(86)  Sorley Maclean, copyright and the sale of mountains

On 11 October 2000 the estate agents Savills, which is acting for John MacLeod of MacLeod in the sale of the Black Cuillin mountain range in Skye (see below, No 80), issued a public apology to the family of the late Sorley Maclean, the great Gaelic poet, who lived in the island.  The apology concerned Savills’ unauthorised use of Maclean’s poem, “The Cuillin”, in the brochure advertising the mountains for sale.  Savills said: “We now accept that the poet may not have wished his work to have been used for this purpose.” <

(85)  The legality of nuclear weapons (2)

The hearing has begun on a Lord Advocate’s reference about the decision of Sheriff Margaret Gimblett in Greenock Sheriff Court in October 1999 that persons charged with malicious mischief against a barge moored in Loch Goil and used in connection with the Trident nuclear programme could be acquitted on the grounds that Trident was illegal in international law (see No 68 below, and S C Neff, (2000) 4 Edinburgh Law Review 74-86). <

(84)  Street performances and little boy trouble at the Edinburgh Festival

On 16 August 2000 Enrique Aparicio, a 33-year-old Spaniard, was posing as a statue of a pirate carrying a flintlock pistol and an ornamental sword on Princes Street, Edinburgh, during the city’s international Festival.  Jamie Robertson (14), a no doubt appreciative member of the audience, decided to prod Aparicio to see whether he was real.  Aparicio, apparently not prepared to suffer for his art, eventually drove the boy away by striking him on the right ear with the sword.  Jamie needed eight stitches as a result and Aparicio was convicted of assault two days later in Edinburgh Sheriff Court.  He was fined £100, ordered to pay a further £100 in compensation, and had his sword confiscated. <

(83)  Moray Council meets its medieval obligations

In 1327 King Robert I (Robert the Bruce) made a grant of 33 shillings and four Scots pence annually to the kirk at Cullen in Banffshire for prayers to be said for his wife, who had died in the town.  The payment, enhanced to two guineas sterling over time, continued to be made by Cullen Town Council from its Common Good fund until local government reorganisation in 1975.  This sad state of affairs having been revealed by the researches of schoolchildren carrying out a history project, Moray Council decided on 26 July 2000 to revive the payment at a rate of £2.10 per annum, together with a back-payment of £52.50 in respect of the missing years. <

(82)  The Scottish Parliament: a first term report

The Scottish Parliament completed its first year of legislative power and rose for its summer recess on 6 July 2000. Six Acts had entered the statute book: the Mental Health (Public Safety and Appeals) (Scotland) Act 1999, the Public Finance and Accountability (Scotland) Act 2000, the Budget (Scotland) Act 2000, the Census (Amendment) (Scotland) Act 2000, the Adults with Incapacity (Scotland) Act 2000, and the Abolition of Feudal Tenure etc (Scotland) Act 2000. Bills which had been passed by the Parliament and awaited Royal Assent included the Ethical Standards in Public Life etc (Scotland) Bill, the National Parks (Scotland) Bill and the Bail, Judicial Appointments etc (Scotland) Bill. Of these pieces of legislation, the one which attracted most public attention was the Ethical Standards in Public Life etc (Scotland) Bill, in which the Scottish Executive proposed the repeal of s 2A of the Local Government Act 1986 (popularly known as “Clause 28” since it was inserted by s 28 of the Local Government Act 1988).  This section prohibited local authorities from intentionally promoting homosexuality or the teaching in any maintained school “of the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship”.  The proposal was countered by a campaign, entitled “Keep the Clause”, headed and financed by Mr Brian Souter, a prominent Scottish businessman, with support also from the leaders of the Roman Catholic Church and other religious groups in Scotland.  An unofficial referendum was held by the campaign in May 2000; less than one-third of the electorate voted, but of those who did, 87% supported the retention of the existing law.  However, the Scottish Parliament voted for its repeal by 99 votes to 17.  Section 25 of the new legislation now provides, in addition to the repeal of “Clause 28”, that it is the duty of councils, in performing functions relating principally to children, “to have regard to the value of stable family life in a child’s development”.            The very first Act of the Scottish Parliament, the Mental Health (Public Safety and Appeals) (Scotland) Act 1999, was challenged as contrary to art 5 of the European Convention of Human Rights (right to liberty), but in a judgment of 16 June 2000, the First Division of the Court of Session held that the Act was within legislative competence.  While the right to liberty was a high constitutional right, it was not absolute and the area affected by the Act (the detention and discharge of patients at the State hospital at Carstairs) fell into the exceptions recognised by the Convention where social policy came into play.  The retrospective effect of the legislation was balanced by the provision for additional judicial scrutiny of decisions not to discharge a patient (A v The Scottish Ministers 2000 GWD 22-864). The Bail, Judicial Appointments etc (Scotland) Bill is amongst other things a response to the decision against temporary sheriffs in Starrs v Ruxton 2000 SLT 42 (see (2000) 4 Edinburgh Law Review 1, 223; below, Nos 70, 78), by providing for the new office of Part-time Sheriff.  Appointments will be for a period of five years and may be renewed until the retirement age of 70.  Advertisements for the posts appeared in July 2000: payment is at a daily rate of £438 plus travel and subsistence. 

(81)  The Lockerbie trial

opened at Camp Zeist in the Netherlands on 3 May 2000.  The two accused, Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi and Al Amin Khalifa Fhimah, pleaded not guilty to charges of murdering the 270 persons killed in the bombing of PanAm flight 101 on 22 December 1988.  They also submitted a special defence naming other individuals and organisations as responsible for the crime, including the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and the Palestinian Popular Struggle Front.  A number of television companies sought to compel live television coverage of the trial by way of a petition to the nobile officium of the Court of Session, but this was unsuccessful, although television cameras are transmitting restricted coverage to four remote sites in Dumfries, London, New York and Washington DC for the benefit of the immediate family members of the victims of the disaster (BBC Petitioners 2000 SLT 845, 860).  Details of the trial can be followed on two websites: one maintained at the Glasgow Law School, http://www.law.gla.ac.uk/lockerbie, the other at http://www.thelockerbietrial.com/. <