First the good news.  Following Tiger Morison’s public criticism of the number of temporary judges (see No 373), Justice Minister Cathy Jamieson announced on 8 September 2004 an increase of two in the permanent complement, bringing their roll up to 32 (the largest ever).  The bad news, also announced on 8 September, was the suspension of Sheriff Hugh Neilson, who presides over the pilot youth court at Hamilton, and the investigation of his fitness to continue on the bench, to be conducted by the Lord President and the Lord Justice-Clerk.  The last such investigation led to the removal of Sheriff Ewen Stewart from the bench (see Stewart v Secretary of State for Scotland 1998 SC (HL) 81.  (Note: On 28 January 2005 Sheriff Neilson resigned before Lords Cullen and Gill could complete their investigation.)

A mixture of good and bad news (from the judicial point of view) was the intervention of the Scottish Information Commissioner, Kevin Dunion, in brokering an arrangement between the Sunday Times and the Scottish Courts Administration for the release of information which would enable the newspaper to publish league tables” of judges whose decisions had been subjected to successful appeals.  The Freedom of Information legislation does not come into force until 1 January 2005