A Diary Of Injustice In Scotland
High judge Lord Gill bitterly resists calls for judicial wealth & connections to be declared. ONE Year on from persistent refusals to seem earlier than MSPs to provide proof on the judiciary’s undeclared interests, Scotland’s top decide, Lord President Lord Brian Gill continues to oppose any name for him to attend the Scottish Parliament and publicly clarify his bitter opposition to requires judicial transparency contained in Petition PE1458: Register of Interests for members of Scotland’s judiciary.
The petition calls on the Scottish Parliament to legislate for a requirement that every one members of the Judiciary in Scotland to declare their sizeable monetary wealth, hidden family & business connections within the legal profession, criminal information, directorships, secret earnings from regulation firms & massive enterprise and offshore ‘tax efficient’ trusts and investments. The proposals would see a publicly available Register of Judicial Interests obtainable for all to inspect – a move the Lord President Lord Gill has bitterly resisted to-date.
The Sunday Mail’s coverage of two June 2013 reported on Lord Gill’s second refusal to indicate up on the Scottish Parliament. The unique report additionally options an article exposing the round the world travels of Scotland’s judiciary on the taxpayer, the exact same Scottish judiciary who, after nearly eighteen months of debate on judicial interests, still refuse to journey a number of hundred yards to our sovereign Scottish Parliament and account for his or her secretive pursuits. The Sunday Mail reviews :
Scotland’s high decide refuses to seem before MSPs for a second time to elucidate his opposition to a register of interests
Unique : LORD NO-NO : Gill snubs second invite from Holyrood Committee
By Russell Findlay 2 Jun 2013 Sunday Mail
SCOTLAND’S high decide has snubbed MSPs for a second time after they asked him to provide evidence at Holyrood.
The Lord President, Lord Gill previously declined to attend the Scottish Parliament’s petitions committee to elucidate his opposition to a register of pursuits for judges. MSPs wrote asking him to rethink his refusal to attend. However final week, in a letter to the committee’s chairman, Labour’s David Stewart, he rejected their second request to look.
The top lawman, who earns £214,000 a yr, cited the Scotland Act which prevents parliament from forcing judges to present proof. He justified his refusal saying: “I accomplish that for the explanations of constitutional principle. I intend no discourtesy to your committee. This isn’t a loophole. It’s a needed part of the constitutional settlement by which the Parliament is established. Its function is to protect the independence of the judiciary, an important constitutional precept that is declared in section 1 of the Judiciary and Courts (Scotland) Act 2008.”
The row follows a petition by authorized reform campaigner Peter Cherbi which requires judges to declare interests resembling hospitality, gifts, property plus any links to exterior our bodies.
In February, Lord Gill wrote to say a register was not needed and that it might imply judges would be harassed by “aggressive media”. His refusal to elaborate on that stance in particular person angered the committee. In April, they issued a second invitation however he has again refused to travel the 700 metres from his workplace to parliament to present proof.
In his letter, sent to Stewart on Tuesday, Lord Gill did provide to meet committee members in non-public. Stewart now plans to satisfy Lord Gill together with deputy committee convener Chic Brodie. He said: “I’m disenchanted however we will try to meet as soon as attainable to get the information we require to deal with this very fascinating petition.”
SNP MSP Brodie stated: “He is short curly wigs with bangs no less than willing to have discussions with representatives of the committee.”
Sources at Parliament say the judge has added insult to injury by agreeing to give evidence to the Justice Committee on Tuesday to defend heavily criticised value-chopping reforms that may mean the closure of one in 5 sheriff courts.
WATCHDOG WHY Should JUDGES BE EXEMPT
Lord Gill’s insistence that he will not appear in front of MSPs comes as a legal watchdog revealed two judges had been investigated for alleged conflicts of interest last 12 months. Judicial Complaints Reviewer Moi Ali, left, revealed the probes as she backed requires a register.
Her submission to the committee mentioned: “One evaluation I undertook final year involved a complaint a couple of choose who had allegedly used their judicial position to promote a body that was alleged to have breached international legislation.” Another was a sheriff who allegedly participated in a social perform organised by the defender in the course of the proof hearing.
Ali – who was appointed by Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill in 2011 – can evaluate how the the Judicial Office for Scotland have handled a complaint but can only cross on her issues to the Lord President.
