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Last Updated:  Thursday, 13 March, 2003, 12:06 GMT
Secret society case dismissed
Skye Road bridge
The Skye Bridge tolls are controversial
A claim that some of Scotland's leading judges are compromised by their membership of a secret debating society has been rejected.

Robbie the Pict, a leading campaigner against Skye Bridge tolls, said Lord Osborne - a member of the Speculative Society - should not have heard his appeal against conviction for not paying a bridge charge.

But three appeal court judges have dismissed the complaint.

Robbie the Pict was convicted at Dingwall Sheriff Court in November 1998 of failing to pay the Skye Bridge toll.

His petition was originally brought in December at the justiciary appeal court.

The society is neither secret nor sinister and that it simply makes its own refined contribution to the public stock of harmless pleasure


Judges' opinion

However, it was continued because one of the judges, Lord Osborne, was a known member of the historic society, which was founded in 1764.

He asked for his appeal, which questioned the legality of the Crown paperwork authorising the tolls, to be reheard before judges with no connections to the society.

The case called before Lords Gill, Kirkwood and Wheatley on 18 February who have now issued their findings, rejecting the complaint.

They said: "We conclude that the society is neither secret nor sinister and that it simply makes its own refined contribution to the public stock of harmless pleasure.

"We can see no reason why any reasonable onlooker could suspect that the loyalties and friendships that typify any society of this kind should in this case override the obligations of the judicial oath."

'Sinking ship'

Speaking after the opinion was delivered, Robbie the Pict said: "It's the people of Scotland who will eventually judge this.

"These are the Queen of England's judges denying a fair hearing to public test cases.

"I think this court has lashed itself to a sinking ship because there is more to come out about certain members of the Speculative Society."

He said that he would take his legal battle to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg if necessary but added it would be "an indictment of the Scots judicial system" if he was forced to do so.




SEE ALSO:
MPs reject Skye toll claims
05 Dec 01 |  Scotland
Ruling forces Skye toll increase
12 Sep 00 |  Scotland


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