The case of McTear’s Executrix v Imperial Tobacco, in which a deceased smoker’s estate is suing cigarette manufacturers for failure to warn him of the dangers of smoking, began before Lord Nimmo Smith in the Court of Session on 7 October 2003. Mr McTear died of lung cancer in 1993 at the age of 48, having been a cigarette smoker since 1964 and having built up to a 60-a-day habit until diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer in 1992. It is claimed that he was drawn to smoking by the glamorous image given to the habit by advertising. The evidence also showed that Mr McTear had 36 convictions and had been imprisoned 11 times for assault, breach of the peace, fire-raising and fraud; offences his wife attributed to a drinking problem. Imperial Tobacco denies liability and also that smoking causes lung cancer. The McTear estate is not legally aided, and its lawyers are said to be working on a ‘no win, no fee’ basis.
The trial of the Naked Rambler, Steve Gough (see No 263), was held on 3 October 2003 in Dingwall Sheriff Court. Wearing only a blanket, he was found guilty of a breach of the peace and admonished. Later on the same day, he was re-arrested while walking in his customary lack of attire across the Cromarty Bridge from the Black Isle to Evanton. He appeared again in court on 6 October 2003 and was remanded in custody in Inverness prison, pending a further trial which has been set down for 7 November 2003.
An application for a review of the conviction of Abdul Baset Al-Megrahi for the Lockerbie bombing (see Nos 96 and 164) was lodged with the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission on 23 September 2003. The application for review is said to be on grounds of new evidence pointing to innocence and the guilt of others, unfairness, abuse of process, insufficiency of evidence, errors in law, non-disclosure of evidence and defective representation.
The Crown Office has lodged an appeal against the 5-year sentence imposed on James Taylor (43) from Grangemouth. Taylor pled guilty to a number of charges, the most serious being a charge of rape (of a baby – see No 262), and was sentenced at the High Court, Dunfermline on 3 September, 2003. The High Court of Justiciary, sitting as an appeal court, will set a date for the matter to be considered at the Appeal Court in Edinburgh. The Crown Office can lodge an appeal only in cases where the sentence could be considered unduly lenient.