SPECULATIVE MEMBERS BEHIND ATTACKS ON TOMMY SHERIDAN
High level Masonic Speculative Society members behind the attacks on former Socialist party leader Tommy Sheridan
For some years back there has been a list of members of a notorious mafia called the SPEC published on the internet. That list consists of Scottish law lords, lawyers, bankers , newspaper reporters and a myriad of scumbags who hold powerful positions within Scottish Society. NOT because of their abilities but because they have sworn satanic oaths and are maybe the most dangerous individuals within Scotland at the present time.
In the two following links you will see a name of a Spec member called Jamie MacAskill who at the time the list was collated was the deputy news editor of the Sunday Mail which has a large circulation across Scotland. He also gave evidence at the action Tommy Sheridan took against the News of the World and who is now facing charges of perjury after he won his case.
The law lords sitting in judgement after the event, as Tommy was one of the few civil litigants in Scotland to have a jury deciding on his case , forced the masonic cops to charge Tommy and his wife with perjury that has dragged on for over a year and has still not been heard yet in court. Those law lords are members of the Speculative Society as were some of the witness’s like Jamie MacAskill and shows a major conflict of interest that once again undermines justice in Scotland by a legal mafia that conspire behind the closed doors of the Spec club as they have done with the Sky bridge affair, the Dunblane massacre inquiry , the Lockerbie bombing and the Shirley McKie fingerprint debacle.
Our group have vast experience of the EVIL that masquerades in these courts as some form of justice. There are sinister interconnecting conspiracies that ensure a handful of lawyers and judges control Scotlands wealth and power through the stealthy removal of juries from our civil court system. This is another example of how they have conspired to undermine judgements made on the rare occasions juries have decided on the merits of a libel action . Tommy Sheridan has been stitched up by this mob of fraudsters for daring to challenge their power base.
Our group members have spent 10 and in some cases 20 years or more trying to restore justice to a civil court system that would not look out of place in Zimbabwe. While Mugabe throws people out of their homes and bulldozes them , in Scotland the legal mafia consisting of corrupt judges and lawyers using sheriff officers and cops are doing this daily to thousands of families caught up in a tyranny that is as evil as anything Hitler created with the Gestapo.
Those Scottish homes don’t get bulldozed but are re-circulated by a mob of masonic/speculative judicial scumbags into their own property portfolio’s were they don’t keep a paper trail of the thousands of properties repossessed each year totally illegally with NO TRIAL BY JURY. The Scottish sheriff courts no longer have CIVIL juries to ensure justice is not being compromised, instead we have seen our courts deviously manipulated by a corrupt Scottish legal establishment, with a long history of putting more power into their own hands while destroying their victims lives. Many on this group bare witness to the sinister, almost psychopathic way these monsters protect their scams . This while they expertly psychologically torture anyone who stands up to their corruption and fraud. Many of us know first hand how they do this.
They virtually control the propaganda spewed out by a complicit corporate media who share the spoils of the advertising of the stolen re-circulated homes using their media lawyers who vet any articles that might warn the public about their multi-billion pound cons. Thanks to the internet those victims have a voice and will not rest until these crooks are fully exposed for the vicious attacks on the thousands of families every year that are treated disgracefully and pay a heavy price for the monopoly powers that remain, despite all our efforts to seek change in those legal systems that are devoid of any justice, but are a monstrous criminal conspiracy of judges and lawyers that use paper shuffling as a means to steal our hard earned assets and homes. The solitary signature of a MASONIC judge ensures a life’s work is stolen by stealth.
The Scottish newspapers should hang their heads in shame for failing all of Scotlands people allowing this ruthless mob to continue their reign of terror across our land , and the political stooges at Holyrood who protect them and who, despite endless evidence gathering, allow the crooks to remain in charge and still controlling the direction those courts operate in.
BULLYING AND ABUSE DROVE GIRLS TO SUICIDE AT ERSKINE BRIDGE
I walked out of home four times to jump off bridge, says Good Shepherd girl
A GIRL who spent two years at the suicide scandal Good Shepherd kids’ home told last night how she sneaked out FOUR TIMES and walked to the Erskine Bridge, planning to kill herself. And Kim Anderson, now 20, said she returned each time without staff noticing she had left. Kim made her shock claims just days after suicide pact pals Neve Lafferty, 15, and Georgia Rowe, 14 walked out of the Good Shepherd and leapt from the bridge.
She said the tragedy brought back her own horrific memories of the years she spent at the home in Bishopton, Renfrewshire. Kim told the Record: “Four times I went to the bridge in my pyjamas in the middle of the night. I even had my legs over the barrier but I didn’t have the guts to jump. “When I heard about those poor lassies, I was devastated. They were desperate, just like me.” Kim, from Stranraer, told how she went through two years of “hell” at the Good Shepherd.
She said: “I was desperately unhappy at the centre. I felt so lonely and I was being bullied by the other girls and neglected by the staff. In my view, they didn’t give a damn. “It was like they tolerated bullying. Sometimes they even stood and watched me being battered.
