I must be losing the plot! When I read in the papers that the Lord Advocate had something to say about the Bin Lorry case I really expected a detailed synopsis of evidence and what he thought had led to any misunderstanding by the Scottish media and the public in relation to the decision not to prosecute bin lorry driver Harry Clark for Causing Death by Dangerous Driving.
But no, it was simply Frank Mulholland QC leaping to the defence of one of his staff who had been accused by family members of using unprofessional language when describing Harry Clark as “A fat uneducated man from the west of Scotland” Personally I might have been a lot less flattering when talking about the gentleman.
It was reported that the Lord Advocate has attacked the BBC over a “sensationalist documentary” on the Glasgow bin lorry crash whose claims he said were “simply not true”.
I watched the documentary and it seemed pretty tame to me. Just Jackie Bird asking family members and Brian McConnachie QC about how the investigation had been conducted and their thoughts and feelings about it. But the Lord Advocate has blasted the BBC in Scotland claiming that claims in the program were “Simply not true”
Well, if the Lord Advocate considers that a national broadcasting service is issueing information that is “simply not true” surely we can expect to see some legal action such as a civil action against those perpetrators of lies and defamation!
I suspect we would have to wait a long time for that too, because like any case against Harry Clark it is unlikely that the Lord Advocate will take action against the BBC either. I am pretty sure the Lord Advocate and his staff would just like the world to forget about this Fatal Accident Inquiry and any TV programmes
The Lord Advocate has claimed the Crown were fully aware of Mr Clarke’s driving record when they made the decision not to prosecute him. The trouble with a statement like that is that it just says “Trust me, I am the Lord Advocate.” but is it enough to make such a statement when we are aware of several days of evidence and lots of issues being raised regarding the driver’s health and whether or not it should have been reported to DVLA and whether or not he should have been driving.
Personally I think Frank Mulholland QC and Catherine Dyer missed an important opportunity to set the record straight with a detailed statement to the press explaining the logic and reasoning behind the Crown decision not to prosecute.
It seemed to me from recent statements that they were more upset about what claims had been made about one of their staff possibly saying, in a private interview situation, that Harry Clarke was a “Fat uneducated man from the West of Scotland”
We do understand that EVEN Procurator Fiscal’s are human and from time to time they get angry and even a little frustrated. We even understand that they can express themselves in an entirely human and understandable manner. Let it go Frank! We don’t expect Fiscal’s to be robots, some of them are dealing on a day to day basis with the bereaved families of victims of violent and often mindless crime. Those staff members are under incredible pressure to conclude post mortems and allow funerals to proceed whilst also having to ensure that no stone is left unturned in a criminal investigation of the utmost importance.
Who cares if a Procurator Fiscal said Harry Clark was fat and uneducated?Who cares if Harry Clark might have felt insulted? What the grieving families will care about is whether they have received justice and whether drivers with a known, notifiable medical condition should be allowed on our roads threatening the safety of ourselves and our families.
The real question that should have been raised in the documentary and by the Crown is :- Should Doctors be instructed that they must breach patient confidentiality and report any suspected patient driver to DVLA where they consider that person has a medical condition that is a threat to road users?
Can we really expect “Fat, uneducated men from the West of Scotland” or anyone else for that matter to report a medical condition to DVLA when their livelihood depends upon their entitlement to drive?
Following the tragic M9 crash that caused the deaths of Lamara Bell and her boyfriend John Yuill , the Scottish Government ordered Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland (HMICS) to undertake an urgent review of all police call handling. We can expect a report soon.
Questions were asked in the Scottish Parliament about the level of funding and cost-cutting that had occurred in the Scottish police and is that played a part in these tragic events
Sir Stephen House has come in for varying degrees of criticism during his controversial time in office, however you have to look at the causes rather than effects and the fact that Sir Stephen House implemented millions of pounds worth of cuts was not a fault on his part. It was an essential part of his role. The responsibility for cutting budgets lies fairly and squarely at the door of the Scottish Government.
There was obviously a very serious issue about how calls were handled by the police and we should hear what changes will be made to make sure that those communication issues have been resolved and no family will ever have the nightmarish scenario of a member of their family fighting for their life for days while the police remain oblivious to their plight
The local man said he called the non-emergency 101 number at 11:30 on Sunday 5 July.
Sir Stephen has admitted that the initial information received about the crash was not entered into police systems.
However, he insisted he would not be resigning, and said the “massive changes” brought by the creation of the single Police Scotland force were not to blame for the “horrible tragedy”.
