City of Edinburgh Council unanimously accepts Inquiry team’s Recommendations in the Sean Bell Inquiry
Susanne Tanner QC and the Inquiry Team at Pinsent Masons LLP have published their Open Report in the investigation into allegations concerning the conduct of the late Sean Bell and the way in which historical complaints about him were dealt with by the City of Edinburgh Council at the time that they were made: https://democracy.edinburgh.gov.uk/mgConvert2PDF.aspx?ID=39781 .
Susanne Tanner QC, the independent chair of the Inquiry, presented the Open Report at the City of Edinburgh Council’s full council meeting on Thursday 28 October (https://edinburgh.public-i.tv/core/portal/webcast_interactive/611512). She stated: “As a team, we have taken our responsibility to investigate these important issues extremely seriously. From the start, we committed to carrying out a survivor-led inquiry focused wholeheartedly on giving survivors a voice and safeguarding their welfare and that of others vulnerable to abuse. With that in mind, our sincere thanks go to the survivors who have remained the priority throughout our inquiry process and we thank them for taking the difficult but important step of contacting the inquiry to share their experiences.”
The council unanimously accepted the Inquiry Team’s recommendations in full, including the implementation of an independent unit of appropriately experienced and properly trained investigators to investigate all allegations of a sexual nature, domestic abuse, physical violence, stalking or harassment; and a redress scheme to compensate those who were abused by Sean Bell.
Mary Ellen Stewart
Mary Ellen Stewart called to the Bar in 2021, after training and qualifying with Brodies LLP, and latterly working there as a senior solicitor.
As a solicitor, Mary Ellen had a busy practice dealing with a broad range of commercial disputes. Her practice had a particular focus on commercial contracts, banking and finance, insolvency and professional liability litigation. When in private practice, Mary Ellen appeared in the Sheriff Courts and instructed Counsel in Court of Session cases.
Mary Ellen has a particular interest in professional liability and regulation. She also has an interest in maritime and shipping law, and is the Advocate member of the Law Society of Scotland’s Marine Law Sub-Committee. Mary Ellen is also a part-time tutor of Contract Law and Unjustified Enrichment at Edinburgh University.
Mary Ellen was appointed to junior panel of Standing Junior Counsel to the Advocate General for Scotland in 2021.
Mary Ellen is fluent and fully literate in Scottish Gaelic and is well placed to undertake work involving consideration of documents in Gaelic.
Ampersand QC to head Council culture inquiry
The City of Edinburgh Council has confirmed that Ampersand’s Susanne Tanner QC will lead the independent inquiry into the circumstances concerning the sudden death of a Council employee.
Ms Tanner has a 23-year career in the legal profession in Scotland, including an appointment as an Advocate Depute with the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service and has been a QC since 2016. Her areas of practice include public inquiries and fatal accident inquiries, reparation, criminal and regulatory matters. She is a certified arbitrator, mediator and a tribunal chair. She is dual qualified as a barrister in England and Wales.
She will be assisted by a UK investigation team from independent legal firm, Pinsent Masons, who have considerable experience in this area. Pending the appointment of the Chair, the firm have been ensuring that all governance arrangements are in place to allow the inquiry to proceed on an independent basis, and in accordance with the decision of Council on 15 October 2020.
Council Leader Adam McVey said:
The appointment of Susanne Tanner to head this independent inquiry will be welcome news for everyone. She commands great respect in the legal profession and her experience, ability and impartiality is unquestionable. Her track record speaks for itself and we can already see real progress in the inquiry under her as Independent Chair.
We expect to finalise a very clear and thorough terms of reference, setting out exactly what we are aiming to achieve through this inquiry – getting the assurance we need as elected members as well as identifying recommendations for positive changes that can be made to strengthen the culture of the Council.
Depute Leader Cammy Day said:
I’m pleased this decision has cross-party support and this appointment now means the inquiry can move forward to look into the serious matters that have been raised. An important element will be the investigation team hearing from staff on any concerns they may have so I would urge anyone who wants to share information to come forward – everyone’s voices will be heard.
The terms of reference for both aspects of the inquiry will be finalised by the Chair in consultation with the Council’s political leaders. These will be published shortly, together with a call for evidence.
In the meantime, anyone who wishes to provide information to the inquiry or to contact the inquiry team in confidence should do so by emailing CECReview@pinsentmasons.com
Inquiry report into University of Strathclyde University’s handling of complaints of sexual misconduct published
The report by Craig Sandison QC, commissioned by the University of Strathclyde as an independent QC-led Inquiry into the University’s handling of past complaints of sexual misconduct against Kevin O’Gorman, a former staff member, has been published.
This followed his conviction of a range of offences, some of which were carried out when he was an employee of the University.
Mr Sandison conducted a thorough and detailed independent examination of the systems, processes and actions to ascertain the true facts pertaining to O’Gorman’s recruitment to and promotion within the University, his activities while at the University, the disciplinary processes, and his exit from the University. He was also asked to make any recommendations as he saw fit. Mr Sandison’s report made six recommendations.
Professor Sir Jim McDonald, Principal and Vice-Chancellor expressed gratitude for the thoroughness of the investigations, the professionalism of the approach and accepted the recommendations fully and unreservedly. He said that he is confident that not only Strathcylde, but the sector at large will benefit from the work and the report’s findings.
Download the full University of Strathclyde Inquiry Report (PDF).
Prior to calling, Nick McAndrew was a solicitor for five years in a large Scottish commercial law firm.
Nick specialised in Construction Litigation. In that role, he acted in disputes relating to contractual, delictual and statutory liability, and developed expertise resolving those disputes across forums (including the Sheriff Court and Court of Session, Adjudication, Arbitration and Mediation).
While devilling, Nick built upon his existing construction law experience, and also gained experience of other commercial disputes and planning disputes before the Lands Tribunal.
Euan Scott has significant experience across a wide range of civil litigation. He has a particular focus on commercial dispute resolution (with his experience concentrating on commercial contract disputes, professional liability, property disputes, contentious construction and insurance). He also has experience of insolvency cases and public inquiries. He has experience both pursuing and defending and has acted for individuals, professionals, private companies and insurers.
During his period of devilling, he developed further experience in those areas. He was also involved in a range of cases involving allegations of clinical negligence (including related regulatory proceedings) and a broad spectrum of public law disputes.