SCBA president promises support for all High Court pleaders, ‘wigged or unwigged’ after Yazdanparast

Thomas Leonard Ross

President of the Scottish Criminal Bar Association, Thomas Leonard Ross  has responded to the Society of Solicitor Advocates concerns, published in yesterday’sScottish Legal News that the High Court has criticised the independence, integrity and professionalism of criminal defence solicitor advocates and solicitors “once again”.

The recently reported case of Yazdanparast v Her Majesty’s Advocate and the immediate response by the Society of Solicitor Advocates, raise many important matters of professional practice.

The Scottish Criminal Bar Association (SCBA) will reflect maturely upon the issues raised and publish a considered response in due course, but it clear that a discussion between the interested parties must begin today.

If the allegations made by Messrs Woodside and Addison andYazdanparast relative to “choice of representation” are false allegations, it cannot surely be doubted that urgent steps are required to protect solicitor advocates from appellants of this type giving public expression to such falsehoods in the Criminal Appeal Court.

What damages the reputation of aolicitor advocates damages all High Court pleaders, wigged or unwigged; ultimately the public must have confidence in the integrity of the system.

In it’s response, the Society of Solicitor Advocates turned it’s mind to ways in which reputations might be protected: “one outcome of the Addison decision was going to be the promulgation of a rule enabling the court to satisfy itself that an accused person had been given appropriate advice on representation and the matter was to be referred to the Criminal Court Rules Council … however … this has not so far been pursued.”

I have written to the president of the Society of Solicitor Advocates seeking his confirmation that his members are fully behind the promulgation of such a rule.

Upon receiving the appropriate confirmation, the Scottish Criminal Bar Association and the Society of Solicitor Advocates will work together towards agreeing an appropriate procedure that will allow the preliminary hearing judge to explore the matter publically with the accused person, thereby extinguishing the possibility of future generations of solicitor advocates being harmed by the sort of damaging post-conviction allegations made by Messrs Woodside, Addison and Yazdanparast.