LAW SOCIETY GODFATHER ATTACKED

TOP LEGAL GODFATHER WORRIED ABOUT HIS SAFETY 22 MARCH 2006
Accountant fears knife attacker will return to target family

A leading accountant who was repeatedly stabbed outside his home said yesterday he fears his family could be the target of second attack. Leslie Cumming, 62, believes he was the subject of a planned attack when surprised by a man wearing a balaclava as he was about to enter his Edinburgh home. Mr Cumming, chief accountant with the Law Society of Scotland, fought off his masked assailant, but ended up in hospital with multiple stab and slash wounds to his face and body. Officers hunting the attacker revealed yesterday that they had new DNA evidence from him. They have also questioned more than 420 members of the public and taken 133 statements about the assault on the evening of January 23. But nearly two months on from the stabbing, the attacker remains at large and a £10,000 reward has been offered for information leading to an arrest. Speaking publicly about his ordeal for the first time, Mr Cumming urged people to come forward with information about the attack. He admitted he fears someone will try to attack him again. "I'm not concerned about it on a constant and daily basis, but you'd understand that when I get back to the house every evening, going back to my home patch, that the fact that this happened there is a positive recollection for me.

"I am concerned for my family, as well as myself, that if somebody returned a member of the family could be in the wrong place at the wrong time, even though it was me that they were looking for. "It's a very, very difficult time and I'm very happy that the police inquiry is going as well as it is and that they are looking carefully in all directions." Mr Cumming's duties included investigating solicitors for financial irregularities and, while he had provided police with a list of possible suspects, he can think of no-one who would have an obvious grudge against him. He added: "Whilst there are a number of speculative thoughts, there are no individuals that immediately come to mind as the prime suspect." However, he said he was convinced he was targeted. "It was my house, it was my garage, it was the end of our long and quiet lane. It was clearly someone waiting for the opportunity."

Mr Cumming relived the attack in detail. "It was very short in duration, very vicious, very violent, and quite simply I have no idea what you should do in such circumstances. I merely reacted. "It was a complete shock to find that as I came out of the garage back into the lane that out of the darkness came a figure – two to three strides away – and was immediately on top of me. "Nothing was said and I was just immediately set upon by this individual. "At that point of first contact, he was standing at the door of the garage. There were no lights around and I didn't really realise what was happening immediately. "I was struck lightly on the face and thought it wasn't much of a punch and then suddenly realised there was blood and that there was a blade involved. "At that point, I didn't know what to do, but tried to grapple with the individual and get inside the swinging blade. "During the next few seconds, I stepped backwards and forwards while I tried first of all to tear off the balaclava that was covering his face and then secondly just to grip his arms." He then fell and was struck several times on the back before the attacker fled. Detective Inspector Keith Hardie, who is leading the inquiry, said: "We still need the public's help in finding Mr Cumming's attacker. "We hope that by issuing the photographs of his injuries someone, somewhere will make that call with a name. The DNA profile we have allows us to eliminate people easily." Douglas Mill, chief executive of the Law Society of Scotland, praised Crimestoppers for matching the body's £5000 reward.

http://www.theherald.co.uk/news/58560.html

Law Society godfather latest pictures of stabbing

The untouchable godfathers at the LAW SOCIETY have proof now that NONE of them are untouchable.

Stabbed victim's fears for family

Pictures of Mr Cumming's wounds were taken shortly after the attack An Edinburgh accountant who was repeatedly stabbed outside his home has spoken of his fears that his family could be the target of another attack. Leslie Cumming, 62, believes he was the subject of a planned attack when he was set upon by a knifeman.

Mr Cumming, a chief accountant with the Law Society of Scotland for 22 years, ended up in hospital with multiple stab and slash wounds to his face and body. Police have revealed they have new DNA evidence from his attacker. Speaking publicly for the first time about his horrific ordeal, Mr Cumming urged people to come forward with information about the "very vicious and violent" attack.

I am concerned for my family, as well as myself, that if somebody returned that a member of the family could be in the wrong place at the wrong time

He said: "I'm not concerned about it on a constant and daily basis, but you would understand when I get back to the house every evening, going back to my home patch, that the fact that this happened there is a positive recollection for me. "I am concerned for my family, as well as myself, that if somebody returned that a member of the family could be in the wrong place at the wrong time, even though it was me that they were looking for." Mr Cumming's duties included investigating solicitors for financial irregularities and whilst he had provided police with a list of possible suspects, he said he can think of no-one who would have an obvious grudge against him.

"Whilst there are a number of speculative thoughts, there are no individuals that immediately come to mind as the prime suspect," he said. Asked whether he felt he was the victim of a specific attack, rather than a random assault, he said: "Yes , I do because of the location.

Mr Cumming was attacked on Monday, 23 January

"It was my house, it was my garage, it was the end of our long and quiet lane. It was clearly someone waiting for the opportunity." Mr Cumming was attacked in January in a lane which leads to a series of lock-up garages behind his home in Murrayfield Drive after he had just parked his car. About the attack, he said: "I didn't know what to do in such circumstances, but I tried to grapple with the individual and get inside the swinging blade.

"During the next few seconds I stepped backwards and forwards while I tried first of all to tear off the balaclava that was covering his face and then secondly to grip his arms." After the stabbing the suspect ran off into Ormidale Terrace and the Roseburn area. He was described as being in his 20s, of stocky build and was wearing dark clothing and a dark balaclava. Detective Inspector Keith Hardie, who is leading the Lothian and Borders Police inquiry, said: "As a result of detailed forensic work we now have a partial DNA profile of the attacker but we still need more information about what happened on that January afternoon

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/scotland/4828382.stm


Should clients fear lawyers after Law Chief attack ? 30 January 2006


Should we clients fear our lawyers after the Leslie Cumming attack ? It's certainly a valid point, after the vicious attack on Leslie Cumming - which the Police currently seem to be considering to be coming from within the legal profession itself ..... So, just how safe are us clients, if the lawyers are ordering murder hits on their own colleagues ???

Does this not show a Scottish legal profession OUT OF CONTROL ??? Could it be the case that perhaps ... clients in the past who have complained against their lawyer have been 'roughed up' by contacts, or associates of their lawyer ? or even have been subject to the same kind of attack as poor Mr Cumming, or revenge attacks in other ways .. and it has gone without being reported or not investigated by the Police ???

Surely if a lawyer can be a suspect in an organised violent attack, or a murder bid on a colleague - and on a regulatory colleague at that .. they can certainly be capable of organising the same kind of treatment to a client .....

Whether it be actions of revenge of an aggrieved lawyer by way of harrassment against a complaining client by way of anonymous & false tips to the cops, visits from the inland revenue on false info provided by a lawyer 'to get at' their former client, or a burglary on a client's house carried out by a house breaking criminal which a lawyer has defended in the past (I am aware of certain instances such as this) .... we, the clients, will certainly have to be on our guard over such appalling & violent behaviour from the legal profession against not only their own, but anyone who gets in their way ... if you know of an instance such as this - or have had cause to fear in your dealings with your lawyer, or want to give me a lead on a story related to the legal profession - please

email me at petercherbi@hotmail.co.uk

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Scotland on Sunday's article on the Leslie Cumming attack The continuing revelations in the media over the attack on Leslie Cumming, Chief Accountant of the Law Society of Scotland, make for interesting reading .. where it is being reported today in Scotland on Sunday, the main lead being pursued is that of a hitman, probably hired by a lawyer to attack Mr Cumming. If such a theory indeed turns out to be the truth, and reveals that a fellow member solicitor of the Law Society membership orchestrated the vicious attack on Mr Cumming, then I think, those at Drumsheugh Gardens should sit back and take a long hard look at themselves over how they have policed their own members over the years ... needless to say ... not very well .. if some of their own people are arranging for colleagues to be attacked or even murdered ?.....

