(406) NIMMO SMITH TEARS STRIP OFF COUNSEL IN TOBACCO CASE
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.