Category Archives: Contempt of Court

Andy Coulson, Private Court Appearances and Contempt of Court Orders

The news broke yesterday that Andy Coulson, former bigwig at the News of the World, and latterly Director of Communications for the Prime Minister, had appeared in private at Glasgow Sheriff Court last Thursday on a charge of perjury. He made no plea or declaration and was released on bail.

Why Was His Case Dealt With In Private?

Before anyone suggests that Mr Coulson was receiving privileged treatment by having his case dealt with in private, that is in fact the required procedure for the first appearance on petition in a serious criminal case. These are always dealt with “in private”. That can mean in Sheriff’s chambers, or in a closed court, where only the Fiscal, defence agent and accused are present (along with the Sheriff and court and security staff).

The reports indicated that Mr Coulson was represented by the Dean of the Faculty of Advocates, Richard Keen QC. It is unusual to wheel out the “big guns” so early in a case like this, but sometimes “visitors” from England fail to appreciate that solicitors deal with such appearances every single day. So Mr Coulson is likely to have incurred a substantial cost for Mr Keen’s appearance (and even if he applied for and was granted Legal Aid – and there is no indication he did – the public purse would not be paying for Mr Keen’s undoubtedly excellent services). Continue reading

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Filed under Contempt of Court, Courts, Tommy Sheridan

Warrant Granted For Craig Whyte’s Arrest! Why and What Happens Next?

Craig Whyte is not a very popular man with quite a lot of people. Regularly on the Internet you can read comments from people looking forward to him going to jail (for something or other) or for even worse things happening to him.

So there was some cause for celebration when news broke yesterday afternoon that a warrant had been granted for Mr Whyte’s arrest.

However this is nothing to do with any alleged offence on his part, but rather with his failure to appear at court as a prosecution witness in the trial of two people, former housekeepers for Mr Whyte, alleged to have stolen property from Mr Whyte’s Highland Castle. Continue reading

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Filed under Contempt of Court, Criminal Law

“Operation Yewtree” Coverage Shows Why It Helps If the Media Like You

First of all, apart from Sir Jimmy Savile, I am not going to mention any names in this post. I would ask too that people commenting on this thread refrain from naming anyone either.

The Metropolitan Police inquiries into the activities of the former TV star have three main strands.

  • One is looking specifically at the actions of Savile.
  • The second strand concerns allegations against “Savile and others”.
  • The third – named “others” – relates to alleged complaints against other people unconnected to the Jimmy Savile investigations.

As the BBC reported yesterday, ten people have been arrested and one suspect was interviewed under caution.

On each occasion so far that someone has been arrested the media have covered the story, naming the suspect, and, of course, not seeking to suggest any guilt. After all, the presumption of innocence applies. Continue reading

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Filed under Contempt of Court, Criminal Law, Press

Craig Whyte in Court of Session Next Week for Four Days?

The former owner of the company which owned 100% of the company which owned 85% of the shares in the company which owned Rangers Football Club (whew) finds himself scheduled to be in court again next week. Starting on Tuesday 13th November, and for the following three days, the court lists disclose that a Proof (or hearing of evidence) is listed in the case of Kim Whyte v Craig Whyte.

This is the culmination of the action which commenced last year in relation to Mrs Whyte’s claim for aliment (or maintenance) for herself from her estranged husband, and which has been back in court in the meantime as a result of Mr Whyte allegedly failing to stick to the deal.

First of all, it is highly unlikely that the case will go ahead. Continue reading

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Filed under Contempt of Court, Craig Whyte's Companies, Whyte v Whyte

Open Justice? What Is the Problem With Tweeting From a Scottish Court?

On 31st October Lord Hodge dealt with the long awaited application for the liquidation of the former Rangers Football Club PLC. The hearing at the Court of Session took much of the day, as counsel for the administrators and for a creditor argued over whether the order should be granted; whether the fees charged by the administrators should be reduced; and whether or not there should be a continuing investigation into allegations of conflict of interest on the part of Duff & Phelps, the administrators.

Coverage of the hearing was sparse as it proceeded. There is a ban on “tweeting” from Scottish courts. Indeed, when it was brought to the judge’s attention that tweets from the @Huddleboard account seemed to be coming from the court, those in attendance, including members of the public, were asked to confirm that their phones were off and that they were not tweeting. It was made clear that anyone “live tweeting” the case faced being found in contempt of court.

Not surprisingly no one owned up to being the tweeter. It was left to bloggers like me to fill the gap by taking what information had leaked out of the courtroom and trying to explain what I thought was going on.

At the lunch break, and at the close of the hearing there was then a mad rush by journalists and spectators to tweet what had happened, and one in particular, @mdkster, was kind enough to let me reproduce on the blog his detailed tweets regarding the morning’s proceedings. Continue reading

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Filed under Contempt of Court, Courts