One of Scotland's most senior judges has come under fire from a leading lawyer for accusing his critics of having "transparent self-interest".


Lord Carloway, the Lord Justice Clerk, had said his proposed abolition of corroboration had sparked "real hostility" from his fellow legal professionals.

But in an unusually strongly worded speech the judge had suggested some of this hostility stemmed from lawyers with a financial motive for keeping the age-old Scots Law Safeguard.

Lord Carloway - whose real name is Colin Sutherland - said: "Reactionary or excessively defensive forces among the legal profession can, and often do, behave in a manner obstructive to progressive law reform, especially where there is transparent perceived financial self-interest."

This remark sparked an equally robust response from Thomas Ross, who chairs the Criminal Bar Association.

M Ross argued lawyers opposed to ending the safeguard - under which two pieces of evidence are required to secure a conviction - were acting against their own financial interests.

This, the theory goes, is because without corroboration more cases would go to court, creating more business for defence agents.

Mr Ross said: "Every single defence lawyer I know is against a measure that would increase his or her cash flow. Self interest?

"Let us be honest, those who represent accused people for a living are not highly thought of in polite society.

"Many believe that we are 'in bed' with the accused, working on a bonus system like Premier league footballers, cash for results.

"The suggestion that we would stand in the way of law reform to serve the interests of those same accused does not help."

Lord Carloway came up with proposals to end corroboration as he examined the fall-out of the 2011 Cadder case, when the UK Supreme Court said detained suspects had a right to legal advice if they wish it.

His proposals are now subject to another Government review in to their implication.

Lord Carloway - in a speech to a conference of Commonwealth Law Reform Agencies in Edinburgh - also criticised the Supreme Court, as "remote" and "far removed from realities of Scots Law". That line has already provoked a rebuke from Lord McCluskey, a former solicitor general and senior judge himself.

The 85-year-old the court's London location was "unimportant" and stressed Edinburgh was also remote for people in the Highlands.

Lord McCluskey added: "What is important is that the Scottish judges who sit in the Supreme Court are invariably two of the very best Scots lawyers of their entire generation."

Mr Ross, in turn, said he thought the London court ensured human rights of all UK citizens wherever they lived. The lawyer added that he agreed with most of Lord Carloway's reform proposals and most of his speech.

But he added: "Will Lord Carloway clarify who he means when he talks of 'reactionary lawyers', or are all of those who have publicly disagreed with him to be tarred with the same brush.

"If so, will his use of this pejorative term encourage or discourage lawyers of future generations to become involved in the process of law reform?"