Saturday, June 30, 2012

As crooked as bankers & lawyers : No requirement for Judges to disclose criminality, tax dodging or corruption says the Judicial Office for Scotland

Courts Judges Scotland montageJudges claim public have no right to know of Judicial corruption, tax fiddles or criminal records. SCOTTISH JUDGES have NO REQUIREMENT to disclose any criminal charges or convictions, allegations of corrupt made against them, their business & financial affairs which in some cases appear to constitute tax dodging schemes, or associations with well known gangsters, said the Judicial Office for Scotland in response to queries made by Diary of Injustice as part of an ongoing investigation into corrupt practices in Scotland’s ‘untouchable’ & unaccountable judiciary. The refusal was handed down during the final days of Lord Hamilton’s tenure as Lord President.

In response to a Freedom of Information Request, the Head of Strategy & Governance for the Judicial Office for Scotland pointedly REFUSED to provide any details of information disclosing whether any members of the judiciary in Scotland have declared or informed the Scottish Court Service in the past three years of :

Any offshore investments,

Unrecorded cash transactions,

Payments for outside work,

Any application of “tax efficient” schemes to avoid paying taxes,

Associations or meetings with convicted criminals,

Vehicle accidents,  criminal charges, or being interviewed by Police.

The reasons given by the Judicial Office for refusing to disclose key details on what Scots judges are getting up to, are that much of the information requested is held by an ‘arms length body’ created by the Scottish Court Service which holds such information on behalf of the Lord President, rather than passing it directly to him.

Judicial Office for Scotland refusal to disclose criminal records etc of judgesExcuses, Excuses … The Judicial Office said : The Judicial Office for Scotland was established by the Scottish Court Service to provide administrative support to the Lord President in the discharge of his non-judicial functions as head of the judiciary in Scotland. Such information as may be generated in that context, including any information of the nature requested by you and which may be in the possession of the Judiciary Office for Scotland is generated for and held by the Judicial Office for the purposes of the Lord President and in our opinion falls within section 3(2)(a()(i) of the 2002 Act, i.e. held on behalf of another person. I therefore advise you that the information is not held by the Scottish Court Service. I refer you to section 17 of the 2002 Act. Your request for information in the terms outlined above is accordingly refused.

A senior freedom of information campaigner compared this arrangement to a tax avoidance scheme. He said : “One branch of the courts is holding the information on behalf of another so the other is allowed to claim he knows nothing about it. Is this the kind of honesty or transparency we are supposed to expect from our judges ?”

And, even in the face of recent coverage where it was revealed a Scottish Judge was charged with being a BENEFITS CHEAT, the Judicial Office for Scotland also argued there was sufficient regulations in place via a Statement of Principles of Judicial Ethics, a code which one whistleblower has told Diary of Injustice “is a joke”. It was also agued that the Lord President, who earns almost double the salary of the Prime Minister, is conveniently excluded from Freedom of Information legislation.

The Judicial Office continued : The Lord President has issued a Statement of Principles of Judicial Ethics for the Scottish Judiciary and has made Complaints About the Judiciary (Scotland) Rules 2011. However the Lord President is not a public authority for the purposes of the 2002 Act. Accordingly he is not required by law to provide information in terms of that Act.

As part of an ongoing investigation into Scotland’s judiciary, Diary of Injustice has featured several reports on cover ups, tax dodging, benefits cheating and sex scandal within the Scottish Judiciary, all which have been kept secret from the public. Information uncovered by Diary of Injustice, despite a lack of a judicial register of interests revealed a number of Scottish Judges who can earn up to £200K a year have been investigated & charged with, or have PLED GUILTY to a string of CRIMINAL CHARGES while at least one other judge has been charged with BENEFITS FRAUD.

Further enquiries saw Scotland’s Crown Office & Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) forced into disclosing data via Freedom of Information requests submitted by Diary of Injustice which can be viewed in an earlier report here : CAREER CROOKED : Investigation reveals Scottish judges are CONVICTED CRIMINALS, Drunk Drivers,Tax Dodgers & alleged BENEFITS CHEATS.

Disclosures from the Crown Office relating to judges criminal convictions can be viewed online here : Crown Office : Criminal Charges against Scottish Judges. A further report focussing on the refusal to identify any of the judges concerned features here : ALL THE LORD PRESIDENT’S MEN : Benefits cheats, drunk drivers & tax dodgers, yet identities of convicted Scottish judges to remain secret for now

The ongoing investigation by Diary of Injustice into members of Scotland’s judiciary has already revealed a series of judges appear to be involved in OFFSHORE TAX AVOIDANCE schemes, associations with convicted criminals & organised crime, prostitution rackets, accepting hospitality & payments from well known corrupt solicitors representing dodgy law firms while others on the bench are engaging in questionable investments & duties which appear to be in conflict with their positions as members of the judiciary. More on these findings can be read in an earlier article here : Offshore trusts, property holdings, insurance syndicates, hospitality from dodgy lawyers, yet no plans for a register of interests for Scottish judges

As there is no Judicial Register of Interests in Scotland at this time, there are little if no requirements for judges to disclose their criminal records or dodgy financial interests. However, a public petition has been filed with the Scottish Parliament on this matter, now being addressed by other jurisdictions around the world such as New Zealand who are moving ahead with a Register of Pecuniary Interests of Judges Bill.

