The Scottish Government announced in January that it would support the proposed Sentencing of Offences Aggravated by Prejudice (Scotland) Bill proposed by the Green MSP Patrick Harvie. If passed this would be the first member’s bill from the Green Party to be enacted by the Scottish Parliament.
The bill proposes to extend statutory aggravations to cover crimes motivated by malice or ill will towards victims based on their sexual orientation, transgender identity or disability. Section 96 of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 made provision in Scotland for offences motivated by racial prejudice and section 74 of the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2003 made provision for offences motivated by religious prejudice. Both provisions require courts to take the aggravation into account when sentencing.
It’s the awards season once more, with red carpets, flash photography and emotions on show in abundance. Although it doesn’t seem that long since the 2007 awards (see No 683), the Scottish Legal Awards for 2008 were announced on 22 February 2008. Here is the list: http://www.thescottishlegalawards.com/ . The eye-catchers for Scots Law News were a well-merited lifetime achievement award for Lady Cosgrove, the first (but now retired) female judge in the Court of Session and High Court of Justiciary (see Nos 211, 551), and the Lightershade Legal Website of the Year going to Govan Law Centre for Bank Charges (see http://www.govanlc.com/bankcharges.html, as well as our own Nos 675 and 745, and note that the Centre hasn’t caught up with the latest exciting developments reported in the latter place!).
Thanks to the IP-Kat blog for alerting Scots Law News to the Bill apparently to be put before the Westminster Parliament by Pete Wishart, SNP MP and former member of the folk rock group from Skye called Runrig (see http://ipkitten.blogspot.com/ for 22 February 2008, More copyright please, says SNP MP). The Bill’s title is almost self-explanatory: Sound Recordings (Copyright Term Extension) Bill. It is the latest shot in the UK music industry’s long-running campaign to get the copyright term for sound recordings up from its present 50 years (already 30 years longer than the minimum required under the relevant international treaty, the Rome Convention 1960) to the 95 years given in the USA (against a very different overall background of legal protection for sound recordings, it should be said). It is pure chance that this campaign coincides with the early recordings of such great artists as Elvis Presley and Cliff Richard falling out of copyright, with the Beatles and then the Stones due to follow over the next few years. There have also been heart-rending stories of how recording artists and their families are robbed of the pensions provided by their copyright royalties just when they need them most. Virtually everything else that needs to be said on this unfortunate Bill is said by the IP Kat, but Scots Law News was a little saddened by the comment that Runrig are embarrassingly awful. What, even Loch Lomond?
A New Year’s resolution at Scots Law News was to keep an eye on the fortunes of Gretna FC (No 723). Alas, the club remains anchored to the bottom of the Scottish Premier League while the other teams, even Hearts, steam slowly away over the horizon. Fortunes appeared to take a turn for the worse when eccentric owner Brooks Mileson, who has funded the club’s rise from non-league obscurity, was taken seriously ill with a brain infection in early February 2008 and admitted to Newcastle General Hospital for tests. This meant that no funds could move to the club, as Mileson was the only person able to authorize the necessary transfers, and as a result players and other staff did not receive their wages in the middle of the month. The head coach Davie Irons and his assistant resigned on 18 February to take over at Greenock Morton FC, and there were fears that Gretna might have to go into administration. Happily Mileson was released from hospital on 22 February, expected to make a full recovery; back-payments of wages were made, and the following week’s payments also authorized. A close-run thing, perhaps, but Gretna are still afloat, albeit they lost again on 24 February, 4-2 to SPL leaders Glasgow Rangers FC.