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Originally Posted by hammer6
LIAR, LIAR, PANTS ON FIRE...

On the whole I do not make a habit of speaking up for judges. They are invariably well-off and, let's face it, quite often rather pleased with themselves.

But I shall make an exception in the case of Sir Stephen Richards, a very senior and eminent judge, who was yesterday cleared of exposing himself twice on packed commuter trains last October.

If we accept, as we surely must, that Sir Stephen was wholly innocent of the charge, it is not difficult to imagine the terrible experience he has endured.

Think, if you are a man, of how you would feel if you were falsely accused of "flashing" on a train.

One might be driven half mad. And although Sir Stephen spoke of "resuming a normal life and getting back to my full judicial duties", he must know that he can never completely do this.

I am afraid his life will never be quite the same again.

Most of us will forget about the case very quickly, yet it seems in several ways to bespeak a kind of idiocy that is endemic in our society.

Lord Justice Richards

Lord Justice Richards with wife Lucy...

This really is a tale for our times which illustrates the failings of the police, as well as the shortcomings of our justice system.

Let me say, though, that I was shocked that a 56-year-old judge should have been wearing black Calvin Klein underpants - a garment one might just about excuse in a 25-year-old male model anxious to emphasise his manhood - and even more shocked that he should have displayed these underpants in court in order to prove that they were not "flasher friendly".

Might it not have been more dignified to rest his case on his honour and integrity?

But these are matters of taste. The important point, as the presiding judge Timothy Workman said at the end of the case, was that it was the word of an unnamed City worker in her 20s against that of Sir Stephen.

Is it not extraordinary, given that there was not a single piece of evidence to substantiate her story, that charges should have been be brought?

In effect, the British Transport Police preferred to take the word of a young woman against that of a senior judge. According to Judge Workman, they did not even bother to investigate the case promptly or thoroughly. They were ready to ruin a man's reputation without doing their homework.

Here we have someone without a blemish to his name. It is not as though he was known as "Flasher Richards" in his chambers.

Along comes a young woman who claims that he exposed himself to her on two occasions on a crowded train, though no one else had caught a glimpse of the genitals in question. Incidentally, I was struck by Sir Stephen's claim that he had had to stand in his morning train from Wimbledon to Waterloo for as long as he could remember. What a strange country we live in.

Given that his accuser had no evidence whatsoever and that there was a complete absence of any corroborating testimony, I would have asked myself, were I a policeman, whether she might have imagined the whole thing, or whether it might have been a case of mistaken identity. On the second alleged occasion, she took a photograph of a man on the platform at Waterloo, but the figure could not be identified as Sir Stephen.

But PC Plod of the British Transport Police took a different view.

The word of an off-duty judge evidently means very little to him, which may be a strange reflection on the values of our society.

Yet I suspect that there is more to it than that.

There are some allegations which are treated with exaggerated respect by the modern constabulary, and others which are immediately booted into the long grass.

Any suggestion of homophobia has Plod reaching for his handcuffs.

Not long ago the author Lynette Burrows was warned by the Metropolitan Police after she had suggested on a BBC radio programme that gays do not make ideal parents.

In my home town of Oxford, a student was quite recently thrown into jail for the night after asking a mounted policeman: "Do you know that your horse is gay?"

Mild ethnic slurs, for example against the Welsh (whom incidentally I love), also set off alarm bells.

By contrast, the police may become suddenly timid and noninterventionist if any impropriety is alleged involving the quaint customs of an ethnic minority.

Earlier this week we learnt how the police - presumably reluctant to interfere in Muslim matters - had failed to intervene to protect a young Muslim Kurdish lady called Banaz Mahmod.

She had told them, rightly as it turned out, that her father and her uncle were planning to kill her for falling in love with the wrong man.

If only the police had taken one tenth of the time and trouble over Banaz Mahmod as they did in bringing a threadbare case against Sir Stephen Richards!

But he, poor chap, was easy game, being white, middle-class and a judge.

According to feminist orthodoxy, which seems to have been liberally imbibed down at the British Transport nick, Sir Stephen was a sexual predator, an uncivilised beast lurking beneath a thin veneer of respectability. Send him down!

There is another troubling aspect to this case - which is that we do not know the identity of Sir Stephen's accuser.

Women are granted anonymity in cases of alleged rape because it is assumed that they will be more prepared to come forward.

One can see the argument, though there have been disturbing cases of men being falsely, even maliciously, accused of rape by women whose identity is never revealed.

But whatever justification there may be for anonymity in instances of rape or other sexual assaults, there is surely none in cases of flashing.

The trauma suffered by a woman who is flashed at is hardly to be compared to that of a rape victim, though I am sure it is not pleasant, and I am told (not by extreme feminists) that flashing is surprisingly common.

His accuser should have been required to identify herself. She might, of course, have been happy to do so.

Judge Workman commended her for "clear, dignified and truthful evidence", which suggests to me that she was mistaken rather than over-imaginative.

But the fact remains that, even though Sir Stephen has been cleared, the charge against him is bound to linger in some minds, and some people will always say there is no smoke without fire.

Legislators should consider whether anonymity should continue to apply in such cases.

It cannot be right that someone should be able to make an accusation of this magnitude without having to run the risk of public censure if it turns out to be wrong or, worse still (though I am sure it does not apply in this instance), malicious.

But what really worries me is that this case should ever have been brought.

Presumably British Transport Police have some real crimes to investigate, but perhaps they are too intractable. How much easier to go against a middle-class, middle-aged judge.

We won't respect his office, or take his word. We won't even bother to prepare a proper case. What a depressing vignette this is of modern Britain.

Absolutely. What a vignette indeed. If we're not depressed already, we're well on the way to being so...

- John, Bangor, Wales

This is a blatant cover up to protect a senior judge from the consequences of his own actions. The comments by Mr Glover are fatuous in the extreme.

As usual he blames the victim who has shown great courage and tenacity even when faced by the fact that the judicial esatablishment would close ranks to protect one of their own. I note the judge did not opt for a jury trial where 12 members of the public would have little if any difficulty in deciding he was guilty. After all this was not a "fleeting" glimpse but occurred on two occasions in a train compartment where one can study the features of other passengers at some lenght. Additionally, this brave woman took photographs which prove the veracity of her complaint.

British Transport Police are convenient scapegoats used to divert attention of the blatant judicial bias on the part the three Magistrates concerned.

I strongly suggest that there should be a campaign for the CPS to appeal against the verdict.

- Jack Reed, Kingston UK

Just because there was not enough evidence to identify him as the flasher in question, it does not automatically make him innocent! He is now innocent in the eyes of the law but he could just as easily be guilty of the offence. Only the victim in this case knows the truth.

- Andrea, Cheshire

 

A senior judge cleared of exposing himself on a train could be questioned again by police after two more women claimed he flashed at them on the same line.

Sir Stephen Richards was found not guilty of two counts of indecent exposure last week by magistrates who accused police of failing to investigate the matter properly.

During the two-day trial the 56-year-old, who sits in the Court of Appeal as Lord Justice Richards, held up a pair of Calvin Klein briefs to demonstrate the type of underwear he usually wears.

After his acquittal at City of Westminster Magistrates' Court, two women contacted British Transport Police to claim that he exposed himself to them separately on the same route.