(Lamara Bell, 25, was found next to her dead boyfriend John Yuill in the vehicle last Wednesday – despite the accident off the M9 being reported to police on the previous Sunday. It was reported that she had been conscious when found and clearly struggling for life over the days trapped in the vehicle)
The couple were only discovered down an embankment near a slip road at Bannockburn when police received a second phone call on Wednesday morning.
Ms Bell was taken to Glasgow’s Queen Elizabeth University Hospital and put on life support, but her family confirmed on Sunday that she had died.
An initial call to police on 5 July was not acted upon, and Ms Bell and Mr Yuill, 28, were not discovered until another member of the public contacted police on 8 July after spotting the vehicle.
Scottish Justice Secretary Michael Matheson has ordered a review of all police call handling. at the time. I wonder how much will be included in the report about the general effect of police budget cuts that amounted to several millions of pounds.
Niven Rennie, president of the Association of Scottish Police Superintendents (ASPS) told the fringe event: “It remains extremely difficult to keep police services at their current level while the budget is being slashed. I don’t know how many officers we need for policing… What I am arguing is that it is worthless to have 17,234 officers if we remove all the other facilities that are required by modern police services, and utilise these officers to do civilian duties.”
The case is being independently investigated by the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner
Police Scotland has been tasked with making £1.1 billion of savings by 2026.
Scotland’s most prolific speed camera has raked in more than £230,000 in fines already this year – but the police don’t want to tell us where it is?
If you think that you know please sign up for our mailing list and let us know. We will collate the information we receive and see if we can work out where biggest earner camera is located.
It has been reported recently in the press that one single fixed roadside speed camera caught 2368 drivers in the first ten months of the year. Add a couple of zeros onto that number to get an idea of the level of revenue we are talking about ie nearly a 1/4 of a million from one camera site.
On the one hand it makes me think that this is such a good way of raising revenue that they should be on every corner then the Government could reeduce income tax to zero for just about everyone in the country!
In total, 10,528 speeding fines have been handed out from fixed roadside cameras so far this year.
On top of that, 17,567 drivers were given fixed penalty fines from mobile camera vans between January 1 and September 19 this year.
The minimum fine for speeding is £100 – as well as at least three points on your driving licence – meaning at least £2,809,500 has been raked in this year so far in fines. Speed cameras are doing a fine job of raising revenue but are they driving down the level of accidents? Average speed cameras seem to have had a clear and positive effect on the A9 but what about those GATSOs that we all get used too?
It is very clear to me, after 30 years of working in the legal profession in Scotland, that we now have a two tier system of justice. There is no doubt that if you have the funds available, you can afford the cost of defending a road traffic case and you will be able to pursue justice. It is also the case that you stand a very good chance of an acquital in many road traffic cases prosecuted in Scotland.
Our win rate of 90% goes a long way to proving that. Our cases are all privately funded by individuals or by their insurance companies.Drivers often add Legal Protection Cover to their Home Contents Insurance policies nowadays and it can be the best £30 they ever spend when they face a “Totting Up Ban” or something even more serious, like Death by Dangerous Driving!
We are currently working on, yet another death by dangerous driving charge. Funded by an insurance company. I am certain the accused would not have qualified for Legal Aid due to his ownership of property but I am also sure that the costs of defending the case could have caused financial ruin let alone severe stress and upset to himself and his family.
Personally, I do not consider that legal aid should be available for all types of cases and in all circumstances. The public purse just isn’t big enough for that. In a time when welfare benefits are cut to poor working families and foodbanks dot our citires and towns we need to realise that public spending priorities do exist for good reason.
There has to be discretion and it is, in my view, appropriate that the “interests of justice” and the interests of the State should be taken into account when establishing if Legal Aid should be granted to an accused. However it is clear that an imbalance exists. An article in the Mirror highlights the problem with Legal Aid and is worth publishing again here as it sets out the strong case for Legal Aid and it makes it clear that there needs to be a better way. I would suggest that we can learn a great deal from a system that the English used to have!
They tried to follow our example by changing how cases are paid for in criminal cases but I think they have made a change for the worse. There was a time when a “defendant” in England, could recover his lawyer’s legal fees and full court costs if he won ie He was innocent. That seems perfectly appropriate to me. If someone is willing to take the risk of hiring a good lawyer (He may find that it is expensive to do so) he should then have the State refund his fees should the State, with all that it has in it’s armoury, should fail to secure a guilty verdict.
It is time for change in Scotland. Lets ease the strain on the Legal Aid budget and make the accused pay their own legal fees where they can afford to do so, on the proviso that should they win their case they can recalinm their fee in full from the Scottish Government
The Tories didn’t face too much protest when they slashed the legal aid budget by 30% over the past 10 years. But some things can change people’s minds.
Here’s one thing that can change a Tory’s mind.
