Monday, January 29, 2007

Families of crooked Lawyers suspected of attacking clients & covering up fraud

More in from A Diary of Injustice in Scotland

From the emails & posts I have received to my last article, on how lawyers use the Police against clients who complain against them, it seems the practice is certainly more common than even I could have imagined. I am trying to get through all your emails on this issue, so please bear with me.

There seems to be a growing adversarial feeling from the legal profession that if all else fails to silence a cantankerous client' a targeted campaign against a complainer, or indeed anyone who challenges the legal profession's position is the only solution .. and it seems anything goes when it comes to targeting a complaining client .. even .. violence. What also seems clear is, when a lawyer is in trouble, it's not only the legal profession which steps in to defend them .. their relatives also lend a 'helping hand'.

Today, I ask : How do the family members of a crooked lawyer react when their lawyer relatives are faced with client complaints such as embezzlement, theft, service or conduct complaints or are perhaps, even accused of crimes ?

Well, I have to say, in my own experience of such cases, usually the family of the lawyer either [rarely] go silent, or [more commonly] support their accused relative.

Even worse awaits the complainer in these circumstances, as in some cases reported to me, and admittedly from my own experience, a lawyer's family will go out and attack the client & their family, maybe spread some lies, gossip, give the odd false tip to the Police ... that kind of thing.

Certainly, from my own unpleasant experience with crooked Borders solicitor Drew Penman of Stormonth Darling Solicitors, Kelso .. I know this to be true .. his family certainly spread plenty lies about me throughout the Borders, in an effort to get their dearly beloved crooked Drew off the hook .. and the same was true of crooked Borders accountant Norman Howitt of Welch & Co Accountants, Hawick & Galashiels ... his family all set out to support their wee crook Norman .. who, like Drew Penman, used all his contacts in the Borders to make my life & my family's life a misery. And they succeeded.

Yes .. filing false tips with the local Police, phoning round the local Banks to see if I did business with them .. spreading lies, inciting people to 'have-a-go' at me .. was all par for the course for these two famous crooks & their families... and certainly, with the misery I experienced from when I made my complaint to the Law Society of Scotland against Drew Penman - I can sympathise with anyone who has gone through the same .

You know what ? It's common. Common in many complaints - and often used as an excuse by the Law Society of Scotland to let the crooked lawyer off the hook ... because the crooked lawyer was doing it for his own family ... robbing you .. to support his own family .. and because he was doing it to support his own family, and lavish lifestyle, why should he be punished just because he ruined a client - because a solicitor's family takes priority over a client's family - so Law Society policy dictates.

It's common because nothing has really been done about it .. and with many solicitors appearing before Complaints Committees and using issues regarding their own family to shield them from significant complaints, all are in agreement that when it comes to a solicitor's family - they take priority over a client's family.The mere mention of anything related to a solicitor's family at a Complaints Committee hearing - whether it's true or not, is usually enough to get them off the hook, from even, say .. a complaint where a lawyer has embezzled £500,000.

Many of the stories put forward by lawyers in defence of their actions, seem to be completely false .. but the Complaints Committee members never think (or are either too stupid or too much in the back pocket of the Law Society) to check out the stories put to them by a crooked lawyer .. such as a case which was brought to my attention where a crooked lawyer claimed... "Oh please, I only took the £400,000 to pay for my son's ill health, and anyway, the client is just a piece of crap, I studied so long & so hard for so many years at University, so you should find me not guilty of what I did" .. and, yes, you guessed it - the Complaints Committee let him off the hook and dismissed the complaint. Another interesting case I heard over the past few days related to a lawyer claiming his son had cancer and wasn't expected to live (the stress of it all had caused the lawyer to fiddle several client accounts & see that legal colleagues got preferential deals on clients property sales (his colleagues bought the houses of clients on the cheap) ... the lawyer in question though, didn't have a son .. he had a daughter .. and no one on the Complaints Committee bothered to check.

Here's an example from my own case on what goes on at Complaints Committees :

Scotsman 2 March 1998 Jury still out on law in the dock - Revelations on Andrew Penman & James Ness

You can see from the above Scotsman article, Law Society Complaints Committees are quite corrupt in terms of the evidence they allow to be thrown against clients by accused lawyers & their representatives. Virtually anything goes .. there are no normal rules of substantiating evidence .. claims can be made by crooked lawyers & their allies, however spurious or ridiculous they may sound, and Complaints Committees accept them against anything the complaier can provide .. even running counter to material evidence & external witnesses.

However, what generally goes unreported is that after a complaint has been made by a client against a lawyer, invariably, the family & relatives of the lawyer facing the complaint, turn their attack on the client and their family .. and as has been demonstrated over the years, these attacks by family members of crooked lawyers have become increasingly violent.

