JUSTICE: RANGERS INQUIRY WILL HAVE A NEUTRAL JUDGE FROM OUTWITH SCOTLAND

By Bill Heaney

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has appointed Dorothy Bain QC to take charge of government legal matters which include the Rangers’ case.

By Bill Heaney

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has been asked to put a neutral judge from outwith Scotland in charge of any inquiry by the Scottish Government into malicious prosecutions against Rangers Football Club.
Newly elected Tory MSP and former investiugative journalist Russell Findlay asked not only for the neutral judge to be in charge but for a firm commitment that an inquiry would take place.
Nicola Sturgeon told him that both the Lord Advocate [James Wolffe] and the then Minister for Parliamentary Business made clear to Parliament on 10 February this year that the Scottish Government supports both parliamentary and wider public accountability when it comes to the Rangers’ cases.
She added: “In February, the Parliament passed a motion in support of a judge-led inquiry. The Government supports and is committed to that. That inquiry can happen only when related legal proceedings are completed. Legal proceedings on the cases remain live, but there will be an inquiry once they have concluded.”
Mr Findlay replied: “We do not yet know how much these malicious prosecutions will end up costing taxpayers. The self-inflicted damage to the Crown Office’s reputation is unquantifiable.
The costs so far in compensatory payments have run into ten of millions of pounds of public money.
“The Scottish National Party has agreed to most of the Scottish Conservatives’ demands in relation to the inquiry, but one big question remains unanswered: will the judge who leads it be from outwith Scotland? That is a yes-or-no question.”
Ms Sturgeon told him: “Yes, I think that there is an argument for that. However, such decisions must be taken in the proper way and at the proper time.
“We are committed to this. Of course, in prosecution matters, the Crown Office acts entirely independently of ministers.
“It is important that there is a remit for the inquiry and that it is led by a judge who commands confidence.
“That is in the interests of everyone and we will take those decisions once the legal proceedings have concluded.”
The newly appointed Lord Advocate Dorothy Bain, who succeeds James Wolff, will take charge of prosecuting the case.

Willie Rennie, Lord Advocate Dorothy Bain QC and Solicitor General Ruth Charteris.

Meanwhile, commenting on the appointment of the new Lord Advocate and Solicitor General, Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said the new law officers would have more than the Rangers’ case on their plate.

He added: ““It will soon be six years since the tragic death of Lamara Bell and John Yuill by the side of the M9 motorway.

“Despite numerous promises of a Fatal Accident Inquiry the families are still left without answers.

“The tragedy of their deaths has been compounded by the snail’s pace of the Crown Office.  This is no way to treat anyone.

“Warm words are wholly inadequate.  Reform is long overdue and that must be led by the new Lord Advocate.

On prosecutions for drugs offences he added: “Scotland has the worst drug death rate in Europe, the developed world and the UK.  In fact, there are four times as many deaths in Scotland than England.

“In March this Parliament backed a Liberal Democrats motion to divert people gripped by drugs into treatment, and cease prosecution and imprisonment.

“We need a new approach from the Crown Office.  Another huge responsibility for the new Lord Advocate.

On splitting the role of the Lord Advocate he said:“There is one specific reform that is for the First Minister. The role needs split to end the apparent conflicts of interest,

“It is no longer appropriate for the Lord Advocate to act as both a prosecutor and a politician sitting in the cabinet.

“This is not new. But in the later days of the last parliament, the conflict of interest between those duties fell into sharp focus.

“Even the impression of a conflict undermines the integrity of the role.

“Separate positions, with an independent Director of Prosecutions to run the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service could bring both focus to the task of recovery in justice, and with it a healthier separation of powers.

“I would like to congratulate the Lord Advocate and the Solicitor General and wish them well for the future.”

One comment

  1. Anecdotal reports are that the malicious Rangers prosecutions are going to cost the taxpayer around £200 million.

    Spin that one Nicola if you will.

    And there’s more to come. Sturgeon’s regime’s abuse of the law as a political weapon is going to come back to bite.

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