She added “Registers of interest are a normal part of public life.”It seems proper that the judiciary shouldn’t be out of line with what is required of others who hold excessive public workplace.”Better transparency would enhance the standing of that judiciary.”
JET-SETTING LAWMEN NOTCH UP £83K Bill
Scotland’s judges have racked up hundreds of air miles on overseas trips, including jaunts to the US, India, Morocco and Malaysia.
Taxpayers have paid £83,644 to send judges and sheriffs around the world in the past three years. In 2010/11, the full was £14,430 which rose to £35,107 in 2011/12 followed by £34,167 final year.
Essentially the most expensive trip final 12 months was to Kampala in Uganda. It cost £7300 for Sheriff Michael Fletcher and Lord President Lord Gill to attend a judges’ conference there. Lord Gill’s other trips since 2010 have included Dublin, Cape City in South Africa, Slovenian capital Ljubljana and a £1050 journey to a conference in Canada.
One of the most widely travelled was Sheriff Andrew Normand who has been on eleven overseas trips within the last three years. The judges normally travel alone or with a colleague but on two short curly wigs with bangs occasions last year they have been joined by their wives.
The figures have been obtained by authorized blogger Peter Cherbi. He mentioned: “As a substitute of flying all over the world, perhaps Scotland’s judges should deal with the problems within our own legal system.”
The Judicial Office for Scotland said: “Attendance at overseas occasions should be accepted prematurely and comply with agreed guidance.”
Mail Opinion: Lord Gill has missed an opportunity to painting our justice system as open and accountable
2 Jun 2013 11:32
NO JUSTICE IF IT CANOT BE SEEEN : SENIOR choose’s refusal to give proof to MSPs shows a lack of transparency, says Mail Opinion.
WE’RE probably not clever sufficient but it’s difficult to understand the terribly necessary point of principle Lord Gill is defending when he refuses to give proof to our elected representatives.
Scotland’s most senior judge insists that he cannot amble down the Royal Mile to Holyrood to seem earlier than the petitions committee because he must maintain the essential separation between our courts and the government.
The Lord President advised them that, with the best respect, MSPs can’t compel a decide to look. This is not a legal loophole, he said, but a significant bulwark of our democracy.
High quality. We get it. But they don’t seem to be compelling him to seem. They didn’t problem an order however an invitation.
Since he has apparently agreed to appear in front of the justice committee on Tuesday to debate the closure of a fifth of our sheriff courts, we must assume that he is picking and choosing which MSPs is perhaps given his useful time.
You could possibly be forgiven for suspecting that he believes MSPs scrutinising the calls for judges to register their interests are wasting their time – and is not allowing them to waste his. Fair enough however his disinclination to pitch up earlier than the individuals who symbolize the people who pay his £214,000-a-12 months salary would possibly look just a little excessive-handed and disrespectful. It might and, to be honest, it does.
This wasn’t an ambush. It was a chance for Scotland’s high decide to go to Parliament and discuss how our authorized system works and would possibly work higher. It could have added, as the general public relations executives and politicians like to say, a little transparency.
It was a window of opportunity that Lord Gill politely, but very firmly, nailed shut.
By taking each opportunity to speak to MSPs, Lord Gill could do extra to show our authorized system is a fashionable, receptive institution than any number of gimmicks and sound bites.
As a substitute, his refusal has only hardened the suspicion that our judges dwell and work in a bubble smelling of horse hair wigs, vintage port and much more vintage attitudes.
But his determination is only one disappointing straw in what’s becoming a mighty wind of official secrecy and unnecessary silence gusting around every part of our justice system.
Police and prosecutors might not be using Lord Leveson’s criticism of newspapers to chill potential whistle-blowers and curb information being given to journalists, officially or unofficially, but you’d be forgiven for thinking so.
Lately, the most simple, simple requests for the most easy, straightforward data from our legislation enforcement and authorized authorities hit stonewall after stonewall.
It’s a disgrace that Scottish journalists – and, by means of them, the Scottish public – aren’t being given fundamental info that could be handed on as a matter in fact in, for example, England and the United States.
It is a disgrace and one that our MSPs ought to be discussing and debating. Not least as a result of journalists are clearly not the one folks our legal institution are joyful to maintain at midnight.