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McInnes criticises head-in-the-sand response to judicial complaints reviewer concerns

December 17, 2013 3:56 PM
Originally published by Scottish Liberal Democrats

Scottish Liberal Democrat justice spokesperson Alison McInnes MSP hasAlison McInnesAlison McInnes criticised the Justice Secretary's head-in-the-sand approach to concerns raised by Scotland's Judicial Complaint's Reviewer, Moi Ali.

In a recent interview, Moi Ali said that the independent post is "window dressing", highlighting that her office had a budget of £2000 a year and no staff support. This is a clear contrast to the equivalent service in England which has staff and a budget of £500,000.

Earlier this week the Judicial Complaints Reviewer published her second annual report, which contrasted the situation in Scotland to the powers held by the Ombudsman in England. Ms McInnes raised the issue directly with the Justice Secretary at topical questions today.

Kenny McAskill refused to set out whether he would address the concerns raised in Moi Ali's report about a lack of resources, funding and power.

Speaking after Topical Questions, Ms McInnes:

"The Justice Secretary's approach to this is simply to put his head in the sand. This is becoming a stock response to problems in his own justice portfolio. The Judicial Complaints Reviewer's second annual report made clear that one person working from home, on a £2000 annual budget and no staff, isn't going to get this job done to the highest standard possible. We need an independent service which works to ensure judges do not judge complaints made against them, and the concerns are too important to gloss over.

"Moi Ali's report set out how Scotland was trailing behind England by having a weaker system which did not have the same opportunities to seek redress or look at maladministration.

"Nobody is calling for an elaborate quango which splashes about public money. What we do need is a considered response from the Justice Secretary which sets out how we will protect the fundamental need for transparency around complaints in our judicial system."