The alleged incidents happened on a train between Raynes Park in South-West London and Waterloo.

One of the women, reportedly from New Zealand, approached police after coverage of the court case.

She flew home to New Zealand after the alleged incident and British Transport Police are taking her statement.

The other woman is thought to be a young British woman who works in the City.

Sir Stephen could be questioned by officers in the next few weeks.

The married father of three was cleared of allegations of exposing himself to a City worker in her twenties on two separate occasions in October last year.

He had been accused of boxing the woman into a corner of a carriage during her journey to work from Raynes Park to Waterloo before exposing himself.

The second time, the woman took photos of the man and followed him along Waterloo Bridge and towards the Strand but lost him as he was walking 'towards the Courts of Justice area'.

In December, she saw him again and in January she pointed out the man she believed to be the offender during an undercover police operation.

She later picked out Sir Stephen in a video ID parade but this evidence was dismissed because by this time she already knew the man arrested was a senior judge and had seen pictures of him.

Chief magistrate Timothy Workman commended the woman for giving 'clear, dignified and truthful' evidence.

But he said it was impossible to be sure Sir Stephen was the same man who exposed himself to her.

He criticised British Transport Police for failing to investigate the allegation promptly and thoroughly which meant there was no CCTV evidence to support the case.

Sir Stephen, who lives in Wimbledon, South-West London, with his wife of 31 years Lucy, always maintained he had been wrongly identified.

He said after the case: "Throughout this case I have put my trust in the legal profession and I am delighted that it has enabled me to clear my name.

"We now look forward to getting back to our normal life and in my case, getting back to my full judicial duties."

A spokesman for the British Transport Police said yesterday: "BTP can confirm we have received complaints of incidents of a similar nature on that line.

"BTP is currently investigating those alleged incidents. It would be inappropriate for BTP to comment further at this stage."

Sir Stephen was unavailable for comment at his home yesterday.


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Crown Court judge dies in fall...
 
A Crown Court judge has died after falling 50ft from his home in a block of flats.

Judge Rodney McKinnon, 64, plunged from the building in Pimlico, south-west London, on Thursday afternoon, police said.

He was pronounced dead at the scene and the death is not being treated as suspicious.

The Southwark Crown Court judge lived alone in prestigious Drake House in Dolphin Square.

The exclusive residence has housed politicians, peers and society figures including General de Gaulle, Princess Anne, Harold Wilson and Christine Keeler.

A spokesman for the Metropolitan Police said a post-mortem examination was due to be carried out on Tuesday.


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New rebuke for Da Vinci judge...

A high court judge was severely criticised by senior judges yesterday for refusing to stand down from hearing a case involving a partner in a firm of solicitors with which he had unsuccessfully tried to negotiate a job while on the bench.

Mr Justice Peter Smith's discussions about a possible job with solicitors Addleshaw Goddard became public yesterday when the appeal court ruled that he should have taken himself off a case involving a partner in the firm.The judge had "undoubted animosity" towards the firm and should have stood down, said the master of the rolls, Sir Anthony Clarke, and two other judges. Mr Justice Peter Smith hit the headlines last year when he hid a coded message in his judgment dismissing breach of copyright allegations against the publishers of the Da Vinci code. His reasoning was strongly criticised in a court of appeal judgment upholding his findings.

The latest case to land him in hot water was an application by trustees of a family settlement, one of whom was Paul Howell, a partner in Addleshaw Goddard. The trustees' counsel, Peter Crampin QC, wrote to the judge asking him to stand down. He refused. Sir Anthony said that there were "extraordinary" exchanges in court.

Sir Peter said yesterday that no one had yet told him he was no longer involved in the case - "although I discerned this when I prepared to sit on Tuesday but nobody turned up".


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I am sure that this article will be of use to the team @ ferrisconspiracy.

Of course the police can and do lie when giving evidence; Lord McCluskey speaks his mind on the high drama and intrigue in Scotland's legal system.

After more than half a century immersed in criminal law, he finally has the chance to slow down, relax and behave in a manner befitting an OAP.

Yet he was never a stereotypical member of the judiciary and now, aged 71 and almost a year into his retirement, neither is he a typical pensioner.

He says: "The first day of my retirement, I didn't have very much to do. I got up, had two extra cups of coffee, read the papers and suddenly it was 10 to 11 and I thought 'where's the time gone?'.

"I don't propose to fritter away those two or three hours every morning."

Now he rises at 7.30am, swims for an hour at the local pool, then sits down at his desk to organise his week. It normally consists of dinner speeches, conferences, award ceremonies and writing articles.

And he still sits at the bench when he has time.

So much for any hopes his wife Ruth had of seeing more of him.

He says: "We were married for life, not for lunch."

Famous for his humanitarian approach to both victims and offenders, law was never just a job but a way of life. And courting controversy is as natural as donning his wig.

This week it's lawyers and the police that get his goat.

Not afraid to cross sword with his colleagues, he says: "Lawyers are overpaid. If you compare the job they do with the job done by teachers, firemen or various other people, then yes, a lot of lawyers are overpaid."

And he fumes when recalling incompetent lawyers whose clients' futures rest in shoddily-prepared presentations.

He says: "It is a tragedy to see a good case spoiled by a bad presentation. I get deeply upset about cases that are badly handled."

For a while he even made a habit of writing to the Lord Advocate to complain after a case had been ill-prepared by the prosecution or the police.

Equally galling to Lord McCluskey are members of the police force who lie in court: "They can and do sometimes lie. If they didn't, we needn't bother having a trial and could just ask the police.

"We have to examine police evidence just as carefully as the evidence of everyone else."

LAUDED by fellow lawyers, human rights campaigners and the public, Lord McCluskey was a former lecturer at the RAF Officer Cadet Training Unit at Spitalgate, where he won the Sword of Honour in 1953.

He is regarded as a man of honour and integrity, but his outspoken opinions often land him in hot water.

Remarks criticising the European Convention of Human Rights - which has been adopted as part of Scots Law - have effectively barred him from any cases invoking the ruling.

After describing it as "a field day for crackpots, a pain in the neck for judges and a goldmine for lawyers", he was disqualified from sitting at the appeal earlier this year of four Dutch men caught drug smuggling to Scotland.

Instrumental in setting up the acclaimed Human Rights Institute, he is keen to stress that it's not the convention he is worried about, but the way it could be exploited.

He says: "The convention says everyone is entitled to a fair trial. So everyone who has lost a case can come forward and say, like a child, 'my case wasn't fair'. That's why it provides a field day for crackpots."

Obviously peeved at having been accused of bias, he adds: "Whether you are in favour or reluctant, as I was, you administer the law as it is.

"In the old days, Catholic judges who had to handle divorce cases when they disapproved still went ahead and did it and judges opposed to the death penalty nonetheless imposed it, as was their duty."

As the debate rages over whether women alleging rape should continue to be cross examined, Lord McCluskey says the human rights law would never permit a change.

He says: "I have come across quite a few cases as prosecutor, defendant and judge in which a woman has made false accusations of rape. The idea that a man is not entitled to defend himself against an accusation, well, that would never pass the European Convention."

The only judge ever to have given the prestigious BBC Reith lectures, he once observed that judges' "experiences, vanities and prejudices cannot be wholly suppressed". Yet he defends Donald Findlay QC, who was widely condemned after being captured on video singing sectarian songs while in the middle of defending Kim Galbraith, who was found guilty of murdering her husband.

