TWIN websites dedicated to exposing corrupt Scottish lawyers were shut down after their internet service provider in the US apparently caved in to legal pressure.

Lobby group Scotland Against Crooked Lawyers (Sacl), whose leading light is aristocrat Stuart Usher, and scottishlawyerwatch, run by former Scottish rugby internationalist Mike Lloyd, immediately pledged to return to the web within days via another jurisdiction. They are understood to have switched the sites to China, and the Sacl site ( went live again within 24 hours.

Scotland Against Crooked Lawyers, which claims hundreds of members, has run

a highly vocal campaign demanding that the Law Society be banned from investigating complaints against solicitors.

Usher himself was the subject of a TV documentary focusing on his unproven allegation that Edinburgh law firm Brodies' stewardship of Borders family estates had cost the Ushers millions of pounds. A (pounds) 45m claim brought against Brodies was withdrawn by Usher's legal representatives last year.

Lloyd, who is also webmaster of the Sacl site, was told by American ISP Freewebs that the provider could not con-

tinue to support the sites. They were both taken down 10 days ago.

The letter read: ''As you know, we have protected your site for some time from removal because we deemed it to be within allowable speech under the US Constitution's first amendment. Unfortunately, the parties you have offended have aggressively pursued the take-down of this site, and the British free speech laws are not as forgiving.

''We are no longer able to support your website.''

Both sites have featured ''rogues galleries'' of lawyers they allege are corrupt - including some very eminent members of the Scottish profession. It remained unclear last night which individuals or firms had brought pressure on Freewebs to shut the sites. Lloyd said he plans to disclose the identity of the person he believes was behind the move on the relaunched site shortly.

In a statement, meanwhile, the Law Society of Scotland said it was not responsible, adding: ''The society's only comment on these and other similar sites in the past has been that solicitors are the very people who support freedom

of speech as long as it is within the parameters of the law, including the laws of


The Faculty of Advocates also denied any involvement. ''The faculty can confirm it has taken no steps to close these sites,'' said a spokesman.

Usher told The Herald that similar legal pressure had led to the sites being switched from the UK to the US 18 months ago. In a statement supplied

by Usher, Scotland Against Crooked Lawyers said: ''The (pursuers) must have been very intimidating to cause a US commercial enterprise to abandon the protection of one of the roots of American democracy.

''The very fact that the 'aggressive pursuer' chose to close down our website by secret threats rather than sue SACL for defamation indicates that those Scottish law firms and individual lawyers appearing in our Rogues Gallery know that they stand correctly accused of a whole host of illegal and corrupt activities. This precludes them from suing SACL as this would mean humiliating exposure for them.''

The group added: ''SACL is delighted that it has forced its opponents into illegal and secretive methods including intimidation to close its

website. SACL suspects very strongly that it has cost these 'aggressive pursuers' thousands of pounds to achieve their end.''

Freewebs could not be

contacted for comment.