Both north and south of the border, the leadership of the Government-appointed child abuse inquiries has proved to be a fluid office, with several resignations from both the Scottish and the England-and-Wales inquiries. Lady Smith, the latest chairwoman of the Scottish child abuse inquiry, has a credibility problem.
Robert Green was sentenced in Aberdeen on 17 February 2012 for the "crime" of bringing attention to the plight of alleged multiple sexual abuse victim Hollie Greig. Several members of the public who attended the sentencing that day have reported hearing Sheriff Principal Edward Bowen uttering the following to Mr Green:
How dare you, an Englishman, come to Scotland to tell us what to do? We know how to run the justice system here in Scotland.
This alleged outburst is not reflected in the court transcript. (It would not even have been accurate racism, as Mr Green is a Welshman.) A complaint on the matter, a prima facie case of biased and unlawful judicial behaviour, was considered by none other than Lady Smith. Her decision on the matter was to tell Mr Green that she had listened to the audio recording of the sentencing session and that she could assure him that no such remark was made.
She insisted to Mr Green that there was no need for her to allow him to listen to the recording himself; he had to take her word for it.
Even the transcribed outbursts of Sheriff Bowen in the same sentencing session are eyebrow-raising, to say the least:
Only someone stupid or obsessed with their own importance would do what you have done. I suspect of you that it is the latter.
By your campaign you have sought to undermine the criminal justice system and the Scottish Government as a whole.
Are these the remarks of a senior judiciary independent of the Scottish state and committed to impartial trial?
David Scott of Northern Exposure asked the then Chief Constable of Police Scotland, Sir Stephen House, the following on 8 February 2015 regarding this matter:
I require an answer to the following question: If a complaint is made, a sworn statement delivered by Mr Green, and documentary proof provided that the court transcript is not a true and accurate record of events, but rather omits phrases uttered by the Sheriff concerning Mr Green’s nationality, would Police Scotland consider this sufficient information to initiate a full and thorough investigation into this matter?
The police response was two months in coming and dismissed the query altogether.
Can we have confidence in the Scottish Government-initiated child abuse inquiry in these circumstances?