The original Solicitors from Hell (.co.uk) website was removed by Court action. A resurrected Solicitors from Hell (.net) is now in place but the page given below is a copy of what appeared on the original website.
Thomas B Cruickshank is a consultant with George Mathers & Co, 23 Adelphi, Aberdeen.
When my solicitor of choice couldn’t continue with my case, I was passed to Thomas B Cruickshank with a recommendation that he was the foremost expert in motoring law in NE Scotland.
My view is that Mr Cruickshank is an expert only in his own self-promotion and aggrandisement.
He spent a good third of the first interview telling anecdotes that tended to glorify his legal skills.
Then he questioned me about the events that led to me being prosecuted for Dangerous Driving. Had I seen the other motorist behind me, he wanted to know. I said I couldn’t be sure. “But you’re supposed to look in your mirror frequently, as in the Advanced Driving Test”, he declared.
I was told he was an expert driver, having been a racing driver and an Advanced Driver (again implying membership of the Institute of Advanced Motorists). He was also a psychologist, having the ability to tell whether a witness was prevaricating, just by looking at his knees - shaking knees, apparently, are a sure sign of a liar. As well as these accomplishments, he was up there with the gods of the Scottish legal establishment. He fished with Lord Marnoch of the Appeal Court, hobnobbed with Lord Morrison of the Supreme Court and had a relative on the Privy Council.
He told me that, by my own admission, I was guilty of Careless Driving. By this he meant that you are not allowed to move out to overtake [on a dual carriageway] if it means impeding following traffic. This was a theme he returned to ad nauseum. He told me that a particular lady Sheriff thinks that if there is a car visible in your mirror then you should not overtake at all. He himself said you should not overtake if there is a car within 5000 yards – yes, five thousand yards.
I wrote to the Institute of Advanced Motorists for confirmation of this view. The IAM could not find Mr Cruickshank’s name among its members and told me you can overtake providing following motorists are not inconvenienced.
I know I should have dumped this solicitor after he told me I was guilty of an offence but time was pressing and I didn’t know who else to turn to.
At court my case was delayed for over 2 hours because Mr Cruickshank turned up late. When he eventually arrived, he betrayed his poor grasp of the case by asking what direction I had been travelling in.
In court, it was the Sheriff, rather than my own solicitor, who performed the most effective cross-examination of the witnesses. Earlier in his evidence, the first witness said I had cut in front - undertaken - him; under cross-examination by Mr Cruickshank, he now claimed that I had passed him again. The Sheriff interjected, asking (referring to my car), “how does it pass you again if it’s already in front of you?”
Mr Cruickshank later claimed he was just about to ask the same question.
Unfortunately for me, this slip was not enough to persuade the Sheriff that the witness was lying.
The Sheriff had a dilemma. Having heard two conflicting stories, which, as he put it, “might have happened on different days”, he could not decide between them.
Fortunately, Mr Cruickshank came to his rescue. Without any foreknowledge of the answer, he asked me how long I had been driving for that day. When I said “5 hours”, the Sheriff jumped at the chance to assume I was tired and so hadn’t seen any of the events I was accused of. Despite his doubts about the shaky witness evidence, he convicted me.
Because innocent people do not make pleas for mercy, I told Mr Cruickshank very firmly that he was not to offer any plea in mitigation. Seconds later he approached the Bench and I heard him do exactly that.
Afterwards, he said triumphantly that it was a good result because I had not been handed a ban. He admitted making a mistake by asking me the fateful question, adding that even experts make mistakes sometimes. Then he stunned me by saying he believed I was lying.
These points – ignoring instructions, making a mistake in court and saying I was a liar, as well as the general impression that he was biased against me, were the substance of a complaint I made to the Law Society of Scotland. In his submissions to the Society, he denied it all. I was shocked that a man of his standing should resort to this kind of behaviour to protect himself. Although my partner had witnessed some of his utterances, the Law Society did not ask for her statement. I was unsurprised when it found in Mr Cruickshank’s favour.
It is, after all, a solicitor’s trade union.