Guarding the guardians and a question of rights
After nine years, the Court of Session has confirmed what has long been apparent to those applying common sense to the issue of police complaints: it is not just for officers of a police force to investigate complaints agains members of the same force.
By allowing fellow Strathclyde Police officers to investigate a complaint of assault against their colleagues in 2004, Strathclyde Police breached the rights of the complainant Kevin Ruddy.
The case could have significant ramifications, especially in a context where around 800 complaints of assault are made against officers in Scotland every year, out of 4000 compaints in total.
Judicial independence is a pre-requisite to the rule of law and a fundamental guarantee of a fair trial. A
judge shall therefore uphold and exemplify judicial independence in both its individual and institutional
1.1 A judge shall exercise the judicial function independently on the basis of the judge’s
assessment of the facts and in accordance with a conscientious understanding of the
law, free of any extraneous influences, inducements, pressures, threats or interference,
direct or indirect, from any quarter or for any reason.
1.2 A judge shall be independent in relation to society in general and in relation to the
particular parties to a dispute which the judge has to adjudicate.
1.3 A judge shall not only be free from inappropriate connections with, and influence by,
the executive and legislative branches of government, but must also appear to a
reasonable observer to be free therefrom.
1.4 In performing judicial duties, a judge shall be independent of judicial colleagues in
respect of decisions which the judge is obliged to make independently.
1.5 A judge shall encourage and uphold safeguards for the discharge of judicial duties in
order to maintain and enhance the institutional and operational independence of the
1.6 A judge shall exhibit and promote high standards of judicial conduct in order to
reinforce public confidence in the judiciary which is fundamental to the maintenance of
Impartiality is essential to the proper discharge of the judicial office. It applies not only to the
decision itself but also to the process by which the decision is made.
2.1 A judge shall perform his or her judicial duties without favour, bias or prejudice.
2.2 A judge shall ensure that his or her conduct, both in and out of court, maintains and
enhances the confidence of the public, the legal profession and litigants in the
impartiality of the judge and of the judiciary. 4
2.3 A judge shall, so far as is reasonable, so conduct himself or herself as to minimise the
occasions on which it will be necessary for the judge to be disqualified from hearing or
2.4 A judge shall not knowingly, while a proceeding is before, or could come before, the
judge, make any comment that might reasonably be expected to affect the outcome of
such proceeding or impair the manifest fairness of the process. Nor shall the judge
make any comment in public or otherwise that might affect the fair trial of any person
2.5 A judge shall disqualify himself or herself from participating in any proceedings in
which the judge is unable to decide the matter impartially or in which it may appear to a
reasonable observer that the judge is unable to decide the matter impartially. Such
proceedings include, but are not limited to, instances where
2.5.1 the judge has actual bias or prejudice concerning a party or
personal knowledge of disputed evidentiary facts concerning the
2.5.2 the judge previously served as a lawyer or was a material
witness in the matter in controversy; or
2.5.3 the judge, or a member of the judge’s family, has an economic
interest in the outcome of the matter in controversy:
Provided that disqualification of a judge shall not be required if no other
tribunal can be constituted to deal with the case or, because of urgent circumstances,
failure to act could lead to a serious miscarriage of justice.
Integrity is essential to the proper discharge of the judicial office.
3.1 A judge shall ensure that his or her conduct is above reproach in the view of a
3.2 The behaviour and conduct of a judge must reaffirm the people’s faith in the integrity of
the judiciary. Justice must not merely be done but must also be seen to be done.
Propriety, and the appearance of propriety, are essential to the performance
of all of the activities of a judge.
AYE THATS RIGHT!