There was an interesting article in The Herald Group’s The National today. For those who don’t know it’s a new title that openly advocates independence. In an article that outs Kezia Dugdale as a Hibs fan (does Trumpton run supporters buses to Easter Road?), the tone of the piece changes to discuss the legal ramifications of the recent controversial Rangers statement. A solicitor who read the statement realised that what he was reading was dynamite. He outlined his argument thus:
“Apart from the defamation of BBC sportswriter Tom English and SFA vice-president Rod Petrie, the statement was a blatant attempt to influence Rangers supporters to take a very strong club view. That statement has just handed the guilty a real let-off. All any defence lawyer for a Hibs fan needs to do is say that his client cannot possibly get a fair trial because that is the official position of the club and this will have influenced potential jurors. Any sheriff who has ever supported Rangers will need to recuse himself or be accused of following the club line. The damage is done and it’s too late now. Whoever approved that statement has probably ensured that justice will never be done.”
According to the PR omnivore, Mangetout Traynor, he approved the narrative but did not compose it. However this is a moot point as the real guilt lies at the hands of the board who approved its publication, with the buck stopping with career criminal Dave King.
In a previous article, prior to the Semi-finals at Hampden, I portayed a scene that Bill McMurdo described as ‘Gotham‘. I pointed out that the riot control teams would be positioned in the close vicinity of Victoria Road to handle any flashpoints as supporters left the stadium. This was deemed as the highest risk as no-one anticipated a free for all on the pitch. When the call went out to respond to the escalating violence, the riot control teams were impeded by RFC supporters using their children as barricades. As the police vans stopped, they were pelted by rocks and attempts were made to topple the vans. This led to a situation where only 138 officers were positioned in the stadium to deal with an invasion of 5,000 fans and running battles. This action by the Rangers support resulted in their fellow fans who were engaged in pitch battles evading arrest. This information about subverting the police response is truly disquieting. Has this culture of civil disobedience been exacerbated by King and his board?
An occupational hazard of being a career criminal for four decades is that you run the risk of having your collar felt. However this risk is somewhat undermined by a High Court judge who is notorious for throwing tantrums (according to an article in Roll On Friday). Mr Justice Peter Smith, who openly expressed his desire to be nominated into the Freemasons by Rangers club legend John Greig, has been continuing on his controversial path.
Those familiar with the Temple area of London, which is a few minutes walk from The Royal Courts Of Justice, will be aware of the chambers that are the homes to the barristers that ply their trade in the Gothic masterpiece on The Strand/Fleet Street. Barristers are self-employed, with a starting fee of £1,350 (+ VAT) per day for court appearances. When elevated to a rank of silk (QC) the minimum charged is £3,500 per day. Chambers compete against each other. The more Queen’s Counsel, the higher the regard for the chambers. Mr Smith does not even attempt to veil his threat. He is withdrawing his support of silk applications.
Justice Smith was responding to a statement by the appositely named Lord Pannick QC who took him to task on his extraordinary behaviour in a hearing in which British Airways were the respondents. Justice Smith was so transfixed by the fact that BA had lost his luggage that he referred to it on fifty occasions. He went so far as stating that he was a victim of BA. Lord Pannick wrote:
“How we laughed. But the case raises serious issues about judicial conduct that need urgent consideration by the lord chief justice”.
In a bizarre arrangement which the Judicial Office has refused to comment upon, Smith is understood not to sit on cases involving his blood feud enemies. Blackstone is the latest addition, but Addleshaw Goddard is also on the list after Smith’s attempts to join its partnership several years ago were rebuffed. In 2008, Smith was accused of taking revenge on the firm in a case involving one of its lawyers. Ruling that he should have recused himself, the Court of Appeal said at the time that his “wholly inappropriate actions in the case rose directly from the judge’s private affairs”.
The Court of Appeal is now considering a judgment by Mr Smith in which a Saudi Prince is alleging chamber bias.Smith is now hearing no cases at all. A spokesman for the Judicial Office stated:
“Following an issue that has arisen during civil proceedings, Mr Justice Peter Smith has agreed to refrain from sitting until those civil proceedings are resolved”.
One might conclude that those entrusted to act in judgment of Rangers are doing so with rubber gavels.