More on the petition for a register of interests of Scotland’s judges can be read here : JUDGE OUR JUDGES : Petition seeks ‘judicial transparency’, asks Westminster require judiciary to ‘declare all’ to a Register of Interests and an update later next week will feature the terms of the Holyrood petition.

In an update to the ongoing investigation, Diary of Injustice has been made aware of some efforts underway to streamline the tax arrangements of certain members of Scotland’s judiciary while in another area a law firm has reported at least one member of the judiciary has asked for ‘alternative arrangements for remuneration’ for work including speeches he has undertaken for several unnamed Scottish law firms. As this clearly amounts to an effort to dodge compliance with even the current ‘standard’ of ethics for Scottish judges, more headlines are expected to follow.

Perhaps Scotland’s new Lord President, Lord Gill, will take a different approach from his predecessor Lord Hamilton, and swiftly enact a full register of judicial interests, as Holyrood is now being asked to consider.

Friday, June 22, 2012

£670K dodgy Legal Aid claims lawyer who made Pensioner HOMELESS, told to pay derisory £100 fine by Scottish Legal Complaints Commission

SLCC Lockhart montageA solicitor who ruined pensioner's legal affairs is given slap on the wrist by law complaints regulator SLCC. KILMARNOCK solicitor Niels S Lockhart, who was accused by the Scottish Legal Aid Board (SLAB) of making dodgy claims for legal aid work and who then went on to ruin the legal affairs of a pensioner and other clients is to be allowed to continue working as a lawyer after the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission (SLCC), the ‘independent’ regulator of solicitors decided his firm NS Lockhart Solicitors need only pay a meagre fine of ONE HUNDRED POUNDS to a victim who had complained about the legal nightmare she had been put through.

Esther Francis (aged 70), who was made homeless as a result of Mr Lockhart’s inaction over her legal problems and was then forced to starve herself to pay Lockhart’s demands for legal fees is to be given a derisory £100 in compensation and a £230 rebate of fees against sole practising solicitor Lockhart who raked in SIX HUNDRED & SEVENTY THOUSAND POUNDS of taxpayer funded legal aid in just three years. More on Esther’s nightmare at the hands of Mr Lockhart can be read in an earlier report by Diary of Injustice, here : Legal Aid officials hid details of dodgy claims scandal as ‘Pay-Up threats’ from £600K legal aid rogue lawyer leaves pensioner, 70, starving, homeless

Niels Lockhart was the subject of lengthy investigations by the Scottish Legal Aid Board which were uncovered by Diary of Injustice & the Sunday Mail newspaper, reported earlier here : One law for lawyers : Secret Report reveals Legal Aid Board, Law Society & Legal Defence Union ‘cosy relationship’ in Lockhart case

Today, Diary of Injustice is able to publish the investigation carried out by the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission into Niels S Lockhart. The report, now in the hands of media outlets, can be viewed online here : SLCC Investigation of complaint against Niels S Lockhart of NS Lockhart Solicitors, Kilmarnock.

Lawyer 600K legal aid hassles pensioner over 100 billEsther Francis was hassled by Lockhart over bill yet her legal case had been ruined and she’d been made homeless. In the SLCC report, investigators found Mr Lockhart had provided an inadequate professional service to Mrs Francis, however the investigator for the SLCC then went onto recommend sanction only be applied to the firm rather than Mr Lockhart himself. No disciplinary measures were recommended by the SLCC, allowing Mr Lockhart’s firm to continue working after facing little more than a slap on the wrist.

It can also be revealed the SLCC DENIED Mrs Francis any access to submissions made by the LEGAL DEFENCE UNION (LDU) who were called in to intervene in the complaint on Mr Lockhart’s behalf. Diary of Injustice earlier reported on the LDU’s intervention in the complaint made against Mr Lockhart, and terse resistance from the SLCC to disclose the contact, here : SCANDAL : Legal Defence Union intervene in SLCC investigation over £670K Legal Aid lawyer who made Pensioner HOMELESS, STARVED to pay legal bills

There has also been no comment from the SLCC on the production to their office of the full investigation carried out by the Scottish Legal Aid Board into Lockhart’s actions, which Diary of Injustice published after a Freedom of Information disclosure, here : SCOTTISH LEGAL AID BOARD S31 COMPLAINT REPORT TO THE LAW SOCIETY OF SCOTLAND : NIELS S LOCKHART

A legal insider told Diary of Injustice today : “If there are other clients of NS Lockhart solicitors who feel they have been mistreated, now is the time to make a complaint to the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission.”

Diary of Injustice would also like to hear from any clients who feel they are being mistreated by their solicitors and would like to remind readers that media coverage may benefit the progress of their complaints, and help prevent other consumers from being ripped off by ‘crooked lawyers’ Readers can send details of dealings with solicitors to Diary of Injustice via

The Sunday Mail has covered the latest development in the Lockhart case, reporting here :

OAP fury as rogue lawyer let off Sunday Mail 03 June 2012OAP's fury as rogue lawyer is let off.

By: Lauren Crooks Jun 3, 2012 Sunday Mail

Rogue lawyer Niels Lockhart has escaped punishment for mistreating an elderly client - after legal watchdogs decided his firm were to blame instead.

