(65)  Temporary sheriffs, the Lord Advocate and human rights

Further to No 62 below, a fresh challenge under the European Convention of Human Rights to the functions of the Lord Advocate as head of the public prosecution system in Scotland was considered in Linlithgow Sheriff Court on 30 July 1999. A prosecution before Temporary Sheriff David Crowe was challenged on the basis that, the Lord Advocate having a key role in the appointment and dismissal of temporary sheriffs, Sheriff Crowe could not be regarded as sufficiently independent of the executive to meet the requirements under Article 6 of the Convention that an accused have a fair hearing before an "independent and impartial tribunal". The argument was rejected on the basis that it had been raised too late in the proceedings; but it is understood that it is likely to be raised in other cases and will probably be appealed to the Court of Criminal Appeal. (31 July 1999)