In June 2011 Tory MP Nigel Evans backed cuts to legal aid.
Just two years later he’s become a fierce opponent.
Mr Evans was accused of rape and sexual assault – then acquitted – but left with a £130,000 legal bill.
It used to be that acquitted defendants got reasonable legal fees paid back. If you were charged with a crime, but found innocent, you didn’t have to shoulder a big lawyers’ bill. But this is one part of the legal system where the government made big cuts. Now the government will pay for very basic legal representation for those accused, but then acquitted of crimes.
But if you want better lawyers, you’ll have to cough up yourself.
And basic can mean pretty basic: it could be the difference between paying a barrister £50 a day or £250 to defend you. Those who want to go for the best lawyers like Nigel Evans – who hired a top QC – have to foot the bill themselves.
If you’re found guilty, you could have a legal bill as well as a conviction: households with a disposable income of £22,500 will have to contribute to the costs. And households earning with over £37,000 a year in disposable income will have to pay it all back to the state.
The thresholds include partner income – so if you live with a partner who works – you have to count their income too.
So a journey through the courts could be financially crippling to the guilty and in some cases to the innocent too.
And most Britons won’t have the savings that Nigel Evans did to cover an unexpected £130,000 bill.
Even a simple road traffic case can cost thousands of pounds to defend. Many of those cases should not be afforded Legal Aid but it is only fair that those who pay for their own defence should be entitled to reclaim those legal fees where found to be innocent otherwise justice will only be available to the wealthy. Another line of division in a society that feels more and more factionalised into rich and poor, north and south, Scotland and England.The cost of defending a road traffic case needs to be addressed and should be addressed by the Scottish Government when dealing with the adequate provsion of Legal Aid in this country.
Drink Drive Awareness Courses
Reducing the length of your ban through Drink Drive Awareness Courses
The court reduce the length that you’re banned from driving if you complete the course within a certain time. The ban is usually reduced by a quarter.
Deciding to take a Drink Drive Awareness Course
You have to decide in court, when you are found guilty and if offered a referral, if you want to take a course or not. You won’t be able to change your mind at a later date.
Before going to court you can find a course that you want to be referred to if you are found guilty and banned from driving.
Alcohol alters people perceptions and decisions. People under the influence of alcohol will readily confess that they take chances that they wouldn’t do when they are sober and too often, those chances prove to be disastrous when made behind the wheel of a vehicle. It is estimated that the risk of a driver being killed while under the influence of alcohol is eleven times greater compared to those drivers who don’t have alcohol in their system.
The Effects of Alcohol
Alcohol is absorbed in the bloodstream through small blood vessels found in the walls of the stomach and within minutes, it travels from there to the brain where it produces the following effects:
When you take account all of these effects, it is obvious that drinking and driving is not a good mix. We all know it and in Scotland it is clear that drink driving is socially unacceptable. We are often asked in the new drink drive limit has increased the amount of cases we have for drink driving. The answer is no. If anything our case load for drink driving has reduced. We reckon this is because of social pressure and the fact that drivers now completely understand that any drink driving, even one drink is really unacce3ptable. The message seems to be getting through. The other side of that coin is that businesses have been devastated by the new behavior that is now happening in Scotland. Golf Clubs, community clubs, restaurants that rely on lunchtime sales, pubs that rely on food sales have all been badly affected by the drink drive limit reduction.
Let’s say you did go driving when you’ve had a drink. You suddenly hear the sound of the siren and see those unmistakable blue flashing lights. What happens next?
If YOU need a road traffic lawyer in Scotland feel free to call us on 0800 612 9597 and we will be pleased to meet with you and advise you on the percentage chance of us winning your case and the strengths and weaknesses of your position.
Making a Decision
It is a conscious choice to drink and drive or to put down the keys and take a taxi instead.
Educating members of our community through Drink Drive Awareness courses is a good way to prevent fatalities and injuries involving vehicular accidents. But for those who are facing a charge and a mandatory ban, get in touch today. We will provide you with a free case consultation to explain face to face what we can do for you to limit the damage and deal with this case in a discrete manner that avoids hassle and stress.
You may wish to contact our firm of choice in Scotland ismpsychologicalservices
You’ll be given a ‘certificate of course completion’ by the course provider when you complete the course. They will also send a copy to the court that sentenced you.
The court will tell DVLA so that your ban is reduced.
You’ll need to reapply for a driving licence and take a medical if you’re a ‘high risk offender’. You should check to see if you’re a high risk offender as the court may not have mentioned this. Check with your course provider if you’re unsure.
If you need help or assistance with any of this information please do not hesitate to get in touch with us today on 0800 612 9597