A lawyer hiring a hitman to attack another lawyer .... would be one in the eye for those at the Law Society who, on Friday,opportunistically & viciously turned on aggrieved clients who have started their own websites & protest groups, wanting all such expressions of free speech by those disaffected by the Scottish legal profession 'shut down' on the basis that those 'aggrieved clients' websites & protests are allegedly 'calls for violence' ..... however, it seems the "violence" has probably come from the within legal profession itself .... I was given an opportunity to comment in Scotland on Sunday today, which I have done so, and I would say, for the record, I have had dealings with Mr Cumming, back in 1999-2001.. and here is a summary of what happened ... The actual dealings I had with Mr Cumming related to Andrew Penman's administration of my late father's will in terms of the financial investments, which Leslie Cumming, as Chief Accountant, was charged with regulating. However, I had severe difficulties with Mr Cumming's consideration of matters, and frequently had to ask the FSA and even other Law Society officials, to step in to prompt him for action. Even getting Mr Cumming to initially investigate my allegations of misappropriation of funds, delays of action, etc, by Mr Penman, was difficult enough - and I recall that the Client Relations Office Director , Mr Philip Yelland, tool some 4 months to inform him that I actually wanted to make a complaint (his office is, apparently, next door !) ... and when Mr Cumming eventually sent the complaint onto a Complaints Committee, it was so full of holes, that nothing was done, of course (and if you go back to the original William Chisholm & Jenny Booth articles, you will see why - the representation by Mr James Ness, Senior Council Member of the Law Society, of Mr Penman) - made sure nothing was done .. so it was fiddle after fiddle ...

I then of course went to the Scottish Legal Services Ombudsman, which was Garry S Watson at the time. However, the rules & interpretation of the law made it so that he claimed he could not look into matters of a financial nature and investigations by Mr Cumming's office - so, up until this point, the Ombudsman was not able to look into the actions of Mr Cumming in terms of complaints by clients. I then persuaded the Financial Services Authority in London, through a long course of letters, to discuss the matter with the Ombudsman, and new regulations were brought in, so that the Ombudsman COULD review complaints against solicitors of a Financial & Investment nature that had passed through the Office of Mr Cumming . So - the end result was that the Scottish Legal Services Ombudsman could now look at complaints brought by clients who had made a complaint to Mr Cumming's office which had been mishandled - it's a pity the Ombudsman didn't ask for those powers himself, instead having to be pushed by a client - me - to do it ... such is the nature of the legal profession and those who are appointed to oversee those who regulate it ... but who turn out to be just as bad .... In any case, this blog made the headlines, as you will see from today's Scotland On Sunday newspaper article by Murdo Macleod at this link -http://scotlandonsunday.scotsman.com/index.cfm?id=145782006 ...and all that is left to say on this issue for now, is that I wish Mr Cumming a speedy recovery, and for the Police to catch the culprits as soon as possible .. because crooked lawyers on the loose are bad enough - but violent lawyers on the loose - well, that just shows a legal profession out of control .... and of course - over the next few days & weeks, I will be publishing a LOT more material as to what the legal profession did to me & my family ... so, stay tuned for even more insidious details of how an entire profession, using every resource available to it, can set about attempting to destroy the life of a single complainant .... - and remember - everyone uses a lawyer, so, it could happen to YOU too ....



Major move by the Law Society of Scotland to silence critics in the wake of assault on one of it's top members Amidst the recriminations over the assault of Leslie Cumming, the Law Society of Scotland and it's allies have moved to condemn aggrieved clients of lawyers in Scotland - and particularly those who have set up websites displaying their case of what their lawyers did to them - in an effort it seems, to get them shut down and block free speech. The Law Society of Scotland - widely known to be one of the most corrupt regulatory organisations in Scotland - with 1000s of disattisfied clients every year complaining against their member solicitors, has seized the opportunity to try and silence their critics - and of course, the website of Injustice Scotland, Scotland Against Crooked Lawyers, and others, are the targets of these outlandish accusations by people who are serial liars & fraudsters .... The direct quote from the Scotsman article :

"Senior figures in the Law Society and the Faculty of Advocates feel some of the websites set up by clients aggrieved by the legal service are tantamount to calls for violence." so .. it seems that if a client who is disattisfied with the way in which the Law Society of Scotland handles their complaint, against a crooked lawyer (that being - the Law Society let's the crooked lawyer off the hook, and the client looses everything) and airs his opinions in public, this is "calling for violence" ... whereas of course, the solicitor or advocate who ruins their client, steals their money, robs their dead family members assets, fiddles cases, overcharges work, sells a client's house on the cheap to a lawyer colleague or political friend, or puts a client out of their family home ...etc .. is but a saint, and can go on robbing & pillaging people blind as they see fit .. immune from the law and any independent regulation ..... and if we, the client try & do something about it .. well then ... the Law Society of Scotland will envoke all it's friends in Government - such as the Justice Minister, all it's friends in the Police, the Crown Office, and any other public sector .. and will nail you to the cross .... just as has happened to some campaigners over the years ..... Whereas of course, the solicitor or advocate who ruins their client, steals their money, robs their dead family members assets, fiddles cases, puts them out of their family home ...etc .. is but a saint, and can go on robbing people blind as they see fit .. immune from the law and any independent regulation ..... Whatever happened to Mr Cumming, would be certainly nothing to do with any successfully and impartially considered complaint which came to a successful conclusion for a complainant ... so, we will just have to wait and see what revenge tactics the Law Society and it's allies in the media take against those who speak out against how they have been treated by the likes of the Law Society of Scotland ... in a way, similar to what just happened to Fathers 4 Justice - which was shut down, apparently, only on the basis of rumour rather than evidence ... so this must certainly mark the start of a major drive against disattisfied clients & consumer organisations who oppose the crooked Scottish legal profession .... a very dangerous practice indeed and certainly an attempt to shut down our right of free speech when we have been ripped off ....

http://spaces.msn.com/petercherbi/


Cash laundering link to law chief stabbing 30 January 2006


Police are looking at the theory that Cumming, chief accountant for the Law Society of Scotland, was the victim of a revenge attack ordered by a lawyer whose alleged criminality he had exposed.

FOUR Scottish solicitors suspected of money laundering are to be interviewed by detectives investigating a frenzied knife attack on a top law official. Leslie Cumming, who survived 12 stab wounds, is understood to have headed an inquiry into corruption among lawyers which resulted in the four solicitors facing trial.

Police are looking at the theory that Cumming, chief accountant for the Law Society of Scotland, was the victim of a revenge attack ordered by a lawyer whose alleged criminality he had exposed. Cumming, 62, was attacked last Monday outside his home in the Murrayfield area of Edinburgh by a masked man. He spent three days in hospital. Cumming, who is viewed as a tough customer by many members of the legal profession he helps regulate, is understood to have spearheaded a recent crackdown on all forms of misconduct relating to finance, including money-laundering.