Furious Esther Francis, 70, complained to the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission over claims Lockhart failed to make any progress in her case and threatened her over bills she could not afford.

But after investigating, they decided it was the whole firm N S Lockhart - based in Kilmarnock - at fault, rather than Lockhart himself.

They wrote to Esther telling her the firm would refund £230 in fees she paid, plus £100 compensation. But Esther says she can't believe Lockhart is still allowed to work as a lawyer.

Esther, who has rejected the settlement, said: "I got the letter last week. I wrote back and told them I wasn't accepting the payment."

Last year Lockhart was rapped by the Scottish Legal Aid Board for raking in 600,000 pounds of taxpayers' cash over two years through "unnecessary and excessive" claims.

Esther reported Lockhart to the watchdog last September amid claims he had failed to progress with her case, despite several meetings with him.

Their decision states: "N S Lockhart's failure to progress Mrs Francis's claim in the 12 months that they acted for her amounted to an inadequate professional service."


Lawyer pocketed 600K Legal Aid in Two Years Sunday Mail March 27 2011The long story of Mr Lockhart’s legal aid claims began nearly ten years ago, although it took the Scottish Legal Aid Board years to catch up with him, when eventually on 5 June 2005 the Scottish Legal Aid Board sent a report to the Law Society of Scotland in terms of S32 of the Legal Aid (Scotland) Act 1986 against the sole practitioner firm of Niels S Lockhart, 71 King Street, Kilmarnock. The secret report on Niels S Lockhart, obtained in 2011 by Diary of Injustice under Freedom of Information laws, can be downloaded here : SCOTTISH LEGAL AID BOARD S31 COMPLAINT REPORT TO THE LAW SOCIETY OF SCOTLAND : NIELS S LOCKHART (pdf) The Scottish Legal Aid Board’s report outlined a number of issues that had been identified during the review of case files & accounts which raised concern about Mr Lockhart’s conduct and which fell to be considered as a breach of either Regulation 31 (3) (a) & (b), relating to his conduct when acting or selected to act for persons to whom legal aid or advice and assistance is made available, and his professional conduct generally. These issues illustrated the repetitious nature of Mr Lockhart’s failure to charge fees “actually, necessarily and reasonable incurred, due regard being bad to economy”

The heads of complaint submitted by the Scottish Legal Aid Board to the Law Society of Scotland were :

(1) Excessive attendances, (2) Lack of Progress, (3) Splitting/Repeating Subject Matters, (4) Inappropriate Requests for Increases in Authorised Expenditure, (5) Matters resubmitted under a different guise, (6) Standard Attendance Times, (7) Attendances for Matters Not Related to the Subject Matter of the Case, (8) Unreasonable Charges, (9) Double Charging for Correspondence, (10) Account entries not supported by Client Files, (11) Attempt to Circumvent Statutory Payment Procedure for Property Recovered or Preserved, (12) Continued Failure to act with Due Regard to Economy.

The Scottish Legal Aid Board report also revealed : “From April 2002—March 2005, Niels S Lockhart was paid £672,585 from the Legal Aid Fund. Of this, £596,734 (89%) was in relation to Advice and Assistance cases, with £570,528 (85%) solely in relation to Civil Advice and Assistance. In the Board’s view, the ranges of actions taken by Niels S. Lockhart towards achieving those payments are not those appropriate to a competent and reputable solicitor.”

“Based on the supporting evidence he arranges for, or permits, his clients to attend his office on numerous occasions for excessive, unnecessary and often irrelevant meetings. In the main, these do not appear to have advantages for their further welfare or advance their case, but merely act as a mechanism for the firm to exploit the Legal Aid Fund by charging for these unnecessary and unproductive meetings. The nature of subject matters is often repeated, resulting in numerous duplicate/multiple/consecutive grants submitted under various guises, thus avoiding the Board’s computerised checks on subject matter. This pattern of conduct is deliberate,recurring and persistent, serving—in the Board’s view—as a device to generate considerable additional income for the firm to the detriment of the Scottish Legal Aid Fund.”

However, in October 2010, Mr Lockhart’s legal representative James McCann of the Legal Defence Union approached SLAB with a prospective offer that Mr Lockhart would withdraw fully from providing legal aid if SLAB’s S31 complaint was withdrawn. A Minute of Agreement was drafter and agreed with Niels Lockhart & the Legal Defence Union outlining the voluntary and irrevocable withdrawal by Mr Lockhart and the firm from the provision of all firms of legal assistance (funded by legal aid). The Minute of Agreement also outlined the Board’s intention to make a press release detailing that following SLAB’s investigation into the firm and their subsequent complaint to the Law Society of Scotland, SLAB had accepted this permanent withdrawal by Mr Lockhart and the firm from providing all forms of legal assistance.

Diary of Injustice continued to report on allegations surrounding Mr Lockhart and the Law Society of Scotland’s efforts to avoid a prosecution. All previous reports can be viewed HERE.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Vested interests ‘run Scotland’s courts’ as judges rule £90K & £120K civil jury awards over accident deaths ‘were excessive’

Lord_Hamilton_03Decision to ‘guide’ juries on civil awards shows vested interests have free run of our courts. A RULING in Scotland’s Court of Session by a five judge bench under the retiring Lord President, Lord Hamilton that damages awards made by civil juries to relatives of two people killed in separate accidents ‘were excessive and the claims should be heard again’ will prove to many that vested interests of professions, big business & insurance firms have the ability to skew justice in their favour in Scotland’s courts. The ruling, made earlier this week is seen by some as the thin end of the wedge to ending civil juries in damages awards in Scotland’s courts are over ‘paltry’ sums which not even a Banker would accept as a bonus or a judge would accept as an annual salary or retirement pension..

