonymous said...

I have ZERO confidence in the Police to do anything right after watching tonight's new so how long until you are able to write "all charges dropped against Strachan" again?

Anonymous said...

Another exercise in spin & futility at the taxpayer's expense?
I think SLAB need to answer for their years of ineptitude in enforcing legal aid rules.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like SLAB are finally acknowledging, albeit tacitly, that the Faculty of Advocates supposed self 'regulation' - which the Scottish Public still have to suffer - simply doesn't work.

Anonymous said...

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...

If my maths is still good the 5 years of this alleged legal aid fraud would take Mr Strachan back to the toilet boy charges.

Given the circumstances I think its fair to ask will these charges and the stress of it all and the poor young boy's feelings of course be used to excuse any further action by the Legal Aid Board?

Anonymous said...

Who to trust in the legal system?

Anonymous said...

Hmm why is all this legal aid fraud allowed to continue to happen if they knew about it all this time?

Anonymous said...

Where is the comment from Jane Irvine and the glorious Scottish Legal Complaints Commission?

Doesnt she have anything to say about standards in our bloody profession after harvesting millions in annual levies?

Anonymous said...

He's made about 1/4 million off legal aid and they wait 5 years to claim he's been milking travel expense claims?
In my opinion this looks just as bad for SLAB as it does for Strachan if proved to be true.

Anonymous said...

What stands out from this story is SLAB actually calling in the Police for a change instead of negotiating it away with the LSoS FoA or the Crown Office.

We can be certain this only happened because you and the newspapers exposed the Lockhart carry-on which I dare say has been repeated many times we dont yet know about.

Good work Peter as always.

Anonymous said...

A Lothian and Borders police spokesman said: "An investigation is taking place."

Same as what the Met said about the News of the World hacking and look where we are today on that episode!

Anonymous said...

last comment at 12:19

of this there can be no doubt

Anonymous said...

Hands up anyone who believes the Police will prosecute a lawyer in Scotland?


Anonymous said...

Not this one in the DR story anyway I know another famous [in his own mind] advocate who met a relative of one of this clients to negotiate a cash sum for services which led to his client who was receiving criminal legal aid being freed from a serious charge.

Do you think its worth a headline or two?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

If my maths is still good the 5 years of this alleged legal aid fraud would take Mr Strachan back to the toilet boy charges.

Given the circumstances I think its fair to ask will these charges and the stress of it all and the poor young boy's feelings of course be used to excuse any further action by the Legal Aid Board?

12 July 2011 22:36


Peter Cherbi said...

Thanks for your comments on this article.

Several comments have not been published due to their strength, and one comment has been edited as follows :

Edited Comment now reads : "There is certainly a pattern beginning to appear with advocates who have been educated at Aberdeen University as a junior advocate with Ampersand Stable who also attended this same Uni has been involved with a Perth Law firm in a despicable act of defrauding their former client over a case they failed to advise was destroyed by their own neglect five years before.
Obviously Aberdeen University does not do a course on how not to get caught."

More about the actings of the Perth law firm in the above comment, can be read in previous articles I have written, available here : Previous reports regarding Perth law firm Kippen Campbell LLP

Anonymous said...

Yes I agree is there anyone left in the UK who believes the cops will investigate anything like this nowadays?
Last person who thinks this way please turn the lights out when they leave lol!!

Anonymous said...

I do hope Which Magazine and the joke that is Consumer Focus Scotland are taking note of these continuing abuses by all those involved - including those whose failure to act is an actionable offence.

Anonymous said...



Anonymous said...

I agree with the person who says this looks as bad for legal aid as the advocate.

How can someone allow a fraud to go unnoticed for 5 years these days?Surely this is impossible for an organisation who dish out 150 million each year to lawyers.What are they doing when the money goes out?Twiddling their thumbs and waiting for some person to let them know one of their lawyers is on the take?
As much as any legal aid thief deserves jail SLAB deserve to be investigated publicly too and held to account for all these problems they are bringing on themselves using our money

Anonymous said...


Do you think the cops are there to protect you from criminals?

Do you think judges are there to give you justice?

Do you think lawyers are there to protect your freedoms?

Do you think legal aid is paid to poor litigants?

Do you think bailiff's act honestly when evicting homeowners?

Do you think social workers are there to protect your children?

Do you think politicians are there to ensure your welfare?

Do you think local authority chiefs are there to provide you with services?

Do you think psychiatrists are there to guard your mental health?

Do you think the banks are there to make YOU prosperous?

Do you think the media are there to enlighten us?

Do you think teachers are there to educate ?

Do you think the armed forces are there to protect your security?