At present, 16 Scottish solicitors face charges, including four on allegations of money-laundering. A Lothian and Borders Police source said: "We will be questioning people who have been involved in money-laundering because he and his team normally take to investigating them. There are some guys - especially some in criminal practice - who give us a lot of concern because of the people they associate with. And they will know some pretty nasty guys who could carry out an attack for them." Police will also this week begin sifting through all Law Society files that were being dealt with by Cumming and his team of 12 accountants. They will be looking for anyone who could have a grudge against Cumming, or who might have feared being investigated. Cumming has given detectives the names of two former solicitors who have been banned from practising at least partially because of his inquiries and could have a grudge against him. One was struck off for professional misconduct and the other for embezzling.

But officers say they will not be restricting their inquiries to these two individuals. Another force insider said: "Because of his position there are any number of people who will have had a grudge against him." The attacker is described as being in his twenties, stocky and wearing dark clothing. Police will begin putting up posters in the area tomorrow in an effort to get more information from potential witnesses. Meanwhile, campaigners for greater openness in the legal profession have hit back at suggestions that their organisations and websites could have been linked to the attack. Senior figures in the Law Society have made it known they feel some of the websites criticising lawyers are tantamount to incitement to violence. But Peter Cherbi, a long-time critic of the Law Society who runs a weblog "A Diary of Injustice in Scotland", said: "I'm concerned that some people will try and use this to stifle criticism and open debate. I can't imagine anyone connected to the campaigns would be involved in anything like this. Lawyers are supposed to uphold the right to free speech and not be acting against it."

He added: "As for Mr Cumming, I wish him all the best and a speedy recovery from this terrible attack." At the Cummings' imposing home there was little sign yesterday of the knife attack just a few yards away. The small gated set of stairs leading down to their front door remained unlocked and windows around the house were left ajar. Shreds of police tape which had been used to cordon off the area earlier in the week remained caught on a bush near the scene. Out on the hedge-lined street there were few passers-by, and residents hurried from their front doors to their cars parked on the road, with a few nervous glances. A spokesman for Lothian and Borders Police said their inquiries were ongoing.

http://www.scotsman.com/?id=145782006


The lengths Law chiefs go to lie and deceive 29 January 2006


Press release

The lengths Law chiefs go to lie and deceive about the massive corruption going on in Scotland were land ,business and property is being seized on a grand scale with Grand Master and Godfather Leslie Cumming HEADING that massive corruption.

Cumming ignored the £660,000 embezzlement of Kennedy Forster for 10 years and only exposure by the GALLOWAY GAZETTE was he FORCED to take action

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Profile of the Chief Accountant's Department of the Society, emphasising the financial probity of Scottish solicitors The Journal, May 2004, page 42

[Scottish solicitors really do have the highest standards of financial probity, and we have the comments from overseas visitors to prove it, LESLIE CUMMING tells Peter Nicholson in the Journal’s latest profile of the Society’s departments]

The Scottish legal profession, its leaders like to tell us, is overwhelmingly honest. To some it may appear a little self-congratulatory, but to Leslie Cumming it is a pillar of his accounts inspection and monitoring system. That was reinforced when a foreign visitor, commenting what a well constructed system was in place in Scotland, added that it might not work back home “because they didn’t think that the base population were as trustworthy as your average Scots solicitor”, says Leslie. “It is a fact that our system relies on the near 100% honesty of the profession which is what we find time after time. It is our duty to the profession and their clients to ensure that those who maintain the highest standards and their clients are protected from the actions of the few who act dishonestly.” In the wake of the drawn-out Kennedy Forster case (the Crown prosecution has now concluded three years after the Society prosecution), such comments perhaps keep matters in perspective – only a very small proportion of solicitors are involved in dishonest conduct and claims on the Guarantee Fund in recent years have averaged under £250,000 annually. But we had to ask, given the regime of regular inspections of every firm in the country that has been in place for 15 years now, how Forster had managed to carry on for so long undetected. “This case involved a uniquely complex system with the evidence well hidden. But as with all cases, once the cracks appeared layer after layer of the fraud was exposed and produced the evidence which we needed and which the Crown then used. Most successful frauds involve several strands and depend on a position of particular power or influence. The hardest to uncover are those where there’s an element of complicity. It’s a constant challenge and each time we find a scheme we ensure that all our inspection teams know about the mechanisms and how it worked so that they can recognise the signs in the future.”

Identifying those most in need of intervention may not be straightforward. “One of the most difficult aspects of the work is when people raise concerns about a practice or a practitioner but can produce only anecdotal evidence. That is useful but the Society and its regulatory departments still have to find the hard evidence before we can take action or pass information to the police or the Crown Office”, Leslie explains. The headline-grabbing cases, while each requiring a heavy work commitment, make up only a small part of his department’s workload. The work of the inspection team, the aspect most obvious to the profession, is itself far from the complete picture. What the department also does, and would like to do more, is advise practices known to be in difficulty financially while there is still some prospect of rescue. “It’s a difficult thing to manage because most people are very optimistic about their business and what they hope to do. Even when things are looking pretty grim they’re always very hopeful that things will get better. Sometimes the reality is that they are sending ‘good money after bad’, but that’s not the way people see it when they are caught up in their hopes and working hard for the practice to survive. I’d like to do more in that area if we could reach those who are struggling with financial pressures, because we’ve been through that with several solicitors and we can give good advice at an early stage, before they crash.

“We can talk about finding a managed solution. We can look to see if within the local community there is interest in taking over clients’ business. We can separate out the solicitor’s interest from the clients’ interests. It may no longer be a going concern but the assets can be sold on which in turn buys a solicitor time to take a step back and think about their future. They can also avoid being caught up in a shambles which can lead to breaking the rules and prosecution. By getting in at the right time we can streamline the process and help. We’ve had one or two encouraging results but we would like to do more.” Broader education issues also figure prominently – training sessions, seminars, roadshows, faculty visits, plus special courses for cashroom partners and staff and the biannual induction meeting for all those coming to partnership for the first time. Not surprisingly much attention is currently devoted to money laundering duties (an updated package of advice and guidance appeared on the website this month). Further, the whole field of relevant practice rules is kept under constant review. The move a few years ago from the annual accountant’s certificate to six-monthly self-certification of compliance has been “a great success”, says Leslie – the Society has a more up-to-date picture, and the certifying partner is much more directly involved with and responsible for the accounts. “This part of our work has been looked at and followed up by other jurisdictions.” The Guarantee Fund Committee, whilst agreeing on settlements of claims, also oversees the inspection and reporting system. Made up of practitioner Council members and currently convened by Kirriemuir solicitor John Hamilton, it is “a very hardworking committee …a serious generator of paper”, in Leslie’s words. Each inspection is reported to the committee, and only a minority achieve a completely clean report. Most matters picked up are minor and technical rule breaches which can be settled by correspondence with the firm concerned with some helpful advice; in case of dispute the committee will consider the position and will decide how to proceed where a report requires particular attention. In addition to ordinary meetings, committee members work a rota of interview meetings with those solicitors who have problems accepting what is required – this is more effective coming practitioner to practitioner rather than from an inspector. “But probably a good third to a half of those meetings are in fact much more advice, encouragement, instruction as it were, advising the solicitor as to how to do better or how to set up a system or how to make things work more easily, which again comes from people who have the experience.” If professional misconduct has to be considered, the case is passed to the new Professional Conduct Committee, which decides if there is a case to go to the Discipline Tribunal. The PCC can also advise on questions of professional standards. There is also liaison with the Client Relations Office – if the same names are coming to the attention of both departments, it could be an early sign of trouble ahead.