He says: "Everybody goes into court with their own experiences of life and it's bound to have some kind of bearing.

"But the notion that what happens outside court will have an impact inside court is not one with which I have much sympathy. Juries are very good at listening to the evidence."

Unlike many of his contemporaries, Lord McCluskey is not a doddery old judge, out of touch with modern society.

A sociable football fan, he was once part of the SFA appeals tribunal and still proudly displays his snapshots of shaking hands with Alex Ferguson and Jack Steedman, the former SFA president.

More surprisingly for someone responsible for sentencing some of Scotland's most depraved criminals, he loves ballroom dancing and planting flowers. Every spring, the common garden opposite his Edinburgh townhouse is ablaze with the colour of the 1000 daffodil and tulip bulbs he has planted.

Lord McCluskey, who claims to hate gardening, says: "If only half come up, it's still lovely."

Fiercely proud and protective of his own family, Lord McCluskey says the cases affecting families are often the most upsetting. He was responsible for jailing schoolgirl murderer Barbara Glover, yet he stresses young assailants are as much victims as their targets.

Bound by a jury's decision, Lord McCluskey is often no more than a civil servant operating within the strict guidelines of the law, which demands life in jail for murder.

He says: "Sometimes you look at a person and can't really see what sense it makes to lock them up for years. But I can't behave like a maverick and say 'I'm going to give you a sixpence and send you on holiday'. You can't step out of line and you can't have justice depending on which judge is sitting that day."

Lord McCluskey apparently once said he didn't want to grow old gracefully - after all, there's far too much unfinished business.

When asked if he planned to write his memoirs, he said: "I learned Italian a few years ago and want to go to Italy to improve my jargon. I also want to return to playing the piano, which I haven't had time to do recently.

"I'd much rather do these things than sit down and write my memoirs. I don't even know if they'd be that interesting."

Memoirs are for people reflecting on the past, but Lord McCluskey still has plenty more to say in the future.

THE CASES

ICE CREAM WAR KILLERS

ICE Cream War killers Thomas Campbell and Joe Steele were denied their freedom after Lord McCluskey clashed with two other appeal judges.

The law lord argued that fresh evidence should be heard concerning the two men, who were convicted of the murder of six members of the Doyle family in an arson attack at a Glasgow house.

Both were jailed for life, with Campbell, right, receiving a recommended minimum sentence of 20 years, after their trial in 1984.

But he lost his appeal on the majority decision of three judges in 1998.

BARBARA GLOVER

SCHOOLGIRL Barbara Glover stabbed Diane Watson in the heart with a Stanley knife after suspecting she was secretly seeing her boyfriend.

Horrified pupils at Whitehill Secondary School, in Glasgow, looked on as Diane, 16, lay in the playground bleeding to death. Diane's best friend carried her to her home in Dennistoun where she died in the arms of her parents.

Barbara, who was only 15 at the time of the attack in 1991, was ordered to be detained without limit of time by Lord McCluskey at the High Court in Glasgow after being found guilty of murder.

TRACEY HORNER

TRACEY HORNER admitted pushing a man from the window of her flat when he rejected her advances and the victim crashed to the ground, suffering terrible injuries.

Lord McCluskey took pity on Tracey during the 1998 case because she was deaf, pregnant and, according to psychiatrists, a potential suicide risk.

He decided to put Tracey on probation for three years instead of sending her to prison.

Later that year, Tracey was found strangled to death under the bed of her flat in Glasgow's East End.

AUDREY SINCLAIR

WHEN devoted parents Alexander and Evelyn Sinclair divorced, Lord McCluskey made the sensational ruling that both could care for their daughter, Audrey.

After talking privately with the seven year old, he ruled that she could spend alternate weeks with both parents. The groundbreaking decision in 1987 was regarded as a major step in the campaign by fathers to have equal rights in caring for children.

Mr Sinclair, from Falkirk, quit his oil rig job to care for his daughter after he was awarded formal custody and was delighted at the decision.

JOHN CRONIN

SEX beast John Cronin pretended to be a priest to gain access to the home of Judy X before he viciously raped and assaulted her.

His attack on the mother of four, who worked for the Tory Party, was so brutal he even bent an iron poker.

Cronin was sentenced to life by Lord McCluskey in 1992. On appeal, his sentence was cut to six years. After he was released, he went on to commit further offences.

Cronin is still regarded by police as posing a high risk to women, yet despite his past crimes, he does not have to register as a sex offender.

PAUL FERRIS

GANGSTER Paul Ferris was accused of the murder of the drugs baron son of Glasgow crime godfather Arthur Thompson and also of trying to kill the overlord himself.

The jury and Lord McCluskey listened to descriptions of the tactics employed in Glasgow's gangland, including cold-blooded executions, gun point confrontations, attacks on the elderly and the seduction of enemies by "leggy blondes" infected with the Aids virus.

After a riveting 12-week murder trial - Scotland's longest - Ferris was eventually cleared in 1992.

FRANK GILLINGHAM

FRANK GILLINGHAM snapped after 14 years of provocation and persistent vandalism to his smallholding near Kilmarnock, Ayrshire.

He rigged up a shotgun booby- trap on an outbuilding, which was triggered when thug Derek McCulloch, 23, tried to break-in, shooting his hand.

At the High Court in Glasgow in 1998, Lord McCluskey sentenced Gillingham to seven years in prison.

BRIAN McKENZIE

EVIL Brian McKenzie burst naked into the home of a terrified woman and brutally raped her.

After slitting her throat in the bath, he repeatedly forced the 25-year-old mum under the bloodstained water. He then tried to gouge her eyes out and stabbed her in the stomach.

McKenzie, who was 26 at the time of the brutal crime in Dunbar, East Lothian, admitted the sex attack and attempted murder.

Before sentencing at the High Court in Edinburgh in 1989, Lord McCluskey caused a furore when he asked the woman how she thought McKenzie should be sentenced.


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Reply with quote  #35 
A very brave man/
 
Of course the police can and do lie when giving evidence; Lord McCluskey speaks his mind on the high drama and intrigue in Scotland's legal system.

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Civil judges to ditch their wigs.

Judges in civil courts throughout England and Wales are to throw away their wigs, ending a tradition stretching back more than two centuries.

Judges hearing civil and family cases will also jettison their robes, and most will adopt a simple black gown, saving £300,000 a year.

The exception is circuit judges, who sit mainly in the county courts and crown courts, who will continue to wear their existing violet robe.

The moves were announced yesterday by the lord chief justice, Lord Phillips, who believes the elaborate costumes perpetuate a fuddy-duddy, out-of-touch image.

However, judges sitting in the criminal courts will retain their wigs. They argued that the late 18th century headgear helps to maintain the dignity of proceedings and protects them from being recognised by defendants in the pub or supermarket.

High court judges will no longer have five different sets of robes, changing with the seasons, paid for by the taxpayer. In civil cases they will wear a simple black gown, which has still to be designed, and in criminal cases their current winter robe.


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Female judge in 'chilli hot stuff' love triangle branded a racist and a liar...

A Brazilian cleaner has walked free from court after being sensationally cleared of stealing sex videos from one judge and blackmailing a second.

