Crofting VATgate

Hector the Inspector - HMRC Taxman - Crofting VATgate

Who is the VAT Inspector?

In his letter to shareholders at Upper Coll the grazings ‘constable’, Colin Souter (who was illegally appointed in my view, and in the view of others including, ironically, the Crofting Commission themselves) stated:-

Following receipt of legal opinion from Queen’s Counsel, the position of Grazings Committees being able to register for VAT as trading entities in order to reclaim VAT has come under scrutiny. The dialogue with HMRC regarding VAT status remains ongoing and once concluded, I will be able to advise on the outcome.

Why and how on earth was Colin Souter in receipt of legal opinion from Queen’s Counsel on the question of whether common grazings committees could be VAT registered?

A suggestion on this blog that Colin Souter may have instructed the Opinion was met with this response from Mr Souter:-

I should also point out that I have never sought legal advice from Queen’s Counsel in any context, since being appointed as Grazings Constable.

I then asked:-

Perhaps you can enlighten us as to how you came to be in “receipt of legal opinion from Queen’s Counsel” as stated in your letter to the Upper Coll shareholders?

Mr Souter has yet to answer my question.

So who instructed this legal opinion, who paid for it and why?

How did Colin Souter come to be in possession of it and why?

In his dialogue with HMRC is Colin Souter trying to stop VAT registration at Upper Coll Common Grazings and if so why?

It can only be assumed that the attempt to stop VAT registration of common grazings probably lies at the door of the Crofting Commission. Would this not be how a grazings ‘constable’ appointed by them would be in possession of such information?

We are already aware that the Convener of the Crofting Commission, Colin Kennedy, was of the view that common grazings should not receive SRDP funding. This very alarming notion (an issue that did not concern the crofting regulator and/or its convener in any way) was firmly quashed by Fergus Ewing MSP.

It is therefore not a giant leap to think that the Crofting Commission and/or their Convener might be behind this attempt to stop common grazings being VAT registered.

If that should prove to be the case it is scandalous.

Questions regarding whether crofters should be VAT registered or not have absolutely nothing to do with the Crofting Commission. It is a matter between crofters and HMRC.

Public money should not have been spent on the opinion of Queen’s Counsel on such matters. If that has happened Audit Scotland should be investigating the issue. Another one for them to add to the growing list for their next visit to Great Glen House.

But more significantly why is the Crofting Commission and/or their Convener intent on depriving crofters of income? First it was SRDP funding. Now it appears to be VAT.

Under and in terms of the Crofters (Scotland) Act 1993 the Crofting Commission has as one of its functions:-

promoting the interests of crofting

On their website the Crofting Commission state that it:-

regulates and promotes the interests of crofting in Scotland to secure the future of crofting.

This statement links through to a general leaflet on crofting that states:-

The Crofting Commission is working to secure the future of crofting by creating and promoting a well regulated crofting system that positively contributes to the sustainability of rural communities.

By seeking to deprive crofters of SRDP funding and now, possibly, VAT the Crofting Commission cannot be said to be promoting the interests of crofting, securing the future of crofting or positively contributing to the sustainability of rural communities. Quite the contrary.

If Commissioners are acting in such a way, completely contrary to the functions that the Crofting Commission was established to carry out, then those commissioners responsible have no place in that organisation. They should be ashamed of themselves.

They are clearly “unable or unfit to exercise the functions of a member” or “unsuitable to continue as a member”. As such the Scottish Ministers may remove them from office under and in terms of the Crofters (Scotland) Act 1993. There have been repeated calls over recent months for such action to be taken but if ‘Crofting VATgate’ does fall at the door of the Convener and/or any other Commissioners then this surely is the final straw that broke the camel’s back.

Fergus Ewing MSP, as Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy and Connectivity with responsibility for Crofting, should immediately launch an investigation to get to the root of ‘Crofting VATgate’, publicise his findings for the benefit of crofters and take appropriate and decisive action against those responsible.

Brian Inkster

Image Credit: Hector the Tax Inspector © HMRC

25 thoughts on “Crofting VATgate

  1. Duncan MacLeod

    When will the Crofting Commission appoint a Special Constable to investigate and put right their own very real misdemeanours?