Such an integrated approach is indeed recognised by those who monitor the regulation of the profession as providing the high level of public protection of which the Scottish profession can be proud, says Leslie. “The profession may not be aware that the Scottish jurisdiction’s regulation package is well known to organisations like the IBA and we have had contact from many jurisdictions who have sent observers see what we do and how we do it and take the best of the ideas back to use in their jurisdiction. It’s very encouraging that they look at what we’re doing and think it’s a standard that they would like to achieve. So I think we punch above our weight, as they say, in the international community in this field. The Society’s regulatory work is undertaken at the will of Parliament and funded and monitored by the profession. The Committee and the Council decide what’s reasonable, what’s appropriate, what needs to be done and it’s my task to try and deliver that as efficiently as we can. “I think it’s fair to say that the profession are very firm about what they expect in the way of standards and we have to work hard to make sure that everybody achieves that level.” Young, single – and honest“No claims under the age of 30, ever.” Leslie Cumming offers that “interesting statistic” as an indication that those who might arouse concern in older members of the profession do not deserve the label. And while he agrees that the under-30s constitute a minority of the 100-120 firms that set up each year, “in point of fact they’re the very model of enthusiasm and commitment in terms of setting up a new business”. Indeed Leslie offers full backing for anyone striking out on their own. “I’m very much in favour of encouraging the sole practitioner business because that’s where people start – all the big organisations usually start off with some entrepreneurial drive from an individual and it’s the future of the profession coming through at that level.” Nor do they have to be regarded as high risk in relation to financial malpractice: “We’ve had more money lost in partnerships since we started inspecting all firms than from all the sole practitioner frauds since the Society was set up in 1950.” Kennedy Forster (which was settled through the Master Policy) and Giles Davis (which was settled through the Master Policy and Guarantee Fund) were both partnership claims.

Phyllis Stephen, organiser of the Solitaire group of sole practitioners, said she was “happy to see that the Society is supportive of our sole practitioner status and realises that we are in the main hardworking honest individuals! A large percentage of firms in Scotland and England are in fact sole practitioners. We welcome that support and any assistance offered by the Society in the face of the ever increasing burden of endless rules and regulations mainly in the field of money laundering.” Leslie Cumming, the Society’s Chief Accountant since 1984, now also has a management responsibility as Deputy Chief Executive under Douglas Mill. Managers reporting to him are John Boyle, who takes on the Society’s monthly budgets and management accounts, annual audited accounts, projections and forecasts; Morag Newton, in charge of the monitoring section; and Morna Grandison, who runs the intervention section and has the rare combination of specialist skills, and experience to act as judicial factor under the statutory scheme for Society factories. “The important point there is that because the Society initiates judicial factories, the public feel that they have a Society connection and there is a protection in that relationship. They see that as a positive part of the Society’s supervisory/regulatory role”, says Leslie Cumming.

http://www.journalonline.co.uk/article/1000254.aspx


Law chief blames crooked lawyers for knife attack 29 January 2006


AN ACCOUNTANT stabbed and left for dead outside his home in Edinburgh believes that he was targeted because of his work investigating crooked lawyers. Leslie Cumming, 62, has told detectives that he believes his attack was most likely connected with his work investigating corrupt solicitors in his role as chief accountant of the Law Society of Scotland, The Times has learnt. Mr Cumming, who heads a team that inspects the accounts of solicitors to check that they are not laundering money or stealing from clients, was stabbed repeatedly on Monday after parking his Jaguar in a garage behind his flat. The attack has sent shockwaves through the affluent Murrayfield area, where Victorian houses sell for about £1 million and residents include the city's leading bankers, lawyers and academics.

Although police are refusing to rule out the possibility of mistaken identity, they suspect that the stabbing of Mr Cumming was, indeed, a planned attack, probably by a professional hitman. Detective Inspector Keith Hardie, who is heading the investigation, admitted yesterday that a repeat attack was possible. His officers have issued security briefings to the 12 accountants employed by the Law Society's Guarantee Fund, which inspects the books of all solicitors in Scotland and compensates clients if they have been defrauded by their lawyers. It also investigates whether solicitors are being used by criminal gangs to launder money. Mr Hardie said: "Although these attacks are very rare, the level of violence used against Mr Cumming was particularly unusual. We have considered the possibility of a repeat attack and, though we think it highly unlikely, Mr Cumming has been afforded advice in relation to his personal security." Detectives have also asked the Law Society to provide a list of solicitors being investigated by Mr Cumming with a view to identifying possible suspects.

Mr Cumming has worked closely with the National Criminal Intelligence Service and has lectured on anti-money laundering regulations. Mr Hardie said: "If we can establish a motive we can investigate that with a view to finding the person responsible. I'm keeping an open mind but obviously the type of job Mr Cumming does means this has to be a significant line of inquiry." Mr Cumming had parked his car at about 5.05pm on Monday when he became aware of a figure approaching in the narrow lane behind his home. As he turned he was slashed several times in the face by a man wearing a balaclava. He threw himself on his assailant, who stabbed him repeatedly in the back as he tried to wrestle him off. As Mr Cumming fell to the ground, his attacker walked off down the lane and into a neighbouring street. Bleeding profusely, Mr Cumming staggered through his garden to alert his wife, who was inside their flat.

Detectives are baffled by several aspects of the attack. The attacker, described by police as "cold and calculating", did not speak a word. Although it is being treated as attempted murder, officers believe that the attack was probably carried out with a short-bladed knife, suggesting that the attacker may not have intended to kill Mr Cumming but merely to deliver a warning. Witnesses have reported seeing a man of stocky build, in his early twenties and dressed in dark clothing, running in the area about the time of the attack. No weapon has been recovered. A neighbour, who did not want to give her name, said yesterday that she was shocked by the attack. "I've lived here since I was 3 and I've never heard of anything violent like this. It's a peaceful, quiet place," she said. Mr Cumming, likely to have facial scars for life, was recovering at home yesterday. He said in a statement: "It was a traumatic event and I am now glad to be out of hospital and with my family. We are looking for some privacy at this time to help my recovery."

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2-2012995,00.html


WHERE THERE'S CASH THERE'S CORRUPTION (Law Chief stabbing) 28 January 2006


BENT lawyers? Surely some mistake? Aye right. When I was a nipper I used to think that lawyers had to be the most honest people in the world. But then I also believed in Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy. The simple childlike logic went that they were the folks upholding the law, the law told you what was right and wrong so they had to be good guys, didn't they? The weird ideas we get as weans, eh? If anyone is still in doubt about bent lawyers don't ask me, ask Edinburgh cops. After the attack on Law Society man Leslie Cumming the other morning, they have announced they are looking for bent lawyers as possible suspects.

Except they don't call them 'bent', of course. Even the cops take care when describing lawyers -honest or otherwise. They are 'rogue' lawyers. Same difference in my book. As he went to work early one morning Cumming was ambushed by a man in a balaclava and stabbed repeatedly. Cumming is a strong man and fought back. Just as well, because instead of being badly hurt he might well be in the mortuary. The cops reckon the blade man had lain in wait for some time. A couple of girls spotted a suspicious-looking bloke hanging around there earlier on. It has all the marks of a planned hit contract.

Let that one sink in. Lawyers or former lawyers are being viewed as suspects in a possible hit. Yet should we be so surprised? The lawyers we tend to read about in the newspapers are the ones who appear in court in high-profile crime cases. But the ones most ordinary punters use are desk-bound solicitors handling granny's will, maybe your pension and, if you're lucky enough to have some dosh, your investments. They deal in money, in other words, and where there's cash there's corruption. We're spoiled for choice for examples with sticky-fingered lawyers coming up almost weekly. But here's a couple that might illustrate a few points.

