HC Deb 18 March 1889 vol 334 cc29-30
MR. CALDWELL (Glasgow, St. Rollox)

asked the Lord Advocate whether it was the case that Mr. Thorns, Sheriff Depute of Caithness, while sitting on the Bench at Wick and dealing with a case, Weir against Weir, which had been appealed to him from the Sheriff Substitute, abstracted 18 pages or thereby of the written evidence taken before the Sheriff Substitute in the case; whether Mr. Thorns cast said pages aside and destroyed them, stitching up the remaining evidence; if so, was Mr. Thorns entitled to act in such a way; and, if he was not so entitled to act, what steps did the Lord Advocate intend taking in the circumstances.


I am informed by the Sheriff that the statements in the question are not correct. The Sheriff Depute considered that a certain part of the evidence was so irrelevant to the action, that it ought not to form part of the proceedings, and as this evidence was comprised in one sheet of four pages, an amendment was effected by the excision of the sheet. It is within the competence of the Sheriff to remove from the record palpably irrelevant matter, and this is generally done by deletion; but I do not consider that the method adopted in this case was illegal.


I suppose it is not denied that these pages were destroyed. May I ask, is it competent for a sheriff or a judge to take out and destroy part of the proceedings in a case so that it cannot be used in a Court of Appeal?


I am informed that the sheriff did not destroy the portion taken out. As I have said, the ordinary, method of effecting a formal removal is by deletion, and I think that is preferable.


again asked if the portion abstracted would be available?


I do not quite know what is meant. Does the hon. Member wish to know if the paper is in existence? I am informed that it is missing, but that the sheriff did not destroy it.

DR. CAMERON (Glasgow, College)

If there should be an appeal to a Court of Session, what is to be done in such a case?


That is one of the inconveniences from which I consider it is preferable to delete.