MSPs to ask top judge Lord Carloway to explain his opposition to a judicial register of financial interests

Written by Mark McLaughlin on 3 October 2016 in News

Scotland's most senior judge is expected to be asked to appear before MSPs to explain his opposition to members of the judiciary disclosing their financial interests.

Lord Carloway at a previous Scottish Parliament committee - credit: Scottish Parliament

Scotland's most senior judge is expected to be asked to appear before MSPs to explain his opposition to members of the judiciary disclosing their financial interests.

Holyrood's Public Petitions Committee wants to hear from Lord Carloway, the Lord President, on why he believes it would be "inappropriate" for his colleagues to reveal details of shareholdings and other items.

The petition, by Peter Cherbi, calls on the Scottish Government to create a public register of pecuniary interests and compel all members of the judiciary to submit their interests and hospitality received.

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In a written response, Lord Carloway said such a register could undermine the proper administration of justice, and would provide no meaningful contribution to openness and transparency in public life.

He said: "There is the possibility that an individual judge may be the subject of misconceived criticism, deriving from the disclosure of personal financial information, where those interests are tangential."

Committee deputy convener Angus MacDonald said the petition received support from a number of MSPs in the last parliament.

But he noted that "neither the Scottish Government or the Lord President - both current and former - support the introduction of such a register".

Fellow SNP MSP Rona Mackay said: "I have sympathy with Mr Cherbi and I actually do think that there should be a register."

She added: "I would be keen to explore it further and to hear evidence - it's a big subject."

Conservative MSPs offered cautious support for the petition.

Maurice Corry said: "I basically don't think the opening of the proposed register would be the worst thing."

Brian Whittle said: "I think the petition is not unreasonable." 

The committee agreed to ask the Lord President if he is prepared to give evidence.

Mr Macdonald said: "There was a difficulty in asking the previous Lord President to come in, so we will see if he is willing to do that. Failing that, we will just have to revert to the written submission that he gave us."

A committee spokeswoman confirmed that an invitation to Lord Carloway is expected to be issued this week.

A Judicial Office spokesman said: “We’re not in a position to comment as the Lord President has not received any such invitation.”



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