Two years ago, a lawyer was found guilty of embezzling £206,000 from clients' accounts. In spite of repaying £100,000 through the Law Society, he was still sentenced to four years in jail. Quite right too, some folk might say, but his case is unusual. Not unusual in that he stole from people who trusted him, but unusual in that he was jailed. A more common example of that is a lawyer who had been administering the estate of a wealthy dairy farmer and billed the family for £28,808. The farmer's son reckoned his dad hadn't been that wealthy and complained about the bill.

When the Law Society became involved, the lawyer acknowledged the error of overcharging by almost £20,000 and blamed a faulty computer. Aye right. He repaid the full amount of the bill. Fair dos. But he wasn't struck off. Fined £3000 and suspended from practice for two years in 2003, he could well be acting as a lawyer again somewhere near you. Few lawyers get struck off regardless what they do. It's one of the constant complaints that make many of the public see the Law Society as a toothless tiger. Yet Edinburgh cops believe that whoever had Leslie Cumming knifed didn't think so. His job is to investigate the financial doings of law firms and to punish the bad boys.

But it isn't just over-billing and ripping off clients' dosh that some of our lawyers can get up to. Fifteen years ago a group of Scots solicitors were investigated for funding the IRA. Two years ago, Scottish cops warned all lawyers that they were going to chase up those handling cash for mobsters. Investing the profits of drug trafficking into legitimate enterprises is money laundering on a huge scale and very profitable. At first the Scottish legal profession protested its innocence. Yet within two months the Law Society announced that reports of cash-rich but jobless clients from lawyers to the cops had doubled. The man who made that announcement? Les Cumming, currently recovering from his knife wounds in an Edinburgh hospital. Lawyers are human, thank God, but humans sometimes go off the rails. They're a bit like doctors and dentists - get a good one and hang on to them. Just be sure your lawyer is honest too. Even a child would understand that. Wouldn't they?

http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/tm_objectid=16633068&method=full&siteid=66633&headline=where-there-s-cash-there-s-corruption----name_page.html


Hitman may have targeted top legal official, say police 28 January 2006


DETECTIVES believe a hitman may have carried out a "cold and calculating" knife attack on a senior law official who was stabbed more than a dozen times outside his home. Police last night said the assault on Leslie Cumming appeared to have been carefully planned rather than frenzied, revealing that his assailant "walked calmly" away from the 62-year-old after knifing him in the back, face and chest.

They said aspects of the assault, in Edinburgh's affluent Murrayfield district, suggested the attacker may have been a hired hitman. Senior officials at the Law Society of Scotland are now convinced the attack was connected to Mr Cumming's work as the body's chief accountant. He was attacked as he returned from work around 5:10pm on Monday. His assailant, who was wearing a balaclava and dark clothes, is thought to have been waiting behind a tree for Mr Cumming to arrive, before plunging a knife into his back as he locked his garage door. The victim had driven home in his Jaguar car and was about to make the short walk from the garage, which is at the end of a secluded lane, to his back door when the knifeman struck.

Mr Cumming struggled with his attacker and managed to stagger to his door where his shocked wife, Mary, found him slumped against the wall, covered in blood. Mr Cumming, who on Thursday was able to leave Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, where he was being treated, told police his assailant calmly walked down the lane after the attack. Around 8am that day, two schoolgirls saw a man fitting the attacker's description acting suspiciously in the lane. Search teams have scoured the area for clues, but the weapon has not been found. Detective Inspector Keith Hardie, who is leading the hunt for the knifeman, said: "Mr Cumming has told us the attacker walked calmly down the lane after the assault. Nothing was said. It was a cold and calculated attack and afterwards he just walked down the lane.

"It was serious and vicious but also cold and calculating." He added: "His evidence has raised the possibility that the attacker was a hitman. That is something we are strongly considering." DI Harris also revealed that two witnesses have come forward to say they saw a man run down a street adjoining the lane around the time of the assault.

He said: "We have identified a couple of other potential witnesses to a male who was seen running down Ormidale Terrace around the time of the attack. "That is significant. Hopefully it is the same person who carried out the attack." Detectives have already interviewed Mr Cumming in hospital and plan to question him further over the next few days. They will be asking him to identify people who may have had a grudge against him as a result of his work. Police are drawing up a list of lawyers and clients whom Mr Cumming has come into contact with in his role as secretary of the Law Society's Guarantee Fund. The fund investigates allegations of theft by lawyers from clients and provides advice in money laundering cases.

The society's inspection team carries out bi-annual checks of the accounts of Scotland's 1,275 law firms to look for discrepancies, but aggrieved clients have accused the body of failing to expose irregularities. A legal source said: "We are sure the attack is connected with his work. Everyone in the Law Society is devastated but we cannot see any explanation." Senior figures in the Law Society and the Faculty of Advocates feel some of the websites set up by clients aggrieved by the legal service are tantamount to calls for violence.

Last year the Scottish Court Service (SCS) moved to shut a website dedicated to exposing corrupt Scottish lawyers. Cathy Jamieson, justice minister, said the site, operated by lobby group Scotland Against Crooked Lawyers (SACL), was "potentially defamatory", and that SCS officials had contacted the website's internet service provider. SACL, which claims to have hundreds of members, has run a vocal campaign demanding the Law Society be banned from investigating complaints against solicitors. Yesterday, the police inquiry team quashed reports that a housebreaker was operating in the Murrayfield area, adding there was "no evidence" to support the claim.

Officers will on Monday increase their presence in Murrayfield, putting up posters and handing out leaflets in the hope that residents who they have not yet spoken to come forward with information. Mrs Cumming yesterday refused to comment other than to say the family was recovering from the shock of the attack. She added: "Well, to say it's a shock is an understatement. I'm very shaken."

http://thescotsman.scotsman.com/scotland.cfm?id=139422006


The Forster Scandal and stabbed law chief 26 January 2006


Stabbed Law Society of Scotland chief Leslie Cumming, 53, the chief accountant with the Law Society of Scotland would have been head of investigations looking into Crooked lawyer Kennedy Forster who embezzled £660,000 from clients

The Forster Scandal! THIS week The Galloway Gazette reveals how the Law Society of Scotland ignored complaints about disgraced former solicitor Kennedy Forster for NINE YEARS and only acted after our exclusive coverage of clients misgivings.

As reported in last week's Gazette, Forster was finally jailed for six and a half years for embezzling over £660,000 from client accounts even though The Law Society had told the Gazette as late as April 2000 that there were no aspects of the Forster case which required their intervention. But just two weeks later, after further revelations by The Gazette, The Law Society finally handed over the Forster case to the Crown Office for possible criminal proceedings.

One former client told the Gazette this week that he felt betrayed by The Law Society and felt that no action would have been taken had The Galloway Gazette not brought extensive publicity to the case. The Scottish Legal Services Ombudsman has also expressed unhappiness about the way in which The Law Society deals with complaints against solicitors following the Forster case. Yet despite this, the Law Society last week sought to put a positive spin on its eventual handling of the Forster case after the former solicitor was finally jailed in the High Court.

Its President, Joe Platt insisted that the Society always worked in the best interests of the public. He said:"This is an example of the Law Society doing it's job well and taking every effort to ensure that the public are protected from any rogue solicitor." But Gazette Editor Peter Jeal said: "Far from demonstrating that The Law Society has ‘done it's job well' the Forster case has only served to highlight the need for an independent complaints authority to be set up. "What is clear from this sorry tale is that The Law Society cannot possibly serve the interests of its members, solicitors, and the interests of the public at the same time.

