Robert’s Trial about to hit the buffers?

A new complication has arisen in respect of Robert’s Trial on Breach of the Peace charges, hypothetically due to commence at Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire on 16th January. During the course of a meeting with his new legal team in Glasgow, from which he returned this evening, it became clear to Robert that Gary Allen QC would not be suitable to defend him, in that Allen was unwilling to call the key witness in the case, Dame Elish Angiolini, on the grounds that it would be “damaging to the Defence” to do so.

Robert of course disagrees that it would be in any way damaging to him for Mrs Angiolini to take the stand, although she herself might face some awkward questioning. Hence “due to irreconcilable differences of opinion”, as he puts it, he saw no option but to dismiss his latest Senior Counsel. Nevertheless, they parted on amicable good terms, as on the previous occasion when Frances McMenamin QC withdrew from the case [when Robert refused to change his plea from ‘not guilty’ to ‘guilty’].

This means that somehow or other a new team will have to be found and briefed in just under 10 days flat, if the Trial is still to go ahead on the 16th. If this proves impossible, as is more than likely, the proceedings due to open on 16th will once again be reduced to a 1-day hearing, mainly for the purpose of setting a new date for the increasingly unlikely Trial.

All of us watching this extraordinary saga from the wings could be forgiven for wondering just how are the prosecution going to get Robert safely behind bars by 26th January when the case runs out of time. And might we also be justified in concluding that the most important factor driving the Scottish justice system in 2010-2012, not to mention a public spending priority, is the protection of Dame Elish Angiolini, rather than that of vulnerable and endangered children?

Meanwhile at Stonehaven Police Station, where on 21st December Robert filed a formal complaint about “a likely conspiracy to pervert the course of justice, involving the Crown, Frances McMenamin QC and the Scottish Sun”, somehow no one is ever on hand to speak to Robert when he phones up to enquire about progress in the investigation and to repeat his request for a crime number.

As ever, see Robert’s blog for a more detailed account of these events

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