“Lawyers as a group are no more dedicated to justice or public service than a private public utility is dedicated to giving light….”
With changes in legal aid apparently it’s been difficult times for lawyers (it is reported that sales of the pin stripe suits have plummeted and the wine bar industry is reeling from declining sales of vintage champagne).
However we at Leaky Towers are reassured to know it’s quids in for local legal firms acting not so much as legal eagles as legal vultures who are enjoying rich pickings at the bones at the increasingly dishevelled cadaver that is Wirral Council
We are indebted ( no pun intended) to dedicated numbercrunching whistleblower Nigel “Highbrow” Hobro who revealed that the attendant legal costs associated with the AKA Independent Review was an eye-watering £91,000 – but then Ms.Klonowski was given full rein to draw upon the legal expertise of DLA Piper – reputedly the biggest law firm in the world (although from what we can remember of their contribution to the Independent Review we can only hope that their solicitors did rather more than provide a convoluted and wholly unconvincing explanation of the unlawful charging fiasco).
It was subsequent to the publication of the Independent Review in 2012 that Wirral Council’s Legal Department,Internal Audit and Social Services were all rewarded for their failures with more staff and resources. For the Legal Department this meant the appointment of 2 external lawyers on lucrative consultancy rates and according to a Freedom of Information request a further £100,000 for external legal advice in 2012 alone. We predict that the 2013 figure for outsourced legal work could be even more startling.
We deduce from the figures in this request that the £10,000 paid to Wragge & Co is for Bill Norman’s legal advice when he had his little difference of (legal) opinion with the Council. It always strikes us as deeply ironic at Leaky Towers that Wirral Council ends up paying their own Director’s legal fees so he can stuff them for nearly £150,000!
However one of the main beneficiaries of Wirral Council’s legal largesse in recent years has been the law firm Weightmans. No wonder they’ve been able to expand into shiny new offices in Liverpool!
Fortunately they can draw upon the legal expertise of former Wirral Council alumni Morris Hill and Simon Goacher. The lowpoint ( and boy do we mean low) of Weightmans most recent work for Wirral Council has included giving a legal opinion on the Council’s illegal 4 week delay of care packages (and no we are NEVER,EVER going to let that one lie).
Whilst it may not be Weightman’s fault that they weren’t given the most significant document relating to this scandal : the minutes of a meeting which prove conclusively that there was a) an illegal 4 week delay and b) it was implemented to save social services money –
the best we can say about this “legal opinion” is that it seems to us to display a distinct lack of rigour.
But then as the saying goes “you gets what you pay for”. Nudge,nudge,wink,wink.
However judging by his biography on the Weightmans website it would appear a lucrative aspect of their work has been Morris Hill’s involvement in cases representing Wirral Council in disputes involving an organisation who we suspect may be one of those companies which are unfortunately anonymised within the Independent Review report (once again so much for public interest!)
Meanwhile Simon Goacher ‘s biography includes mention of the fact that he was voted “Local Government Young Solicitor of the Year 2006” .Which really must be a candidate for the worst chat up line EVER. What his glittering biography fails to mention is that he was Head of Wirral Council’s Legal Department when Martin Morton was bullied out of his job and we can therefore only conclude he was ultimately responsible for authorising an unlawful gag on someone who we were to later find out wanted to expose all kinds of appalling malpractice within the Council.
We understand he was also connected with the Colas Highways tender fiasco which we suspect isn’t going away any time soon.
What we are becoming increasingly aware of ( and deeply concerned about) is the involvement of external law firms in such matters as redundancy appeals and so-called “independent” investigations.
Surely there is a danger of the diminishing of scrutiny and accountability if such work is increasingly outsourced and subject to dubious legal exemptions when it comes to Freedom of Information requests ?
As one of our sources commenting on the involvement of another law firm getting a lot of recent business from Wirral Council said:
” Ever(sheds) felt you’ve been had? …..”