After 10 years together on the Northern Lighthouse Board board, Sheriff Principal Bowen and Elish Angiolini stood down within 24 hours of each other in May 2011, when Angiolini’s term as Lord Advocate ended, according to the NLB’s Articles of Association, supplied under an FOI request lodged Tuesday.
So why did Sheriff Principal Bowen have to quit the NLB board at roughly the exact same moment as the outgoing Lord Advocate? If anyone in Scotland can explain that to us Sassenachs we’d be grateful.
There was some small-print from the Northern Lighthouse organisation in the response to the FOI request but it did not make it quite clear whether Sheriffs have a fixed term as NLB board members as well as Lord Advocates.
This is some charity, devolving around the sea and protection of the shores and mariners of both Scotland and the Isle of Man with all the ostensibly great and good of both insular territories involved in its direction and administration.
Prior to leaving at the same moment Bowen and Angiolini are known to have attended NLB board meetings together on three 3 occasions in 2010 and 2011. As soon as Angiolini was cited as witness for the Defence at Stonehaven last month therefore, the Sheriff should have declared a possible conflict of interests and recused himself. Had he done so, it would have saved any suspicion that might arise that he was acting less than impartially in the case.
A propos, it would be very interesting to know who appointed Sheriff Bowen to the case in the first place?
With all these issues starting to rankle in the wake of the unfair trial, Freedom of Information may itself be about to run aground on treacherous Scottish rocks. “The plan being discussed is for the entire FOI website to be taken off-line while officials and MSPs argue over the re-design which ‘may’ archive only short summaries of selected cases or more probably remove all content of Mr Dunion’s previous investigations & decisions to give the new Scottish Information Commissioner [Rosemary Agnew] a fresh start”. How very convenient. http://scottishlaw.blogspot.com/2012/02/agnew-gets-foi-role-holyrood-msps.html