“Other times, staff would use excess restraint for the slightest wee thing. The way I was treated drove me to go to the bridge. “After the failed attempts I tried other ways of ending my life. I took overdoses and slit my wrists. “I ran away 77 times in the two years I was at the Good Shepherd. I couldn’t stand it. It was hell.”
Kim believes little has changed at the home since she left on her 16th birthday. And she claimed: “The bullying from other girls, the drugs and alcohol that get in and the lack of supervision and care may have contributed to the deaths of Neve and Georgia. “I can’t get out of my head what they must have been thinking before they jumped. “I’m sure they felt totally helpless and depressed. The Good Shepherd is a nasty place – it makes you feel no one one cares about you.”
The Record exclusively revealed last year that police were investigating claims of abuse at the Good Shepherd. An anonymous tip-off claimed children were being punched, slapped and beaten in an isolation room. Officers found no evidence that crimes had been committed. Kim said: “I think those girls would still be alive if something had been done last year after the police investigation.
“There has got to be another inquiry – and this time, they can’t just sweep it under the carpet.” Two years ago, a leaked internal report described the Good Shepherd as a threat to kids’ safety. It highlighted failures including unfit accommodation and strangers getting into the home at night. The report said: “It is difficult to imagine a more inappropriate environment in which to manage a group of emotionally charged adolescent girls.”
Kim was sent to the Good Shepherd after she ran away from home to escape daily beatings from her alcoholic mother. When she was 16, she was moved into supported housing.
And since then, she has turned her life around. She has a loving partner and a nine-month-old daughter, Thai, and is pregnant with her second child. The Good Shepherd is affiliated to the Cora Foundation, a not-forprofit company owned by the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland.
Some girls are housed in a secure unit but others live in an “open unit” with more freedom. Neve and Georgia were in the open unit. Reacting to Kim’s allegations, a Cora spokesman said last night: “Staff are not legally allowed to physically detain girls at the open unit if they try to leave.” The spokesman said the Good Shepherd tried every day to provide “a protective and caring environment” for deeply troubled youngsters and had been praised recently by the Care Commission. He noted that Kim’s claims dated back four years but said bosses took all claims of bullying or drug misuse seriously.
FIRST MINISTER ALEX SALMOND CAUGHT ON SECRET RECORDING
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pAuNpYwJync] This morning one of our group David Emslie was interviewed on BBC Scotland regarding the recent issue of the mother who committed suicide and took her disabled daughters life after the police failed to stop the harassment they faced from local thugs.
David has CCTV proof that some of his neighbours had threatened him with knives yet the police did nothing and treated him as a PEST as they did with the couple who died.
David stated that last week he had had a meeting with the First Minister of Scotland Alex Salmond that had gone on for 1 hour 15 minutes and that the First Minister was NOT interested in all of the evidence that the police ignored, yet were party to Davids illegal eviction were he had to sleep for months in his car after this despicable behaviour by law enforcement.
When asked by the presenter how he could possibly state that the First Minister was NOT interested he said ON AIR that he had TAPED THE WHOLE CONVERSATION. David may have the most damning evidence against the First Minister of Scotland party to ignoring serious threats to David’s life.
We will hopefully be able to get online both the radio interview and the extended meeting with the first minister ASAP.
David has been through hell and back as maybe the most active legal battler who has played a major part in bringing down the Lord Advocate Colin Boyd and Chief Executive of the Law Society of Scotland Douglas Mill. We await the outcome of the exposures of the Smiling assassin Alex Salmond in that recording.
LATEST ON MACKENZIE FRIEND PETITION AT THE SCOTTISH PARLIAMENT
The Scottish legal system has been getting away with MURDER fleecing the public with their monopoly powers. This petition starts to break the back of that monopoly, however until full trial by jury is restored to ALL cases when requested, corrupt judges will continue to control and dominate civil courts on Scotland.
I was certainly well briefed in the arguments for the other petition in which I had an interest this week. Stewart Mackenzie presented his “MacKenzie’s Friends” petition six months ago. It proposes that people who represent themselves in court without a lawyer may have a friend sitting beside them to hand them evidence, whisper brief advice, etc.
The committee approached professionals in different branches of the legal system — advocates, police, judges and Citizens Advice, Money Advice and so on for their opinions. When PE1247 came back to the committee after consultation I was there in support. I’m happy to report the committee agreed to commend the idea to the Scottish Government. That’s what I call a good piece of political work, light years away from frock talk.
Scotland’s legal aid bill fell by nearly £5 million this year, a report said today.
But the cost of civil legal assistance shot up because of the impact of the recession, the report found. The Scottish Legal Aid Board’s (Slab) annual report showed the average net cost to the taxpayer of publicly funded legal assistance had dropped by 3.2% to £150.2 million – in contrast to 2008’s record high.
Legal aid – paid out of public funds – exists to help people on low incomes to meet the cost of legal advice. Last year it cost taxpayers £155 million.
