Fish stories : Forget about fraud, rape, drugs, organised crime & murder hits, Fishing is where crime is at - Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland. IF DODGY press releases ever become an Olympic sport, the chances are Scotland’s Crown Office & Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) will win gold medals every time, especially in the spin department according to some, as yet again, the Black Fish caper is wheeled out to cover the usual copfs blunder machine composing of collapsed cases, dropped prosecutions of colleagues in the professions, lack of convictions for organised crime, drug dealing, fraud & the occasional failed prosecution of gang related murder hits.
In spite of claims of expected multi million pound seizures, the Crown Office have today issued a press release reporting that Fishermen caught up in the long running ‘Black Fish’ saga, (so often the subject of Crown Office briefings), have been ordered to hand over nearly £1.2million for undeclared landings.
However, while it is correct any illegal fishing is dealt with by the full force of the law, legal sources have accused the Crown Office of “overfishing” the undeclared landings fiasco in order to obtain positive headlines in the media while in actuality, the Lord Advocate’s staff are failing to catch bigger crooks & organised crime gangs causing substantially more damage to Scotland and operating on a significantly higher financial level than many realise.
One insider said : “Picking the easy cases to get a headline is no way to run a justice system.”
COPFS Press Release :
At the High Court in Edinburgh today ten fishermen who had previously pled guilty to landing undeclared fish at Fresh Catch Ltd and Alexander Buchan Ltd between 2002 and 2005 were the subject of fines and confiscation orders totalling £1,194,447
The accused, their vessels and the amounts of the confiscation orders and fines are as below:
John Smith (DOB 14/03/1975) Master of the Alert – Confiscation order £150,000. Fine £40,000
James Smith (DOB 30/07/1957) Master of the Alert – Confiscation order £30,000. Fine £10,000
Allan Simpson (DOB 03/06/1969) Master of the Christina S – Confiscation order £361,621
Ernest Simpson (DOB 18/07/1947) Master of the Christina S - Confiscation order £362,826
Ian Buchan, DOB 13/03/1957, Master of the Quantus – Fine £100,000
James Duthie, DOB 24/04/1957, Master of the Sunbeam – Fine £35,000
Oswald McRonald, DOB 29/02/1948, Master of the Quantus – Fine £12,000
John MacLeod, DOB 27/02/1955, Master of the Prowess and the Charisma – Fine £50,000
Michael MacLeod, DOB 04/11/1978, Master of the Prowess – Fine £8,000.
Stephen Bellany, DOB 03/12/1962, Master of the Unity – Fine £35,000.
At the same court confiscation proceedings and sentence against a fish processing factory, Fresh Catch Ltd, have been continued to 5 September at the High Court in Edinburgh.
Speaking after the court hearing, Lindsey Miller, Head of the Serious and Organised Crime Division, and POCA Champion said: “These individuals used incredibly complex and devious methods to under declare their fish landings. They had no regard for the law or for the consequences such large scale overfishing would have on fish stocks, the environment or the hard working fishermen trying to make an honest living in the industry. There is no place in Scotland for those who want a lifestyle funded by crime and we will continue to work closely with law enforcement agencies to use Proceeds of Crime laws to make Scotland an increasingly hostile place for these criminals.”
Detective Superintendent Gordon Gibson of Grampian Police, who led the police investigation, said: "This is another example of individuals amassing huge sums of money by their serious and organised criminal acts. Make no mistake these men made a conscious decision to commit these crimes and to continue to do so over a protracted period. The actions of these men and the others who have been brought before the court as a result of the Operation Trawler investigation have tarnished not only themselves, but I am afraid also those other honest hard working fishermen who choose to make a living by perfectly legal means.”
Cephas Ralph, Head of Compliance at Marine Scotland said: "The activity in court today sees the end of another chapter of historic enforcement activity which brought about dramatic improvements in compliance and sustainability in the Scottish pelagic industry. “This kind of enforcement action is only taken when the necessary measures we have in place are ignored. So while I regret that these prosecutions were necessary they have been essential to protect the reputations and livelihoods of the vast majority of Scottish fishermen who are law abiding. “These punishments send an unequivocal message to anyone who thinks that they can ignore fisheries regulations."