I attended your 28th April public meeting in Perth concerning the proposal that Scotland should be an independent nation state. I attempted to ask a question regarding the importance of the rule of law, and the imperative that law should be blind to wealth, status and power. You refused to listen to my question and cut me off well before I could finish. The reason for this was clearly my reference to the Hollie Greig case.
Firstly may I express my disappointment regarding your refusal to hear my question? It is rare for members of the Scottish cabinet to speak in Perth and as you claim to represent our interests, taking a few minutes to listen to us would seem to be appropriate, even vital. All the more so if the question itself left you feeling discomforted. What more essential service is there in a democratic nation state than to discomfort those in power? I am sure you are aware of the dangers of long periods in office where politicians are surrounded by those who agree and shielded from those who do not. The resulting unreal atmosphere promotes very poor decision making where those without a voice at the centre of political power are ignored. Your visits to the “ordinary people” are not for our benefit but for yours.
Nevertheless, your reply to the preamble to my question (all that I was permitted to voice) was very enlightening as it revealed your thinking on many subjects surrounding the law. In brief, your answer comprised the following statements:
- The Hollie Greig allegations have been thoroughly investigated and found to be without foundation
- There was no abuse of Hollie Greig
- The allegations were in fact scurrilous, with many fine people accused wrongly; these people even include a SHERIFF! (your emphasis)
- A man was at that time rightly locked up in HMP Perth for publicising these allegations (you were referring to Robert Green)
- Elish Angiolini had been threatened by the activities of the person in HMP Perth
- Elish Angiolini was justifiably afraid for her safety and the safety of her children as a result.
If you feel I have in any way misrepresented your position please let me know.
Examining these points in turn, we first must address the matter of what constitutes a thorough investigation into child rape in Scotland. In the case of Hollie Greig, none of the accused were properly investigated and only 1 or perhaps 2 of the 20+ accused by Hollie were even questioned by the police. Neither did the police investigation include seizing and examining computers for child pornography. This later point is important as rape can be difficult to prove but child abusers often possess vast quantities of appalling child pornography due to the nature of their predilections and desires. Such material involves huge suffering to children when it is produced and possession is rightly a crime. Thus, it is normal practice by law enforcement to examine computers for such material as this provides an easier route to prosecution, bolsters other aspects of the prosecution case and can form leverage to achieve further confessions from the accused. Your statement implies that you are content that an investigation with such obvious omissions is “thorough”, a clearly indefensible position.
Secondly, Robert Green passed full details and copies of medical and other specialist reports to you concerning Hollie Greig. In these reports, distinguished experts confirmed that abuse had occurred. Please explain, therefore, how you can maintain that it did not.
Next, your obvious outrage that a Sheriff was amongst those accused by Hollie is very telling. For in your view it seems that the elevated nature of this man’s office equips him with immunity from suspicion. His sheriff-dom and his innocence, it seems, are synonymous. Such an opinion might be excusable from an uneducated common man (albeit only one without knowledge of scripture, which is quite explicit on the subject of human failings in high office), but coming from the man uniquely responsible for political oversight of the Scottish justice system, it is troubling indeed. No-one, is above the law.
Next you referred to Robert Green, then on REMAND at HMP Perth, You commented that he was locked up “and rightly so” for publicising the Hollie Greig affair. In doing so you seemed to ignore due process. Mr Green was held on remand, not having been convicted of anything and is thus innocent until proven guilty. You made no distinction and no reference to the fact that he had been neither tried nor convicted.
Your omission of the highly significant fact that Mr Green must be presumed innocent becomes all the more troubling against the backdrop of the Scottish Judiciary and Crown Office treatment of this man. Despite his peaceful, non-violent nature, advanced age and heart condition; and despite his entirely law-abiding record outside of the campaign for a full investigation into the allegations raised by Hollie Greig, Mr Green was locked up without trial for 96 days! As the charge he faces (breach of a non-harassment order) carries a maximum sentence of 6 months, the custodial part of this (if convicted and sentenced to the maximum term) is only 90 days. As Brian Gerrish noted when reporting the case in the UK Column News, “…in Scotland, first you serve the sentence, then you have a trial”. Your comment hinted at something yet worse; incarceration as proof, in itself, of guilt.
