The submission was made on 6 March 2019, was accepted as written and issued to members of the committee on the same day. The papers for the meeting were place on the ECCLRC website on 7 March, the public papers mentioned that I had made a submission, but did not include it. My submission said that I had not received an acknowledgement by the 6 March, On the 8 March, I received an email containing a letter dated 7 March from COPFS. The letter stated that COPFS did not consider it appropriate to comment on the questions in my letter or intend to contact the convener of the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee (ECCLRC) about my letter.
I thought that I should at least inform the clerk to the committee that I had received a reply, although I suspected that it had only been written after COPFS had seen that I had made a submission to the committee at which Ms. Sara Shaw was to be giving evidence on their behalf. I therefore replied to COPFS on the day of receipt, but copied it to the committee and others in order that they were aware of this development. The letter from myself to Ms. Shaw contained a copy of my submission in case COPFS had not seen a copy. I suggested that if the committee requested that she provide Crown Counsel versions of the questions that it would be reasonable for COPFS to provide these at a later date to the convener.
My letter to COPFS reminded them that my approach to them had been suggested by the Cabinet secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform, and mentioned that some might consider the constant refusal to provide any information be reasonably seen as disrespectful to a senior member of the government, a matter I had not previously raised.
Ms. Shaw is the head of the Wildlife and Environmental crime unit at COPFS, gave evidence at a similar meeting last year, has been the recipient of my letters, provided the negative responses, but successfully led the prosecution team which I was advised had successfully destroyed the expert witness evidence and overcame the no doubt convincing case put by an experienced QC. She stated on the COPFS website “COPFS will continue to prosecute such cases where appropriate to ensure that offenders are brought to justice.” It seems to me perfectly possible from her history and from revelations at last year’s meeting that she might not be wholly in favour of the decisions made by Crown Counsel, although in her position she would be bound to support them. That may well be an incorrect conclusion on my part.
I am out of the country until after the meeting, and so cannot attend, but will try if possible to record the session. I have not been able to hear them very well when I have done this previously, so may need to wait for the minutes.
Almost anything may happen to confound what I hope may result. The session is a very crowded one with many persons appearing as well as other agenda items; No one may ask her to provide a reply to the convener; she may dismiss the suggestion even if it is made, as she has done to myself; the possibilities are endless.
I may just have to accept that the best I can hope for is a successful petition, which will likely only take place after many years. I still cling to the hope at present that the government and MSPs generally are fed up with what is happening and take urgent action, including being prepared to continue pursuing the issue of admissibility. I made several suggestions, all unlikely to happen, in my latest petition submission, also on this website.
A damp squib on Tuesday, or a larger explosion some time after the meeting on Tuesday. Who knows? I certainly don’t.
I have now also updated the timeline of events related to this matter.