STEPHEN HOUSE, the Chief Constable of Strathclyde Police has written to the Scottish Legal Aid Board objecting to the awarding of legal aid to Gamekeeper William Stirrat (52) who has now begun legal action against the force after appeal judges quashed his conviction & sentence to six years in jail over a £500,000 amphetamine sulphate bust.
Judges also criticised Officers of the Scottish Drug Enforcement Agency, with Lord Emslie saying there were “serious questions arose as to the credibility” of SCDEA officers evidence, in which it appears Police log books were altered, Police officers made three different statements regarding Stirrat’s alleged involvement in drug dealing, and that evidence was deliberately withheld by Prosecutors from Stirrat’s legal representatives.
The Sunday Mail newspaper reports
Jul 8 2012 Exclusive by Derek Alexander, Sunday Mail
A GAMEKEEPER who taught Prince William and Prince Harry how to shoot claims he was framed by drugs detectives. William Stirrat, 52, was sentenced to six years in jail over a £500,000 amphetamine sulphate bust. Police alleged he ran a drugs factory from two secluded huts in woods near the Douglas and Angus Estate in Crawford, Lanarkshire, where he worked.
Now Stirrat is suing Strathclyde Police after appeal judges quashed his conviction and criticised Scottish Drug Enforcement Agency officers.
Lord Emslie’s report said “serious questions arose as to the credibility” of SDEA officers’ evidence.
Stirrat spent six months in prison before his conviction was overturned at the Court of Appeal in November 2010. His co-accused William Findlay also had his conviction quashed. Two other men, Gary McKay and George Hollow, earlier walked free on not-proven verdicts.
Now Stirrat has started legal action against the police over claims he was fitted up by two SDEA officers during the 2002 investigation. He says detective constables John West and John McClatchie gave contradictory evidence about surveillance operations.
Stirrat said yesterday: “My life has been ruined by these officers – I lost my wife, my job and my home. I loved my work and would never have done anything to put it at risk. I was never involved in drug dealing and have never been involved in any criminality.”
West made three different statements about Stirrat’s involvement in drug dealing, two of which were withheld from the gamekeeper’s defence team. It also emerged that police log books were altered.
West claimed he saw Stirrat and Findlay leave the drug huts on February 21, 2002 – but the log entry was made on March 5. McClatchie also changed evidence he gave at an earlier trial, which was deserted because of illness.
Dad-of-two Stirrat, of Logan, Ayrshire, was forced to leave his home on the estate where he took the princes grouse shooting following the drug allegations. He also claimed Strathclyde Police are refusing to return his gun licence because he is taking them to court.
Chief Constable Stephen House has written to the Scottish Legal Aid Board and objected to Stirrat being granted legal aid.
Stirrat said yesterday: “I was in a privileged position and was lucky enough to meet William and Harry four or five times. “I’ve also been in the same company as the Queen. I’d never have done anything to put my job in danger. I knew the huts were there, but they weren’t on the grounds I looked after so I had no interest in them. But because I didn’t report them to the landowner or my employers, that was considered an indication of guilt. My life has been shattered by all of this and I’ve not even had as much as an apology.”
West and McClatchie have now retired from the police.
Strathclyde Police said: “Correspondence was received from the Scottish Legal Aid Board further to an application being granted to William Stirrat in order for him to raise an action against the chief constable and two former police officers. The chief constable is entitled to object and has done so in this case.”
West refused to comment. McClatchie was unavailable for comment.