Much of your reply concentrated on Elish Angiolini, a woman I had not mentioned and did not intend to mention in my question. Your glowing description of her, and the close friendship you share was clear enough. However your allegations that Robert Green visited Ms Angiolini’s home-town of Dunblane in order to threaten her safety or the safety of her family are a calumny. The reason Robert Green visited Dunblane was to make a report to the proper authorities, the Police, that he had reason to believe that Ms. (now Dame) Angiolini had misappropriated public funds to pay for the services of law-firm Levy and McRea. This firm was involved in warning the Scottish news and print media of dire legal consequences should they report the Hollie Greig case and, in particular, Ms Angiolini’s connection to it. These are very serious allegations; they raise vital questions regarding the freedom of the press, the conduct of the crown office and the ability of powerful, well connected individuals to control the legal and political system to their personal advantage. Your attempt to characterise a principled stand on vital issues as some sort of thuggish behaviour by Mr Green was most certainly unjust.
The suggestion that Dame Angiolini’s children might be at risk due to the actions of Robert Green is the vilest of slurs, particularly against a man who has served considerable prison time for the sole reason of publicising the cover-up of child abuse in Scotland so that such crimes are stopped and children saved from suffering. To illustrate the degree to which you wronged a fine man, let me recount how Mr Green actually deals with threats of violent action. Long before Hollie Greig’s allegations became public and before Robert Green named the individuals accused by Hollie in a public meeting, rumours were circulating the Scottish Prisons that a certain Aberdeen Sheriff was in fact a paedophile. When Robert named this individual and was eventually confined to Craiginches prison on a breach of the peace conviction as a consequence of the reaction to his statements, he was surprised to find the Sheriff he had named was long rumoured to be guilty of such crimes. On his current incarceration, he was struck by how many prisoners were aware of the case and wanted to know the home address of the Sheriff concerned. Now in the circumstances, a mean-spirited man might have encouraged such simmering resentment. No so Robert Green, he reported the presence of this general feeling within the prison system and recommended that the authorities provide the sheriff with appropriate police protection. Robert Green values justice, not retribution and knows the difference. You, Sir, owe Robert Green an apology.
To summarise, your replies raised many concerns over your stewardship and oversight of the Scottish judicial system. The matters raised are of the greatest possible concern, particularly at a time where we are being asked to trust you, the Holyrood Parliament and The Scottish National Party with further power. I therefore urge you to reply in detail to the points raised above.
David Scott BEng, AMICE, CEng, MIStructE, MIES
Dear Mr MacAskill
The recent debate held on 21st May 2014 regarding Court Reform in Scotland has attracted particular attention to the subject of Equality of Arms and Access to Counsel. I understand that in 1424 the Scottish Parliament enacted legislation requiring the appointment of Advocates to represent poor litigants, and in 1587 gave the accused the statutory right to be represented by Counsel. If this is correct and that a document from the Faculty of Advocates states “The principle that legal representation should be available to all who need it is built into the DNA of our society”, may I ask why this is not being upheld in the case of Robert Green?
Let us recall that the Mace presented to Her Majesty the Queen at the opening ceremony of the Scottish Parliament in 1999 bears the inscription “Wisdom, Justice, Compassion, Integrity”, symbolising the relationship between the Parliament, it’s people, and the land, and that the words are a reference to the ideals that the people of Scotland aspire to for their Members of Parliament. With this in mind, it is imperative that Robert Green is given the benefit of Compassion and Justice, if indeed we are to honour the well established Rules of the Scottish Parliament. It is to Scotland’s shame that the persecution of a man who has done nothing but stand up for those who cannot speak for themselves is allowed to continue.
Given that Robert Green has already served the maximum sentence he could face before even being tried in a court, “innocent until proven guilty” seems to be a maxim that has departed from the Scottish legal system.
In your position as Justice Secretary you are the one person best placed to bring resolution to this long standing situation by removing all charges against Robert Green and instructing a full investigation into the Hollie Greig case. Many in the public arena are outraged at the phenomenal amount of money spent on keeping the information out of the media and furthermore, wonder why.
Before Scotland acquires a truly tarnished reputation, please give this matter your urgent attention.