LAWYERS the world over will raise a glass to their New York colleague

and Bisto Boy extraordinaire, Thomas Ward, whose #5.2m fee for fixing

the Distillers takeover was ruled not to be theft. Now that Ward, who

has been on legal aid for the past 15 months, has walked free from a

prosecution his QC called ''a travesty'', what has been the damage to

the English legal system? Following the miraculous recovery from an

''Alzheimer's-like condition'' of Ernest Saunders, and the collapse of

the case against Lord Spens on the grounds that being in the dock was

too stressful for him, the cost of the seven-year Guinness saga in the

criminal courts alone is now over #25m, with possible civil action to


With all this money wasted, this must be why people earning #42.57 per

week are to lose full legal aid in civil cases.

Never too early

THERE is an unfortunate juxtaposition in the current Journal of the

Law Society of Scotland. The top letter is a tough-minded missive on

redundancy from Gavin Sinclair in Houston, Texas, saying: ''What is so

special about the legal profession that its members believe that they

are entitled to privileged treatment when the western world is

experiencing one of the most severe recessions in recent times?''

The journal's opinion column is on the theme ''What a start to 1993!''

''It is clear that the society was saddened at what it had to do to two

loyal employees,'' it said of the decision to make senior secretaries

Peter Niven and Scott Galt redundant. The latter was the ideas man who

came up with the marketing slogan, ''It's never too early to call your


Loud and proud

DEVIL'S Advocate applauds the openness of the Glasgow lawyers who said

it loud and proud: ''We passed our exams as solicitor-advocates.'' While

Pat Riddell at the law society was refusing to say who had passed, on

the grounds that it would help identify those who had failed, Glasgow's

doughty dozen were posing for the cameras at their celebration party,

Joe Beltrami clutching not one but two bottles of bubbly.

Grand folly

PARLIAMENT Square now boasts what must surely be among the most

impressive car park attendant's booths in the world, following years of

pressure from conservationists that its predecessor, which resembled a

plastic recycling bin, was out of place in such a historic location.

The small but imposing erection, which is rumoured to have cost around

#20,000, has attracted a number of sobriquets, including the Teahouse of

the August Moon (since it is somewhat pretentious), and Foley's Folly

(on the mistaken assumption that the Principal Clerk of Session, Hugh

Foley, was responsible).

In fact it was designed by the Property Services Agency under pressure

from the Cockburn Association, whose president is Lord Cameron and

chairman is Lord MacLean. ''The old booth was like something out of 2001

-- A Space Odyssey and was not a solution for an important space next to

St Giles' Cathedral and Parliament House,'' said the association's

secretary, Terry Levinthal.

''The new structure is an interesting, octagonal, stylised pagoda,

somewhat reminiscent of Adam's orangery at Dalkeith Park. Having a

garden folly there is a bit of fun, but the best solution would be to

get rid of parking in Parliament Square altogether.''

A professor writes

WE LEARN -- 20 years on, but better late than never -- that the

Defence Secretary should be a member of the faculty's Hole-in-the-Head

Club for counsel who succeed in having their client's sentence increased

on appeal.

Malcolm Rifkind was clyped on last week in one of the newspaper

columns penned by Ross Harper, professor, politician, corporate tycoon,

journalist, and solicitor, who revealed that between them they once

managed to have a 10-year prison sentence for serious assault increased

to 12 years. Harper's legal deliberations in the Scotsman could be

described, charitably, as dry, but his column in the Daily Express is


In the Express last week he criticised stabbing, had breakfast with

the Israeli Ambassador, gave comfort to Elgin Tories, sympathised with a

student evicted for keeping goldfish, and discoursed learnedly on the

''bulging, oiled athletes'' in ''television's hyperactive Gladiators

show''. Surely it is Mr Harper who is hyperactive.

Bastions of the Law (No.30)

THE achievements of this week's bastion have played merry hell with

the turnover of the law and order industry. The general recidivism rate

for ex-offenders is 62%. The rate for those helped by Apex Scotland is

5%. That is a lot of people breaking out of a vicious circle, and the

credit must go mainly to Jeane Freeman, who has run the organisation

since 1987.

Last week the official jobless figures broke back through the three

million barrier, bad news surely for an organisation which tries to get

ex-offenders back into employment?

''Undoubtedly, it's harder for us now. We're still getting the same

proportion into jobs, but it's taking longer.'' That proportion runs at

over 40%, with a further quarter going into training or further


Jeane Freeman, 39, was born in Ayr, daughter of an aircraft fitter and

a nurse. As a Communist Party member she became the first female head of

the National Union of Students in Scotland.

When the Apex Trust wanted someone to research the possibility of

setting up a Scottish offshoot. She took on the task, set up the

organisation, and was so successful that two years ago she won the

Norman MacEwan civil liberties award. Now, with 41 employees running 14

projects -- training workshops, employment units and pre-release schemes

-- she would like to break out of the Glasgow-Edinburgh-Dundee triangle.

Apex straddles the divide between criminal justice and economic

development, and Jeane Freeman's ultimate ambition would be to change

employers' attitudes and build up projects for all long-term employed,

not just ex-offenders.