Trio chosen to be honorary sheriffs

A Lerwick solicitor is following in his father’s footsteps by becoming an honorary sheriff.

Eric Peterson, of Tait and Peter­son, is being installed along with retired police chief inspector Mal­colm Bell and former director of the council’s marine operations, Captain George Sutherland, at a special ceremony at the town’s court on Friday afternoon.

The Sheriff Principal, Sir Stephen Young, will be attending the event.

Mr Peterson’s father George has been an honorary sheriff for almost 20 years – having been invited to take on the role in 1982.

His son said he was delighted to have been asked to sit on the bench. “It’s a great honour to be asked to serve the community in this way, and I’ll certainly do my best to discharge my duties as best I can,” he said.

He added his role would involve a lot of work behind the scenes when he is asked to sign warrants for searches and carry out other duties as well.

“I’m happy to try and serve the ends of justice and see they are carried out, but it’s not just sitting at the bench and deciding on cases.”

Also pleased with his new role is Mr Bell, although the former area commander was keen to stress he would seek to show objectivity and fairness in all his deliberations.

Mr Bell – who became the first Shetlander to be appointed area commander for the isles in 2006 – retired from the force last year after being hampered by ongoing knee troubles.

His departure came at the end of 30 years with the police, which saw him serve in Dornoch, Invergordon and Aviemore as well as in Lerwick.

“I’ve always been community-spirited and this is a chance to continue serving the community in a small way. I am delighted and surprised to have been asked,” he said.

He said his years in the police would help him in his new role, but added there were things to learn on civil law which would provide a challenge for him.

“This is a whole new dimension and clearly there is an awful lot for me to learn. My years in the police have given me a grounding in one aspect of the role but there are other dimen­sions, such as the civil side, that I don’t have any background in.

“I am looking forward to the train­ing that will be involved, but above all I would want to stress I will be objective and fair in all my dealings.”

Captain Sutherland was a fam­iliar face in the council during the eighties and nineties. He will also be making an appearance at today’s ceremony.

“Honorary sheriffs all over the country provide a useful service and I hope I will do no less,” he said. “It’s something we can do to help the community. I was very pleased to be asked and I will give it a go.”


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.