Thursday, February 26, 2015

HEDGE FUND JUDGE SUSPENDED: Sheriff Peter Watson removed from bench by Lord Justice General over multi million pound summons linked to £400m Heather Capital fraud probe

Sheriff Peter Watson kicked off bench. A SHERIFF linked to the collapsed £400m Heather Capital hedge fund probe and multi million pound claims against Scots law firms has been suspended by Scotland’s top judge Lord Brian Gill – in order to maintain public confidence in the judiciary.

PETER BLACK WATSON (61) - known formerly as a ‘top’ media lawyer with close links to political figures such as Alex Salmond, Police, and even prosecutors - has been kicked off the judicial bench by the Lord Justice General Lord Gill – after the judge concluded Watson’s offer to step aside was “not appropriate”.

BUT it can now be revealed – action by Gill (73) only came about after the Judicial Office was asked by the media to comment on allegations against the sheriff contained in a multi million pound claim lodged against Watson’s former law firm – Glasgow based Levy & Mcrae.

Watson, the go-to-lawyer for those who sought to quell media interest in their activities – was based at Levy & Mcrae until last year. He inexplicably departed after a long career at the firm, and started PBWLaw. Watson, a regular to the Cayman Islands tax haven – according to media editorials - claims he wants to make it the "Harley Street of legal advice".

Concerns over his position as a  member of the judiciary arose due to the fact Watson was a director of Mathon Ltd – a key part of the Heather Capital empire run by Gregory King – who is one of four men now the subject of reports by Police Scotland to the Crown Office.

Scotland’s Lord Advocate is currently considering possible criminal charges in connection with the hedge fund probe, but at this time, Watson has not been named by the Crown Office as someone under investigation.

However, the Crown Office may face a conflict of interest dilemma as Watson- known to many ‘independent Crown Counsel’ - has personal links to former Crown Office boss - Lord Advocate Dame Elish Angiolini DBE QC (nee McPhilomy) – who used Watson’s legal services – paid for by the Crown Office & Scottish Ministers - to pursue anti-abuse campaigner Robert Green who called for an inquiry into allegations of mishandled cases relating to historical abuse claims.

The Judicial Office issued the following statement:

Statement from the Judicial Office for Scotland on the suspension of part-time sheriff Peter Watson

Sheriff Peter Watson was suspended from the office of part-time sheriff on 16 February 2015, in terms of section 34 of the Judiciary and Courts (Scotland) Act 2008.

“On Friday 13 February the Judicial Office was made aware of the existence of a summons containing certain allegations against a number of individuals including part-time sheriff Peter Watson.

The Lord President’s Private Office immediately contacted Mr Watson and he offered not to sit as a part-time sheriff on a voluntary basis, pending the outcome of those proceedings.

Mr Watson e-mailed a copy of the summons to the Lord President’s Private Office on Saturday 14 February.

On Monday 16 February the Lord President considered the matter.

Having been shown the summons, the Lord President concluded that in the circumstances a voluntary de-rostering was not appropriate and that suspension was necessary in order to maintain public confidence in the judiciary.

Mr Watson was therefore duly suspended from office on Monday 16 February 2015.”

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