"On their own admission, they only started to take this case seriously in April 2000 after The Gazette highlighted client concerns which date as far back as 1991. "We will be calling on the Justice Minister, Cathy Jamieson, to put in place an independent complaints authority to deal with complaints against solicitors."

Copyright © The Galloway Gazette 2004.

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Gazette campaign gains national momentum

THE Galloway Gazette has written to Scottish Justice Minister Cathy Jamieson to end self regulation for solicitors and set up an independent complaints body in the wake of the Kennedy Foster case.

And, the Gazette has received calls from all over Scotland congratulating this newspaper to taking a stand and “representing ordinary people all over the country” on this issue. Forster was jailed for six and a half years two weeks ago for embezzling more than £660,000 from clients, including charities and churches. Yet, despite complaints stretching back more than nine years, The Law Society failed to act.

Last week, we carried a detailed report on those failings which according to one caller this week, Stewart McKenzie from Perthshire, “has got all of Scotland buzzing.” Border Television also reported on our story on Monday night. Mr McKenzie has been pressing for changes in the way solicitors are regulated after he failed to get his complaints against a solicitor properly dealt with by The Law Society of Scotland.

He also gave evidence to a Scottish Parliament inquiry into the issue but, he says, large parts of his submission to the parliamentary committee were scored out by the Parliament’s own lawyers – members of The Law Society – before being heard. Mr McKenzie added that the inquiry committee was made up mostly of MSP’s with legal backgrounds.

The inquiry, which ended in October last year, decided, incredibly, to let the present system of self regulation continue despite a string of complaints about the Law Society. Sheila Clark, of Largs, Ayrshire also contacted the Gazette this week. “Thank you for taking up this issue. The Galloway Gazette is speaking for the people of Scotland,” she said. “It’s so refreshing to see a newspaper standing up for people.” Ms Clark has also been embroiled in a battle to get her complaint against a solicitor dealt with impartially and also feels let down by The Law Society. In a letter to Justice Minister, Cathy Jamieson this week, Gazette Editor Peter Jeal called for action to ensure that complaints against solicitors are taken out of the hands of The Law Society.

“We, and many others, do not believe that any organisation can represent the interests of their members and the public, when they have complaints against those members,” said Mr Jeal.

“This is the greatest example of a conflict of interests it is possible to see and undermines totally the credibility of the justice system.” He added: “This is a very serious matter which is long overdue for action to resolve it.”

The Galloway Gazette 2004.

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In the Dock

The sorry tale of inaction by The Law Society of Scotland

THE Law Society of Scotland itself stands in the dock this week, accused of a cover up over its handling of complaints against disgraced Stranraer solicitor Kennedy Forster. The Gazette can exclusively reveal that the Society’s Guarantee Fund Department formally reported their suspicions about Forster’s dodgy dealings to the Crown Office on April 20th, 2000, only DAYS after this newspaper broke the story on April 7th. At the time The Gazette was told by the Society: “There are no aspects which require the Society’s intervention at this time.”

Until then, serious complaints made by local businessman David Inglis about misconduct by Forster, senior partner in law firm Ferguson and Forster, had, he said, been “swept under the carpet” by the Society since 1991. The Society tried to draw a line under the Forster affair in August 1999, when, having had their initial whitewash of Forster rejected by the Scottish Legal Services Ombudsman, they handed down the token punishment of ‘unprofessional conduct’ to Forster. No financial penalty was imposed and Forster was allowed to continue practicing. Less than eight months later The Gazette exposed the unfolding scandal and Forster was on his way to prison.

Earlier, in 1993, the Society had found Forster’s junior partner, Carl Crone, guilty of the more serious charge of misconduct in an attempt to counter serious complaints from Mr Inglis, now of Blair Way, Newton Stewart. This was despite Mr. Inglis’ complaints being against Kennedy Forster and the firm itself. Mr. Crone confirmed at the time that he was unhappy at being left “to carry the can.”

The firm had been Mr Inglis’ agents bidding for the former Littlejohn’s ironmongers in Victoria Street, Newton Stewart, when on the day before offers were due to close Mr. Inglis phoned Mr.Crone to say he was coming in to submit a final offer, only to be told “it’s a bad day today.” Hours later, after office hours, he was informed by Carl Crone that he could no longer act for him because the firm’s senior partner, Kennedy Forster, had been negotiating with the owner of the property with a view to buying it all along. Mr. Inglis had immediately phoned Kennedy Forster on December 5th, 1991 to complain about the actings of his firm, and that there had been a conflict of interest and a breach of client confidentiality.

“I don’t believe you and I have met, Mr Inglis,” was Forster’s sole response. Mr Inglis subsequently took the matter to the Law Society, then finding no satisfaction there, to the Scottish Legal Services Ombudsman in 1997, SIX YEARS after his original complaint. The Ombudsman examined how the Law Society had handled the complaint, and on September 23rd 1998 concluded that “I am not satisfied that the reporter or the Complaints Committee examined the conduct complaint in the appropriate terms.” The Ombudsman returned the case to the Complaints Committee “for further consideration”, having no powers to compel the Law Society to alter its procedures. The Law Society then re-examined their original decision to absolve Forster of blame, taking another year to find him guilty, on two counts, of the minor charge of ‘unprofessional conduct’. Forster continued to practice unchecked until he ‘retired’ and was rumbled by the Gazette.

David Inglis feels betrayed and let down by the system, and feels that without the intervention of The Galloway Gazette, nothing would ever have happened. “From the early 1990’s we knew he was crooked, my solicitor knew he was crooked, but nothing was happening. I felt I was powerless, banging my head against a brick wall. We got £250 ‘compensation’ from Carl Crone for ‘expenses’ incurred which was a joke. Our complaint was never against Carl Crone in the first place,” he said. Joe Platt, President of the Law Society, denied that it was more than coincidence that the Society had handed the case over to the Crown Office almost immediately after The Gazette had broken the story, saying it was merely “routine” for a case to be transferred for possible criminal proceedings when there were suspicions of dishonesty. But previous attempts to force a change in procedures have been refused by The Law Society, Ombudsman Linda Costelloe Baker told The Gazette. “If we decide that its conclusions are inappropriate, or if a decision is perverse, then we can ask the Law Society to reconsider, but they can easily say ‘no we won’t’. I can really understand why complainants get fed up,” she said. “ The Law Society will fail in its obligations to the public if they refuse to look at a series of complaints against a solicitor or firm of solicitors, but until now they have adamantly refused to change tack,” she added.

But Mr. Platt disagreed that previous history of complaints is always disregarded, despite the society receiving 12 complaints about Ferguson and Forster between 1995 and 2000. He said: “In misconduct cases if a firm has had a substantial number of complaints, then the committee might take the view it is indicative of a course of conduct.” “The Society has, at all times, worked to protect the interests of the clients of John Kennedy Forster. His conduct was disgraceful and that is why he can no longer practice as a solicitor in Scotland. Any client who can prove that they have suffered loss as a result of his dishonesty will be or already has been reimbursed under the professional indemnity scheme.”

