Judges shareholdings in companies guilty of breaking the law raise questions of ethical investments. DISCLOSURES of judges personal shareholdings obtained under Freedom of Information legislation from the Scottish Court Service have revealed a startling snapshot of the wealth of several key members of Scotland’s judiciary who sit on a controlling quango which flexes its muscle over the entire court structure in Scotland.
The declarations of the seven judicial members of the Scottish Court Service Board – including Scotland's top judge, the Lord President & Lord Justice General Brian Gill on £220K a year - reveal members of the judiciary benefit financially from shareholdings in companies who won huge public contracts to provide services to the courts & justice system, companies convicted of breaking the law around the world, companies involved in ‘industrial’ espionage against countries such as China, banks fined for international financial market manipulation, and companies involved in bribes, bid rigging, and tax dodging to name but a few.
The documents – handed over by the Scottish Court Service after officials initially denied holding the information in an effort to delay full publication, bring further revelations on top of reports in the Scottish Sun newspaper where it was revealed Sheriff Principal RA Dunlop holds shares in Weir Group - hit with a £13.9 million Proceeds of Crime fine for dodging UN sanctions by paying bribes to Saddam Hussein’s regime. The Sunday Herald also revealed Sheriff Principal RA Dunlop held shares in Tesco while presiding over a case involving the multi national supermarket giant.
Sheriff Principal R A Dunlop QC: Astrazeneca, BHP Billiton, Blackrock AM UK Gold & General, Bluescope Steel, BNY Mellon Newton Global, CG Real Return Inc, Close Brothers Group, Diageo, Findlay Park FDS American Smaller Cos., G4S, Henderson Global Invs, ING Global Real Estate Securities, Intercontinental Hotels, JP Morgan Private Equity, Lomond Shipping Co, Lloyds Banking, M&G (Guernsey) Global Leaders, National Grid, Oakley Capital Investments, Origo Partners, Pernod Ricard, Prudential, Rio Tinto, Royal Bank of Scotland, Royal Dutch Shell, Scottish Oriental Smaller Cos, Tesco, Vodafone, Weir Group
Sheriff Iona McDonald: Glaxosmithkline, Royal Dutch Shell, Unilever, Equiniti, Barclays, Standard Life, HBOS
Johan Findlay OBE: Aviva, Vodafone, Santander, Unilever, Norwich Union, Legal & General, Fidelity Funds Network, Scottish Widows, Lloyds Banking Group, Thus Group, HBOS, Trafficmaster, Standard Life
Sheriff A Grant McCulloch: “None significant”
Hon Lord Bannatyne: None
Lord Justice Clerk - Lord Carloway: None (and no declarations of any kind whatsoever)
The registers reveal more of the judges shareholdings in companies with questionable histories - Sheriff Dunlop is also a shareholder in G4S who were fined £335,000 for court delays in Scotland after it was revealed the company brought prisoners to court late - on at least 21,735 occasions.
In March 2014, G4S agreed to repay £109 million to the UK government after a scandal involving overcharging on contracts to tag offenders. The overcharging is believed to include billing for monitoring the movements of 3,000 "phantom" offenders, including some who had been sent back to prison and even some who had died.
And the firm was also implicated in several scandals in Iraq where the company operate as ArmorGroup, supplying armed guards & security. A BBC Scotland investigation into G4S revealed the company had been warned not to employ a former British paratrooper who went on to kill two colleagues including Private security guard Paul McGuigan, from the Scottish Borders.
Dunlop also has shares in mining giant BHP Billiton – embroiled in an anti-corruption investigation by the US authorities into a lobbying scam aimed at defeating the landmark US climate change bill involving forged letters sent to US congressmen. BHP Billiton is also under investigation in another anti-corruption investigation in Australia over its major sponsorship of the 2008 Beijing Olympics and the alleged payment of "tea money" to secure rights to a since-abandoned bauxite exploration project in Cambodia.
Another mining giant on Sheriff Dunlop’s extensive share portfolio is Rio Tinto - caught up in a spying and corruption scandal in China where four of the firm’s executives admitted bribery and were jailed. Sheriff Dunlop is also listed in the documents as holding shares in Vodafone - which paid no UK corporation tax for the past two years despite massive profits and sales of £5 Billion in Britain last year.
And, in what must be a humiliating slap in the face of the Scottish Government, documents show Sheriff Principal Dunlop also holds shares in drinks giant Diageo, who are supporting the drinks industry’s legal challenge against the Scottish Government’s minimum alcohol pricing policy.