    As the Crofting Commission have been interfering in matters that are entirely outwith their remit Audit Scotland must immediately investigate. If Commissioners had any sense or wanted to demonstrate they understood good goverrnance they would report themselves for investigation to both the Scottish Government and Audit Scotland. They have wasted significant amounts of public money on matters not only completely outwith their remit but aimed at achieving a result that is totally opposed to what their remit is supposed to be: promoting the interests of crofting. Therefore in my opinion individual Crofting Commission board members will be personally liable for reimbursing the public purse for the money wasted on this appalling adventure.

    When will Commissioners pull the scales from their eyes and see again (Acts 9.18)? When will they recognise the Convener they voluntarily chose was a choice devoid of good judgement as he has led them into total disaster. He seems hell bent on destroying crofting. Destroying communal working. When will they come to their senses and look around them and see he has led them up the proverbial creek not only without a paddle but even sans the canoe.

    Reply
  2. Linda Brackenbury

    Patience? yes, well worth the wait,

    That entity! in his very own words when addressing others that they have blind eyes and deaf ears, those with responsibility within the commission who chose/choose to ignore certain requests/from the entity himself!

    I myself believe that what has been written here on this blog to be closer to the truth than quite possibly will ever be known.

    It truly smacks of the crofting commission’s very own convener.. right down to the wording (and the unexplained silences used by Colin Souter!

    In addition, with regard to VATgate… what it comes down to is jealously.. why should they have what he has not got.. (describes himself as a poor crofter) or if they want it..he says no, ah yes, I do believe the reluctant landlord as was, has now gone full circle and the word Karma..springs to mind!

    He is treating the crofters with very same contempt he subjected his tenant to, with endless accusations of wrongdoing, and threats of courts or even worse, he is depriving them the right to make a decent living, he is depriving them the right to apply for funding should they need to.. he is grinding and wearing them down.. he is in their eyes the big “man to fear”.. and they in their innocence are doing exactly what he wants them to do.. fight back!

    The public purse ain’t seen nothing yet.. he can tie all concerned up in knots for years to come and all the while the innocent parties pray for better days.. and the public foot the bill!

    At least the crofters are in a better position than his own tenant was.. he cannot suddenly without good reason irritate your leases and give you seven days in which to remove!

    Though in saying that.. I wonder if that scenario might be next on his agenda.. finding reasons to evict!
    That would not surprise me in the least.

    You might be interested in as much as we demanded all those same inquiries, with audit Scotland and many others.. including the then Scottish Executive.. all to know avail.. no one would take on the responsibility of investigation.

    Also I would just like to add, that I am not a bitter woman.. though I do have good reason to be just that. I was not party to his dispute with my husband but nevertheless, he saw me as his victim and I myself lived in terror of him for many years, not an easy thing for me to admit.

    My ordeal might be over, but for the Crofters on the outer isles, theirs are just beginning and for this reason I would implore that the Scottish Government step in and use their powers, such as they have.

    Someone ought to remind the convener that he is not the landlord.. but merely a member of an agency, employed by the Scottish Ministers to look after their interests and their tenants.. and that the Crofters wherever, they may be are not his to “play” with.. that these are real people, with real lives, who work live and work in some Scotland’s remotest places. They care for their land, their home-lives and business’s are of their own concern and its not for him to meddle with.. nor instruct upon.

    The convener in this instance ought to take a good look at himself in the mirror.. and think about what his position is within the commission, and why he wanted to be a commissioner..?

    I am sure that there cannot be many conveners in similiar jobs who have carried out such as he has,
    I refer of course to land speculation, holiday houses on vacant (I say vacant because a landlord cannot be a tenant at the very same time, given that an agricultural lease runs with the land and not with a particular tenant) agricultural land, vacant croft houses, and the biggie.. diversification on croft land.. in this case wind turbines,
    houses without the necessary planning permission/s or even building warrants..

    Yes, I do believe the convener is far from being a poor crofter, or the only crofter on the Island of Coll.. he is also far from innocent from all those things he became a commissioner to help regulate!

    History perhaps, but nevertheless, relevant today.