“After our routine faculty visit last week it’s clear local solicitors feel badly let down. They are very down about it. I think they feel they have been tarnished by what he has done. I know lawyers are perceived as sticking together but that’s not the case,” he added. But many legal practitioners remain unconvinced that action was taken in time. “When exactly did Forster go to them with his hands up?” asked one prominent local solicitor. “They should have been put on their guard a lot earlier and should have come down on him like a ton of bricks.” Suggesting even now that Forster was being less than forthcoming about money secreted away he added: “The criminal authorities are still burrowing away to get more money out of him - so at this time the Law Society is particularly anxious not to rock the boat.” Currently the Society represents its own members facing formal complaints from clients, while claiming to serve the best interests of the public. Under pressure from the Scottish Parliament’s Justice 1 Committee, the Society increased the lay representation on its Professional Conduct Committee to 50 percent in September last year. Further changes could be in the pipeline.

John Kennedy Forster is now serving 6-and-a-half years at HM Prison Barlinnie for embezzling £667,000 from dozens of people between 1996 and 2000.

Copyright © The Galloway Gazette 2004.


CIVIL WAR IN SCOTLAND AGAINST THE LAW SOCIETY OF SCOTLAND 26 January 2006


ALL SENIOR FIGURES AT THE LAW SOCIETY OF SCOTLAND HAVE BEEN ISSUED WITH PROTECTIVE VEST'S AND POLICE PROTECTION AFTER ONE OF THEM IS ATTACKED. LESLIE CUMMING ONE OF THE GODFATHERS OF THE CRIME WAVE EMANATING FROM THE LAW SOCIETY OF SCOTLAND GETS ATTACKED.HOW MANY AGGRIEVED CLIENTS WHO'S LIVES HAVE BEEN DESTROYED BY THE CORRUPT OPERATIONS OF THE LAW SOCIETY AND ITS MEMBERSHIP GOT COMPENSATION FOR THE EVIL SYSTEM OPERATED FROM DRUMSHEUGH GARDENS?THESE CAN BE VERIFIED FROM OVER 500 SUBMISSIONS OF EVIDENCE TO A CONSULTATION SHOWING WIDESPREAD CORRUPTION BY THE LAW SOCIETY OF SCOTLANDS CLOSED AND CORRUPT SHOP.

THIS GODFATHER WAS THE ONE CHARGED WITH PROTECTING THE LAW SOCIETIES MASTER POLICY FROM CLAIMS .THE HARDEST INSURANCE POLICY IN THE WORLD TO CLAIM AGAINST.

THE SCOTTISH PRESS AND MEDIA ARE PORTRAYING HIM AS SOME SORT OF GOOD GUY WHO IN FACT HEADS THE CRIME WAVE OF MASSIVE LAND ,BUSINESS AND PROPERTY THEFT THAT THE LAW SOCIETY AND ITS MEMBERS INSTIGATE WITH THE AID OF THE POLICE.CUMMING LIKE THE REST OF THE LAW SOCIETY FAILED FOR OVER TEN YEARS TO INVESTIGATE CROOKED LAWYER KENNEDY FORSTER WHO'S CRIME WAVE DESTROYED MANY LIVES AND ROBBED CANCER CHARITIES AND ELDERLY PENSIONERS OF THEIR LIFES SAVINGS.

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Police target rogue lawyers after bid to murder Law Society official

POLICE investigating the attempted murder of a senior legal official have drawn up a list of aggrieved clients and rogue lawyers amid a growing belief that his work holds the key to the vicious knife attack. Leslie Cumming, 53, the chief accountant with the Law Society of Scotland, was repeatedly stabbed outside his Edinburgh home at around 5pm on Monday.

The assailant, who was wearing a black balaclava, pounced on Mr Cumming as he locked his garage door in a secluded lane in Murrayfield after returning from work. It is thought the attacker had been lying in wait behind a tree before he rushed towards Mr Cumming, plunging a knife into his back, then stabbing and slashing him in the face and chest. Mr Cumming is secretary of the Law Society's Guarantee Fund, which investigates allegations of theft by lawyers from aggrieved clients. His team has the power to check the books of more than 1,000 legal firms in Scotland and then make payments to clients if they discover irregularities.

He also carries out checks on firms to ensure they are not involved in money laundering from drugs, prostitution or protection rackets, and can report lawyers for prosecution. Yesterday The Scotsman revealed that Mr Cumming has regularly received hate mail relating to his job. As Mr Cumming continued his recovery yesterday, Detective Inspector Keith Hardie, who is heading the investigation into the attack, said it was becoming increasingly apparent that he had been singled out by his assailant. He revealed they were looking for a man seen acting suspiciously outside the victim's house on the morning of the attack.

"Two schoolgirls spotted a man acting suspiciously in the lane at about 8.10am - around the time Mr Cumming would have been leaving for work. Their account appears to fit the description we already have of the man. The guy was wearing a hooded top and possibly had something else on his head. "We suspect it was the same man who carried out the attack, but we cannot be 100 per cent sure. It does not appear to have been a random assault." DI Hardie said police were in regular contact with the law society, with whom Mr Cumming has worked for 26 years. "That is one of our significant lines of inquiry. We are looking at the inquiries Mr Cumming has been carrying out, both recently and historically."

He said the list would include lawyers and members of the public. DI Hardie said no weapon had been recovered and the search would be expanded along the attacker's possible escape routes. Detectives yesterday interviewed Mr Cumming for the first time at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, where he was said to be improving. Police, who spent most of the day talking to the victim, said they hoped he would provide them with "a clearer picture of the chain of events during the frenzied assault".

Forensic officers yesterday took fingerprints from Mr Cumming's garage. Swabs were taken of blood spattered on a gate leading to his front door and have been taken away for analysis. Residents in the affluent neighbourhood remained in a state of disbelief as detectives intensified their efforts to track down the knifeman, carrying out door-to-door inquiries and fingertip searches of the area surrounding the scene of the attack. David Wishart, 63, a retired civil servant, said: "We are all very distressed for Mr and Mrs Cumming, and that such a thing could happen in this quiet area."

http://www.scotsman.com/?id=126452006


'Strange' man seen outside home of stabbed legal chief 24 January 2006


DETECTIVES investigating the brutal stabbing of an Edinburgh law chief are hunting a man seen acting suspiciously outside the victim's house on the morning of the attack. Neighbours have reported seeing the man outside the Murrayfield Drive home hours before 62-year-old Leslie Cumming was stabbed.

Mr Cumming, chief accountant with the Law Society of Scotland, was stabbed ten times in the frenzied assault as he parked his car in a lane at the rear of his home just after 5pm on Monday. Detectives are investigating whether the attack was linked to Mr Cumming's work, which involved investigating any allegations of theft from clients against lawyers. Reports of a violent housebreaker operating in the area are also being probed. The inquiry team hope to speak to Mr Cumming in full for the first time today as he recovers in Edinburgh Royal Infirmary.

A police spokesman said reports of a mean acting strangely around Mr Cumming's home on Monday morning were key to the inquiry. He said: "Following door-to-door inquiries in Murrayfield Drive throughout yesterday, we have had reports from a couple of witnesses of a man seen acting suspiciously near the house where the stabbing happened. "This will now be one of our lines of inquiry - to establish who he was and what he was doing." Detective Inspector Keith Hardie, who is leading the investigation from Gayfield Square police station, said the victim's job with the legal watchdog had also opened up lines of inquiry as they search for a motive. He added officers were to probe the criminals and crooked lawyers with whom he crossed paths.

As part of his duties, Mr Cumming also oversees investigations into solicitors who turn a blind eye to the laundering money from drugs, prostitution and protection rackets by villains. The society, which represents 8000 lawyers across Scotland, boasts an inspection team which visits legal firms to look for signs of dodgy dealings. Det Insp Hardie said his team were aware of Mr Cumming's central role in the inspection process and the "kind of characters" he may have become known to.