Previously, civil juries at the court of Session had found negligence on the part of the defenders had caused the deaths, where in the first case, KIRSTY MAY HAMILTON Pursuer and Respondent; against FERGUSON TRANSPORT (SPEAN BRIDGE) LTD Applicant and Defender: jurors awarded Kirsty Hamilton £120,000 after her mother, Caroline (aged 50) died in a road traffic accident when her car was crushed by a lorry near Fort William. Ms Hamilton was 17 at the time of her mother’s death. In the second case, GILBERT DENNIS THOMSON Pursuer and Respondent; against DENNIS THOMSON BUILDERS LTD Applicant and Defender, Dennis Thomson, was awarded £90,000 by a civil jury for the death of his son James, then aged 26, who died in an accident on a building site. Mr Thomson senior was 57 at the time of his son’s death.

However, the five judge bench - Lord Eassie, Lord Clarke, Lord Emslie, Lord Brodie and Lord Hamilton who heard the appeals of the companies previously found to be liable for the cause of the two fatalities, have now decided the compensation claims of the relatives should be heard again, and this time, the jurors should be given “guidance” from the presiding judge in assessing damages, with the judge suggesting a spectrum in which the award might lie.

The implication of the judges decision is that any further awards made in the cases should be much less than originally made by the earlier jury, leading many to conclude that vested interests are controlling the Scottish courts and the public’s access to justice.

In a telling excerpt from the opinion of the court, Lord Hamilton, sounding more like he was more concerned with curtailing publicity & growing enquiries over the disparity of justice where the amount of financial awards made by judges in damages actions without juries are falling well short of awards made in cases where a civil jury has made it’s decision, said : "If greater regard than hitherto is not had by judges to jury awards then the disparity between the judicial and jury awards is likely to remain.” Lord Hamilton went onto claim such a “state of affairs which lacks the consistency which is one of the hallmarks of a mature system"

The now retired Lord President commented that the absence of directions about sums awarded in similar cases by a civil jury, as opposed to that awarded by a judge was a "less than satisfactory aspect of civil jury trials". Lord Hamilton went onto say it was time "to set a framework for civil juries against which they can address levels of damages"which may easily be interpreted as an attempt to deprive a civil jury from making any kind of award which does not sit easily with a judge, or the vested interests of insurers & big business.

Lord Hamilton suggested several ways to address the disparities between awards made by judges & civil juries in Scotland’s Courts, saying : “The objective must now be to seek to narrow that disparity and to eliminate, in so far as practical, that lack of consistency. That can be done by three measures: first, by judges, sitting alone or in the Inner House, having significantly more regard to available jury awards (particularly where they demonstrate a pattern); secondly, by juries being given by the presiding judge fuller guidance than hitherto as to the level of damages which, consistently with other cases, might reasonably be awarded by them; and, thirdly, by appellate courts continuing to intervene, where necessary, on comparative justice grounds as envisaged under statute since 1815. This is a process which will take time and experience to mature.”

In what some may interpret as comments intended to stave off any intervention by the Scottish Parliament (similar to the asbestos damages bill) to remedy what many will perceive as a huge injustice in the cases of the deaths of the two persons, Lord Hamilton wrote in his opinion : “There is no reason to suppose that Parliament intended that awards by juries should have priority over awards by judges - or vice versa. Judicial and jury awards give different but complementary guidance for what is a just award of damages. In an age when life may be thought to be more precious than it may have been thought to be by earlier generations, and where consequentially the loss of the life of a close relative may seem a greater loss than it might have seemed earlier, the input of jury awards, reflective of the views of the community, may, in death cases, be particularly important.”

Lord Hamilton continued : “While awards made by juries without the benefit of judicial guidance may be at greater risk of being arbitrary or of having been influenced by illegitimate factors, those made with that (non-prescriptive) benefit are likely to be a valuable source for assessment in future cases. As to the second element, some suggestions are made below (para [76]) as to what procedural arrangements might be put in hand. The objective should be to eliminate, or at least reduce, the disparity between judicial and jury awards while at the same time securing that "awards ... in comparable cases ... bear a coherent relationship with each other" (Girvan, per Lord Clyde at page 25). If that objective is achieved, then parties whose disputes over damages are litigated can be better satisfied that they have had a fair trial - whether the adjudicating body is a judge or a jury.”

The size of the awards made by the civil juries in Scottish courts may surprise international readers, particularly those from the United States where awards in similar cases would normally run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars, or even millions of dollars. However, Scotland’s justice system has yet to catch up, if ever, with other jurisdictions who allow greater access to justice to victims of injustice, rather than what is seen as the regular influence of vested interests in Scotland’s courts which limits justice, and punishment over the loss of loved ones, to what amounts to little more than a few pennies after legal fees are paid.