The Law Society of Scotland are well aware of these kinds of incidents of course, and it seems solicitors have the blessing of their profession to carry on in this way as nothing is done to curb such behaviour. The Crown Office, interestingly, refuses to admit collating any statistics on issues involving lawyers - even, it seems, criminal charges .. a convenience, but there are private admissions that public reports against lawyers conduct are widespread.

A thorny issue to tackle, said one journalist to me a few days ago .. but the fact is that the family of crooked lawyers go all out to get their relative off the hook from even the most serious charges - even criminal charges ... and even telling lies to the Police, providing alibis to child abusing lawyer relatives seems to come quite easy to the family members of accused crooked lawyers. Imagine that .. a close relative giving the cops an alibi on their lawyer family member .. who had been out abusing underage youths for several years ... Sick, isn't it

Well, my journalist contact said to me .. 'it's not surprising, if the crooked lawyer has been sending his kids to private school and buying his wife a new merc estate and a lavish new house on the back of his clients, is it ' ... and, he has a point. That's certainly the way it was with Penman & Howitt in my own case ... so .. no surprises to me then .. and that's the way it is with most crooked lawyers ... spending their looted client's money on themselves & their family ..

Obviously then, Mrs Crooked Lawyer doesn't want to loose her Mercedes estate & children of Mr Crooked Lawyer don't want to give up their client funded lifestyle, just because daddy has been discovered ripping off all his clients ...

Just think about that for a second ... while you are paying anything up to £150 + VAT for a lawyers letter to someone (the Home Office manages a letter at £11, for comparison), your lawyer is also ripping you off in many other ways, for his own benefit, his family's benefit - and also perhaps for the benefit of having a mistress & even a rent boy on the side, as is happening in one case just now involving one of Edinburgh's 'leading lawyers' .. Poor clients, and the corporate clients too ..if they only knew they were being ripped off right, left & centre.

There is a case, maybe much more than my own which demonstrates what I am talking about. A horrible case indeed .. and one which has terrorised the family of the client so much, they are living in fear of further reprisals ... from the legal profession.

The case I am talking about, where for now, I will refer to the client as "client H", revolves around a complaint made to the Law Society of Scotland against a lawyer, after a series of legal cases were dropped in connection with a land sale & boundary dispute, ultimately resulting in the loss of land, over £70,000 plus to the client, and a significantly reduced valuation on his remaining property. It seems the whole time the lawyer was acting for the client, he was also friends with, and had a financial interest, with the other party in the case.

The Law Society of Scotland took over three years to investigate & consider the complaint which was apparently dismissed, on the insistence of the lawyer members of the complaints committee, along with the representative of the lawyer who was the subject of the complaint. All this despite, apparently, the Law Society reporter in the case recommending prosecution before the Scottish Solicitors Discipline Tribunal. Almost, a rerun of the Penman complaint then ... and there was I thinking lawyers weren't allowed representatives at Complaints Committees after the Penman case .. what a fraud !

There was certainly, from what I see, a considerable weight of material evidence, witnesses, & more which justified the complaint. There was certainly obvious evidence of financial loss, unjustified delays in pursuing court cases despite instructions to proceed issued many times, clearly faked papers & letters, faked files, faked memos, and even a worrying complicity by a major Scottish Bank to cover up a significant deception & fraud by the lawyer in moving his client's money into his own personal & business accounts, and even his wife's accounts.

I am concerned, to say the least, that a 'major Scottish Bank' (you will have to guess which, for now), decided to falsify paperwork on behalf of a lawyer who was clearly embezzling client funds for his own and his family's personal gain. There is no doubt, the Bank did this, to cover up for the lawyer concerned - either arising from a request from the lawyer to do so, or because it was their policy to do so.

Unfortunately, a Bank covering up for a crooked lawyer seems to be a common thing (especially THIS particular Bank). Collusion between a Bank & an accused lawyer has cropped up in many complaints against lawyers .. especially when the question of winding up estates & wills has been the subject of the complaint, so when dealing with lawyers, Banks & Financial institutions in the same issue, clients must be vigilant, because a swindle is certainly on the way, the first chance the lawyer gets.

Further examples of the intimidation against client H :

Four weeks after client H made the complaint against his lawyer, the crooked lawyer threatened Mr H with an action for defamation, quoting he had the support of the Law Society of Scotland in any such case he wished to pursue against the complaining client. The actual 'defamation' was, making the complaint to the Law Society of Scotland. Hardly a defamation .. complaining against a lawyer who was swindling a client ...