Roselane Driza was due to face a retrial after being jailed last year following the accusations connected with her relationship with Judge Mohammed Illyas Khan and his former lover.

The case against the flamboyant Miss Driza was thrown out as it emerged potentially embarrassing evidence was due to be heard about the female judge.

Free: Roselane Driza, the Brazilian at the centre of a judges' love triangle was cleared...

Prosecutors said both the alleged victims were now too ill to give evidence as a string of witnesses prepared to cast doubt on the integrity of the female judge, who can't be named for legal reasons and was referred to as 'Judge J' in court.

Three Appeal Court judges who worked with her as well as her former husband were expected to claim she was xenophobic, had made a false claim that a colleague had assaulted her and had even lied during child custody hearings.

Miss Driza's conviction was overturned on appeal earlier this year.

The 37-year-old was due to face a new trial next month but yesterday she was in the Old Bailey to hear the Crown Prosecution Service drop the case.

At her original trial the court heard that immigration judge Mr Khan, 61, had sent her texts saying she was 'Chilli Hot Stuff' and he was her 'complere and totaly puppy'.

It also emerged that Judge Khan - and Judge J, with whom he had also been sleeping - had both been employing Miss Driza illegally.

It was revealed that during the Appeal Court hearing damning evidence emerged that Judge J - who like Judge Khan had sat on immigration and asylum tribunals - had been described as "xenophobic", "temperamental" and on one occasion even invented a false allegation of assault against a fellow judge.

Judge Mohammed Ilyas Khan

Tension: Judge Khan had blazing rows with Judge J. the court was told...

The Appeal Court also heard statements from her former husband that Judge J had lied during child custody hearings after their divorce and he claimed she treated with "contempt" those she thought to be inferior.

Nine judges also made statements about her saying they had heard her using bad language and displaying "intemperate behaviour".

Miss Driza, of Finchley, North London, stood outside the Old Bailey shouting "Freedom!" before speaking of her delight that she will not face a retrial.

"I'm so happy," she said. "Justice has been done. I am very happy and very proud of God."

Wearing tight white leggings, a red patterned top, red peeptoe shoes and her trademark dark glasses, she blew kisses to photographers.

Explaining she was no longer a cleaner and had not been able to work for two years, she went on: "I have permission to stay in this country but no work visa while the Home Office considers my case.

"I was so stressed with the case. I will try to pass my last year of my philosophy degree."

The original Old Bailey trial heard how Judge Khan was still having an affair with Judge J when he started sleeping with Miss Driza.

It was alleged that when Miss Driza was sacked she threatened to report both judges to the Lord Chancellor if she did not receive "compensation".

She was initially sentenced to 33 months in prison in October 2006 for stealing videos from Judge Khan.

They were said to show him snorting cocaine and cavorting with a mystery blonde.

She was also found guilty of blackmailing the female judge for the sum of £20,000.

At her first trial Miss Driza was cleared of blackmailing Judge Khan, with whom she was living until her arrest.

After the pair became lovers, he sent her intimate text messages and emails, including one in which he told her she was "chilli hot stuff".

John Black QC, prosecuting, told Judge Martin Stephens that no evidence was now being offered against Miss Driza.

He said: "There have been a number of significant developments in this case. Both of the prosecution witnesses, J and Judge Khan, have both been ill.

"There is no foreseeable prospect of either of these witnesses being well enough to give evidence at a trial in August - or possibly ever."

He failed to give any further details of the ailments which have struck down both judges just two weeks before a proposed retrial.

The judge then entered formal not guilty verdicts and told Driza she could be discharged but he insisted the order banning the identification of Judge J should remain in place.

Earlier Miss Driza's counsel, Frances Oldham QC, had objected to Judge J remaining anonymous while her client had been "vilified by the Crown as a blackmailer".

Earlier this year it was revealed that Judge Khan was still being paid £8,240 a month despite being suspended since September.

Judge J has retired on health grounds.

The Office for Judicial Complaints, which has been investigating the behaviour of both judges, said the ruling would lead to a review of the case.

Neither judge was available for comment.


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JUDGES were last night accused of giving sex offenders a “get out of jail free” card after a controversial ruling on indeterminate sentences.

The Court of Appeal ruled yesterday that the Government has been acting unlawfully by keeping prisoners in jail longer than necessary.

The test case was bought by sex offender David Walker, who had been handed an indeterminate jail sentence.

After serving his 18-month minimum sentence, he had to prove he was no longer a danger before his release. But HMP Doncaster does not offer a parole course — so Walker claims he is being subjected to arbitrary detention, a breach of his human rights.

The Court of Appeal ruled there “was a general and systemic legal failure” in the indeterminate sentences. The ruling could open the floodgates for more offenders to challenge their sentences.

The Government was granted a stay on the ruling, pending an application for permission to make an appeal.

But last night anti-paedophile groups slammed the decision.

Shy Keenan, of the Phoenix Chief Advocates, said: “This is a ridiculous decision. There is nothing wrong with the law — so why are they giving sex offenders a ‘get out of jail free’ card?”

But Juliet Lyon, director of the Prison Reform Trust, said: “This ends the unfairness of indeterminate sentences. Thousands are sentenced to a bureaucratic limbo with no means to work towards their release.”


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It looked as if things could not get worse for Mr Justice Peter Smith, the judge who may go down in history as the "judge who lacked judgment". He had been castigated recently by the Court of Appeal for failing to stand down in a case involving trustees where he had shown "undoubted animosity" towards one of the parties, and issued a defiant statement, digging in his heels, which at the very least made him look foolish.

Then this week the Lord Chief Justice announced that he was initiating disciplinary proceedings against the judge by referring the case to the Office for Judicial Complaints. That office now has the invidious task of recommending what action to take: at best the judge could face a reprimand; at worst, the Lord Chief Justice might have to ask the Lord Chancellor to move an address before both Houses of Parliament for his removal - the only way that a High Court judge can be dismissed from office.

Judges at their annual dinner hosted by the Lord Mayor of the City of London on Tuesday were astonished that the judge had allowed things to go so far. Several take the view that he should have resigned - and should do so now rather than see himself publicly humiliated. But Mr Justice Smith is not the run-of-the-mill High Court judge. "He is a man of extremes - and will see things as black and white," a colleague said. "He will also see this as a ganging up of the Establishment against him - and become even more resistant." He has "a kind of siege mentality", said another.

Sir Peter has form. The judge best known for The Da Vinci Code trial and his judgment, in which he inserted his own code, had already been voted the least popular Chancery judge in a straw poll of lawyers in 2003, a year after his appointment to the High Court bench. This was chiefly because of his blunt manner and the rough-and-ready way that he handled advocates. In the esoteric realms of the Chancery Division he was seen as something of a rough diamond. Plucked from the Northern Circuit where he taught law at Manchester University before entering legal practice he was appointed partly because it was decided, as one judge put it, that "we should have a Chancery judge from the North". Sir Peter is not from public school although he went to Selwyn College, Cambridge, and may have arrived at the Royal Courts of Justice aware of being an outsider. "He felt that he was different and has a bit of a chip on his shoulder as a result," one judge said.