As as happened in so many cases before in Scotland’s courts, bankers, politicians and judges can expect bigger bonuses & retirement pensions than any relative can expect via a future award made by a judge or civil jury in a case in a Scottish court.

The full details of the opinion can be read here : CSIH 52 PD2039/09 and PD1444/09 OPINION OF THE LORD PRESIDENT in motions for new trials in causis (1) KIRSTY MAY HAMILTON Pursuer and Respondent; against FERGUSON TRANSPORT (SPEAN BRIDGE) LTD Applicant and Defender and (2) GILBERT DENNIS THOMSON Pursuer and Respondent; against DENNIS THOMSON BUILDERS LTD Applicant and Defender

Of note is the inclusion in the hearing of counsel from the Scottish Government Legal Directorate appearing for Scottish Ministers.

BBC News reported on the case here : Awards in Highland and Shetland accidents 'excessive' judges rule

Friday, June 08, 2012

BREACH OF TRUST : Citizens Advice forced to investigate taxpayer funded Hamilton CAB lawyer who sent clients to suspended crooked solicitor

O'Donnell MontageCitizens Advice investigate their own lawyer who sent clients to a serial crooked solicitor. INFORMATION contained in complaints made by consumers to Hamilton Citizens Advice Bureau regarding Gilbert Anderson, now suggest in the clearest possible terms the lawyer who works for Hamilton CAB as a taxpayer funded in-court adviser referred vulnerable clients to a crooked law firm & serially crooked solicitor John G O’Donnell, who ended up posing as a dead colleague to clients. The terms of the complaints as seen by Diary of Injustice raise serious questions over initial denials of impropriety by Citizens Advice, who have now been forced to investigate Anderson after receiving complaints from people whose legal affairs and lives have been devastated by referrals to rogue solicitors, now suspected of planning to fleece clients of their property & assets.

Details of further allegations made against Gilbert Anderson featured in a recent report in the Sunday Mail newspaper, in a follow up to their earlier report which Diary of Injustice featured here : Crooked lawyer impersonates DEAD COLLEAGUE to lure clients in fraud scam as Law Society of Scotland’s self regulation of solicitors fails yet again

The latest from the Sunday Mail :

Gilbert Anderson lawyer gets paid by us refers to O'Donnell Sunday Mail 20 May 2012Citizens Advice Bureau bosses launch probe into one of their lawyers

May 20 2012 By Russell Findlay

A LAWYER who works for the Citizens Advice Bureau is being probed after it’s claimed he targeted vulnerable clients for a crooked legal firm.

Margaret Sneddon, 48, was involved in a rent dispute when she turned to CAB lawyer Gilbert Anderson, who is based at Hamilton Sheriff Court and whose salary is paid by taxpayers.

But the ex-Royal Marine sent her and a friend into the clutches of John O’Donnell, who didn’t have a practising certificate. O’Donnell broke the law by acting as lawyer for the firm Davidson Fraser.

Margaret, from Lanark, said: “Anderson told us that he was a silent partner in Davidson Fraser and he phoned them from his office to make an appointment for us. O’Donnell came to meet us and took on our cases. We had no idea that he was banned from practising.”

Last month, we told how Elizabeth Campbell was also referred to Davidson Fraser by 53-year-old Anderson. He was listed as an associate on a Davidson Fraser letter but he claimed that he merely provided Elizabeth with a list of lawyers.

She said: “That is untrue, there was no list. I’m furious that the CAB seem to have taken the view that Anderson has done nothing wrong.”

Elizabeth and another client, Joan Hoblyn, have been interviewed by Elaine Motion who is probing Davidson Fraser on behalf of the Law Society of Scotland. Margaret and her friend also plan to complain to the CAB.

Anderson declined to comment.

A CAB spokesman said: “It’s vital that the public have full confidence in the impartiality of the CAB service and we take allegations of this nature very seriously.”

Since the Sunday Mail story, letters to Mushtaq Ahmed, Chairman, Hamilton CAB have been passed to Diary of Injustice which detail a catalogue of complaints against Mr Anderson and also allege there has been a cover up at Citizens Advice over the affair, which legal insiders say has potential to rock the costly in-court adviser scheme funded by the Scottish Legal Aid Board.

One letter of complaint which has now been submitted to Hamilton Citizens Advice by client Elizabeth Cambpell, an elderly widow, whose legal affairs have been entirely ruined by the actions of Gilbert Anderson and John G O’Donnell reveal discrepancies in claims from Citizens Advice and the Scottish Legal Aid Board that there was no case to answer regarding Anderson’s actions.

In the letter to Mushtaq Ahmed, Mrs Campbell said in reference to earlier reports in the media, that “Mr Anderson is quoted as saying he did not refer me to Colin Davidson, but merely gave me a list of Solicitors. It seems Hamilton CAB Manager has investigated the matter (incidentally, without referring to me) and has given assurances to CAB’s Tony Hutson, and to SLAB, that Gilbert Anderson has done nothing wrong in this matter.”

The letter goes on to inform Hamilton CAB that Mrs Cambpell “could not have have got Davidson Fraser’s name from a list of Legal Aid Solicitors as they didn’t do Legal Aid.

Mrs Campbell goes on to detail a number of points regarding Mr Anderson’s referrals to the already struck off O’Donnell, who was posing as Colin Davidson, who has since died.