Another judge, Sheriff Iona McDonald who also holds the position of Deputy Lieutenant for Ayrshire and Arran, is revealed to invest in pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline. GSK are also caught up in a huge corruption scandal in China over allegations it’s sales team targeted influential doctors with bribes, expensive gifts and cash to win business.
Among the list of other investments of SCS Board members are banks such as Lloyds - fined £218 Million for manipulating the Libor rate and Barclays - recently fined £26 Million for gold price fixing. Barclays were also fined £290 million over their part in the Libor rate rigging scandal.
Also on the list are insurance firms who do business with law firms all across Scotland and are directly linked to the Law Society of Scotland’s Master Insurance Policy - which protects corrupt solicitors from damages claims by clients who have been ripped off. A Research Report by the University of Manchester School of Law linked the Law Society’s Master Policy to suicides of court litigants & clients of Scottish solicitors.
Speaking to Diary of Injustice, a legal insider said: “While it may not be of concern to members of the judiciary which firms they choose to invest in, it should be of concern to the public, as many of these companies and their subsidiaries are regulars in the courts where judicial recusals are historically hard to come by on financial grounds.”
The SCS Board register of interests, which date back to 2010 – also list the shareholding portfolio of the then Lord President - Lord Hamilton. Additional declarations in the register reveal a snapshot of current SCS Board members directorships, trusteeships, links to businesses and relationships with shady regulators of the accountancy profession:
Lord President Lord Gill: Director of Scottish Redundant Churches Trust, a company limited by guarantee registered in Scotland (SC162884). Director of the Royal School of Church Music, a company limited by guarantee registered in England (Reg'd No 250031). Trustee of the Carmont Settlement: a trust for the support of retired priests of the Roman Catholic Church. Trustee of the Columba Trust: a trust for the benefit of the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland.Trustee of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland Endowment Trust: a trust for the benefit of RCS and its students. Trustee of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland Trust: a trust for the benefit of the RCS and its students. Trustee of the Royal School of Church Music, a registered charity for the promotion of church music in the Christian Churches (Reg No 312828). Vice President of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.
Sheriff Principal R A Dunlop QC: Member of Stirling University Conference. Chair of Local Criminal Justice Boards in Tayside Central and Fife. Commissioner of Northern Lighthouses. Trustee of St John's Kirk of Perth Trust. Elder of Gorebridge Parish Church of Scotland. Member of Royal Northern & Clyde Yacht Club. Member of the New Club, Edinburgh.
Sheriff Iona McDonald: Deputy Lieutenant for Ayrshire and Arran. Partner in property rental firm.
Johan Findlay OBE: Honorary Sheriff & Justice of the Peace
Sheriff A Grant McCulloch: Chair West Fife Education Trust. Chair Relationship Scotland- Couple Counselling Fife. Chair - Discipline Committee ICAS (Institute for Chartered Accountants of Scotland – Accountants self regulator). Committee Member Cammo Residents Association.
Hon Lord Bannatyne: Chester Street (Limited Partner) Ltd on behalf of the Board if the Cathedral Church of St Mary the Virgin, Palmerston Place, Edinburgh. Member of the Board of the Cathedral Church of St Mary the Virgin, Palmerston Place, Edinburgh. Shareholder as Trustee for the Cathedral Church of St Mary the Virgin, Palmerston Place, Edinburgh, in Chester Street (General Partner) Ltd. Member of the Clergy Disciplinary Tribunal of the Episcopal Church.
Lord Justice Clerk - Lord Carloway: No declarations of Directorships or other positions.
Multiple property ownership and interests in real estate, buy to let and property companies is big business for members of the judiciary and their family members – however there are no details or disclosures of any property directly owed by the SCS Board members contained in the declarations released by the SCS. It is as if Scotland’s top judges are on the homeless register – but it is clear from their wealth, they don't use food banks.
The limited disclosures of SCS Board members contain no references to outside earnings & work, relationships to law firms, big business and others more detailed declarations which may be picked up by a fully published register of judicial interests as is currently being investigated by the Scottish Parliament’s public Petitions Committee.who are considering proposals contained in Petition PE1458: Register of Interests for members of Scotland's judiciary.
The registers as released by the Scottish Court Service have now been handed to MSPs who are to be asked to consider the question of ethical investments of the judiciary as part of their on-going debate on proposals to create a full register of judicial interests for all Scottish judges.
Previous articles on the lack of transparency within Scotland’s judiciary, investigations by Diary of Injustice including reports from the media, and video footage of earlier debates at the Scottish Parliament’s Public Petitions Committee on Petition PE1458 can be found here: A Register of Interests for Scotland's Judiciary.