Do you think regulators are there to ensure all of the above stay in line?


Anonymous said...

I do not think there is such a thing as independent regulation of anything.

Anonymous said...

Independent regulation is a myth because if it worked the endemic corruption we see daily would never be tolerated.

I have as much confidence in the police to investigate criminality as I have in the Law society of Scotland to punish crooked lawyers. The whole system in bent.

Anonymous said...


Police are selling road crash victims' details to personal injury lawyers, former justice secretary Jack Straw claimed today.

He also said insurance companies were "complicit" in the boom in personal injury claims by passing on information about accidents, for between £200 and £1,000 a case.

Garages and hospitals are also allegedly involved. Lifting the lid on what he called the insurance industry's "dirty secret", Mr Straw said: "The whole thing is outrageous - it's a complete racket." He added he would have banned the referral payments if he had known about them when justice secretary.

Nick Starling, of the Association of British Insurers, branded the personal injury compensation system as "dysfunctional" but denied firms were profiting from the payments.
Perhaps a new website is required

Cops from hell.

Anonymous said...

Harold Shipman the mass murdering doctor got away with murder for so long because MASONS run the body responsible for disciplining doctors. All British citizens are at extreme risk of major medical accidents being covered up to protect masonic doctors like Shipman.

See more


Anonymous said...


A Very Dangerous Doctor (Channel 4) was a documentary about another provocative topic. This was the story of Dr David Southall, an eminent paediatrician, and the women who deny his allegations that they harmed their own children. In 2007, the General Medical Council decided to strike Dr Southall off the medical register for serious professional misconduct after he accused a mother of murdering her son. His appeal in the High Court was dismissed. He made a second appeal; this one was upheld. The police interviewed him under suspicion of causing grievous bodily harm to a child. The Crown Prosecution Service decided not to pursue the case against him.

Dr Southall has been the subject of a documentary before, a 2009 edition of Panorama that had the same title. He should think carefully before appearing in another. If he gave this interview in the hope of restoring his reputation in the eyes of the public, I doubt he did himself many favours by so often speaking in a supercilious, high-handed manner, or as though he were reading stiffly aloud from a prepared statement (“I remain of the view that…”). He also had the habit, while speaking to camera, of very slightly tilting his head back, thereby giving the unfortunate impression that he was looking down his nose at us.

“I’m getting very concerned about what you’re asking here,” he protested to the interviewer, late on. “What I feel is that the tone of this programme you’re making has suddenly changed, to become rather negative.” Asked why a mother would spend 20 years trying to clear her name if his allegations weren’t false, he said, “Revenge.” The truth, he said, was “being bent”; there had been a “build-up of people” who had “reasons to be against” him. The mothers, he added, had “been aided by the media, in a very big way, because it’s very entertaining”.

Last night’s documentary lasted from 9.00pm till 10.40pm. I’d be surprised if anyone found even a minute of it entertaining. It was dense, complex and sad. By the end I felt certain of nothing, other than that defending yourself on television is not only about what you say, it’s about how you say it.
The mothers in the programme also stated that he wanted their children to use in his research. I believe the mothers in this case, as I have seen the same attitudes in other doctors.

This is the guy who watched parents on the news and phoned the police to tell them the parents he was watching were responsible for their child's death. Everyone is wrong EXCEPT HIM.

Remember Anita Patel, Angela Cannings, and the lawyer Sally Clark, all jailed on the evidence of a medical expert (Not Southall). When these gods give evidence, yes they are very dangerous doctors. The prosecution was controversial due to the involvement of the pediatrician Professor Sir Roy Meadow, former Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Leeds, who testified at Clark's trial that the chance of two children from an affluent family suffering cot death was 1 in 73 million. He likened the probability to the chances of backing an 80-1 outsider in the Grand National four years running, and winning each time.

As we now know the three women were innocent, but the horrific power doctors have is dangerous. They self regulate too and I think some of them lose touch with reality and believe they are infallable. I am sure Meadow gave evidence at the trials of Cannings and Patel too. Children must be protected but who do we use as medical experts? A dangerous lottery indeed.

Anonymous said...


In 2004, Southall was found guilty of serious professional misconduct by the General Medical Council (GMC), after alleging to police that the husband of Sally Clark was responsible for murdering the couple's children.[6] Southall made the claim to child protection officers of the Staffordshire police after watching a television documentary about the case.[1] The GMC banned Southall from child protection work for three years; the Council for Healthcare Regulatory Excellence challenged the decision as insufficient and argued that he should be deregistered, but a High Court of Justice decision in 2005 held that the sanction was not unduly lenient.[7]

Anonymous said...

