MAN BITES DOG (allegedly)
The opportunity for the classic headline has arisen at last. A 34-year-old blind man has been charged with breach of the peace and animal cruelty by biting his guide dog on the head as well as kicking it in the body. The incident apparently occurred outside the Meadowbank Retail Park in Edinburgh in February 2005. The dog is now in the care of the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association.
The coming into force of the UK and Scottish Freedom of Information (FoI) regimes on 1 January 2005 began to produce results, for the Press at least, in late January and early February, as the initial period for compliance with early FoI requests began to expire. Apart from the fascinating details of who the First Family (Jack and Bridget) have officially entertained at dinner in their residence at Bute House (Scots Law News not included, alas), the most interesting item so far revealed (as the result of an FoI request made by Margo MacDonald MSP) is a report commissioned from cost consultants in 2000 by the Auditor General while he himself was preparing a report on the Holyrood project. The consultants’ report was critical of the failure to follow the tendering procedures laid down by the Scottish Executive, the Treasury and the European Commission. It said: This project ought to have been a model of good practice. It clearly is not.” The Auditor General did not publish this criticism in his own report because it was purely concerned with value for money questions. More grist for the mill in the McAlpine case against the SPCB.”
The much-delayed trial of ex-Sheriff Raj Jandoo in connection with alleged incidents aboard a flight from Inverness to Stornoway in March 2004 (see Nos 332, 379) finally began in Stornoway Sheriff Court on 16 February 2005. Jandoo faces five charges, two with regard to breaches of the peace arising from his conduct on the flight, and three contraventions of air safety regulations. Evidence having been taken for three days, the trial was adjourned for a month on 18 February. The taking of evidence is expected to last for at least another day. Donald Findlay QC is Jandoo’s counsel (see No 409).
There also began on 11 February the trial of Transco for breach of health and safety regulations leading to a gas explosion in Larkhall on 22 December 1999, which destroyed a bungalow and killed the family of four who lived there. In earlier proceedings it had been held that as a company Transco could not be charged with culpable homicide (see Nos 159, 217, 232). The trial is expected to last between six and nine months.
On 14 February 2005 the Glenelg community decided by 60 votes to 39 to reject the offer to sell to them the Glenelg-Kylerhea ferry (see Nos 334, 348, 415(3)). The decision was despite Highland Council’s decision on 3 February to provide financial support for the buy-out (for which see http://www.highland.gov.uk/cx/pressreleases/2005/jan05/glenelg.html
(Council Budget Working Group recommendation press release, 20 January) and http://www.highland.gov.uk/minutes/headquarters/highland_council/reports/10feb05/hc-min-050203-extract.pdf (Council Minutes, 3 February). The main reason behind the community’s decision against purchase seems to have been doubts about the financial viability of the service after the removal of the tolls on the Skye Bridge just before Christmas 2004 (for which see No 412). The present owner of the ferry will now put it on the open market for sale, but if no buyer is found the service will cease to operate.