12 June 2010

Stark talk for Angiolini (& our justice system)

Its actually an interesting story, so I can - almost, almost, almost - forgive and forget the tagline "Turkey feels the long arm of EU law".  The judicial fondling being discussed, however, is predictably enough administered by the European Court of Human Rights, a the Council of Europe body with much wider membership than wur ain dainty wee EU (47 signatory states, to be exact, as opposed to the European Union's 27). I agree - the distinction is needlessly difficult, a quirk of history and a failure of the imagination. In a document claiming to be the "leading quality newspaper", this is damned poor stuff. I can only assume that somebody has an idiot for a copy editor who thought they'd freshen the subtitle up, and in a blithe spirit of ignorant confidence, thought a false two letters better than a more elaborated but accurate phrase. End of chastening remonstration.

The substance of the story concerns an issue I've touched on before and starts with a case in the European Court in Salduz v. Turkey.  This case took on a particular relevance in Scotland, being broadly concerned with the scope of the Convention right to have a solicitor present during a police interview while in police detention. The issue was presented to the High Court of the Justiciary earlier on this year in the case of Duncan McLean v. H. M. Advocate, the Court finding that the existing statutory rules on access to a lawyer in custody remained compatible with Article 6 of the Convention - the right to fair trial - Salduz despite. Under the provisions of the Scotland Act, the case has now headed south as Cadder v. H. M. Advocate to be adjudicated upon by the fresh-minted Supreme Court. Their judgement is anticipated in October. Until then, Lucy Adams' story furnishes much of the relevant context, so I won't reiterate or attempt my own version here. The crux is this - this is a case which has the potential for significant ramifications. Expect to hear more about it in the future.

Secondly, I don't know if any of you make a habit of listening to Edie Stark on BBC Radio Scotland. I very much enjoy her questioning style - a natural interviewer - and she usually wrings something interesting from whoever she corners and peppers with impertinent inquisitions. This week, the Lord Advocate Elish Angiolini was on Stark Talk. An unusual move in the fustian legal world, to say the least, to consent to such a personal exploration of your private life. Particularly since Angiolini is so publicly exposed - and has been exposed to sharp public criticism by grouchy old  judicial coelacanths and reprobate Faculty of Advocate fossils - that I'm astounded she consented to be interviewed and adopted such a disclosing manner. I thought I heard the distinct sticky tack of distant tongues being tutted as I listened to it. Rather refreshing to my mind. Rather refreshing indeed. The programme is available now on the BBC iplayer and remains so until the 16th of June. If you have half an hour and any curiosity about the woman who is Scotland's chief public prosecutor and legal advisor to the Scottish Government, lend it your lugs


  1. I await the judgement with interest. Can't yet decide how it will go.

    On a lighter note I did happen to hear Edie Stark and Elish Angiolini, purely by chance. I too would recommend it to your readers - go on readers, you know you want to!

  2. Hard to say, Subrosa. The article avers that the Crown Office policy change is in anticipation of a defeat in the Supreme Court. As you say, we'll have to wait and see.

  3. P.S.

    Worth mentioning this article from the Sunday Herald this morning, which presses the big red panic button which this appeal might well provoke.