    Reply
  3. Lewis Kermack

    This posting is completely misleading.

    As well as promoting crofting, the Commission have a general function under section 1 (2) of the 1993 Act of “keeping under review matters relating to crofting ” and have a duty under section 2 (1) to do so, as well as advising the Scottish Ministers on any matter relating to crofts which they think fit to submit. It would therefore seem entirely competent for the Commission to keep under review the interaction between grazings committees and VAT as it relates to crofting.

    Under para 2 of schedule 1, the commission ‘may do anything which they consider is necessary or expedient for the purpose of exercising or in connection with their functions ‘ . That would appear to make it competent for the Commission to instruct an opinion on the question.

    It is disingenuous to suggest that there has been any wrongdoing on the part of the Commission arising from the version of events you present, but you could at least avoid presenting an incomplete and often incorrect legal analysis.

    As regards VAT, what do committees produce that entitles them to register? Nothing if they’re following the Act.

    You keep repeating the mantra that the constable is somehow illegal. I disagree with you on that, but that is immaterial. The question of the legality of his appointment is presently before two courts and we will soon have an answer that carries more authority than your or my opinion. Your repeating your opinion mantra like as if it were a statement of fact is becoming boring.

    Reply
    1. Brian Inkster Post author

      Lewis

      Nothing misleading would ever intentionally be posted on the Crofting Law Blog. On the contrary we ensure information and clarity on crofting law that is not available for crofters elsewhere and is especially not forthcoming from the Crofting Commission.

      It is a far stretch of the imagination to suggest that “keeping under review matters relating to crofting” could possibly extend to interfering with well established and accepted VAT arrangements between crofters and HMRC.

      Such interference is clearly at odds with the duty to promote the interests of crofting.

      One must ask what is the agenda here?

      Why would the crofting regulator spend so much time, effort and resources on:-

      (a) Insisting on the immediate payments of funds by grazings committees to shareholders and in effect stating that grazings committees could not hold any funds.

      (b) Seeking to prevent SRDP funding being paid to shareholders in common grazings; and

      (c) Now it seems seeking to prevent shareholders receiving VAT receipts.

      The Scottish Government have, quite rightly, scorched them on (a) and (b). I trust the same will now happen with (c).

      You omit to mention Section 1(2A) of the 1993 Act. This provision obliges the Commission in exercising their functions to have regard to “the desirability of supporting population retention in the crofting counties”.

      Clearly a focussed attempt, such as we have seen by them, to deprive areas of the crofting counties of finance could have a detrimental affect on population retention. So they are not exercising their functions as they should.

      This is a Commission that is out of control. One that seems to have lost any reason. No one can understand why the Commissioners within the Crofting Commission who were elected by crofters are turning against the very crofters who elected them. They are not regulating crofting. By all accounts they appear to be on a mission to destroy it.

      I am unsure why you are in the very small minority that support this destructive course of action but that is your choice to make.

      There is, in my view and the view of many others (including the Scottish Government), wrongdoing on the part of the Commission. This latest episode is simply part and parcel of the same pattern of behaviour that we have unfortunately come to expect from them.

      I will continue to repeat the mantra that the constable is illegal to counter any impression that this might not be so. I believe that to be clear as do others including the officials within the Crofting Commission who prepared a paper on the subject for consideration by the board!

      I note that you disagree but I have yet to see from anyone a reasoned legal argument with reference to statute and case law that could possibly justify the appointment of a grazings constable under Section 47(3) of the 1993 Act when a committee is removed from office under Section 47(8). The best that the Crofting Commission have been able to come up with so far is that when they make a decision (be it right or wrong in law) they cannot reverse that decision. That to me is as good an admission as any that they know they got it wrong but don’t think they have the ability to reverse that wrongdoing.

      If you are bored by my mantra there is a simple solution: Don’t read the Crofting Law Blog!

      Reply
  4. Roy Pentland

    Whatever next one has to wonder?

    COLINGATE THE MOVIE?