The Law Society apparently denied this, but the crooked lawyer had been making sure word of mouth was used around the legal profession to ensure client H would have difficulty in getting legal representation to defend against such a claim, as client H had been to several lawyers after receiving the threat, and they all refused to take on the case. Incidentally, the Law Society of Scotland were seemingly made aware of every single meeting between client H and legal firms on the issue of client H's ex lawyer's claim of defamation, so, it certainly confirmed that lawyers all report home to Drumsheugh Gardens for instructions, when one of their colleagues is caught with their fingers in the till.

Worse was to follow - much worse, for client H, where the crooked lawyer's family members & friends seem to have decided to embarked on a campaign of hate against client H's family, in several acts of intimidation with an obvious motive to thwart the complaint made against their relative.

For example, in one horrific incident, the solicitor's son & some of his friends, threatened to rape one of client H's daughters, unless client H dropped the complaint. The threat was witnessed, and reported. No action was taken other than a warning to the solicitor's son.

The solicitor's daughters who go to same school as client H's children, undertook a campaign of hate & bullying, to support their father, the crooked solicitor, spreading lies around the School & locality that client H's children were abused, were thieves, had criminal records, and were into drugs - all of which was plainly untrue. The solicitor's children were apparently warned several times about their conduct, and admitted they had significantly changed their behaviour at School towards client H's children, because client H had made a complaint against their father. Unsurprisingly, client H's children were eventually forced to leave school because of bullying & lies spread by the crooked lawyer's children.

On several occasions, the crooked lawyer in this case, gave the Police several 'anonymous tips' on client H .. all of which were false and were seen by the Police to have been made in an effort to harass the client. To join in the fun, the lawyer's wife also made several complaints to the Police, including what were thought to be several anonymous tips by phone, of alleged criminal activity by client H. This continued until the lawyer's wife was told in no uncertain terms she may be charged herself with supplying false information & wasting Police time unless she stopped what she was doing - in addition to her "constant following of client H's wife around town" . No charges ever resulted against client H from the false information provided to the Police by either the lawyer or other members of his family, and the Police were statisfied that all information was provided to them on a motive of revenge against client H, however, no action was taken over the false information.

Apparently, client H's wider family has also been affected because of the complaint, with the client's sister sacked from her job because the crooked lawyer befriended her boss, for the sole purpose it seems, of furthering his campaign against client H's family.

Client H's car & house have also been vandalised & broken into several times - this has only happened since he made the complaint against his lawyer to the Law Society of Scotland. The suspects, one of whom was actually caught trying to sell valuables from client H's house, are clients of the crooked lawyer and have been for years, widely known in their community for house burglary, theft, violence & drug dealing. It has been speculated by several people connected with that investigation that the lawyer asked the accused to 'go after' client H.

Client H also had a visit from the Inland Revenue. This was in 'information supplied' in connection with alleged business deals, income from which was not declared. The information of course, turned out to be false, although this was found only after a heavy audit from the Inland Revenue against client H, along with actual searches of his premises. It was ultimately admitted by an Inland Revenue official to client H, the [false] information had come from the lawyer whom client H had complained against, and that the Inland Revenue had been unaware of these events prior to them receiving information on client H. Needless to say, client H doesn't believe that, and from what I have read of the matter, neither do I.

Not to be tamed by client H's complaint, it seems the crooked lawyer in question, has also been swindling a few other clients in the area, on a few property deals, and also on Council house sales to tenants, where deliberate delays to paperwork for more money, & apparently, offers to fund purchases of Council properties have been made (in an effort to gain ownership of a few people's homes & lives). He is a big wheel in his local bar association .. a pillar of the legal community .. .and a crook. A good example then of a crooked lawyer. Maybe .. he is your lawyer ?

Certainly folks - when a crooked lawyer is caught out .. he finds plenty around him to provide as many lies & alibis as possible to get himself off the hook .. even right up to the Complaints Committee hearings & beyond. I know this myself from my own experience - and from the cases you report to me, and while some might say the terms of client H's case are extreme, what happened to client H is far more common than anyone cares to admit, and this has to be stopped.

You can see now, why regulation needs to be taken away from the legal profession. It has to be taken away from the legal profession, because lawyers can't investigate lawyers - all they do is cover up for each other .. and target clients who complain. How can a profession be allowed to police itself when all they do is use that privilege to rip off everyone in sight.

Time then for a little more independent regulation then ? Time for even conduct complaints to be taken away from the Law Society of Scotland, time for a full review of the Law Society's conduct over the years towards clients who have complained against their lawyers, ... and time for these legal thugs to be thrown out of running politics, and the Judicial & legal system in Scotland for their own benefit.

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