The fall is due to changes in the justice and legal aid system brought in to try and make the system more efficient, the report claimed. Iain Robertson, SLAB’s chairman said the board was committed to “improving efficiency” in the service. He said: “We can be proud of the work we have done to improve the delivery of legal aid in Scotland.
“We are committed to working with the Scottish Government to deliver their efficient administration savings targets and to continue reducing our administration costs, improving efficiency and so providing value for money for the taxpayer, whilst providing access to justice and an excellent service to the people of Scotland.” While legal aid costs for criminal and children’s cases dropped by 7% and 7.9% respectively, civil cases cost the taxpayer £42.6 million – an extra 7.1%. A Slab spokesman said the growth was “largely related to the recession” and £3 million during the next two years had been secured from the Scottish Government to help meet the costs during the downturn.
The report also published the fees paid to individual advocates, solicitor advocates and solicitors firms during the last year. Criminal defence specialist Donald Findlay QC topped the high-earners list for the fourth year running, with a legal-aid income of £370,900. Also at the top of the income table were Gordon Jackson QC, in second place with £314,100, and Frances Connor who earned £283,700.
The highest earning firms were Livingstone Brown and Ross Harper, both based in Glasgow, with fees of £1,985,600 and £1,742,500 respectively.
ABERDEEN DRUNK(MASON?)SPARED JAIL BY JUDGE(MASON?) AFTER 4TH DRINK DRIVE BAN
Wooly liberal judge spares masonic lodge buddy
AN ABERDEEN man has landed a seven-year ban after being caught drink driving for the fourth time. Aberdeen Sheriff Court heard Derek Watt was almost three times the limit when he drove less than a mile from a funeral to his Aberdeen address.
Sheriff Douglas Cusine ordered Watt to carry out 240 hours of community service, banned him from driving for seven years and put him on probation for three years. He told Watt: “You have today escaped a jail sentence.”
But he warned him that if he failed to do his probation he would be sent to prison. Defence agent Les Green said Watt felt “very angry with himself” for committing his fifth drink-related offence.
The court heard the 43-year-old, whose partner was due to deliver twins after receiving fertility treatment, wanted to be present for the birth. Watt, whose address was given in court papers as 2c Girdlestone Place, Aberdeen, admitted driving with too much alcohol on Torry’s Finnan Place on July 10 this year.
Mr Green said: “He had been at a funeral in the day and had gone back to the gathering. “He intended to just have tea and sandwiches but was drawn into drinking.
“He has been in the habit when he has been drinking of giving the keys to someone responsible. He was going to give them to his sister but missed her before she left. “The more he drank he lost the will to do that.”
JUSTICE FOR MARK LETTER REGARDING APPALLING NEGLECT CASE
Letter to Kenny MacAskill MSP, Scottish Justice Secretary, Thursday 27 August 2009 – Re appalling neglect case …
Thursday 27 August 2009
Dear Kenny MacAskill
Mark’s case files and photographs, Friday 27 August 1999 and thereafter … EXACTLY 10 YEARS ON … Exactly ten years ago today on Friday 27 August 1999, Mark came to your office on George IV Bridge to see your then PA, Edinburgh City Councillor Rob Munn, having arranged to go and see you the week before. You were away to an SNP conference that weekend and Rob met with Mark for approximately 2½ hours in your absence. Mark left with him many files pertaining to his case and two (maybe three?) photograph albums, which were also provided to graphically portray how he had been left to languish, deteriorate and rot for nearly 6 years in that Care [Neglect] in the Community “supported accommodation” (which never materialised as you know) up to that point in time. He came to you as a last resort and was pleading for your help, support and intervention.
Sadly, that help, support and intervention never materialised and Mark was left to languish, deteriorate and rot in that hovel of depravity, danger, violence, criminality and gross neglect for a further 5½ years, until the local authority and others involved forcibly ejected him and covered up for their appalling actions and inactions over the preceding 12 years. You know exactly what happened from all the correspondence you saw prior to and subsequent to that forcible ejection in January 2005 – you were fully appraised of matters thereafter and very well-informed of what was going on and happening to Mark at the hands of the Edinburgh authorities. There is no dispute that Mark was recklessly, miserably and negligently ill-treated during all those wasted, ruined, lost and horrific years and there are many in the local authority, the legal profession, the medical profession, the political establishment (at local and national level) and several others involved who should search their consciences and hang their heads in shame for what was allowed to happen in Mark’s case.
Whilst we accepted your “profuse apology” (in your letter dated Friday 15 May 2009) over the missing case files, we can get no-one to accept responsibility for what was allowed to happen to Mark over the past 20 years and no-one will say “we are very sorry … we got it badly wrong, we made a terrible mistake, we failed Mark miserably, and we unreservedly apologise for what has happened to him over all those years”. Mark is now indefinitely homeless, destitute, very seriously ill, being terribly neglected (ever since that forcible ejection 55 months ago), out of sight and mind, completely off the radar (due to what has happened over the past 4 years and 7 months) and has now lost the past 20 years of his life due to what was allowed to happen to him at the hands of the Edinburgh / Scottish authorities and a health and social “care” system that very cruelly abandoned him, left him to rot for many years and couldn’t have “cared” less. He has lost all those years of his life as a result of the actions and inactions of those who knew, should have helped and properly intervened, but who didn’t … preferring to turn a blind eye, say and do nothing and remain silent … to protect themselves and their colleagues and friends who were involved. As a freelance journalist put it in March 2005: “The best years of his life have been completely wasted, ruined and destroyed and can never be given back to him… NOTHING will ever compensate for what’s happened to him now… I’m glad to see I wasn’t the only journalist who failed Mark, although I would like to be able to say that someone in my profession had helped him… “. Never were truer words spoken.
