The supporters of Tommy Sheridan have rallied to his cause and set up a website http://www.defendtommysheridan.org/defend/ as well as producing a video in his support making use of the Imperial March music from Star Wars at http://youtube.com/watch?v=9QKOTfFjsKc and assorted newspaper headlines.  In a peculiar development the video cites the takeover of the Wall Street Journal by Rupert Murdoch in support of Mr Sheridan’s case.  This issue of capitalist-eat-capitalist was not one on which the views of the Scottish socialist movement had previously been made public.



The sound of desks being cleared at 140 Causewayside preparatory to the Christmas cruise became distinctly audible as the Scottish Law Commission published three major reports in December 2007 (Scot Law Com: Nos 207-209): on limitation and prescribed claims in personal injury actions, on Sharp v Thomson, and, most significant in terms of public interest, on rape and other sexual offences.  Full details via the Commission website (http://www.scotlawcom.gov.uk/).  The headline stories are the redefinition of consent in rape cases, essentially to secure more convictions, and the extension of the limitation period in personal injury cases from three to five years. 

The Commission also recommends, however, that personal injury claims which were extinguished before 1984 should not be revived.  This part of the Commission’s work arose from concerns expressed by survivors of alleged institutional child abuse during the 1950s and 1960s that they could not bring claims for damages because their right of action had been extinguished as a result of the law of prescription.  The recommendation followed two cases holding that the 20-year long negative prescription of the current law barred such claims (K v Gilmartin’s Exx 2004 SC 784; B v Murray 2007 SLT 605), as well as publication in November of the report on systems in place to protect children and keep them safe in residential care between 1950-1995 (the Historical Abuse Systemic Review: see http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2007/11/20104729/0).  Whether this recommendation will withstand political inspection remains to be seen.


Steven Marshall, the teenager convicted of simulating sexual intercourse with a pavement in full view of a female taxi driver (No 701), was sentenced on 17 December 2007 to twelve months probation: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/south_of_scotland/7148242.stm.  Unlike bike man” Robert Stewart (No 701) Mr Marshall has not been placed on the sex offenders register because it was accepted by Sheriff Kevin Drummond that there was not a significant sexual aspect to the case.  (For commentary on that see James Chalmers’ blog at http://criminalletters.blogspot.com/2007/12/its-bicycle-that-makes-difference.html ). 

In mitigation it was noted that Mr Marshall’s behaviour arose as a result of a combination of alcohol and medication.  The views of Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill (see No 712) on this plea in mitigation are not known.