    A STIRRING SAGA of
    fantasy, intrigue, power, money, greed and who done it

    starring the master Puppeteer himself, the Convener,
    co-starring his side-kick, The Puppet dangling on a string, aka, The Constable

    Extras on the sideline, doing not very much, keeping silent and getting paid for the privilege: The Crofting Commissioners

    But with all good cop, bad cop stories, there has to be a Super Hero, and here he is:
    Superman to the Rescue? Fergus Ewing (slow at the start, but once he gets going, KERPOW !)

    And then the happy ending…..
    fighting back and winning: HERE THEY COME – The Crofters !

    The audience stands and applauds

    Let Battle Commence, Round one, Ding Ding

    Reply
  5. Linda Brackenbury

    My Dear Mr.Inkster did you not know that Lewis & Colin are just the bestest buddies in the whole wide world?
    O the tales they can tell..

    I do believe that now we know, why exactly, the convener has been silent in all of this,
    I do hope that the convener is not planning in paying for Lewis’s service/s out of the Crofting Commission’s funds?

    Reply
  6. Lewis Kermack

    Brian

    The point I was making was that it was quite within the law and their statutory duties for the Commission to obtain an opinion on the ability of committees to register for VAT, and you have not disagreed with me. I am unaware of the Commission taking any action against any township regarding VAT registration and presume that would be a matter for HMRC. I am unclear what VAT has to do with population retention.

    In my view it was clearly wrong of the Upper Coll Common Grazings Committee to impose a ban on two active crofters who wished to keep cattle, where the regulations included cattle as part of the souring and the overwhelming majority of shareholders made no use of the grazings for stock. It was even more wrong of them to continue to try to ban cattle when the Commission had given them ample opportunity to put their house in order. I am sure the former committee members now wish that they had been more tolerant of cattle and mindful of their duties as they would probably now still be in office and the shocking revelations which have recently come to light would have been unlikely to have been discovered.

    I cannot see that the argument for illegality of the constable is strong. Section 47(8) of the 1993 Act, which was invoked by the Commission, expressly empowers the Commission to remove from office committee members and clerks who they consider are not properly carrying out the duties imposed on them and “may appoint or provide for the appointment of persons (whether crofters or not ) to act in his or their place”. It seems to me that it matters not what the appointed person is called and grazings constable is not wholly inappropriate where the township regulations make specific reference to such a person as a grazings constable. However, I suspect that we will not have to wait long before one or other of the courts to which the question has been put will provide some sort of answer.

    If only you restricted your views to the Crofting Law Blog!

    Reply
    1. Brian Inkster Post author

      Lewis

      I do not believe that the Crofting Commission were acting within the law and their statutory duties in obtaining an opinion on the ability of committees to register for VAT. I do, for the avoidance of any doubt, disagree with you.

      Removing finance from rural areas has everything to do with population retention.

      Your view on crofters and cattle is noted but whatever the position on that, it not being something I have considered, it has nothing whatsoever to do with why the Crofting Commission removed the committee from office at Upper Coll. The Crofting Commission did so purely because the committee in question produced 5 years of financial statements prepared by an accountant rather than the 5 years of “audited” accounts demanded unreasonably and unfairly by the Crofting Commission.

      You refer to “shocking revelations which have recently come to light”. Sensationalised nonsense which demonstrates that the illegally appointed constable (sorry you have to hear that necessary mantra again) knows nothing about crofting law and even less about the role of a grazings clerk and/or the management of a common grazings.

      The real shocking revelation is how much in the control and at the bidding of the Commission, or possibly certain Commissioners, the ‘constable’ is. Watch this space for more on that story as it unfolds.

      The argument for illegality of the constable is very strong. It has been played out in full on this blog. It even transpired that the Chief Executive of the Crofting Commission had obtained the same advice! The Commissioners appear to have ignored that advice. Perhaps they preferred advice offered by you to them on this issue as has been suggested in another comment in this thread?

      You “suspect that we will not have to wait long before one or other of the courts to which the question has been put will provide some sort of answer”. You are very optimistic! Given that the Crofting Commission are currently, as I understand it, fighting tooth and nail to stop the Land Court even hearing the case on competency/jurisdictional grounds an answer may never be forthcoming if the Commission get their way and manage to stop a debate on the very issue in question. This arguably demonstrates how confident the Commission actually are were this point to go to proof.