Obviously you don’t have your troubles to seek presently and Mark’s case will be the least of your worries right now. As you have said, your decision to release Mr Megrahi on “compassionate grounds” was your decision, and your decision alone, and you will now have to live with the consequences of that decision for the rest of your life. We have had to live with the consequences of the decisions (actions and inactions) of those who were involved in Mark’s case over the past 20 years too, so we know what that is like. As we said to you in our last letter of Thursday 13 August 2009: “Where was the compassion (and integrity, justice and health and social “care”) in Mark’s case over the past 20+ years and why was he treated so appallingly by the Edinburgh and Scottish authorities (his ain folk) over the past two decades – ironically since the same time as the Lockerbie atrocity in December 1988? Questions we have yet to have properly answered and fully addressed by anyone”. As we also said to you in our last letter: “We have been attending to an elderly cancer sufferer down in the borders of late and Mark is very ill now too as you know – as emphasised in our last letter to you of Thursday 2 July, to which you did not respond. That is the reason we have not yet been into your office as you suggested and we had hoped that all the missing case files and photographs would be found first before we arranged to do so – and meet with you there personally”.
No doubt we will hear from you again when you return from your break and have the time to consider and comment on these last four letters to you – including the copy of the letter to Rob Munn dated Monday 20 July, to which, unsurprisingly, he did not respond. Thank you for your time and co-operation with these very serious and unresolved matters.
cc. Alex Salmond MSP / MP, First Minister of Scotland
SUICIDE FOR THE MANY ABUSED BY SCOTLANDS LEGAL SYSTEM
Only a few days after the release of the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission’s investigation into the claims process against solicitors, harsh evidence is beginning to emerge of the human cost to clients, where suicides, illness (some resulting in death), family break ups and huge financial losses are the horrific consequences sustained by members of the public who have tried to make claims against the Law Society of Scotland’s ‘Master Policy’ insurance scheme, touted by the legal profession as protecting lawyers and clients but which the ground breaking report released by Manchester University School of Law on Monday reveals “is simply designed to allow lawyers to sleep at night.”
Suicides, illness, family breakdown, loss of homes, loss of livelihood were all identified by interviewees as being directly associated with members of the public’s dealings with the Law Society & Master Policy. During the research team’s investigation of claims against the Master Policy, team members were told of suicides which had occurred due to the way in which clients of crooked lawyers had been treated by the Law Society of Scotland and the insurers who operate the Master Policy protection scheme for solicitors against negligence claims. Quoting the report : “Several claimants said that they had been diagnosed with depression; that they had high blood pressure; and several had their marriages fail due to their claim. Some had lost a lot of money, their homes, and we were told that one party litigant had committed suicide.”
Law Society officials linked to suicide of client who claimed against the Master Policy. The suicide of one client who had dealings with the Master Policy, is apparently linked to senior officials at the Law Society of Scotland itself, who, when approached by the client to handle a complaint against his solicitor who had made major errors in handling legal business, recommended to the now deceased client he approach a well known firm of solicitors to sue his original solicitor and pursue a claim against the Master Policy for negligence. However, what the client did not know was the law firm which the now promoted Director of a department at the Law Society had recommended he approach, actually represented the Legal Defence Union, which exists to defend solicitors against both claims & complaints from clients, and who are involved in defending solicitors against over two thirds of the thousands of complaints made annually against lawyers by members of the public in Scotland.
The client, a farmer and co owner of a business, went onto unknowingly engage the law firm recommended to him by the still serving senior Law Society official, however, unsurprisingly, little or no progress was made over a lengthy period of time on the client’s claim against the Master Policy, which in itself, caused severe stress and depression to the client and his family. Matters reached the stage where the law firm, recommended to the client by the Law Society itself had done little on the case, and offered no hope of a just & fair resolution to the huge losses caused by the client’s original solicitor, one evening, not long after yet another unsuccessful meeting with his solicitors, the client in question had reached a point of such depression, he committed suicide at home using a shotgun, leaving his widow & children. Several days after the client’s suicide, the same Law Society official who had recommended the law firm which had done nothing to proceed the deceased client’s claim and take the original ‘crooked lawyer’ to court, wrote to the widow of the victim and callously informed her she had two weeks to make a complaint to the Law Society or she would be time barred.
