Sunday, July 15, 2007

Law Society President moves to Accountants regulator in spin on public interest

More From A Diary of Injustice in Scotland

Fears over corrupt self regulation as accountants regulator draft in ex Law Society President and solicitor as Public Interest members

It has been revealed that ICAS, the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland, the self regulatory body for accountants, which handles complaints against it's own members in true traditional old fashioned corrupt 'cover up for the boys old pals act style', has appointed two lawyers, one an ex Law Society President, to "ensure that the institute continues to operate with integrity and transparency".

Ruthven Gemmell one of the new "Public Interest members" of ICAS, has been the President of the Law Society of Scotland for the past year - a turbulent period in the history of the Scottish legal profession, which saw the Justice 2 Committee hearings on the Legal Profession & Legal Aid (Scotland) Act 2007, where members of the public who had fallen victim to many crooked members of the legal profession, and the corrupt regulatory practices of the Law Society of Scotland, finally got the chance to testify in public to their appalling experiences.

The Law Society of Scotland's answer to the Justice 2 Committee hearings into the LPLA Bill, were a mixture of lies, blatant propaganda, secret meetings, and a badly organised attempt to get it's member legal firms to submit a range of different experiences (which fell apart because most of the legal firms forgot to alter the circulated template significantly enough to make it unrecognisable as a copy ).

The duels between Law Society officials and MSPs also saw the now infamous argument between Law Society Chief Executive Douglas Mill and John Swinney MSP, where Mr Swinney challenged Mr Mill over the content of secret memos authored by Douglas Mill himself .. who then went on to "swear on his granny's grave" before the Justice 2 Committee & all present, he was trying to help a complainer who has unresolved cases going back 20 years, the 'help' turned out to be more of an obstruction and attempt to destroy claims of negligence raised by the complainer against several legal firms, matters which the Law Society maintains it does not get involved in but clearly does, contrary to the testimony of it's own Chief Executive before the Justice 2 Committee, as the Herald newspaper reported in June 2006

The Herald 5 June 2006 - Would granny swear by the law society

When it became apparent to the legal profession their tactics to thwart the progress of the LPLA Bill were simply not working, Douglas Mill himself threatened the Scottish Executive & Parliament over the passage of the LPLA Bill - stating the Law Society of Scotland would take legal action against both the Executive and Parliament if the LPLA Bill was passed without amendments it preferred, and as I understand matters, this 'threat of court action' had been discussed as a policy statement by the Law Society - which of course, must have been supported by the the Law Society President, Ruthven Gemmel.

I covered the Law Society of Scotland's threat of Court Action against the Parliament & Executive here : Law Society of Scotland threatens Court challenge against Scottish Executive over LPLA legal reform Bill

You may also remember the legal aid case boycott, restriction of the public's access to legal representation & access to a lawyer, and the many other scandals scandals involving the Scottish legal profession we've had in the past year of Ruthven Gemmel's tenure as Law Society President, which didn't see him or anyone else in the Law Society do anything to resolve many instances of injustice caused by themselves.

You may ask, how effective is the Institute of Chartered Accountants in dealing with complaints against it's members in Scotland ?

The answer to that question is that ICAS are possibly even more corrupt in regulating complaints against accountants, than the Law Society of Scotland is at covering up complaints against solicitors.

Here is a good example of what ICAS do with complaints against accountants :

A picture is worth a thousand words - Images of fraud reveal corruption & deceit by lawyers & accountants in the Scottish Borders

So how does the conduct of the Law Society of Scotland over the past year square up then ? Horrible, corrupt, anti consumer, hateful, hostile are but some of the words which come to mind.

So, taking the above, and not forgetting the Law Society's, Court Action threat to our elected Scottish Parliament and Executive against passing long awaited reforms to the way complaints against lawyers are handled, would it not be right to question why lawyers, rather than someone more devolved from the professions, are now drafted in by the Institute of Chartered Accountants - to give an impression that all is well with complaints against accountants ?

Surely, when a Law Society President obviously supported his profession's policy to threaten our elected Government & Parliament on an issue of solicitors losing the right to continue fiddling complaints against their own colleagues .. this couldn't be classified as anything approaching "integrity and transparency", could it ?

The Herald newspaper's report on the Law Society of Scotland's threat of Court Action against the Executive & Scottish Parliament :

Holyrood in Solicitor's Sights October 30 2006 The Herald

The LPLA Bill (now thankfully passed, with many of the legal profession's preferred amendments voted down) brought a measure of independent regulation to Scotland's 10,000 lawyers - taking away part of the aspect of the widely abused practice of self regulation by the Law Society of Scotland where lawyer invariably covers up for lawyer.

Perhaps however, this Public Relations incident gone wrong, where ICAS protests it's alleged commitment to 'transparency & integrity' in the newspapers, shows the infamous Scottish accountants regulator in it's true light, which is that of yet another self regulator of it's own profession, which widely abuses that self given right to consider & fiddle complaints against their own member accountants displaying many of the same problems which the legal profession in Scotland has been famed for over the decades, and which for their corruption, brought about the passing of the LPLA Bill to try and remedy endemic prejudice in the area of complaints against solicitors.

I take it that Niall Scott another lawyer, and also the former chairman of UK law firms McGrigors and KLegal, will fully declare his legal firm's regulatory history (in full) in a show of 'integrity & transparency' too ? Perhaps not .... although perhaps Mr Scott and Mr Gemmell may ask ICAS to reopen some of their cases of complaint they fiddled against crooked accountants so that people can get some justice & recompense at last ? Perhaps not ....

Since self regulation of accountants is a Westminster issue for now, London should look at ending self regulation by accountants over accountants .. there isn't a good transparent example of self regulation in existence .. and ICAS, from what I know, and have personally experienced, cannot hold itself up to be anything other than a closed shop cover up club for its members ..

However, as we have a new SNP Executive, who are set on looking into as many issues as possible which affect Scotland I hope, perhaps they would like to take on the might of the accountants self regulatory body, and end what is a very corrupt & crooked system of complaints cover up, mirroring what we've all seen in the legal profession for years.

We certainly need an LPLA Act style equivalent for the accountancy profession in Scotland ... and an end to self regulation in the other professions which still enjoy judging their own colleagues at the expense of clients - something which is definitely NOT in the public interest.

Article from the Herald newspaper reporting the appointment of the 'public interest members' follows ...

Public interest members at ICAS
DAVID BLACK May 21 2007

Niall Scott and Ruthven Gemmell have been appointed to serve as public interest members at the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland. Public interest members are appointed to ensure that the institute continues to operate with integrity and transparency. Both solicitors, Scott is the former chairman of UK law firms McGrigors and KLegal. Gemmell will step down as president of the Law Society of Scotland on May 25. They will join the institute's other public interest member, Barbara Duffner, who was re-appointed for a period of three years at the recent annual meeting.

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