Wednesday, March 11, 2015

LAW CHIEF’S SON IN VIOLENCE RAP: Scotland’s Solicitor General’s son is convicted of domestic violence attack on female partner

Top prosecutor’s son convicted of domestic violence. THE SON of Scotland’s Solicitor General has been convicted of attacking his girlfriend, while his mother is supposed to be in charge of efforts to tackle domestic abuse.

Andrew Thomson (27) who was previously convicted of drink driving and banned from driving for 18 months – admitted assaulting his partner at a property in Glasgow in January.

His mother –  Lesley Thomson QC - once thought to be in the running to replace Frank Mulholland as Lord Advocate – backed the now failed MacAskill proposal to abolish CORROBORATION – a long held safeguard against miscarriage of justice in Scots law where evidence in a criminal trial is required from two separate sources for a conviction

Thomson and others including the Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland, Police Scotland and interest parties campaigned vigorously for the removal of corroboration.

Speaking at a Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Services annual Sexual Offences Conference at Hampden in Glasgow Thomson said: "Many of those opposed to the abolition of the requirement of corroboration advance arguments that it will lead to a greater risk of and greater numbers of miscarriages of justice. However, it is clear that it is the present system which creates many victims of miscarriages of justice."

However it came to be known the Crown Office were enthusiastic about the removal of the right from law – because it interfered with dodgy evidence presented by prosecutors in court which did not stand up to scrutiny or cross examination. Prosecutors effectively promoted the removal of corroboration in an effort to assist the Crown Office in obtaining higher rates of convictions.

The proposal to remove the right of corroboration was effectively shelved after Scotland’s top judge warned the Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee against meddling with legal safeguards which cut across almost any criminal offence in law – ensuring the right to a fair trial.

Report from Scottish Mail on Sunday:


By Fiona McWhirter Mail on Sunday 8 March 2015

THE son of Scotland's Solicitor General has been convicted of attacking his girlfriend - as his mother leads nationwide efforts to tackle domestic abuse.

Andrew Thomson, 27, admitted assaulting his partner at a property in Glasgow in January.

His mother, Lesley Thomson, QC, has attracted widespread acclaim for her efforts to toughen up the law concerning assaults in the home.

As the nation's second most senior prosecutor, she has been pushing for a criminal offence to combat domestic violence against women, calling on Scotland to develop a 'modern approach' to deal with the 'emotional damage caused, as well as the physical harm' to victims.

Her move has received support from First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, police, prosecutors and politicians across the board.

Ms Thomson's son, whose address was given in court papers as being in the West End of Glasgow, had been due to be sentenced at the city's sheriff court on February 27, after admitting pushing his partner and causing her to fall over a table.

Sentence was deferred until August for good behaviour and the sheriff called for a supplementary social work report.

Domestic abuse is at present dealt with through a range of criminal offences, including assault, breach of the peace and crimes against property. But following Ms Thomson's efforts to force it onto the political agenda, greater priority is now given by Police Scotland to domestic abuse.

Domestic abuse and rape task forces operate throughout Scotland. In 2013-14, police referred 36,552 domestic assaults to the Crown Office andProcurator Fiscal Service (COPFS), a significant rise on the number of cases - around 27,000 - recorded in each of the two previous years.

In 2013, COPFS - which defines domestic abuse as 'any form of physical, sexual or mental and emotional abuse which might amount to criminal conductand which takes place within the context of a relationship' - boosted its efforts to tackle the issue with the introduction of a specialist national procurator fiscal for domestic abuse, Anne Marie Hicks.

Ms Thomson revealed she had asked the fiscal to review all areas of COPFS work and training in relation to the issue and stressed: "Cases involvingdomestic abuse are often among the most challenging faced by prosecutors, but that does not deter us from putting the interests of the victims in such cases at the heart of our prosecution policy."

She also raised the prospect of a specific offence when she spoke at a COPFS conference focusing on the subject.

Referring to separate stalking laws passed in 2010, the Solicitor General told delegates last year: "Domestic abuse is, in my view, another area in which specialist legislation has a role to play.

"It has the potential to effect further change in societal attitudes, to instill confidence in victims and, of course, to ensure their abusers are held to account."

She added: "Creating a specific offence of domestic abuse is one way in which we could ensure that our criminal law is, and remains, fit for purpose."

"It would help victims by acknowledging the true impact and consequences of all types of abusive behaviours, including non-violent tactics of control andabuse, and would solidify Scotland's position as a leader in the field of tackling violence against women."

In November, when Miss Sturgeon became First Minister, she unveiled 12 Bills as part of her debut legislative programme, including ramping up action against domestic abuse.

She said the Scottish Government would consult on the introduction of a specific criminal offence to combat the problem.

Last night, a Crown Office spokesman said: "The Solicitor General's position on domestic abuse is well known and has been widely welcomed."

"She is a leading advocate of measures to deal with domestic violence more effectively."

"She has led the approach within Scotland's prosecution service, working closely with the police and those who support victims of domestic abuse to strengthen prosecution in this area."

In 2013, Andrew Thomson was banned from driving for 18 months and fined £1,100 after he drove into a marquee while more than twice the drink-driving limit.

At Oban Sheriff Court, he admitted driving dangerously, without insurance and mounting a grass verge and going into the side of a marquee near Port Ellen on the island of Islay.

'Ensure abusers are held to account''Such cases are often the most challenging'

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