The case itself, was investigated by the then Scottish Legal Services Ombudsman Linda Costello Baker, in 2001, who found the Law Society of Scotland had failed the deceased client and ordered they re-investigate the complaint. The Law Society then proceeded to investigate the complaints again, however reaching the same conclusions, which prompted the widow of the deceased client to return to the SLSO, Ms Costello Baker, who again investigated in 2003 and judged the Law Society had failed once more.
At least two other suicides directly associated with clients dealings with the Master Policy are known, where in both cases, clients appeared to have been put under intolerable pressure, delay, deceit and intimidation by lawyers, the Law Society itself, and the insurers to the Master Policy, that the result of the entire process was to cause the claimants to end their lives after breaking under the strain of dealings with the apparently deadly Master Policy insurance scheme.
Further excerpts from the Manchester University report into the Law Society’s Master Policy & Guarantee Fund show the intolerable strain clients who attempt to claim against their ‘crooked’ solicitor have to endure : Claimants “described being intimidated, being forced to settle rather than try to run a hearing without legal support, and all felt that their claims’ outcomes were not fair. Some claimants felt that they should have received more support, and that this lack was further evidence of actors within the legal system being “against” Master Policy claimants. Judges were described as being “former solicitors”, members of the Law Society – and thus, against claimants. Some described judges and other judicial officers as being very hostile to party litigants.” One direct quote from the report, depicts a claimant, who was forced to become a party litigant : “I keep fighting cases, and they keep coming at me, and now I have become ill. But they still keep coming at me. They threw me out onto the street, I couldn’t get my medication, I’ve got nothing, I was homeless, ill, sleeping in the car. Now I am appealing. But I can’t get a solicitor. They are just shutting me down…. My health has been damaged, they kill you off. It’s a proven fact. All of us have stress related problems after years and years of stress.”
One client who had fought a nine year battle with the Law Society of Scotland and the insurers to the Master Policy over a multi million pound negligence claim which ultimately failed said : “The way that claims against crooked lawyers are handled in Scotland is criminal. The Law Society and the insurers will stop at nothing to ruin a client’s life if they dare try and raise a claim for damages against their lawyer.” He went on : “I lost my business and then my house after the legal firm which was supposed to be acting on my behalf against my original solicitor, sued me for legal costs of over £72,000 after nine years of allegedly trying to take the case to court and then the whole thing coming to nothing. I found out that the law firm I took on to represent me against my original solicitor who ruined my business, had been working against me from the very start and to make matters worse, they are I hear going to merge with the law firm of my original solicitor now that my case is out of the way.” “My wife left me, took my children, and I now have little hope of ever working again. I am shattered and have been diagnosed with depression, but the solicitor I originally complained against has a good life, is an outwardly respectable member of the community, but in reality is a thief who embezzled tens of thousands of pounds from my business, and ruined my business just to make sure he could buy up the bankrupt parts for himself which is what he actually did.”
He ended by saying : “If anyone asked me for advice on how to deal with a solicitor in Scotland, I’d say stay the hell away from them and even if you have to use one, do not get into a trusting relationship with them simply because if anything goes wrong, as it probably will, they will end up as your opponent in the blink of an eye and from then on your life will be made a living hell.” A solicitor I asked for comment today said :”While I must express my sympathies to the families of clients who have apparently committed suicide over their dealings with the Law Society and the bad apples among us, we as solicitors are as much a victim of the Master Policy and the Law Society as are the clients. Not one solicitor to my knowledge has even seen a copy of the Master Policy but I do know someone who once asked for a copy and was refused, then was given a sharp rebuke for even asking to see it yet we are forced to pay annually into the Master Policy if we want to continue practising law in Scotland.” He ended by saying : “The Master Policy is all about giving the Law Society of Scotland control over the legal profession and the public. Get rid of the Master Policy and the Law Society while you’re at it, allow us as individual firms to arrange our own insurance cover, and you would see a very different, more positive legal services market in Scotland.”
Consumer Focus Scotland welcomed the findings of Dr Melville & Professor Stephen’s report. Today, Consumer Focus Scotland issued a statement welcoming the findings of the report into the Master Policy & Guarantee Fund, saying : “We welcome this preliminary research into the Master Policy and Guarantee Fund. Although based on a small sample, it provides useful qualitative evidence that the current system lacks clarity for both consumers and the legal profession. We welcome the recommendation that additional research is required, which we hope can further explore and build upon the initial findings from this report.”
The Law Society of Scotland refused to work with the Scottish Consumer Council on an investigation into the Master Policy in 2003 & 2004. However, it transpires from this week’s report that Consumer Focus Scotland in its previous incantation as the Scottish Consumer Council, who carried out several large investigations into problems with the Scottish legal profession, wanted to carry out an investigation into the Master Policy in 2003, however attempts were thwarted when the Law Society of Scotland refused to take part. An excerpt from Dr Melville & Professor Stephen’s report reads : “Consumer Focus in 2003 and 2004 wished to carry out desk-based research on the Master Policy. They sought the co-operation of the LSS of Scotland which was refused. Consequently the research was not undertaken.”
