Scots Law Officers and Child Abuse

The Scottish legal establishment has not exactly covered itself in glory defending Scotland’s Law from English incursion, nor helped civil rights, nor for that matter, promoted independence when its preferred to have key figures in the struggle find themselves in court on trumped-up charges. And it appears feckless and weak providing a critical submission on referenda to the usurping London-based UK Supreme Court, a document weighed down befopre it was read with the fluttering proviso that our Lord Advocate, Doroth Bain KC, was not sure of its validity.

Now we know that Scotland cannot claim, pre-new-state independence, we are better than our neighbour, we learn our law establishment, ‘some legal figures’ to be exact, are under investigation accused of child abuse and child trafficking. The rumour of such perversion has been around a very long time, right back intio the Sixties, but only recently the subject of a formal police investigation. Four years after the claims involving children in care were made, the disclosure of an inquiry has prompted criticism of its secrecy. If a politician, there is no secrecy; the process of transparicy is simple: a journalist sleeps with a ScotGov civil servant who is a colleague very close to the First Minister – and the tabloids have the story next day.

An investigation into claims that senior members of the legal establishment were linked to the sexual exploitation, trafficking and abuse of children in care is under way in Scotland, it has emerged. The disclosure was made by Ruth Charteris KC, the solicitor-general, to Russell Findlay, the Scottish Conservative MSP, last month.

Four years ago John Halley, a former advocate and part-time sheriff, raised concerns about alleged connections between senior Scottish legal figures and the sexual exploitation, trafficking and abuse of children in care.

Halley detailed his concerns in a 43-page “note” to Scottish prosecutors in 2019 but only now has it emerged that they were taken seriously. The disclosure has prompted Findlay to write to John Swinney, the deputy first minister, calling for details of the investigation to be made public.

“I was surprised to be told by the solicitor-general that some form of investigation is apparently taking place,” said Findlay. “This has only now been disclosed, four years after Mr Halley submitted his important and concerning note. However, [the solicitor general’s] response raises far more questions than answers, which is why I’ve asked John Swinney for a full explanation about what exactly is going on.” Findlay tabled questions in parliament last month amid concern that senior figures in the government and judiciary had failed to act on Halley’s note. The solicitor-general responded that it would be inappropriate to comment” as “investigations into this matter are ongoing”.

In a letter to the deputy first minister, Findlay criticises the apparent secrecy around the investigation. The Conservative politician said the solicitor-general’s response “did not explain what these investigations comprise, their status or who is conducting them”.

He has asked Swinney to provide “a full and proper response”, including details of action taken by the Scottish government “in respect of the note, including the contacting of Police Scotland. I would also like to know the nature of the ongoing investigations referred to by the solicitor general”.

Halley was appointed as a lead junior counsel to the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry in 2015 and maintains that his extensive research found evidence of “child trafficking through prostitution of children in care in Scotland”.

He warned that vulnerable young people in care had been let down by a prosecution policy that he believes failed to prevent sexual exploitation through prostitution. The policy, introduced in 1991, concluded that it was not in the public interest to pursue clients of male prostitutes as young as 16 who had previously engaged in homosexual acts.

Halley’s note called for deeper investigation of Tam Paton, the former Bay City Rollers manager who died in 2009. Paton owned an Edinburgh flat where a 16-year-old boy from a care home was held over 10 days, drugged and raped by a number of men in the early 1990s.

It triggered a police investigation, Operation Planet, which initially resulted in 57 charges against ten men, later reduced to ten charges against five men, whose not guilty pleas were accepted by a court in February 1991.

Halley, who has not returned to the child abuse inquiry since suffering from cancer in 2016., said it should investigate the Operation Planet scandal.

Last month, an associate of Paton’s, John “Sticky” Wilson, 81, was jailed for 12 years at the High Court in Edinburgh, for sexual offences spanning more than half a century. A BBC Disclosure documentary about Operation Planet will be broadcast next month.

The Crown Office said: “It would not be appropriate to comment on ongoing investigations.”

John Halley former advocate and sheriff: “The manner in which children are safeguarded from harm and exploitation by the unscrupulous is one way to measure progress in civilised society.

NOTE: With thanks and credit to Mark Macaskill and the Times.


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2 Responses to Scots Law Officers and Child Abuse

  1. Alastair says:

    A viper’s nest that needs cleansing, but can you really trust the establishment to investigate themselves, they have a poor track record to date. One thing about UK,Ok history repeats its self.
    Dissolve the Union.

  2. Howard Cairns says:

    Where are the investigative journalists? Are there no independent newspapers left who can afford to invest in long term criminal behaviour. We seem to have more active journalists here in Australia although some are freelance and only get rewards when their story is made into a True Crime Series.

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