Negligent or crooked lawyers in Scotland can be thankful for at least two weapons in their defence against complaints when a client realises they were ripped off.

The first weapon in a dishonest lawyers arsenal against such a complaint, would be the Law Society of Scotland, the legal profession's well known self regulator of complaints against solicitors, who act only as a control point to ensure their members are unaffected by even the largest client frauds, poorest levels of service, and in some cases, criminal charges.

The second, perhaps more sinister weapon a crooked lawyer can always seem to rely upon, no matter how crooked they are, is, Douglas Mill, the Law Society's very own Chief Executive of now more than ten years.
Well Doug Mill had to resign but make no mistake, those left behind and new Law society recruits share the same self protective culture, lawyers are not regulated they are protected.

All of you people out there watching adverts about the PPI scandal, the Solicitors Regulatory Authority people were against naming and shaming of lawyers in England, and the law firms advertising their services to recoup PPI are regulated by the same Solicitors Regulatory Authority.

What do they have to hide?


Perhaps you could obtain and publish details of complaints to the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission, I am sure members of the public would be delighted to expose Jane Irvine's lot for the crooked scumbags they are via your blog.

The evidence will point one way, lawyer cleared and complainant without a legal remedy, just the way our politicians want to keep it.

Anonymous said...

The websites exposing the corrupt Scottish Legal profession cut through Law Society, SLCC bullshit and tell the public the truth.

Lawyers are bad news.

Anonymous said...

How many more at it I wonder?
With all those millions going on legal aid there are bound to be a few with their fingers in the till!
Great work exposing it all Peter and the newspapers who dare!

Anonymous said...

I have seen warnings on websites about no win no fee lawyers. They are a bunch of crooked bastards too.

Anonymous said...

1st comment

My sentiments exactly although I hear there are a few others in the Faculty who did far worse.I wonder why they were never investigated or charged?


‘One complaint upheld’, 928 more sent back to Law Society & £1.8million spare cash : Scottish Legal Complaints Commission's 2010 annual report.

Mr MacAskill will be giving the SLCC staff bonuses. He said he was delighted at the opening of the Commission. We knew why. They love throwing public money at protecting lawyers and not a mention of it in the newspapers or Scotland Today. The press have no balls in Scotland. Good journalism Peter.

Anonymous said...

If the Law Society and Scottish Legal Complaints Commission protected clients web sites dedicated to warning the public would not be required.

Lawyers must be rather immature people because they ruin clients and expect the Law Society SLCC fob off of complaints to be acceptable to clients.

What would Drew Penman do if he was on the receiving end of legal corruption or Douglas Mill. They would want a clients head on a plate, but of course in this world they will not care if it does not affect them.

Lawyers are wicked evil people, they would need to be because they would have insomnia if they ruined lives and felt guilty about it.

Trust no liar, I mean lawyer, same thing eh Douglas and Drew. When all roads leading to Rome are blocked we find another way to get results.


Ian Hamilton QC : Scotland’s record on Human Rights appalling, ex Lord Advocate & Justice Secretary to blame, Scots justice system is defective

Anyone in Scotland who has interacted with the Scots justice system and its many tentacles, be it in civil law, or criminal law, will have experienced some of the many defects in what even one of our top judges describe himself as a “Victorian” justice system unfit for purpose. Last night, Ian Hamilton QC gave his thoughts on Scotland’s defective justice system to BBC Newsnight Scotland, and blamed former Lord Advocate, now Dame Elish Angiolini and Scotland’s current Justice Secretary, Kenny MacAskill as being to blame for Scotland’s poor record on Human Rights laws.

Ian Hamilton QC speaks on Scotland, independence, the legal system and the Scots justice system’s appalling record on Human Rights since devolution.


Anonymous said...

Mr Hamilton went onto discuss the case of Gail Sheridan being interviewed by Lothian & Borders Police in connection with charges against the Sheridans for perjury in the Sheridan v News International case. Hamilton said Gail Sheridan took legal advice, said nothing in the interview and was accused of being tutored by terrorists. Hamilton went onto say : “The Police Officer interviewing Gail Sheridan should have been sacked.”.

The leak of the Gail Sheridan Police interview video tapes has been pursued by various publications although the individual who leaked the video has not yet been identified. Some sections of the interview, in which Mrs Sheridan is accused of being associated with terrorists, have been branded as examples of sectarianism within Scotland’s justice system. A section of the Police interview with Gail Sheridan can be viewed online HERE

It was put to Ian Hamilton it was wrong for the Supreme Court in Britain to be involved in the issue (in relation to its ruling in the Nat Fraser case), Mr Hamilton responded by saying the issue is defects in the Scottish justice system and that Alex Salmond was wrong there (in connection with his criticisms of the Supreme Court). Hamiltion claimed “The administration of justice has not yet caught up with devolution.”