Mrs Campbell wrote : “On the Client Record Sheet produced by Mr Anderson (which I found in Davidson Fraser’s file) it clearly states on two separate occasions that he would endeavour to recommend a Legal Aid Solicitor to me. Also, on the back of this Client Record Sheet is a handwritten note “possibly in my mind a cash for Colin £3000”. I have enclosed a copy of this Record – the original is with Elaine Motion who is acting the the Law Society.”

“At the first meeting with GA he said it would be difficult to find a Solicitor who was experienced in “construction cases”. He did know a Solicitor who was currently working on such a case, Colin Davidson, who had a very sharp mind and “could think out of the box”, but unfortunately he was unable to do Legal Aid at present, but may in the future.l The other problem with Mr Davidson was he was an alcoholic, however his partner, John Fraser, also a very clever Solicitor, could back him up, should Mr Davidson fall off the wagon, so to speak. I was not very keen as I thought I had enough problems and it was left that GA would try to find me someone more suitable. “

“After several weeks, Gilbert Anderson told me he had exhausted the list of Legal Aid Solicitors and eventually, after the case had been put back several times and the Sheriff had spoken about expenses against me, and also two Small Claims cases, which had to be defended, were looming, I agreed to go to Colin Davidson of Davidson for a “consultation”. It was to cost no more than £500 as that was all I could afford. Gilbert Anderson duly made an appointment with Colin Davidson on 29 March 2011 and told me it would cost £200.00. He gave me directions and told me not to be put off by the office being so small.”

“I was devastated to discover, when two lots of Sheriff Officers arrived at my door, that Colin Davidson failed to defend them. He said it was a mistake – he had defended them and he would personally go to both courts to Recall the Decrees – two weeks later another two lots of Sheriff Officers arrive – Colin Davidson had lied again. “

“Tried contacting Law Society and SLCC – got nowhere - phoned Gilbert Anderson – going to visit Colin Davidson’s office – find out what was happening – if he couldn’t get satisfaction he was going to draft letter to Law Society for me – gave me private mobile number. I called at Colin Davidson’s office- secretary Janice said Gilbert Anderson was coming to office to go through my files and together they would sort Colin out – gave me her home telephone number. I remember wondering what GA’s involvement was with this firm. I phoned GA next day – he said nothing could be done – too late – and I would have lost both cases anyway.”

“At this time I was also attending CAB and I told them of my concerns about Colin Davidson and Gilbert Anderson they said it was very worrying, but if complained to Law Society I would have to sack Colin Davidson and then where would I be? I was also told that CAB Manager was aware of situation, and access to my financial information had been withheld from Gilbert Anderson.”

“I was becoming increasingly concerned about Colin Davidson’s identity – on numerous occasions Clients and staff were calling him “John” – he was signing letters “John” – another person was answering the phone and insisting he was Colin Davidson, but he obviously wasn’t – on one occasion, this “other person” asked me “are you the person Gilbert Anderson sent to us?”. I was given ridiculous excuses by Colin Davidson and Janice and told that there was only one Partner in the firm – Colin Davidson – I must be mistaken that Gilbert Anderson had told me about John Fraser.”

“I asked Gilbert Anderson about why people kept calling Colin Davidson “John” and voiced my other concerns about his identity and he said there was a reason for this which he was not prepared to divulge to me.”

“I have now discovered that the Solicitor to whom Gilbert Anderson sent me, was not in fact Colin Davidson, but a struck-off solicitor, John O’Donnell, who between them conspired to deceive clients – John O’Donnell lost his licence because he had over 20 cases of negligence proved against him and the insurance had to pay out hundreds of thousands of pounds. The real Colin Davidson (whom I never met) has since died, and John O’Donnell has disappeared.

Prior to letters of complaint being sent to Hamilton CAB, Citizens Advice Scotland & the Scottish Legal Aid Board were asked for comment on the case.

Initially, both organisations denied there were any known problems with Gilbert Anderson.

Citizens Advice ScotlandCitizens Advice Scotland initially claimed Anderson made no recommendation to O’Donnell. An initial statement from a spokesperson for Citizens Advice Scotland claimed : “Gilbert Anderson did not refer any CAB clients to the individual you mention. What happened was that a CAB client asked for a list of practicing solicitors in the area, and he gave her such a list – which he obtained from the Law Society of Scotland website. The list included the company Davidson Fraser, among others. In supplying the client with this list, Mr Anderson did not specifically recommend she speak to any individuals working in any of those companies. He merely supplied her with the list. It was then entirely a matter for the client to decide which company to contact, if any. “

After the Sunday Mail published further allegations against Mr Anderson supplied by clients he referred to John O’Donnell, Citizens Advice Scotland released a statement to the paper claiming : “It is vital that the public have full confidence in the impartiality of the CAB service, and we take allegations of this nature very seriously. Given the seriousness of these allegations, Hamilton CAB is currently conducting a full investigation of this matter. Like all bureaux, they have robust mechanisms for investigating any reports of wrongdoing by any of their staff. However, it would obviously be helpful to that investigation if Hamilton CAB could have the full details of the allegations that have been made. As of today, no such complaint has been received by Hamilton CAB from any client.”