Judging can be a lonely job and Sir Peter felt somewhat isolated. "He is away from family and friends - and the problem with this work is that you can find that you don't have the opportunity to talk to people, as you did at the Bar." A lawyer who knows him said: "I actually feel quite sorry for him. He was a good barrister in Manchester and in demand. But he has felt a bit of a fish out of water in London."

Meanwhile, some eyebrows have been raised over his judgments. The Court of Appeal was critical over his Da Vinci Code reasoning - and eyebrows were certainly raised over his inserting of a code in the judgment. "Had it been otherwise flawless, he might have got away with it," one lawyer said. "But it wasn't."

The Court of Appeal judges were unequivocal as to what they thought of the latest debacle. Sir Peter, they said, had behaved in an "intemperate" way when handling the application to stand down, had got "carried away" and indulged in "extraordinary exchanges" in court. The application that he recuse himself was "entirely justified".

The problem is that the episode displays not one but a series of errors of judgment: first, in not standing aside when the papers for the case involving trustees came before him and he saw that a partner from Addleshaw Goddard was one of the parties. He had recently been involved in unsuccessful negotiations with the firm for a job and an acrimonious e-mail exchange ensued. The exchange, revealed in court, reveals Sir Peter's bitterness at not getting the job. But judicial colleagues were also concerned at the image it portrayed of a judge seeking to ingratiate himself with a law firm, citing such comments as "the considerable advantages of being associated with someone like himself".

Then there was the error of judgment in not standing down when the application involving the Addleshaw Goddard partner came before him; and thirdly, his reaction to the Court of Appeal ruling, when he said that "as no one in the Court of Appeal or anyone else in the Ministry of Justice has yet actually told me I have been removed (although I discerned this when I prepared to sit on Tuesday but nobody turned up) and no one has given me any reasons for my removal, I am unable to comment save to say that I will not be resigning."

Sir Peter would or should have known that he must stand aside: only last year, in a case involving Mr Justice Evans-Lombe, the Court of Appeal ruled that the latter should step down because he knew someone in the case he was about to try. The court said that, if there was evidence of an apparent bias, then inconvenience, costs and delay in finding a substitute judge were not acceptable reasons for the original judge to preside. The judge should step down to avoid any possible perception of bias, the appeal judges said.

What is to be done? Judges - in this jurisdiction - rarely are reprimanded. Gary Slapper, professor of law and director of the Open University law programme, notes that "not all judges are perfect. They are no more or less universally impeccable than surgeons or government ministers". But if there are several cases of judges misbehaving in the 16th century, it is rare now. Judge Bruce Campbell is the only judge sacked in recent years - for smuggling whisky into England from Guernsey in 1983. Only one High Court judge has been removed from office on an address from both Houses of Parliament: Sir Jonah Barrington in 1830. He was found to have misappropriated money belonging to litigants.

Sir Peter had possibly fallen out of love with his work - hence his attempt to secure a job with a law firm. Now, though, such attempts are likely to have even less likelihood of success. And more bad headlines may follow: an appeal over aspects of his ruling involving the sequestrators and the property tycoon Nicholas van Hoogstraten is pending.

Meanwhile, judges are hoping that he will see sense and step aside - and finally show the judgment that has recently apparently been lacking. But whether he fights to the last or not, the episode is a cautionary tale. Sir Peter may be hung out to dry but, say more sympathetic colleagues, it should never have got to this - particularly as the judge is known to be unwell and undergoing tests. "There is no support network, no help for people when things start going wrong - and no one he would be able to turn to," said one. The system may deliver its verdict on Sir Peter but he has in turn exposed its pastoral shortcomings.

MR JUSTICE PETER SMITH: KEY FACTS

* Achieved worldwide fame after encrypting a code in his judgment in 2006 in The Da Vinci Code trial

* Fan of Admiral of the Fleet, Lord (Jackie) Fisher - hence reference to Fisher hidden in his Da Vinci Code judgment

* Ordered property tycoon Nicholas van Hoogstraten to pay £5 million to family of murdered business rival - overturned on appeal. Appeal judges described his approach as “startling”


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A JUDGE had an affair with an illegal immigrant — who then blackmailed him after stealing videos of him having sex, a court was told yesterday...

The tapes showed the judge romping with two other women, it was claimed.

A jury heard the 37-year-old Brazilian immigrant, who worked as his cleaner, demanded cash to keep the tapes secret.

It was alleged she also blackmailed his former lover — a woman judge who she also cleaned for.

She threatened to report her for employing an illegal immigrant, demanding £20,000 to keep quiet.

The judges were referred to in court only by initials Miss J and Mr I and the defendant by the letter D on order of the Recorder of London, Judge Peter Beaumont.

Prosecutor David Markham told the Old Bailey: “J and I are associated personally and professionally. For a time, until 2000, they were lovers and cohabitees. It ended, but they remained good friends and professional colleagues.”

D came to Britain in 1998 but overstayed her visa.

Problems started when Miss J sacked her after five years as her cleaner for becoming a “nuisance”.

On hearing of Miss J’s troubles, Mr I also decided to sack D — but they began a fling at a farewell meeting.

When Mr I ended the affair, D refused to leave his flat where she was living rent free.

Mr Markham said: “He did not want her under his roof but feared she would pursue complaints about J to the Lord Chancellor. He offered to pay her £1,400, but she refused.”

He got back from a holiday to find she had stolen two videos.

“The cassettes showed Mr I in sexual activities with one or more females and he wanted the tapes back,” said Mr Markham.

“She indicated if he tried to get her out of his flat she would pass the tapes to his employer and the same would happen if Miss J didn’t pay up.

“She saw an opportunity to make money here by threatening two people in sensitive positions.”

D asked Miss J for money for unfair dismissal. She threatened to go to the Lord Chancellor, the Prime Minister and the press if she did not pay up. D then offered to drop the case if she paid £20,000, the court heard.

The cleaner produced a letter sent to the Lord Chancellor, Lord Falconer which accused Miss J of being abusive.

She also claimed Miss J paid her cash in hand and knew about her immigration status. The letter read: “It is unbelievable and shame how a judge play with innocent people in this country.”

Miss J insisted she was not aware D did not have a work permit and had checked three references.

The court also heard that Miss J was married when she was having an affair with Mr I. And after their split she began a relationship with another judge — who was married with children.

Miss J found out about Mr I’s affair with the cleaner when she went to his flat to “discuss something very personal”.

When he did not come to the door, she looked through a window and saw he was in bed with the defendant. She said she was disappointed in him but denied suggestions from defence QC Francis Oldham that she was in a “jealous rage” about their fling.

Mr I later told her one of his videos had been taken. She added: “He told me it was another woman and him having sex.”

Miss Oldham asked: “Did he tell you about a video showing he and you?” Miss J replied: “No.”

Miss Oldham then asked about a trip to Thailand with Mr I, adding: “You and Mr I had filmed yourselves having intimate relations.” Miss J replied: “Not that I am aware of.”

Miss Oldham asked: “Have you ever snorted cocaine which has been videoed?”

Miss J replied: “Certainly not.” She said she has been off work for 18 months with stress.

Miss Oldham also claimed Miss J had been abusive to D. She said: “You became abusive to her over the phone, you called her the dirty cleaner. At times you called her a f***ing bitch. You also said she was a whore who slept with two men at the same time.”

Miss J replied: “I wouldn’t say anything like that.”

D, who lost an appeal to stay in the UK, was arrested last October.