      I am unsure of the other court proceedings you mention. I was aware that there were interdict proceedings in the Sheriff Court but have no knowledge of the interplay currently involved between those and the Land Court case. I would be surprised if the two cases are running concurrently and that one has not been sisted pending a decision in the other. However, you seem to be in possession of more facts on that than I am.

      My views on crofting law are sought by many interested parties and at the moment on a regular basis by the press. I, unlike the Convener of the Crofting Commission, am happy to give such interviews when requested. Indeed I did so this afternoon to BBC Alba. The Convener was nowhere to be seen. His choice not to give his views on behalf of the Commission. But that is a dereliction of his duties and suggests that the Commission are quite simply unable to rebut the allegations made against them.

      Reply
    2. Iain MacKinnon

      Dear Lewis,

      You have claimed that the Upper Coll grazings committee sought ‘to try to ban cattle’ on their grazings. A member of that grazings has commented on this blog to say you are telling ‘a lie’ and that the township ‘has never been against cattle’. Therefore, I think it is beholden on you to provide some evidence for your allegation against the Upper Coll people. What evidence do you have that the committee tried to ban cattle? According to your ‘linked in’ profile you are a senior associate solicitor specialising in agricultural law at Turcan Connell, although I understand this may no longer be the case. Given your background, I find your decision to comment on the Upper Coll case in such a provocative fashion on this blog very intriguing. Perhaps you could fill us in on some more of the background to that decision.

      Reply
    3. Donald Rennie

      Lewis

      I think that there are certain flaws in your argument that the purported appointment of a grazings constable was legal. We are agreed that the appointment purports to have been made under Section 47(8). But Section 47(7) which deals with the constable’s right to remuneration refers specifically to a constable appointed under subsection 3 and makes no reference to an appointment under subsection 8.

      If your argument is correct the purported constable has no statutory right to remuneration.

      If my argument is correct, the legislation does not contemplate that a constable can be appointed in exercise of the Commission’s powers in Section 47(8).

      In addition, you do not give suficient weight to the fact that the election of a grazings committee and clerk are a matter of democratic decision and that the right of the crofting Commission to frustrate the will of the electorate should therefore be interpreted in a restrictive manner.

      The exact wording of section 47(8) is that when the Commission remove some or all of the committee members or the clerk they may “appoint or provide for the appointment of other persons (whether crofters or not) in their or his place”. The scheme of the section is that if one member of a committee is removed the Commission may appoint a replacement committee member. If that applies to one member then it will apply equally to 2 members and logically, therefore, will apply to an entire committee. In other words, once a committee has been in place any power of the Commission is simply to replace errant members.

      The only power to appoint a constable is set out in subsection 3, and that does not apply to this situation as it is predicated on the crofters having failed to appoint a committee.

      Reply
  7. Linda Brackenbury

    Well said Mr. Inkster!

    I too am intrigued that two courts are running at the same time (though I don’t know why that surprises me, given that my husbands case/s were in effect being heard in two courts at the very same time).. our landlord lost in both cases.

    If one fails, there’s always another crack at the whip, so to speak.

    Isn’t it just a little odd that Mr. Kermack has voiced as it were, his opinion on your decision to have an open blog.

    I wonder therefore, is this an attempt to silence ordinary members of the public who just happen to have an interest in Scottish Crofting or farming etc?

    May I just say that I have been visiting your websites for a good number of years, and certainly before I left my former home, which was of course Caolas on the Isle of Coll.

    Your websites are a godsend to many a person interested in Agricultural & Crofting Law.

    Your own understanding of the law in either of these areas are by far, exemplary than any other such website that I frequently frequent.

    There are a good few lawyers out there who could improve their own websites/ and or blogs on them by taking a leaf from your book.

    Reply
  8. K Maciver

    Mr Kermack’s comments re cattle are a lie.

    The only issue in relation to cattle was the refusal of one shareholder to refuse to accept the repeated attemps by the committee to manage the developed parks in the best interests of the the village, present and future.

    Upper Coll has spent over €200,000 on developing village infrastructure over the last 20 years, most of the for the benefit of stockholders, pens, drains, fences, water bowsers etc.