“If people have a complaint against an employee of a CAB, the proper procedure is to report that to the CAB manager. Hamilton CAB would ask that anyone who has any evidence to support these allegations would bring it forward to them, so their investigation can be as thorough as possible.”

slabScottish Legal Aid Board claimed they had been assured no breach of procedures at CAB. The Scottish Legal Aid Board (SLAB) initial statement in reaction to the first report of Mr Anderson referring clients to O’Donnell, claimed : “The Scottish Legal Aid Board provides funding to Hamilton Citizens Advice Bureau to deliver the Hamilton In-Court Advice Project based at Hamilton Sheriff Court. Mr Gilbert Anderson is employed as an In-Court Advice Service Manager by Hamilton CAB. The Board monitors the performance of the project, including checks that the project work focuses on the remit agreed by the Board. This includes onward referral or signposting of clients with problems that fall outwith the project remit. The Board expects project managers to ensure that individuals working within Board funded projects follow established procedures. Failure to properly manage could be a breach of the Board’s funding agreement.”Hamilton Citizens Advice Bureau has assured us that there has been no such breach in relation to the procedures employed by Mr Anderson in this case.”

An updated release from SLAB, in response to further allegations against Mr Anderson, stated : “A spokesperson for the Scottish Legal Aid Board said: “The Board has contacted Hamilton Citizens Advice Bureau, which has assured us that it takes this type of allegation very seriously and will investigate any complaints it receives.”

A new statement received from the Scottish Legal Aid Board in late May stated : “The Scottish Legal Aid Board provides funding to Hamilton Citizens Advice Bureau to deliver the Hamilton In-Court Advice Project based at Hamilton Sheriff Court. We monitor the performance of the project and will continue to do so. Further to our earlier enquiries to the CAB regarding the initial allegations made about the project we have again followed up with the CAB management and sought assurance as to the steps that would be taken to deal with any complaints. At the time of our most recent enquiries there had been no complaints received by the CAB, but we have assurance from the CAB that should any complaint be received they will investigate it fully. Hamilton Citizens Advice Bureau has assured us it takes this type of allegation very seriously and will inform us of any complaints it receives, the actions it would take and the outcome of any such investigation.”

Now that complaints have been received by Hamilton CAB & copied to SLAB, Diary of Injustice will follow this case and report ongoing events including any further disciplinary moves undertaken by the Law Society of Scotland & Scottish Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal.

Anyone who has been a client of law firm Davidson Fraser, or John G O’Donnell, or those of you who may have been referred to law firms by Gilbert Anderson or any other in-court adviser working for Citizens Advice and now have problems with your legal affairs can contact Diary of Injustice via


SLAB CASWho to trust ? SLAB FOI response claimed no in-court advisers are NOT solicitors or paralegals. A Freedom of Information request to the Scottish Legal Aid Board by Diary of Injustice reveals the in-court adviser scheme, under which Gilbert Anderson is employed, costs taxpayers well over a quarter of a million pounds each year. SLAB stated in their FOI response : “There are 16 full or part-time staff either funded or employed by SLAB in courts across Scotland at a basic annual salary cost of £292.6k. None of these positions are filled by solicitors or paralegals. Potential employees of the Board are subject to a satisfactory recruitment vetting procedure including previous employers’ references and basic disclosure under Disclosure Scotland. If a solicitor were to be employed by the Board we conduct checks with the Law Society of Scotland, in relation to the status of the practising certificate, the Scottish Solicitors Discipline Tribunal and depending on the nature of the role require standard or enhance disclosure from Disclosure Scotland.”

However claims from SLAB that none of the positions are filled by solicitors or paralegals appear to fly in the face of Gilbert Anderson’s role at Hamilton CAB.

Friday, June 01, 2012

A NEW HOPE : Scotland’s “Victorian” Justice system makes way for reforming judge as Lord Gill is appointed new Lord President of Scots judiciary

Lord Brian GillLord Brian Gill, author of Civil Courts Review is Scotland’s new top judge. LORD BRIAN GILL, who as Lord Justice Clerk, authored the highly critical CIVIL COURTS REVIEW report of 2009 which condemned Scotland’s Civil justice system as a “Victorian model that had survived by means of periodic piecemeal reforms” has been appointed today as Scotland’s new Lord President, replacing the retiring Lord Hamilton who has held the position since December 2005. The news of Lord Gill’s appointment has been widely welcomed by campaigners for reform of Scotland’s antiquated & ailing courts & justice system which the new Lord President has previously said ‘fails litigants & fails society’.

The announcement of Lord Gill’s appointment was made earlier this morning by First Minister Alex Salmond, who issued a statement welcoming the appointment by Her Majesty the Queen of The Rt Hon Lord Gill as Scotland’s new Lord President. Lord Gill replaces the Rt Hon Lord Hamilton who retires on 8 June.

Mr Salmond commented that Lord Gill was an outstanding individual who would lead Scotland’s judiciary with independence and integrity and had a clear vision for the continued modernisation of the Scottish courts. Mr Salmond said : "I warmly welcome the appointment of The Rt Hon Lord Gill as Scotland’s new Lord President. His commitment to reform and modernisation is clear and under his leadership I am confident there will be substantial improvements to the justice system. He is an individual of great stature and integrity and in leading Scotland’s judiciary will enjoy the respect and confidence of those around him."