He added: "Obviously the fact that Mr Cumming works for the Law Society is an important line of inquiry for us. "It's possible that we'll investigate those people he has had to deal with in the past." A Law Society spokeswoman today said: "We would be happy to cooperate with the police if they feel there is any link between the incident and Mr Cumming's job, but I would stress there is no evidence of that at the moment. We are trying to support him as an employee and our sympathies are with him and his family." She added: "Thankfully his injuries are not serious and he is already making a good recovery."

Mr Cumming has previously spoken of the society's "pro-active" approach in uncovering crooked lawyers. His attacker plunged a knife into his back after approaching him in a lane next to his house. Mr Cumming was stabbed several times in the face and body as he fought desperately for his life. The attacker fled towards Ormidale Terrace and the Roseburn area. He is described as being in his 20s, stocky, and wearing dark clothing and a dark balaclava. Mr Cumming was able to stagger to his back door where his shocked wife, Mary, found him.

http://www.scotsman.com/?id=123142006


Law Society chief accountant received hate mail before he was stabbed 24 January 2006


Stabbing victim received hate mail

A SENIOR legal official who was stabbed outside his home in the west of Edinburgh regularly received hate mail, The Scotsman can reveal. Leslie Cumming, the chief accountant with the Law Society of Scotland, was attacked just after 5pm on Monday. The 62-year-old was locking his car in a secluded garage lane behind his home in Murrayfield Drive when he was attacked from behind. The assailant was wearing a black balaclava and plunged a knife into his back, police said. In the ensuing struggle Mr Cumming was stabbed in the face and body several times. Detective Inspector Keith Hardie, who is leading the investigation, said: "Thankfully, Mr Cumming managed to fight off his attacker and make his way to the back door of his property to alert his wife.

"Nothing was stolen so there is the suggestion that this was not just a random mugging." Det Insp Hardie added: "We are looking at two possible motives in our investigation: either Mr Cumming disturbed and allayed a minor crime, or this was a deliberate and premeditated attack." Mr Cumming's has a high profile job that involves investigating solicitors for financial irregularities. He can report solicitors for prosecution and handles a fund that compensates the clients of solicitors for losses caused by irregular dealings.

He also helped rewrite Law Society of Scotland rules to ensure lawyers who helped their clients launder money would be harshly dealt with. A senior legal source said: "Receiving threats through the post, and by telephone, is unfortunately a regular feature of Leslie Cumming's job." A spokesman for the Law Society explained: "Mr Cumming oversees the inspection of the books for every law firm in Scotland in his capacity as chief accountant; to make sure there are no breaches of the account rules such as a misappropriation of funds or the theft of client money." Mr Cumming was taken to Edinburgh Royal Infirmary where he was in a serious but stable condition last night. A Law Society spokesman said he is expected to make a full recovery in time.

Detectives are appealing for information from anyone who may have seen the attacker loitering around Murrayfield Drive and Ormidale Terrace late on Monday afternoon. So far, door-to-door enquiries have been carried out in the leafy suburb, as a forensic team combed the area. Drains were being cleared yesterday in the search for a weapon that may hold vital clues for police. Alan Francey, 51, a neighbour, said: "I am shocked this kind of thing could happen round here. I would never have expected it in this area, no-one deserves this." The attacker made off towards Ormidale Terrace and the Roseburn area, police said.

Dr Iain Middlemass, 72, who lives in Ormidale Terrace, in the house adjacent to the lane where the attack took place, said: "The police have searched our garden, taken flash photos all over the lane and questioned us last night. I am very shocked by all this. That lane is totally unlit and pitch dark by evening. It was an incident waiting to happen as far as I'm concerned. "We see people hanging around the lane and sometimes see eyes peering through our fence, but they're usually just young people. I still wouldn't go down it in the dark if I was the last thing on God's earth." The attacker is described as being in his 20s, of stocky build, and wearing dark clothing and a dark balaclava. A Law Society statement said: "The best wishes of colleagues and friends are with Leslie Cumming and his family."

http://thescotsman.scotsman.com/index.cfm?id=121072006

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Law society official injured in frenzied knife attack

ONE of Scotland's top legal figures was the victim of a frenzied knife attack by a hooded assailant outside his home. Leslie Cumming, 62, chief accountant with the Law Society of Scotland, was stabbed several times on the body, head and face outside his home in the Murrayfield area of Edinburgh just after 5pm on Monday. Detectives do not know the motive for what appeared to be a targeted attack, but Mr Cumming's job involves contact with members of the public who have applied for compensation against lawyers judged to have mismanaged clients' cases.

The attack happened after Mr Cumming had parked his car in a secluded private garage. As he tried to lock the garage door, the attacker pounced, stabbing him several times in the back. When Mr Cumming turned to face his assailant, he stabbed him in the face, head and chest. Police believe he could have been killed had he not fought back so strongly. The attacker fled when Mr Cumming attempted to pull off his balaclava. A law society source said: "He heads up the department that deals with the Scottish solicitors guarantee fund, which every solicitor pays into as part of their subs every year. "If a client of a lawyer lost out financially, they can make a claim on this fund . . . and if they can prove they've lost out, the fund will pay out."

A leading lawyer said last night: "Leslie is a pretty ordinary, decent accountant type. I can't imagine him making any enemies as such. On the face of it, there would be far more obvious targets than him, but the circumstances do make it seem very personal. "Letters will go out telling people they weren't being compensated with his name at the bottom, and I suspect that will be an angle that the police are looking at." Detective Inspector Keith Hardie, of Lothian and Borders police, said: "At this stage, we have no idea what the motive for this attack may have been. We have to consider the possibility that it was a premeditated attack, where the attacker could have been lying in wait for Mr Cumming to arrive home.

"But we must also address a wide range of other possibilities, including the fact that Mr Cumming may have been in the wrong place at the wrong time and simply disturbed his attacker who had perhaps been in the garage area to carry out another less serious crime. Whatever the motive, this was a potentially fatal attack. "Mr Cumming did not see his attacker approach him, and he certainly did nothing to provoke the attack. We believe that if he hadn't put up such a brave fight, then his injuries could be even more serious." Mr Hardie added: "We have received information that a man matching our suspect's description was seen and heard in the area at 8am on Monday morning. We are attempting to get a more detailed description of this man. The victim did attempt to pull off his attacker's balaclava and it was at this point that he ran off." Yesterday, colleagues of Mr Cumming, who is married with grown-up children, described him as a quiet man who had worked for the society for the past 26 years. A spokeswoman said: "Thankfully his injuries are not serious and he is already making a good recovery."

http://www.theherald.co.uk/news/54883.html


Law Society boss stabbed 24 January 2006


Police investigate attack on Edinburgh businessman

Detectives in Edinburgh are investigating a frenzied stabbing attack on a prominent city businessman. Leslie Cumming, the Chief Accountant with the Law Society of Scotland, was slashed several times during the assault in Murrayfield Drive yesterday evening. The 62 year old is now in a stable condition in hospital. Police say its too early to say what the motive was, but are appealing for witnesses. Inspector Keith Hardie from Lothian and Borders Police said: "At around 5 o'clock last night a man was parking his car in his garage in the Murrayfield area when he was approached from behind by a man who stabbed him in the back. This led to quite a frenzied attack on the indivisual and resulted in a number of serious stab wounds."

http://scotlandtoday.scottishtv.co.uk/content/defaulttext.asp?page=s1_1_1&newsid=10267


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