BBC Scotland has asked McGrigor Donald, its longest-standing legal adviser, to leave its panel, The Lawyer can reveal
The BBC dropped McGrigors after being hit with a £500,000 libel bill, Scotland's largest ever, on a case that McGrigors handled. A senior BBC manager confirmed that McGrigors was removed from the panel despite the relationship going back to the beginnings of the BBC in Scotland. The manager said the decision to remove McGrigors from the panel was not taken lightly. The firm was asked to leave the panel last year as senior BBC journalists were unhappy with the way it handled the libel claim. The claim was brought against BBC Scotland by nursing home Orchard House because of a documentary alleging that the home was run under a harsh and uncaring regime. The case ran all the way to the appeal courts and saddled BBC Scotland with a £500,000 bill when it ended in late 2000. BBC Scotland's damages alone were around £260,000. BBC Scotland was then torn to shreds at the Court of Session by three judges who said the BBC was lucky the award had not been more. McGrigors was removed from the case before it went to appeal, at which stage Burness took over. There was a time delay between McGrigors being dropped from the case and being dropped from the panel late last year. This was because BBC Scotland took other factors into account before dropping McGrigors indefinitely. The BBC manager added that the decision was not solely about this case. BBC Scotland is planning to review its panel, which will be restricted to three firms. It currently includes only Maclay Murray & Spens and Burness. McGrigors was unavailable for comment. McGrigors officially became part of the KLegal network of law firms, part of accountancy giant KPMG, earlier this month. The BBC source said that the decision to drop McGrigors was not influenced by the firm's accountancy tie-up.