She denies blackmail and theft. Trial continues.


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Parents must pay for their children's crimes, says judge...

Cheshire Chief Constable Peter Fahy has called for the drinking age to be raised to 21...

A judge waded into the debate on teenage thugs, warning that parents must share responsibility for crimes committed by their children.

Judge Richard Bray spoke out as he ordered the parents of two girls who took part in a violent street robbery to pay the victim compensation.

Danielle Healey, 15, and 16-year-old Sabrina Gemmell, were among a gang of four teenagers who attacked a 15-year-old boy.

Sentencing the four at Northampton Crown Court, Judge Bray said of the case: "What is plain is that, sadly, parental supervision was not being exercised - at 11pm, drunk and involved in violence and robbery.

"It's been a positive feature today, the attendance of parents and some acknowledgement of responsibility of what happened.

"Some would say that what lies at the heart of violence and disorder in young people today is a lack of responsibility at the heart of a family."

The court heard Brandon Rourke, 16, and Kieran Hall, 17, headbutted, punched and kicked Craig Haggan in Wellingborough, Northamptonshire, after demanding cigarettes and his mobile phone.

As he lay at their feet, the girls searched his pockets. The gang stopped only when a passer-by intervened.

The girls, both from Wellingborough, were each given a 12-month supervision order and their parents were ordered to pay £200 compensation.

Rourke, of Northampton, and Hall, from Wellingborough, were given ten-month detention and training orders. All admitted robbery.

Rourke was a habitual shoplifter who had breached bail after his arrest and escaped when officers tried to arrest him. He was sent to a secure training centre for eight months for escaping lawful custody, which will run consecutively with yesterday's sentence.

Judge Bray's views come in the wake of controversy over drink-fuelled teenage violence. At the weekend, Cheshire Chief Constable Peter Fahy called for the drinking age to be raised to 21 and a crackdown on drinking in public after father-ofthree Garry Newlove was kicked to death by a teenage mob outside his Warrington home.


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Abusers 'given licence to offend' by judge...

A JUDGE was last night accused of giving paedophiles a licence to offend after he refused to send a serial child sex attacker to jail.

Michael Porter, 38, used his position as a ministerial "servant" in the Jehovah's Witnesses to prey on young boys over a 14-year period.

One of his victims was an 18-month-old baby, the court heard.

Porter, of north London, pleaded guilty to 25 counts of indecent assault and gross indecency on boys and young adults at Bristol Crown Court yesterday.

But Judge Tom Crowther opted not to jail him and handed him a three-year community rehabilitation order after hearing he had undergone therapy.

The sentence provoked a furious reaction from victims' groups and the defendant's own sister, who branded the judge a soft touch.

Tina Hughes, 40, said: "I'm absolutely disgusted. I'm very, very angry. We thought he would get a sentence of at least 12 months. I think the judge was absolutely pathetic.

"He just took my brother's side completely and believed that all he needed was a bit more therapy."

Avon and Somerset Police said they will discuss a possible appeal against the sentence with the Crown Prosecution Service.

Norman Brennan, founder of the Victims of Crime Trust, said the sentence would do little to boost public confidence in the courts.

 


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The whole population and every UK visitor should be added to the national DNA database, a senior judge has said.

Lord Justice Sedley said the Wales and England system, under which 4m people's DNA is held whether guilty or cleared of a crime, was "indefensible".

He added it would be fairer to include "everybody, guilty or innocent", as it was biased against ethnic minorities.

Ministers said DNA helped tackle crime, but there were no plans for a voluntary national or compulsory UK database.

A spokesman for Prime Minister Gordon Brown said to expand it would create "huge logistical and bureaucratic issues" and civil liberty concerns.

'Largest in the world'

Shadow home secretary David Davis called for a Parliamentary debate and described the system for adding people to the database as arbitrary and erratic.

Nick Clegg, Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman, accused the government of a "cloak and dagger strategy" over the database.

"There is no earthly reason why someone who has committed no crime should be on the database in the first place, yet the government is shoving thousands of innocent people's DNA details on to the database every month," he said.

The DNA database - which is 12 years old - grows by 30,000 samples a month taken from suspects or recovered from crime scenes.

There has already been criticism of the database - the largest in the world - because people who are found innocent usually cannot get their details removed.

It also means that a great many people who are walking the streets and whose DNA would show them guilty of crimes, go free
Sir Stephen Sedley

 

In one case, Dyfed-Powys Police stored the DNA of pensioner Jeffrey Orchard, from Pembrokeshire, after he was wrongly arrested for criminal damage.

But Home Office Minister Tony McNulty said the database had helped police solve as many as 20,000 crimes a year.

Since 2004, the data of everyone arrested for a recordable offence in England and Wales - all but the most minor offences - has remained on the system regardless of their age, the seriousness of their alleged offence, and whether or not they were prosecuted.

It includes some 24,000 samples from young people between 10 and 17 years old, who were arrested but never convicted.

WHO'S ON THE DATABASE?
5.2% of UK population
Nearly 40% of black men
13% of Asian men
9% of white men
Source: Home Office and Census

 

In Scotland, DNA samples taken when people are arrested must be destroyed if the individual is not charged or convicted.

Sir Stephen Sedley, who is one of England's most experienced appeal court judges, said: "Where we are at the moment is indefensible.

"We have a situation where if you happen to have been in the hands of the police then your DNA is on permanent record. If you haven't, it isn't.

"It means where there is ethnic profiling going on disproportionate numbers of ethnic minorities get onto the database.

"It also means that a great many people who are walking the streets and whose DNA would show them guilty of crimes, go free."

He said he knew of cases where a serious offender, who had escaped conviction, had ultimately been brought to justice by DNA evidence that may have been otherwise destroyed.

ANGRY ABOUT DNA
Jeffrey Orchard
They have said they are keeping the DNA - it annoys me because I had not done anything
Jeffrey Orchard

 

He said he accepted it was an authoritarian measure but the only option was to expand the database to cover the whole population and all those who visited the UK even for a weekend.

"Going forwards has very serious but manageable implications. It means that everybody, guilty or innocent, should expect their DNA to be on file for the absolutely rigorously restricted purpose of crime detection and prevention."

Figures compiled from Home Office statistics and census data show almost two in every five black men have their DNA profile on the database. That compares with 13% of Asian men and 9% of white men.

Keith Jarrett, president of the Black Police Association, said the current system was "untenable" and backed the call for a universal database.

"You can't have a system where so many black youths who have done nothing wrong are perhaps going to the police station for elimination from a crime and find that their DNA is on the database," he said.

But Professor Stephen Bain, a member of the national DNA database strategy board, warned expansion would be expensive and make mistakes more likely.

"The DNA genie can't be put back in the bottle," he said.

"If the information about you is exposed due to illegal or perhaps even legalised use of the database, in a way that is not currently anticipated, then it's a very difficult situation."

'Ripe for abuse'

Home Office Minister Tony McNulty said there were no plans to introduce DNA profiling for everyone in the UK, but "no-one ever says never".

"We're broadly sympathetic to the thrust of what he is saying. [The idea] has logic to it, but I think he's underestimating the practical issues, logistics, civil and ethical issues that surround it," he said.

DNA
There are four million DNA samples on the database

Mr McNulty denied the current database was unfair but accepted there was room for debate on the workings of the present system, including time limits on the storing of information.