One large scale report undertaken by the Scottish Consumer Council took place in 1999 when the SCC’s Complaints Against Solicitors report was released. This week’s Manchester University report refers to the earlier SCC investigation as follows : “Consumer Focus Scotland has not specifically considered either the Master Policy or the Guarantee Fund, although it did state that professional indemnity insurance arrangements and complaints procedures needed to be put in place in order to facilitate the alternative business structures within the legal market. In 1999, Consumer Focus Scotland conducted a study on Complaints about Solicitors, which surveyed over 1200 people who had used the Law Society of Scotland’s complaints procedure during a one year period. During this research, Consumer Focus Scotland was contacted by a number of claimants who raised concerns about the Master Policy.” You can read the Scottish Consumer Council’s 1999 “Complaints Against Solicitors” report
HERE and the Manchester University report on the Law Society’s Master Policy & Guarantee Fund HERE: Which? also welcomed the research findings but expressed concern over the Insurers restrictions on the research team who were denied access to important data. Also today, a spokeswoman for Which? issued comment on the Manchester University report, and, while welcoming the findings of the research team, concern and criticism was expressed that the Law Society refused to hand over important data or a copy of the Master Policy itself to the research team. Which? said :“We welcome the research but are obviously disappointed that the Law Society did not provide the researchers with access to the Master Policy as part of their work. However hopefully what was gleaned will provide a platform for other work to come in this area.”
So, at the end of the day, as the Manchester University report of this week reveals, “Thus, the Master Policy is essentially an insurance scheme intended to provide professional indemnity insurance coverage for solicitors.The purpose of the Master Policy, the simple answer is to allow solicitors to sleep at night. It provides professional indemnity insurance cover for firms.” SLCC’s Chair, Jane Irvine. What therefore, is the SLCC going to do about this and just how many members of the public have to get ill, or even die to protect a ‘crooked lawyer’ and the Master Policy, before something is done ? Jane Irvine, when asked for comment on these matters, said : “As you are aware, the research was commissioned by the SLCC and carried out by Manchester University School of Law. One of their undertakings was to conduct key informant interviews and the people who came forward were assured their own details would be treated in confidence by the researchers. These conditions have not changed.”
Ms Irvine continued : ”The SLCC is unable to comment on the individual interviews. However, the independent research is central to defining how we develop our role of oversight of the Master Policy and Guarantee Fund. In terms of the report, the experiences of the people who came forward to be interviewed were significant to the quality of the research. The information given by all those who assisted the researchers is valued by the SLCC and it is essential to the development of our oversight role.” Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill has so far not returned requests for comment on Monday’s report …
THIRD OF SCOTLAND’S UTTERLY CORRUPT COURTS TO CLOSE AS SPENDING CUT
More than a third of Scotland’s courts would be shut under a radical cost-cutting blueprint drawn up to meet SNP spending targets. The proposal would mean 3,400 sitting days being lost, waiting times for cases to be called increasing by almost eight months and retiring judges and sheriffs not being replaced. The Scottish Court Service (SCS) has drawn up the document, which would save £4.75million per year, in response to SNP targets to make their operations more efficient.
It states that the justice system will take a “big hit” if the cuts are implemented, with 19 of the country’s 53 courts buildings predicted to close. Their workload would be taken on by using larger courts and new “mobile facilities” in the south-west and north-east of Scotland. SNP ministers and the SCS stressed the document was merely examining ways money could be saved, and it has not been formally submitted.
But it prompted fury from leading lawyers and politicians, who warned Scots pursuing civil actions face long journeys to the nearest court. Paul McBride, one of Scotland’s leading QCs, said: “The SNP have wasted so much money on rubbish and now the cupboard is bare for the things that matter.” Bill Aitken, Scottish Tory justice spokesman, said: “Justice delayed is justice denied. If these proposals went ahead we are facing the prospect of offenders awaiting trial causing even more trouble, as they wait longer for a court date.”
The Law Society said access to courts in rural areas must be protected. According to the blueprint, about half the 63 staff and 18 sheriffs working at the courts earmarked for closure would be transferred elsewhere, “leaving half as a saving”. Most of the closures would affect smaller courts, which operate at 46 per cent under full capacity, but up to four medium and large facilities could also be shut. These currently operate at 80 per cent capacity.
The remaining courts would increase their hours, with greater use of casual and part-time staff to allow them to operate in evenings and at weekends. However, the blueprint warns: “It is anticipated that waiting times between first calling and trial would increase in the range of 13 to 31 weeks depending on location.” The document also proposes cutting the number of part-time sheriffs by 55 per cent, not replacing judges and sheriffs who retire and reducing the number of jurors.
The pressure on Scotland’s courts has arisen thanks to Executive orders for all departments to cut their budget by five per cent from 2011. A finalised plan is to be drawn up by October, in time for SNP ministers’ draft budget plans, which are expected in September. A SCS spokesman denied there were firm proposals to close courts, adding that the purpose of the paper was merely to “illustrate the possible impact of different financial scenarios.”
SNP ministers emphasised that they had not yet sent the plans. An Executive spokesman said it was “standard practice” for the SCS to examine its operations, but any changed would have to be approved by its board and Scottish ministers.
