62. Mr. GRAHAM
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he is aware that the four Lanarkshire county councillors who were charged with fraud at the recent sitting of the High Court in Glasgow were after a trial lasting four days found not guilty; can he state at whose instance the men were prosecuted; whether the Procurator Fiscal of Glasgow was engaged in any respect in the case; whether he is further aware that in consequence of delay in the arrangements for the trial the counsel and witnesses for the defence had to be in attendance from the opening of the court until it closed; and, since the men affected are poor men who are unable to meet the heavy expenditure involved, whether he will consider the desirability of relieving them of the cost of the trial?
§ The LORD ADVOCATE (Mr. Jamieson)
Four Lanarkshire county councillors were indicted at my instance on separate charges of fraud at the recent sitting of the High Court of Justiciary in Glasgow. In the first case the trial lasted two days and the accused was by 1994 a majority found not guilty of fraud but guilty on a charge of uttering forged documents. The second and third cases together occupied two days. In one the accused was found not guilty by a majority. In the other after some evidence had been led the charge was withdrawn. In the fourth case the diet was deserted on account of the illness of the accused. The Procurator Fiscal in Glasgow in the ordinary course of his duties was engaged in the preparation of the cases. There was no avoidable delay in the hearing of the cases, which were taken immediately on the conclusion of a murder trial, at the same circuit. As regards the last part of the question there is no precedent for the Crown meeting the costs incurred by the accused in such cases.
Would it not be advisable to create a precedent in cases of this kind, and may I ask on what grounds the Procurator Fiscal of Glasgow appeared in a case outside his area? Further, may I ask whether it is not the case that the accused persons had to provide their counsel for two weeks before their case was heard. Is it unreasonable to ask that when the prosecution fails in a case of this sort they should be held responsible for the expenses?
§ The LORD ADVOCATE
The Procurator Fiscal prepared the case as the alleged crime was said to have been committed in Glasgow. The offices of the County Council of Lanark are in Glasgow. As regards the other supplementary question, I see no reason to depart from the ordinary rules. As regards the question of delay, the cases were put down in the ordinary order in circuit courts.
May I draw attention to the fact that the Procurator Fiscal of Glasgow is an entirely different authority from an officer of the Lanark County Council, and will the Lord Advocate tell me on what grounds he interfered in a matter outside his own area?