I was contacted last week by Stuart Gilgannon, a lawyer from Wisconsin USA, who is extremely unimpressed with Scottish justice.
To cut a long story short, while on holiday in Scotland, Stuart got caught up in an altercation with an off-duty Police Scotland officer and his police colleague on a train.
When the train reached the next station Stuart was arrested.
Stuart, a member of the public, was calculatedly provoked and induced by a Scottish police officer who had taken an oath to help, protect and support the public. It's a truly disgusting state of affairs.
Stuarts account of what happened is VERY different from the police officers version of events. But the two off-duty coppers backed each other up by giving the same story, so it was Stuarts word against theirs.
The charge against Stuart was entirely based on false and misleading statements from police.
Now if it had been me, I would have had no hesitation in going to trial and challenged the police's stories in court. Sheriffs no longer automatically believe the police over a member of the public because Sheriffs know that police lie all the time - they see it in their courts every day. If the officers in Stuarts case had lied about what happened there's every a chance their stories would've fallen apart under close scrutiny in the witness stand - after all, that's what courts and trials are for.
But Stuart lives in the USA.
He had a flight to catch back to the USA (which he missed by the way). The prospect of a court trial and the intermediate diets etc that take place before would have cost him thousands of pounds in legal fees and thousands of pounds in travel between the USA and Scotland to fight this case.
The Procurator Fiscal knew this.
So Stuart got bludgeoned in to taking it on the chin.
The Procurator Fiscal offered Stuart a plea bargain deal whereby Stuart plead guilty and accepted a £500 fine - so he could get on his way back home to Wisconsin.
Everyone walked away totally happy with the deal, the police, the procurator fiscal, the court, the defence solicitor.
He isn't happy.
And neither am I.
Justice was denied to Stuart. He was steamrollered in to pleading guilty, two lying coppers walked away from trouble they caused absolutely scott-free and that's just not right.
The Crown office should be pursuing justice, not taking advantage of a persons personal circumstances to put the squeeze on him and prise an easy prosecution out of him.
Regular readers of this blog know that I have long argued that if the Crown office was more willing to prosecute police officers who give false statements there would be less cases of police officers trying to back each other up to get innocent members of the public 'done'.
But until that happens, we, the public, are at the mercy of lying police officers.
Police lie in courts all over Scotland every day to help their buddies in the Crown office get prosecutions. The Crown office reciprocate by not prosecuting the police officers when it all goes pear-shaped and cops get caught out in the witness stand lying to the court - you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours and all that (see my previous post for a real world example of how this Police Scotland scam works).
Police get a fantastic deal from the Crown office.
Members of the public like Stuart and I don't get such a good deal from them though.
Remind me again in who's interests the Crown office work?
Here's Stuarts full letter to me:
I came across your blog today and your story and desire to expose wrongdoing in Scotland stuck a powerful (no pun intended!) cord with me, particularly in light of my very recent experiences.
I must confess that this time last week, I might have found a lot of the anecdotes/stories that we often hear of in Scotland regarding the police service and wider "establishment" a bit fanciful and maybe brought about by personal grudges and victim complexes etc.
I have had my eyes opened as to the inner workings of my home country and I am still having a very hard time coming to terms with it. I now realise that many of the notions I have held regarding Scotland's ethos with regards to transparency, democracy, equality etc have been extremely naive and overly-idealistic.
As an ex-pat, being Scottish has always been a strong part of my identity and now I am not sure exactly how I feel about that.
If nothing else, I just wanted to let you know that you have gained a very strong supporter of your work here in the United States.
In case you are interested, I have been the subject of recent media attention following my recent visit to watch the Scottish Cup final with my father and brother.
My overly-idealistic and naive approach to life in Scotland led me to believe that I could walk through Glasgow late at night and board a train heading towards Ayrshire with a Hibs shirt and scarf prominently displayed the day after a contentious football match with Rangers, and that the worst thing I would need to endure would be some verbal abuse.
Boy, was I proven wrong!
The rest, as they say, is history:
Incredibly I was not approached for my own version of events prior to publication by the journalist in question.
I was for this one, though:
See any difference between the two?
It is a shame when you need to travel 3500 miles for a bit of objectivity and integrity.