U.S. SECRET FILES ON SCOTLANDS FIRST MINISTER’S FINANCES
Secrets and obsessions revealed in Eck’s files Salmond laid bare in classified US documents
SECRET US government files obtained by the Sunday Herald have raised fresh questions about Alex Salmond’s shock resignation as SNP leader eight years ago, and exposed an obsessive interest in Nationalist plans to break up the UK. The material was requested three years ago from the Bush administration using freedom of information laws but has only just been released. It reveals a senior SNP member privately briefed American officials in Scotland about internal SNP splits. Some files show Salmond discussing party affairs with US consulate staff.
In one, he describes the Scottish economy as “vulnerable to global recessions”. Many of the files discuss SNP opposition to the Trident nuclear deterrent based at Faslane, reprocessing of US nuclear material at Dounreay, and Nato membership. The files – dozens of cables sent from the US consulate in Edinburgh and the US Embassy in London – will fuel Nationalist conspiracy theories about US opposition to Scottish independence.
One partially declassified cable sent by the American Embassy to Washington in July 2000 suggested “personal financial problems” prompted Salmond to quit barely a year after being elected to the new Scottish Parliament. The episode is the most mysterious of the first minister’s political career. The cable said Salmond, who became SNP leader for the first time in 1990, had “tried to quit several times in recent years” and suggested he was going into the private sector.
It goes on: “Most serious people believe Salmond has probably lined up a lucrative job, possibly in his former field of banking or as a director of one or more private companies whose CEOs are sympathetic to the Nationalist cause.” The cable said Salmond’s exit came during an “ugly fight” between the party’s fundamentalist and gradualist wings over the speed of progress towards independence. Another message said Salmond met the CG in May 1991 and admitted a general election in June would be “disastrous” for the SNP.
Salmond is variously described as “charismatic”, having a “dazzling debating style”, and the SNP’s “main electoral asset”. But he is also said to be “flippant”, “brash” and a self-confessed “socialist”. A spokesman for Salmond said: “It sounds like the first minister had some real fans in the US consulate – if they had a vote, they might have supported him.”
Our group have received information that shows Scotland has a flawed FOI system unlike England were the MPs expenses scandal were exposed ONLY because England has an appeal from an information commissioner to an Information Tribunal rather than in Scotland to the Court of Session.
The following is a brief outline of the findings we have gathered from an FOI to the Scottish Information commissioner on this most serious of matters. Consultation on draft legislation March 2001 Consider case for providing right of appeal to an Information Tribunal (6.14) In accordance with the views of most [consultees] who responded on this point an Information Tribunal is not included. ====================== ICO meeting 5th October 2005 minute – Item 3. Appeals OSIC has had one case that has been appealed to the Court of Session (there is no Tribunal stage in Scotland) and approximately 15 ICO Decision Notices have been appealed to the Information Tribunal. ======================= Report Second Seminar 27 March 2009 Information Tribunal
The panel was asked why Scottish citizens should not have the same rights as others in the UK i.e. an Information Tribunal. Professor Page was asked what had persuaded him that this approach was not right for Scotland. The Professor pointed out that Scotland is much smaller than the rest of the UK and he had listened to a range of views which led him to conclude that a Scottish Tribunal would not necessarily improve decisions and may in fact be a distraction.
He pointed out that the Tribunal in England and Wales was set up for data protection purposes and pre-existed the FOI Act south of the border – and suggested that imitation of that model would be without value in the Scottish context. He felt that the focus should be on getting the decisions right first time. Professor Janet MacLean points out that New Zealand’s administration deals with it differently again – via an ombudsman with power only to make recommendations – demonstrating that there are many different ways to resolve these issues. =================== Freedom of Information in the Devolved Scotland 2009 Speech by Professor Alan Page, Professor of Public Law at the University of Dundee
The position under the Scottish Act may be contrasted with the position under the UK Act where an appeal, on the merits as well as a point of law, lies to the Information Tribunal, and from there on a point of law to the High Court (or Court of Session in Scotland); and where the number of appeals has been running at a much higher level. Over the same four year period there were 235 plus appeals to the Tribunal, and a dozen or more appeals to the High Court. Whereas only a small percentage of the Scottish Information Commissioner’s decisions are challenged by way of appeal, the comparable figure for Information Commissioner decisions is closer to a third.
The Scottish Executive addressed the question of a right of appeal to a tribunal in the course of the development of the legislation. In the light of the responses to the initial consultation paper, it came down against a right of appeal on the grounds that it would ‘add an unnecessary layer of bureaucracy and possibly undermine the Commissioner’s powers’, which roughly translated means I think that it would be used by public authorities to delay matters and that decisions would be less likely to stick if applicants and respondent authorities knew they could be appealed to a tribunal.
