Scottish Parliament Petitions Committee to consider petition requiring judges to declare membership of societies. A PROPOSED PETITION to the Scottish Parliament calling for members of the judiciary such as sheriffs, judges, members of courtroom juries and tribunal members to be required declare their membership of organisations & secret societies such as Freemasonry is to be considered by Petition Committee clerks at Holyrood.
The petition, presented to the Scottish Parliament by Fife transparency campaigner Mr Thomas Minogue “Calling on the Scottish Parliament to urge the Scottish Government to amend the law or codes of practice to make it compulsory for decision makers such as sheriffs, judges, and juries at their courts, arbiters, tribunal panel members (income-tax, social security, employment, industrial etc) to declare if they have ever been members of organisations, such as the Masons, that demand fraternal preference to their brethren over non-brethren, or organisations which have constitutions or aims that are biased against any particular sect, religion or race.”
Mr Minogue also asks “That a register of such membership is held by the various bodies that supervise such judicial and quasi-judicial tribunals and that access to these registers is given on demand to the defendant, litigant, or plaintiff wishing to exercise their rights to a fair hearing in accordance with Article 6 of the ECHR.”
In documents seen by Scottish Law Reporter, Mr Minogue wrote with reference to the petition’s background “In 2000 I petitioned the Scottish Parliament with PE 306 which was in a similar vein to this petition. Then, after having been under consideration for over three years with the parliament the petition was dismissed and the last two meetings at which my submissions were heard in regard to PE 306 of 4th and 18 March 2004 have been removed from the public record for that public petition.”
“These meetings were not insignificant and in fact at the meeting of the 4th March the Justice Minister Jim Wallace was questioned by the committee on my submissions regarding membership of the Speculative Society of Edinburgh and the Masons among the judiciary.”
“Furthermore despite the fact that the committee had asked me to provide examples of cases where there was a perception that freemasonry had influenced a court or tribunal the committee did not publish the submissions I made in this regard. “
“I believe that this censorship was draconian given that details of own case, Stott v Minogue 2000 SLT (Sh Ct) 25, & GWD 36-1386, - which spawned the petition – and the decision by the Social Security Commissioner, Ref: CS1/136/02. are in part matters of public record, or have been reported widely in the press and legal journals and are the two most important Scottish cases that deal with the influence of freemasonry in the justice system.”
“Having sought to determine my rights to challenge the existing law which allows non-disclosure of (secret) membership of fraternal organisations by decision makers by the courts, my elected representatives, and the previous government (which subverted the public petitions process), I am now attempting to resolve this anomaly with a new government, which claims to be open and accountable to the people of Scotland.”
“This public petition is similar to my Petition 306 but it’s terms have been broadened to encompass more of the decision makers whose roles may affect our lives. These now include jurors as since my original petition there have been some very high profile cases where there has been a perception among many, including high profile members of the legal profession, that the interests of justice have not been served and there is a need to know more about the background of those called for jury duty.”
“However the general terms are similar to PE 306, which had its genesis in a court case held at Dunfermline Sheriff Court between 1999 and 2000. The case is now known as Stott v Minogue. At a preliminary hearing before Sheriff Stuart Forbes I addressed him with my concerns that the charges of housebreaking and theft that were brought against me were motivated out of malice by a competitor who had used Masonic influence to have me charged in what was nothing more than a commercial dispute.”
“The sheriff after initially refusing to hear my submission that I wished a declaration of Masonic membership/status from the judge who would hear my case relented and after hearing me allocated this issue to another sheriff at a later date.”
“In another preliminary hearing convened to settle the question of my objection to a Mason hearing my case the Sheriff, Isobella McColl, at her discretion gave me the assurances I had sought, but said that the principle of the question of whether or not such assurances should be given on demand from a litigant was one for the Scottish Parliament.”
“This satisfied my immediate concerns as to my rights, but left the principle involved undetermined. With this in mind and so that others may not have to go through what I had to I decided to take the sheriff’s advice and before the outcome of my trial – which resulted in me being found not guilty of any offence – I petitioned the Parliament with my public petition PE 306.As my trial was still ongoing I did not give details of the case but dealt instead with the principles involved.”
The Public Petitions Committee website shows a brief synopsis of the main events in the life of PE 306 between 19 Dec 2000 and 28 Jan 2003.
Campaigner Mr Minogue’s website features a link HERE containing copies of the official transcript of all the meetings at which PE 306 was considered between 19 Dec 2000 and 18 Mar 2004 (that is including the last two censored meetings).
Mr Minogue told Scottish Law Reporter earlier today his petition is aimed at a court or tribunal user having the right to know if the person deciding their rights - or innocence or guilt – is a member of an organisation that has a sworn obligation to prefer their brethren over non-brethren, if such membership might be seen by a reasonable observer as possibly having an impact on the result of the court or tribunal.
Speaking this afternoon to Scottish Law Reporter, a senior legal figure said he agreed with the aims of Mr Minogue’s petition, saying “it is time such declarations were required of judges and juries given the lack of transparency of Scotland’s justice system.”
The late, highly respected QC Paul McBride called for tests, declarations from jurors. It is also worth noting the highly respected QC, the late Paul McBride called for similar declarations regarding jurors last year after the not proven verdict in the case of the assault on Celtic manager Neil Lennon. Mr McBride’s remarks and calls for disclosure were reported widely in the media Top QC calls for jury reform and on Scots law blogs such as Diary of Injustice HERE.
The Herald newspaper reported that Paul McBride said potential jurors should be interviewed to establish they can “read, write and speak English” and are not “riven with prejudice”.
Mr McBride believes potential jurors should be forced to disclose their occupation and whether they have been a victim of crime. He said Scotland’s jury system, in which 15 people can reach a decision on a majority of 8-7, made reform even more important.
His intervention follows a jury’s not proven verdict in the case of Hearts fan John Wilson, who was cleared of assaulting Celtic manager Neil Lennon during a match earlier this year. Wilson was accused of a sectarian attack on Lennon, but he was acquitted.
The verdict came despite Wilson admitting in court he had lunged at the Celtic manager and struck him.
Mr McBride said: “The question is, ‘can we improve our jury system?’ and the answer is undoubtedly yes.This is an area that lawyers have been discussing for some time. Judges and lawyers undergo a high standard of training. The only area where there is no scrutiny at all on the people who actually make the decision, which is baffling.”
“You don’t have to be able to read or write or speak English.We have got 15 people deciding whether a person is guilty and we know nothing about them.”
“In Scotland, unlike any other country on the planet, a person can be convicted by one vote. Following the Lennon verdict a lot of people, and newspapers were asking about the selection process for juries.”
“In every other country there is some kind of jury selection process to determine whether they have got the basic skills and whether they have committed a crime. A lot of trials are conducted by police statements. If a member of the jury can’t read or speak English that’s a bit of a disadvantage.”