He said any imbalance in the number of black and white youths whose DNA was stored reflected disproportionality in the Criminal Justice System rather than an inherent problem with the database.

But Mr McNulty added he was glad a debate had begun and a review of how DNA samples were kept and used would be published next February.

Tony Lake, chief constable of Lincolnshire Police and chairman of the DNA board, said the DNA of people convicted or arrested for violent or sex offences should remain on the database for life, but that need not be the case for minor offences.

Shami Chakrabarti, director of human rights organisation Liberty, said a database for every man, woman and child in the country was "a chilling proposal, ripe for indignity, error and abuse".



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Judge who leapt 50ft to his death did commit suicide, rules coroner...

A crown Court judge plunged to his death from his bedroom window after becoming depressed while taking drugs for high blood pressure, an inquest heard.

Judge Rodney McKinnon, 64, had been prescribed beta-blocker type drugs in the months leading up to his suicide at a luxury Central London apartment block.

However, every one of the drugs he took produced side- effects which made him increasingly anxious and depressed, the inquest was told yesterday.

 

Suicide: Judge Rodney McKinnon died after throwing himself from a window...

In this state, he crawled over a writing desk and through a small window of his third-floor flat in Dolphin Square in Pimlico and fell 50ft.

The apartment block is popular with businessmen, celebrities and MPs and is the former home of Princess Anne.

Westminster Coroner's Court heard that Judge McKinnon, who earned £122,000 a year and was unmarried and lived alone, was off work ill and was considering retirement when he killed himself last June.

His GP Jonathan Hunt told the court that over the previous year the judge had taken a variety of drugs to fight high blood pressure.

However, they left him "washed-out" and unable to sleep or concentrate in court. He also lost weight.

Yesterday, Judge McKinnon's brother Warwick - an Old Bailey judge - claimed the problems were brought on by the drugs he was taking.

"There wasn't an awful lot wrong with his blood pressure," he said.

Making history: Judge Rodney McKinnon (left) and his brother Warwick were the first brothers to be made judges on the same day...

"It was slightly high. The depression and anxiety began when he started taking drugs."

Warwick McKinnon argued that his brother did not kill himself - despite the fact his body was discovered around 20ft from the building's edge, which indicated that he jumped rather than fell.

He said that his brother had a lot to live for and argued that, had he wanted to commit suicide, he would have left a note.

He said: "My brother was a very tidy and literary man and he would have wanted to have recorded the reason why he died. I don't believe it was suicide and neither does anyone in the family or any of his friends."

However, Westminster Coroner Dr Paul Knapman said that any attempt to explain the death as accidental was "fanciful".

He ruled that Judge McKinnon died of brain damage and multiple injuries and recorded a verdict of suicide, saying: "On the spur of the moment people can act illogically - but knowing the consequences.

"The balance of his mind was disturbed by reason of his depression and anxiety."

Rodney McKinnon grew up in Purley, South London, and attended King's College School in Wimbledon before going up to Christ's College, Cambridge.

In 1998, he and Warwick made legal history when they were sworn in as judges on the same day.

Their older brother Stuart is a High Court judge and their father Neil was also a judge.


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A FRESH target in the row over the World's End murders trial's collapse could emerge today, with the spotlight turning on the judge.

Since a ruling by Lord Clarke on Monday that Angus Sinclair, had no case to answer, criticism has been levelled at the prosecutor, Alan Mackay, for not leading all the available evidence.

However, in a statement to MSPs, the Lord Advocate, Elish Angiolini, QC, is expected to maintain the Crown's position that there had been enough evidence to allow the prosecution to continue. By implication, that would be saying Lord Clarke got it wrong.

It would not be the first time Lord Clarke had upset the Crown with decisions in a murder case. Earlier this year, following rulings by the judge, two men were acquitted of murdering a man thrown into a freezing canal.

A legal source revealed yesterday there was a train of thought that not every judge would have reached the same decision as Lord Clarke in the World's End case.

"The word is that perhaps eight out of ten judges would have let [the case] go to the jury. That doesn't necessarily mean he was wrong; it might just say more about the courage of Lord Clarke than others to make hard decisions which he must have known would cause a huge outcry. He does what he thinks is right, come hell or high water," said the source.

The Crown's view veers very much towards mistake rather than courage. Its first official response to Monday's collapse of the trial was to confirm that "low-probability" DNA evidence found on tights used to bind the victims had not been led by Mr Mackay.

But it insisted: "Laying aside this evidence, which was consistent with consensual contact with the victims, the Crown was of the view that there was sufficient evidence on which to base a prosecution. Further, given the basis upon which the judge approached the evidence which was led, we do not consider that this evidence, relating as it did to items of underwear worn by the deceased, would have persuaded the judge that there was a sufficiency."

Then, the Solicitor-General for Scotland, Frank Mulholland, QC, gave unstinting support to Mr Mackay, describing him as "a fantastic prosecutor" and fully backing his decision-making in the trial.

Any change of stance in today's statement to Holyrood by the Lord Advocate would be a major surprise.

As outlined by Mr Mackay in his submission to Lord Clarke, the Crown considers that the charges against Sinclair of raping and strangling 17-year-olds Helen Scott and Christine Eadie in October 1977 should have been allowed to go to the jury for it to deliver a verdict.

The allegation was that he had acted with his brother-in-law, Gordon Hamilton, now dead, in abducting the girls in Edinburgh and taking them to East Lothian where their bodies were found.

ALAN MACKAY, ADVOCATE-DEPUTE

Why did he choose not to lead more evidence?

IT IS a question that mystifies police and forensic scientists in the case, as they are convinced strong evidence against Angus Sinclair was not heard.

The most obvious answer is that Mr Mackay believed he had presented a sufficient case for the question of Sinclair's guilt or innocence to be put to the jury.

The Crown Office said as much in a statement issued a few hours after judge Lord Clarke ruled there was no case to answer.

"The Crown was of the view that there was sufficient evidence on which to base a prosecution," it said.

Some onlookers have suggested Mr Mackay was wary of confusing the jury with too much DNA evidence.

Others have speculated that he was feeling off-colour and some have argued that a more senior prosecutor, such as the Solicitor General, Frank Mulholland, should have been in charge of such a complex case.

Another possibility is that a hitch during the testimony of forensic scientist Dr Jonathan Whitaker prevented some forensic evidence from being laid before the jury.

ELISH ANGIOLINI, LORD ADVOCATE

How much did she know?

THE Lord Advocate, as head of the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service and Scotland's most senior law officer, takes ultimate responsibility for the prosecution of crime.

But it is the job of the advocate-depute, who in the World's End case was Alan Mackay, to prepare the trial and lead evidence in court.

However, others are on hand to give advice. As members of Crown counsel, Ms Angiolini and Frank Mulholland, the Solicitor General, would be among those available to give that advice. It would seem most likely that Mr Mulholland, who is effectively Ms Angiolini's number two, was consulted, having supervised the case against Angus Sinclair after being appointed area procurator-fiscal for Lothian and Borders in January last year.

A source said: "It is for advocate-deputes to take decisions on how to lead evidence and structure to a case, but they have sources of advice available to them."

Ms Angiolini will today make a statement to MSPs at Holyrood about the Crown's handling of the World's End murder trial.