As it happens, the UK government’s starting point was exactly the same. In Your Right to Know, the White Paper that preceded the legislation, it argued that a right of appeal would not be in the best interests of FoI applicants. ‘Overseas experience shows that where appeals are allowed to the courts, a public authority which is reluctant to disclose information will often seek leave to appeal simply to delay implementation of a decision. The cost of making an appeal to the courts would also favour the public authority over the individual applicant.’ What seems to have prompted a change of mind was the decision to combine the functions of the Information Commissioner with that of the Data Protection Commissioner under the Data Protection Act 1998.
The Data Protection Commissioner came complete with a Data Protection Tribunal, and the Commissioner and the Tribunal were simply renamed the Information Commissioner and the Information Tribunal. Rights of appeal once granted it seems cannot be easily taken away, particularly when they are founded in Community law as is the case with the rights granted by the Data Protection Act which implements Council Directive 95/46/EC of 25 October 1995 on the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data. But because data protection is reserved that argument would have had no bearing in the devolved Scotland. The Public Administration Select Committee acknowledged that there was some risk that recourse to the Tribunal might be used to delay disclosure of information, and that because legal aid was not available it might be difficult for many people to make a case before the Tribunal. However, adding a tribunal stage to the enforcement system, it concluded, did provide a ‘necessary element of procedural fairness to the system.’
The key question, however, is not why is there no right of appeal to a tribunal under the Scottish Act but whether Scots are disadvantaged by the absence of this ‘necessary element of procedural fairness’. One reason why there are so few appeals I have no doubt is because applicants are for the most part satisfied by the Commissioner’s decisions. For the Commissioner, the relatively low number of appeals ‘emphasises the importance of investment in decisions which provide full explanation of thorough investigation and deliberation on applications.’ But if there were a right of appeal to a tribunal it would be naïve to imagine that applicants would not avail themselves of it.
I initially hesitated over the answer to this question. Like the Scottish Committee of the Council on Tribunals, I did not see why Scots should enjoy fewer rights of redress in respect of devolved matters than they enjoy in respect of reserved matters or, as the Committee chose to put it, why there should not be consistency with the parallel provisions for England and Wales which are now enshrined in the UK Freedom of Information Act.’ On reflection, however, I am persuaded that in a country as small as Scotland there is greater scope for getting decisions ‘right’ first time than in the rest of the United Kingdom, which is what the Commissioner strives to do and for the most part succeeds in doing. It is better in other words to concentrate on getting front line decisions right than on the provision of elaborate appeals procedures in an effort to correct initially flawed decisions. And, we might ask ourselves, what is the ‘correct’ decision when one is deciding between competing interests as is the case with FoI? Are we not just substituting one person’s conception of the public interest for another’s?
The disadvantage of the current arrangements, which would remain even if there were a right of appeal to a tribunal, is that public authorities can defeat information requests by appealing on spurious points of law to the Court of Session knowing that it will take eighteen months or more to get a decision by which time the information will almost certainly have lost its currency. As we have seen, the fear was that a right of appeal to a tribunal would be used by public authorities to delay matters, but the right of appeal to the Court of Session lends itself to being used in precisely that way. In the Commissioner’s Annual Report for 2007 the delay between an appeal being lodged and a hearing was described as ‘frustratingly long.’ The hope is that the Civil Courts Review will lead to an improvement but I am not so optimistic if only because administrative justice seems to have become the forgotten child or one of the forgotten children of the devolved Scotland.
The Administrative Justice Steering Group, chaired by Lord Philip, will shortly submit its second report to the Scottish Government, on the future of tribunals in Scotland, but the Government is understood to intend to do nothing about either of its reports until it has formed a view about the Civil Courts Review. An alternative course might be to transfer the appeal to the Upper Tribunal under the Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007, from which an appeal would then lie to the Inner House of the Court of Session, but the fact that freedom of information is devolved would require an amendment to the legislation before this could be done. In this as in other aspects of administrative justice there is a danger of Scotland being left behind.
241 CROOKED LAWYERS/ACCOUNTANTS AIDING AND ABETTING CRIMINALS
First ‘map’ of organised crime identifies 4000 gangsters in Scotland
A SHOCKING 367 organised crime groups are making £2.6billion a year, Scotland’s specialist enforcement agency have revealed. And a nationwide mapping exercise has identified 4066 individuals involved in criminal gangs. The ground-breaking Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency study found that 92 per cent of the groups are involved in the drugs trade and half of them carry guns. More than 70 get their cocaine and heroin direct from producing countries, such as Colombia and Afghanistan.
The FBI-style Most Wanted list ranks the gangs in terms of the threat, risk and harm they pose to communities. The make-up of the underworld “who’s who” is highly confidential. But the Record understands crime boss Jamie Daniel, convicted gun runner Paul Ferris and cocaine trafficker Alexander Donnelly are in the top 20. Scotland’s biggest force, Strathclyde, is home to 152 groups and 19 of the top 21, with one each in Northern and Dumfries & Galloway. There are 161 involved in serious violence or murder – 77 per cent of which are based in Strathclyde.
The crime groups are aided by 241 “consultants” and “facilitators”, such as crooked lawyers and accountants, who provide expert financial advice and money-laundering tips. The exercise also gives an insight into the make-up and activities of organised crime groups.