The First Minister continued : "I would also like to take the opportunity to thank Lord Hamilton for his leadership over the last few years in establishing the new role of the Lord President and the new governance arrangements for the Scottish Court Service. The changes introduced by the Judiciary and Courts (Scotland) Act were of considerable constitutional significance, and their successful introduction will stand as a testament to his period in office."

Lord Gill is Scotland's longest serving judge. He is a graduate of the Universities of Glasgow and Edinburgh and lectured in the Faculty of Law of Edinburgh University before being admitted to the Faculty of Advocates in 1967. He was appointed Queen’s Counsel in 1981. He is a member of the English Bar (Lincoln’s Inn, 1991; Bencher 2002); an advocate depute 1977-1979; Standing Junior Counsel to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (1974-1977), the Home Office (1979-1981) and the Scottish Education Department (1979-1981); and Deputy Chairman of the Copyright Tribunal (1989-1994).

He was appointed a Judge in 1994 and Lord Justice Clerk in 2001. Lord Gill is Chairman of the Lands Valuation Appeal Court and was Chairman of the Scottish Law Commission from 1996 to 2001. In 2008, he was appointed by the UK and Scottish Governments to Chair the Public Inquiry into the fatal explosion in 2004 at the ICL factory in Glasgow. Lord Gill was also Chairman of the Scottish Civil Courts Review (2007-2009). He is Chairman of the Council of the Royal School of Church Music and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and a Fellow of the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama. In 2011, Lord Gill was awarded a Papal Knighthood of the Order of St Gregory the Great.

The salary of the Lord President is £214,165 per annum and the salary of a Senator is £172,753 per annum.

The Judicial Appointments Board for Scotland was established by Ministers in 2002 and it became an independent advisory non-departmental public body on June 1, 2009. The Board has statutory responsibilities under the Judiciary and Courts (Scotland) Act 2008. The Board's role is to recommend for appointment to the office of judge, sheriff principal, sheriff and part-time sheriff. The First Minister retains the statutory responsibility for making nominations to Her Majesty the Queen. The First Minister is required by statute to consult the Lord President of the Court of Session before making his nomination to Her Majesty.

The process of selection for the Lord President is set out in the Judiciary and Courts (Scotland) Act 2008 ("the 2008 Act"). In line with those provisions the First Minister established a panel of 4 people and invited them to recommend individuals suitable for appointment. The panel was chaired by Sir Muir Russell (Chair of the Judicial Appointments Board for Scotland) and also comprised the Rt Hon Lord Hardie and the Hon Lady Dorrian (senators of the Court of Session) and Professor Coyle (a lay member of the Judicial Appointments Board for Scotland).


Lord HamiltonScotland’s outgoing Lord President. Lord Hamilton’s term as Lord President has seen some change in the courts system, and also conflict with the Crown Office’s persistent court failures where, in the case of the collapse of the World’s End murder trial World’s End murder trial, Lord Hamilton accused the then Lord Advocate Elish Angiolini (nee McPhilomy) of undermining the independence of Scotland’s judiciary after she addressed the Scottish Parliament stating she was disappointed with the trial judge Lord Clarke’s ruling  there was insufficient evidence for the jury to convict and threw the case out. The rift over the World’s End case between Lord Hamilton & the now former Lord Advocate Angiolini, who among her now many roles acts as a Ministerial complaints adviser to Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond, was reported by Scottish Law Reporter HERE.

Among other developments, including the publication of judge’s expenses after Diary of Injustice gained sight of judicial expenses claims via Freedom of Information legislation, Lord Hamilton also oversaw the introduction of McKenzie Friends to Scotland’s courts system, although the implementation and the mass of rules, including a ban on any remuneration paid to those acting as McKenzie Friends in Scotland has somewhat limited their effectiveness. Coverage of issues involving the outgoing Lord President Lord Hamilton can be viewed HERE


Lord Gill Lord Justice ClerkThe Lord Justice Clerk, Lord Gill, author of the Civil Courts Review. The Lord Justice Clerk, Lord Gill, in his speech to the Law Society of Scotland’s 60 year anniversary conference in 2009, reproduced in full here said : “The civil justice system in Scotland is a Victorian model that had survived by means of periodic piecemeal reforms. But in substance its structure and procedures are those of a century and a half ago. It is failing the litigant and it is failing society. It is essential that we should have a system that has disputes resolved at a judicial level that is appropriate to their degree of importance and that disputes should be dealt with expeditiously and efficiently and without unnecessary or unreasonable cost. That means that the judicial structure should be based on a proper hierarchy of courts and that the procedures should be appropriate to the nature and the importance of the case, in terms of time and cost. Scottish civil justice fails on all of these counts. Its delays are notorious. It costs deter litigants whose claims may be well-founded. Its procedures cause frustration and obstruct rather than facilitate the achievement of justice."

Readers can download the Civil Courts Review report in pdf format, from the Scottish Courts Website at the following links : Volume 1 Chapter 1 - 9 (Covers McKenzie Friends, procedures, advice etc, 2.99Mb) Volume 2 Chapter 10 - 15 (Covers mainly the issue of Class (multi party) actions etc, 2.16Mb) Synopsis (215Kb)

Diary of Injustice coverage of the Civil Courts Review from its publication to the present, and the pace of reforms to civil justice in Scotland can be found here : Civil Courts Review - The story so far