Hamilton went onto say : “I would have an independent advocate as lord advocate and i would have a real tough in as justice minister, citing Alex Neil as a good candidate. Hamilton went onto say : “We need a different view on our minister of justice, only 4 % of the legal profession think MacAskill should keep his job. “Really Kenny MacAskill has got a solicitors mind to what is a statesman’s problem.”

Anonymous said...

Systematic chaos is what happens when going to a lawyer, systematic protection for the lawyer and chaos for the client.

This oxymoron sums up the systemic poison the Commission and Law Society are and the chronic chaos for the client seeking a legal remedy against legal tyranny.

Anonymous said...

I would never walk into any lawyers office under any circumstances, that is how much I trust these warped people.

Anonymous said...

Jane Irvine - Chair

In 2001 Jane Irvine wrote to parliament's Justice Committee, saying: "[The Faculty of Advocates] - it is biased against complainers, it is almost impossible for an advocate to own up to or recognise faults or indeed be found to have failed in any way"

Ms Irvine was quite clear; the Faculty exhibits 'bias' against complainers. The Law Society also does the same.

Ms Irvine will no doubt also be acutely aware that the current powers and composition of the SLCC will not come anywhere close to protecting the public from legal profession bias. Scottish lawyers will continue to operate in the full knowledge that they will, in most eventualities, be protected by their respective professional bodies from the consequences of professional and criminal misconduct.

Anonymous said...


Margaret Scanlan and her former Law Society president husband Michael are influential figures in Glasgow's legal mafia. Together they have amassed a personal fortune through legal aid tickets submitted in the name of their law firm Russells Gibson McCaffrey.

How thoroughly corrupt she is in accepting a highly-paid position within the Commission in the full knowledge that the whole reason for the inception of the SLCC was because of the Law Society’s concerted efforts to strangle valid complaints against Scottish solicitors.

Scanlan once described the content of this Webmaster’s predecessor website as 'offensive' in an email to fellow SLCC members. The email was then leaked to the Sunday Mail who ran an expose on it, alongside Scanlan’s other anti-consumer rants.

I was intrigued as to what it was that Scanlan and her cronies found so ‘offensive’, and so I wrote to them. They responded by saying that there wasn't 'anything specific' and that it was just the 'general tone' of the website that they didn't like!
Yes Scanlan the truth hurts, any member of the public that trusts your lot must be mad or do not know what you are. You have infiltrated the Commission like maggots feeding on a corpse, you are undertakers alright because you bury client complaints.

Anonymous said...

The Law Society of Scotland is the Lawyers Nazi Party headquarters, because only Nazi's would condone legal dictatorship.

Anonymous said...

A "humbled and very shaken" Rupert Murdoch has apologised to the family of Milly Dowler in a meeting in London.

The chairman of News Corporation requested the meeting after it emerged that the murdered schoogirl's mobile phone was hacked by the News of the World newspaper in 2002.

Shocking Rupert the things you will do to for damage limitation, too late I think. No doubt some lawyer will try to mitigate the damage. Fat chance.

Anonymous said...

Would you trust your next door neighbour with your bank details, mortgage, life savings, no you would not and you probably know them fairly well. You may even be good friends.

But you could have trusted Mr Douglas Mill (a lawyer) who lied to the Scottish Parliamnet Justice Committee to protect lawyers insurers, so that a ruined claint could not obtain damages from Royal Sun Alliance.

Mr Mill was the Director of the Law Society of Scotland and as he was protecting a crooked lawyer the client like you would not be able to obtain damages. So self regulation or self-policing allowed the Law Society to PROTECT THE CROOKED LAWYER. There is an inherent conflict of interest (Demonstrated by Mr Mill) in asking any organization to police itself. When the public became aware of this failure, an external, independent organization is often given the duty of policing them, but lawyers and the Law Society respond to the Setting up of the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission by infiltrating it with full MSP support. Result the SLCC is every bit as corrupt as Mr Mill and his Law Society.

Do not be fooled by the spin. Scotland's Legal Mafia are above the law and will remain so as long as they control the Scottish Parliament. Self regulation that liars charted that manifested itself in the MP's expenses scandal is prejudiced against the public.

Look upon your lawyer they way you do your neighbour in matters financial because if your lawyer does steal from you you will be complaining about this to a member of the legal profession and Royal Sun Alliance will not compensate you one penny.

Anonymous said...

I couldn't think you are more right