    Upper Coll was not, and never has been against cattle. That is a lie.

    One man’s attempt to dictate and monopolise the grazings for his own personal purposes as and when he wanted, when he had no room on his own croft, was quite rightly resisted by the committee, with the REPEATED support of the vast majority of shareholders.

    Other shareholders were paying for his farming infrastructure. All that was available in return was a sullen refusal to accept repeated attempts to manage the developed parks.
    And so he went and found a kindred spirit, outwith the village, who came and insulted us, then installed a constable to find fault, not with the existing committee but with many former ones. Our accountants aren’t right, our landlord has been questioned, we have been hammered for helping facilitate locally beneficial projects.

    Our interest has always been the improving the village for the future benefit of all not for the short term selfishness of one or two.

    I am sure our new committee which we elect on Saturday will continue to work for us all and resist the attempts by some to have a personal fiefdom where individual asserted rights take precedence over the stated will of the great majority.

    Upper Coll has never been against cattle. That is a lie.

    Reply
  9. Lewis Kermack

    To Mr Mackinnon, I have listened to the recording of the meeting last November which is available on YouTube and which is well worth listening to. I think it is abundantly clear from that that there was an attempt by the committee to ban cattle. If, as it is suggested, the true motive was to discipline one crofter for alleged wrongdoing, why was the other crofter with cattle told that he had to sell them at the autumn sales.

    I don’t see what is provocative about my comments beyond the fact you don’t agree with them.

    To Donald, I hope you’re enjoying your retirement.

    I don’t see any of the points you raise as problematic for my analysis.

    First of all, the appointment by the Commission of a person whether a crofter or not replaces committee members and/or the clerk and the person or persons act “in their or his place”. If the person is acting in place of the replaced person, he can exercise their powers and rights under the grazing regulations. The regulations provide for remuneration of the clerk so the replacement is entitled to remuneration on the same basis.

    Section 6 of the Interpretation Act 1978 means that 1 could replace many and many could replace 1. The Commission appear to have chosen to remove the whole committee and the clerk and appoint a single non crofter. That seems to me to conform to the subsection within the normal rules of statutory interpretation.

    You overlook that the specific regulations agreed by the township make actual provision for a constable which is a defined term.

    I think there’s no need for section 47(3) to be engaged at all.

    There is no democratic deficit. Before anyone can be replaced, the Commission have to have identified that the people replaced have not carried out the duties imposed on them, and that’s the duties imposed by the regulations and the Act (committees do not have the power to do anything which conflicts with either even if they have the support of a majority of shareholders). Therefore, the removed persons have already defeated democracy either by acting beyond their powers or failing properly to exercise their powers.

    As I have said, a court, whether its the Land Court or Inverness Sheriff Court, will provide an authoritative answer soon enough.

    Reply
    1. Brian Inkster Post author

      Lewis

      The Order by the Crofting Commission appointing Colin Souter clearly states that his appointment is as a “Grazings Constable” and that it was made by them under and in terms of section 47(3) of the 1993 Act.

      Reply
    2. Iain MacKinnon

      Dear Lewis,

      It seems to me highly provocative for you to publicly make an unqualified claim that the township were trying to ‘ban cattle’ on the basis of what you now appear to acknowledge are ‘suggestions’ or unsubstantiated allegations from an apparently unauthorised recording of a non-public meeting.

      Iain

      Reply
    1. Brian Inkster Post author

      I never said you would but it is fairly fundamental to an argument on legality of an order that you look at what it says. All my posts on this topic on this blog have been based on the legality of the four orders issued by the Crofting Commission each of which I hold a copy of.

      Reply
      1. Iain MacKinnon

        On the basis of Mr Kermack’s rather stunning interventions on this thread I am feeling the need for some legal advice. Am I right in thinking that Mr Kermack has been making claims here on the basis of 1. evidence that has been potentially illegally obtained (the recording of the Upper Coll meeting) and 2. no evidence at all (his non-access of Commission Orders)?

        Reply
  10. Linda Brackenbury

    De ja vu.. here we go again.. where only the Acts of yesteryear matters.. back to the days of oppression, abuse, power, opinions of whoever and who tells the best story.. in court and which of those stories the judges prefer.