LORD CLARKE, TRIAL JUDGE

Was he right to throw out the case?

THE World's End trial collapsed when the judge decided the prosecution had failed to present enough evidence to allow the charges against Angus Sinclair to be put before the jury.

No-one predicted a case that took 30 years to prepare would end in a "no case to answer" ruling.

In a statement to MSPs, Lord Advocate Elish Angiolini is today expected to state her belief that there had been enough evidence to allow the prosecution to continue - in effect saying Lord Clarke got it wrong.

Lord Clarke is grounded almost exclusively in civil, rather than criminal law, leading some to question his suitability to preside over such a complicated case.

Lord Matthew Clarke, who grew up in Hamilton and attended Glasgow University, became a solicitor in 1972.

He appeared for Celtic FC when the club fought off a claim for damages by its former manager, Lou Macari.

He joined the Supreme Court's bench in Scotland in 2000.

EDGAR PRAIS, DEFENCE QC

His 'no case to answer' motion ended the trial

ONE of the most colourful characters of the Scottish legal establishment, Edgar Prais, QC, led Angus Sinclair's defence during the World's End trial.

Mr Prais is an experienced figure who has been involved in many high-profile cases, both as a prosecutor and defence lawyer.

Two years ago, the 63-year-old travelled to the remote South Atlantic island of St Helena to represent a man accused of murder. During his time on the British-dependent territory, Mr Prais stayed at the house where Napoleon spent his last years in exile.

In June, he secured an acquittal for his client, Mansoor Khan, who had been accused along with Athif Sarwar of laundering £850,000 in a VAT fraud. Sarwar, the son of the Glasgow MP, was convicted.

In 2005, Mr Prais successfully defended police constable Dean Stewart in a case where the prosecutor was Alan Mackay.

The Strathclyde constable was cleared of ten of 13 sexual offences, including rape and abduction, at the High Court in Glasgow.

THE EVIDENCE THAT WAS LED

THE prosecution's case against Angus Sinclair, below, was based on his three links to the accused.

Scientists established that semen on the lining of Helen Scott's coat came from Sinclair.

The chance of it being from someone else was one in a billion.

More than 50 fibres were found on Helen Scott's coat, and these matched the fabric used on the upholstery of Sinclair's Toyota Hiace caravanette.

It was a new coat, and the findings indicated she had been in the van that night, although at what stage and where, it was not known.

Advocate Depute Alan Mackay attempted to show that Sinclair had been with the women when they were murdered.

The prosecution said it was important that the jury should consider that neither of the girls had worn her pants after sex. This was known because of the lack of semen stains on the pants. Christine's pants had been used as a gag while Helen's pants were found lying near her face.

EVIDENCE THAT WAS NOT LED

GENETIC material found inside the knots in ligatures used to strangle Christine Eadie, below, and Helen Scott, strongly linked both Angus Sinclair and Gordon Hamilton to the murders.

Forensic scientists were able to extract DNA material from inside the knots on the tights used to bind and strangle the girls. Two distinct profiles were discovered: one a complete match with Hamilton, the other a partial match for Sinclair.

The Crown Office say this evidence was consistent with the men having consensual sex with the girls. But police insist it pointed to both being involved in the murders. Jonathan Whitaker, the forensic scientist who gave evidence, earlier told detectives the DNA indicated the tights had been "gripped hard", suggesting the men did not merely brush against them during the sex.

The jury heard nothing about two different types of knots used to tie the ligatures, indicating that two people were involved.

No evidence was led about the girls' characters. Helen was a virgin and although Christine had had sex before she was not promiscuous. The pair were not likely to have agreed to have sex with two strangers.

THE RULES ON SUFFICIENCY

THE prosecution must present sufficient evidence linking an accused with a crime for a jury to be allowed to reach a verdict.

The minimum standard is that two independent corroborating pieces of evidence must be presented which point to an accused's guilt.

In deciding whether there is a case to answer, the judge must take the Crown's evidence in its best possible light.

This means that the judge must allow a case to be considered by the jury if the evidence relied on by the prosecution can possibly be interpreted as indicating the accused's guilt.

Whether that evidence is of sufficient quality to prove guilt beyond reasonable doubt is a question that only a jury - in the most serious cases like murder and rape - should decide.

The prosecution will bring a case to court only if it is satisfied that it has achieved the minimum required standard of evidence.

Elish Angiolini, the Lord Advocate, is today expected to state that this was the case when Angus Sinclair was brought to trial for the World's End murders.

WHY EVIDENCE WAS NOT ENOUGH

DURING a legal debate at the end of the prosecution case, Edgar Prais argued that there was nothing to show that any sexual encounter between Sinclair and the girls had not been consensual.

While it was beyond question that Helen and Christine had been murdered, he said there was no evidence to link Sinclair to their deaths.

As for robbery, Mr Prais said all the Crown had shown was that some clothing was missing.

He said there was nothing to show that Sinclair was in the World's End, or elsewhere in Edinburgh.

If there was a rape, he added, there was no way for the Crown to say whether Sinclair or Hamilton had committed it because there was no evidence of the sequence of events.

The QC said there was evidence that the two girls had been bound, gagged and beaten but said there was no evidence it was "a two-man job". This raised a question over which man - Sinclair or Hamilton - was then responsible, he said.

Dismissing the case, Lord Clarke said that although Sinclair could be shown to have had sex with at least one girl, the evidence was not strong enough to link him to the murders.

WHAT WENT WRONG?

THE prospect of securing a conviction in the World's End trial appeared to diminish rapidly as the prosecution case neared its end. The seeds of the Crown's difficulties seem to have been sown when Jonathan Whitaker, a recognised authority on DNA profiling, was in the witness box.

His evidence was interrupted by an objection from Edgar Prais. When the evidence resumed, copies of a report prepared by Mr Whitaker were removed from the jury.

The contents of the report are unclear, but it may have related to evidence that linked Sinclair to the ligatures used to bind and strangle Helen Scott, below, and Christine Eadie.

In dismissing the case, Lord Clarke made specific reference to the trial having heard no forensic evidence of such a link.

The defence had earlier admitted that if such evidence was presented, it would have to withdraw its application that Sinclair had no case to answer.

In his address to the judge on Friday, which could not be reported until the end of the trial, Mr Prais said: "If there had been evidence of Sinclair having tied up the girls, for example DNA evidence on ligatures, something of that nature, I do not think I would be standing here."

WHY WAS SINCLAIR NOT TRIED FOR OTHER MURDERS?

SOME police officers had wanted the Crown to charge Angus Sinclair with four other murders in the west of Scotland. He has been linked to the killings of Anna Kenny, Hilda McAuley and Agnes Cooney, below, who died similar deaths to Miss Scott and Miss Eadie in 1977. Police also believed he could be held responsible for killing Frances Barker earlier that year.

No DNA evidence remains to pin these four murders on Sinclair, but detectives believe he could have been shown to be responsible for the deaths due to the similarities with the World's End case. However, the Crown opted to try and secure a conviction for the deaths of Miss Scott and Miss Eadie alone.

The evidence was far stronger in the World's End case than in the other murders, while charging Sinclair with six killings rather than two would have made for an even more fraught case. But the decision to press ahead with the World's End murders alone was one that most police officers ultimately understood.


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