Smuggling drugs? Now that's taking 'added value' too far

The Times, Law, 31 March 2006

The Glasgow solicitor whose unorthodox service to her clients might land her in jail

She came, she consulted, she dealt. Such, it seems, was the modus operandi of Angela Baillie, the Scottish solicitor who has pleaded guilty to smuggling drugs into Glasgow’s Barlinnie prison. Not just any old drugs – say, a couple of aspirin for clients struggling with the finer points of criminal indictment or ibuprofen for those who had injured their limbs in the exercise yard – but £1,600 worth of heroin. Oh, and some diazepam, too.

Though initially Baillie’s identity was protected thanks to a court order, we now know a little more of this avatar of altruism. She is 32, worked for Richard Lobjoie, the Glasgow criminal law firm, for around seven years and allegedly left two previous firms under a cloud. Perhaps it was one of cocaine dust? We can but wonder. What we know, however - as well as the fact that she has checked into rehab - is that Baillie took the concept of "adding value" to a new level.

Today’s solicitors like to bandy this trendy marketing term around in a way that is anathema to their older brethren. In the good old days, a client wandered into the office and knew that he was lucky to be there. Access to the majesty of the law was a privilege. Kafka did not write The Trial, in which supplicants wait in a corridor interminably in the vain hope that they will encounter justice,without good reason.

But not in Baillie's case. Pity her poor clients, languishing in prison, agonising over the merits of their appeals! How hard life must be, behind bars, even if one’s fate is deserved! It was, evidently, too much for the Glasgow solicitor. And so she turned up, on one occasion at least, with a cigarette packet stuffed with 158 diazepam tablets and 14g of heroin. How's that for a bit of added value?

Regrettably, however, it appears that the police were acutely conscious of the value, in a rather more socially disruptive sense, of Baillie’s selflessness. They therefore set up a sting, strip-searched Baillie’s client and found the cigarette packet. Quite where is unclear, but the consequence is beyond doubt: a guilty plea by Baillie, who is awaiting sentencing.

Peter Ferguson, QC, the advocate-deputy, was frank as to what he thought of Baillie’s added value: because of the quantities involved, it was "plain beyond doubt" that the drugs "were for supply to the prison system generally".

Baillie faces another problem. In a parallel case under the Proceeds of Crime Act, prosecutors are seeking a confiscation order against her in the sum of £52,556. The figure has been calculated by trawling her financial affairs over recent years and working out her expenditure beyond her known income. Baillie is contesting the application, which is due to be heard at the end of April.

In 2003, Baillie, now dubbed "Ally McDeal" by the Scottish press, hit the headlines when she reportedly spurned the advances of Rangers footballer Fernando Ricksen. That staple of tabloid reportage, "the friend," said at the time: "It seems Fernando can’t take no for an answer. She has no interest in footballers." Just as Ricksen supposedly had cause to ponder the meaning of the word "no", so too does McDeal find herself with plenty of time for etymological analysis. She would do well to conclude that the word "no" requires nothing in the way of added value.