More from Peter Cherbi on how Scotland's legal profession is using strike action to allow sex attackers & more onto the streats, in an attempt to threaten for more public money
There was an interesting story in last week's Sunday Times, on members of the House of Lords taking up Directorships of companies and relating to the story, you can see the Press Release on former NATO Chief Lord Robertson joining a joint anglo russian company as a Deputy Chairman of the Board I'm sure this story will come along as time goes on, my sources tell me.
In any case, last week was taken up by articles reflecting my involvement with the Scottish Borders .. a necessary part of the story of my campaign I'm afraid .. even though it tires me to write about it, due to the fact the region seems more corrupt than when I left it .. and even with the recent formation of a new Borders Political Party to fight seats at the next council election ... nothing will ever change in that place. I also had the flu, so writing about the Borders was a break from writing about crooked lawyers ..I may return to visit the Borders issue next week.
Now, back to the legal profession, I'm afraid .. and today, we have a timely article in the form of a warning from the legal profession, claiming the rise in legal aid payments will jeopardise the right to a fair trial.
The article is timely, because this coming week, the LPLA Bill is back before the Justice 2 Committee for further scrutiny ... and from my sources in the newspapers, I'm told we can expect a few more planted stories in the next few days & weeks showing how indispensible the legal profession is to Scotland .. which really, it isn't.
So, what's the big threat to the right to a fair trial ?? Well, it's the lawyers of course . .it's the lawyers and the legal profession who are threatening your right to a fair trial, not the Scottish Executive .. and it's nothing to do with the countless inadequacies in Scottish Law .. its soley about money .. the money that solicitors stuff in their pockets .. that, is what is affecting your right to a fair trial - nothing else, just the money.
Do you think the lawyers have your best interests at heart in staging strikes and boycotts of civil & criminal cases in order to get their legal aid fees raised ? No .. they certainly don't care about you at all .. it's all about .. money .. which is usually the case when it comes to things the legal profession campaign on with such vigour.
Part of the lawyers claims centre on the Scottish Executive's appointment of six more Public Defence Solicitor Offices .. which the Executive claims "would provide "justice for all" by offering the accused a greater choice of affordable lawyers." .. this is more about criminal law though .. so don't try hiring these people to take on a case against a crooked lawyer who has swindled you out of your life savings or your house .. they just won't do it.
The new PDSO offices are to be in Dundee, Aberdeen, Falkirk, Ayr, Dumfries and Kirkwall, and are expected to open next year, which it is claimed, will increase the number of Scottish Legal Aid Board (SLAB) solicitors from nine to 20. I have to say, I am aware of some of the solicitors who work for the Scottish Legal Aid Board. They are, rubbish - and actually are quite hostile towards people who try to pursue cases against crooked lawyers.
Why is the legal profession so upset about this ? well, it seems to be about control .. and the same arguement which took out the Temporary Sheriffs in 2000 has surfaced again .. where lawyers said that directly employing public defenders threatens the independence of the judiciary because they are under the influence of their employers and provide unfair competition.
Yet another diversion created by whinging lawyers who want more money, to try & stall reforms of the legal profession in Scotland planned in the forthcoming LPLA Bill, I'm afraid .. nothing more than that .. after all, they got an increase in legal aid payments .. what more do they want ? .. it's not the taxpayer's fault that lawyers have become used to fleecing clients and getting fat payments for very little work.
I hope the Scotsman journalist who was talking to me the other day was right in what he said ... which was .. "Peter .. Why do you think we are printing all this stuff ?, because it shows the extent of the control freakery of the legal profession in Scotland who are out to kill off any reforms & any reformers like you".
Bravo !!! .. in that case, the Scotsman has done an excellent job ! .. with the likes of Campbell Deane's rants against victims of the legal profession, praise of some of his more famous clients (albeit some who have failed to sue newspapers) .. and among other things, Jennifer Veitch's rose tinted articles on Douglas Mill .. I'd say the readership of the Scotsman have had their eyes opened as to just what kind of people are in charge of the legal profession - a bunch of consumer hating political manipulators who are up to no good.
Read on for the link, from The Scotsman, at : http://thescotsman.scotsman.com/index.cfm?id=1558802006
Lawyers say rise in legal aid will jeopardise fair trials
LOUISE GRAY SCOTTISH POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (firstname.lastname@example.org)
THE right to a fair trial is under threat, lawyers warned yesterday, after the Executive trebled the amount of legal aid provided directly by the state.
Hugh Henry, the deputy justice minister, said moves to increase the number of Public Defence Solicitor Offices (PDSO) from three to nine would provide "justice for all" by offering the accused a greater choice of affordable lawyers.
The new offices in Dundee, Aberdeen, Falkirk, Ayr, Dumfries and Kirkwall - expected to open next year - will increase the number of Scottish Legal Aid Board (SLAB) solicitors from nine to 20.
However, lawyers said that directly employing public defenders threatens the independence of the judiciary because they are under the influence of their employers and provide unfair competition.
Their concern intensifies the long-running dispute with the Executive over legal aid. Earlier this month an Executive report warned that miscarriages of justice are more likely because the introduction of fixed fees, instead of payment by the hour, means lawyers are not spending as much time on cases.
Lawyers have even threatened to boycott cases involving alleged sex offenders in protest over legal aid fees - a move labelled "disgraceful" by Jack McConnell, the First Minister.
Last year the legal aid bill was £152 million and is set to rise to £168 million by 2007-8.
Yesterday, Mr Henry said the new PDSOs will provide a more affordable way to provide legal representation.
"We believe that publicly funded criminal legal assistance in Scotland is best delivered by a mix of salaried legal professionals and those in private practice," he explained.
Mr Henry said the PDSOs also increase choice. "There are other parts of Scotland where there may be limited competition for publicly funded criminal legal advice. We have therefore decided to open new PDSOs in some areas to provide an additional element of competition."
However, Gerry McClay, president of the Glasgow Bar Association, disputed that the plan was anything to do with cost or choice. He said: "At the moment we have 1,500 solicitors registered to do criminal legal aid in Scotland. I do not see why there is a need for more choice. It is nothing to do with need or cost, it is because they do not want private solicitors that are willing to stand up and challenge them. You need an independent defence system and defence lawyer - but you have to pay for that."
But Iain Robertson, SLAB chairman, defended the news. He said: "The expansion of PDSOs allows Scotland to see criminal legal assistance delivered by a combination of salaried solicitors and those in private practice.
"This combination of private and public provision is common around the world and brings a number of benefits. PDSOs help ensure comprehensive access to criminal legal assistance."
Legal experts put the case for the defence
LAWYERS are increasingly at logger-heads with the Executive over the independence of the judiciary.
LEGAL AID: Fees have not risen for 14 years prompting fears fewer and fewer high quality lawyers are willing to defend the accused. Lawyers believe a rise in fees for private practice would protect independence.
COMPLAINTS: The new Legal Aid Bill aims to strip the Law Society of the authority to deal with complaints against lawyers in favour of a Scottish Legal Complaints Commission whose members are appointed by ministers. Senior judges have branded the plan a threat to their independence. The Executive insist it would safeguard clients' interests.
THE LORD ADVOCATE: The new appointment of Elish Angiolini, by Jack McConnell, the First Minister, re-opened old wounds. Senior lawyers question how the head of the prosecution service in Scotland can be independent while also advising the Executive on legal matters.
THE COURTS: Executive proposals to place the control of all Scotland's courts under one person, the lord president, would undermine judicial independence say senior figures. There are proposals to unify the sheriff and high courts and make the operation of all courts the responsibility of the lord president.