HC Deb 28 March 1889 vol 334 cc1021-2

asked the Lord Advocate whether, in the case of Weir against Weir, in the Sheriff Court of Caithness, the Sheriff Substitute decided in favour of the defender in respect of facts brought out in the portion of the written evidence in the case which is amissing; whether Sheriff Depute Thoms, when the case was before him on appeal, reversed the decision of the Sheriff Substitute, decided in favour of the pursuer, and cut out and abstracted from the process the evidence, or portion of the evidence, on which the Sheriff Substitute relied in support of his decision in the case; whether, in Scotland, the Judge of an inferior Court, in a case subject to the review of a superior Court, has any right whatever to cut out and abstract from the process, or to cancel beyond recognition, any portion of the written evidence taken in the cause by the Judge of the first instance, and upon which the decision of the Judge of the first instance rested; whether he will cause Sheriff Thoms to restore to the process the evidence, or at least an authentic copy of the evidence, cut out and abstracted by him, and which he (Sheriff Thoms) states "was not destroyed but is amissing;" and, whether he will institute an independent investigation with the view of ascertaining the true facts as to the number of pages of evidence so cut out and abstracted, as to whether the same were or were not torn up by Sheriff Thoms, and as to what he did with, or what became of, the pages of evidence so cut out and abstracted?


I have communicated with the Sheriff, and am informed that the Sheriff Substitute pronounced findings which were, in part, based on the portion of the evi- dence now amissing, and which would have led to a remit to an accountant. The Sheriff held this evidence to be irrelevant, and, as I have already informed the hon. Gentleman, the sheet containing it was cut out—was not abstracted by the Sheriff, and has gone amissing. In these circumstances the question of law raised in the third paragraph does not arise. An appeal was taken against the Sheriff's decision to the Court of Session, but was abandoned. In that appeal complete redress could have been obtained against any error on the part of the Sheriff in the proceedings which are the subject of the question. The Court of Session, and not the Lord Advocate, is the proper authority to correct any irregularities which may have caused a grievance to those legitimately concerned. I therefore answer the last two queries in the negative.