Mossbank farmer to receive £1,500 after court blunder

A spate of legal blunders has led a court to make almost unprecedented cash awards to three people who were wrongly convicted.

They include Shetland sheep farmer Bryden Nicolson, who was found guilty of breaching disease control rules because of the way a sheriff did his sums.

Mr Nicolson, 36, of Garth Farm, Graven, Mossbank, is to get £1,500 towards the legal expenses involved in overturning the ruling at Aberdeen Sheriff Court.

Other cases involved mistaken pleas of guilty to European regu­lations relating to moving and identifying cattle which, because of a legal slip-up, were not actually in force at the time.

A Staffordshire garage boss was cleared of failing to identify the driver of a BMW allegedly speeding on the A74 (M) Glasgow to Carlisle motorway because prosecutors didn’t prove he was the actual keeper of the vehicle.

Although convictions were over­turned, not all the claims for ex­penses were granted.

After a long legal debate, judge Lord Carloway gave his decisions at an appeal court in Edinburgh last Friday, where a series of cases exposed a number of curious legal rules.

Lord Carloway noted that, by law, a court could not award expen­ses for, or against, a public pros­ecutor in serious cases.

But because of a historical anomaly there was no statute covering the award of expenses in minor cases in sheriff or district courts. “It is not clear why the pro­vision was removed,” Lord Carloway said.

He added that it was important to stress that he was dealing with an award of reasonable legal expenses, not compensation for a wrongful prosecution.

Mr Nicolson had been convicted of a series of charges of allowing sheep which had not been tested for scrapie into a restricted area.

A sheriff decided that because at least 19 per cent of Shetland sheep and at least seven per cent of cross breed sheep had the disease there was a “high probability” that some of Mr Nicolson’s flock fell into that category.


Get Latest News in Your Inbox

Join the The Shetland Times mailing list to get one daily email update at midday on what's happening in Shetland.