The long-awaited trial of Raj Jandoo in connection with alleged offences on air flights between Edinburgh, Inverness and Stornoway in March 2004 was again postponed on 15 December, as Jandoo’s counsel, Donald Findlay QC, was otherwise engaged on behalf of the accused in the Jodi Jones murder trial in Edinburgh.
Trevor Adams, formerly hounds master of the Buccleuch Hunt, was found not guilty of offences under the Protection of Wild Mammals (Scotland) Act 2002 at Jedburgh Sheriff Court on 10 December 2004. The full opinion of Sheriff Kevin Drummond, narrating facts and law, can be found at http://www.scotcourts.gov.uk/opinions/ADAMS.html. Particularly pertinent is Sheriff Drummond’s early observation (para 4):
It should be borne in mind that this is a penal statute creating offences punishable by imprisonment and it falls to be construed in no different way from any other penal statute. There is no burden of proof on an accused person and it is not for an accused to prove that he falls within a statutory exception. It is for the Crown to prove his guilt beyond reasonable doubt and to exclude the application of any such statutory exception.””
The Scotsman for 1 December 2004 reported a reprimand from Lord Nimmo Smith to Colin McEachran QC in connection with a complaint to the judge by Allan Wilson MSP about the length of time being taken by him to issue his opinion in the McTear case (which concerns the liability of a cigarette manufacturer for the illness and death of a smoker – see No 267). The case concluded in February 2004 and Lord Nimmo Smith’s opinion is expected soon. It appeared that Mr McEachran had suggested to the waiting pursuer that she contact an MSP about the time being taken to issue a decision, and Mr Wilson had then written to the judge. Lord Nimmo Smith pointed out that there was a convention against politicians intervening in current cases, to preserve judicial independence; that he had indicated in July that the length of the judgement might prevent its completion until late in the year; and that the existing draft was over 860 pages and 250,00 words. The judge said that he would be reporting Mr McEachran to the Faculty of Advocates; Mr McEachran explained that he had merely suggested contacting an MSP, not the judge direct.
Lord Nimmo Smith is also presiding in the grim Jodi Jones murder trial in Edinburgh, and after three days of evidence had to discharge the first jury to hear the case on 16 November when two jurors were released from service. Trials can continue with juries down to 12 members, but in this case it was thought not possible to continue with only 13. The trial resumed with a new jury on 18 November and is expected to conclude around Christmas.
The tenants of the estate of Pairc in the isle of Lewis voted on 30 November 2004 to pursue a community buy-out of the estate under the provisions of the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 (see No 205). The buy-out is however opposed by the laird, Barry Lomas, an accountant from Warwickshire, and if it goes ahead will be the first instance of such a contested buy-out under the Act. A large wind-farm, producing an annual revenue of over a million pounds, is proposed for the estate. If the buyout offer goes ahead, the Scottish Executive will have six months to make a decision on the matter.
POLITICIANS IN COURT – SHERIDAN, WATSON, GALLOWAY
Religionists (see No 393) were followed into the court room by politicians in late November and December 2004. On 30 November Mike Watson, MSP for Glasgow Cathcart, was bailed in Edinburgh Sheriff Court on a charge of wilful fire-raising at Prestonfield House Hotel, during the Scottish Politician of the Year Awards event on 11 November (one well-fuelled with liquid refreshments, according to reports from members of the media who should know). On 2 December, Eady J of the English High Court awarded £150,000 in defamation damages to George Galloway, MP for Glasgow Kelvin, against the Daily Telegraph, in respect of a claim that Galloway had received substantial sums of money from the former Saddam Hussein regime in Iraq. Meanwhile, Tommy Sheridan, MSP for Glasgow Pollok, stated that he would be suing the News of the World over allegations about his extra-marital conduct published on 14 November. Mr Sheridan had resigned as leader of the Scottish Socialist Party the previous week. The party executive said in a statement: The executive completely dismisses the rumours that have circulated in the press that Tommy’s resignation was provoked by a leadership challenge, a factional power struggle or any other form of political internal in-fighting. But no comment was made on the allegations of an affair, since this was the subject of a legal action.