    For myself, I think the courts is not the place for this one.. at least not until Fergus Ewing SNP has had his day.

    Reply
  11. Lewis Kermack

    Mr MacKinnon – I don’t think anyone is suggesting that the recording is not an actual recording of the actual meeting, whatever the circumstances in which it was made, although I don’t believe anyone attending had a legitimate expectation of confidentiality.

    Brian, if there’s an error in the letter of appointment (and I have no knowledge one way or another) then does that invalidate an otherwise legal appointment where there’s no statutory requirement or necessity for a written instruction, and it is, in any event a personal matter between the Commission and the appointee? I wouldn’t risk my client’s money in a court on that basis.

    Reply
    1. Brian Inkster Post author

      Lewis

      It is a while since I listened to the recording and then only part of it. I will perhaps need to revisit it for the benefit of this blog. Thanks for reminding me of it.

      The legality of the recording is perhaps a side issue. I think Iain MacKinnon’s real point was that your claim re cattle and crofters was based on ” ‘suggestions’ or unsubstantiated allegations” lifted from the recording in question. It was not based on hard substantiated evidence of any kind. Is that not correct?

      From what I recall the recording was more significant in exposing how the Convener dealt with meetings of this kind and the clear intention to wield the power of removing a committee from office.

      I think you are now clutching at straws to suggest an Order clearly made under a particular statutory provision and specifically appointing a “Grazings Constable” could be construed as having been made under another one and appointing a substitute committee instead of a “Grazings Constable”. I think the lawyers involved will have a field day with this if ever it is actually heard in court. As previously suggested my own view is that the Commission will do everything in its power to avoid a hearing ever taking place on the issue.

      It has been suggested that the Commission and/or the Convener did not want a substitute committee installed because they had the misapprehension that a ‘Grazings Constable’ had special powers that they could control. That is why it had to be a ‘Grazings Constable’ that they installed although we all know that ‘Grazings Constable’ does not mean ‘Grazings Chief Inspector’ even if you do appoint a retired Police Chief Inspector to the role.

      As many have said about the whole saga on many occasions: “You couldn’t make it up!”

      Reply
    2. Iain MacKinnon

      From Lewis Kermack’s latest reply I am left to assume that the answer to my previous question is ‘yes’, he has based his claim of an alleged ‘ban on cattle’ on material from a potentially illegally obtained recording and ‘yes’ he has made his claim about the legality of the appointment of the grazings constable without examining the terms of the letter of appointment.

      The more interesting question now is why has this (apparently former) senior associate with Turcan Connell suddenly decided to take such an interest in the grazings issue that he has felt compelled to contribute to the Crofting Law blog on it no less than five times in the last 48 hours?

      We have no clear answer to that, yet. Perhaps the alleged relationship with the increasingly beleaguered figure of the Crofting Commission convener, as alleged in one of the comments above, might help to explain it.

      Reply
  12. Linda Brackenbury

    A personal matter? like a mere personal permission.. becoming less significant I presume in a court of law.
    Taking the focus off the real matter which is of course, most serious, otherwise highly paid high flying lawyers would not be involved.

    Reply
  13. Linda Brackenbury

    Mr. MacKinnon,

    The alleged relationship does indeed exist, as the high flyer is always on hand when the convener bites off more than he can chew.

    He has gotten the convener out of more scrapes than the average child gets on his knees in his entire childhood.

    The high flyer has acted as legal adviser for the convener for many years. He represented the convener in my husband’s case, along with all those other cases that went on in Coll, to do with the Arinagour common grazings.

    The convener has entertained his adviser on the isle of Coll itself. The convener in his wisdom even went as far as to bring the high flying lawyer to Caolas one day.. where the two of them sat in the convener’s pickup, along our boundary fence.. just sat there looking and watching us.. our lawyer was not best pleased with that.

    By way of explanation to the last paragraph of your post.. the answer is simple. I believe but I may be wrong that the convener is annoyed at me, at the commission, at this blog.. at the world but he’s too much of a coward to answer any questions brought by anyone with regard to his involvement on any matter.. so he’s brought in the heavyweight to present a different picture

    Hope that clarifies.

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