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BBC Scotland's Leslie Anderson reports
"His family never believed his guilt and have fought to clear his name"
 real 28k

Tuesday, 22 February, 2000, 20:12 GMT
Judge's role questioned in murder case

Gravestone
The family of Harry Gormley is convinced of his innocence


The judge at the centre of Scotland's first posthumous appeal against a murder conviction has been accused of favouring the prosecution case during the original trial.

Lawyers will argue that Lord Dawson, who is now on sick leave, failed to exhibit the proper detachment and impartiality required of a judge trying a criminal case.

The appeal is against the conviction of Harry Gormley, who hanged himself in prison some five months after being found guilty of killing his baby daughter.

Gormleys Harry Gormley and baby Rachel
Three-month-old Rachel had suffered severe internal injuries to her brain and eye, which a prosecution expert at the time of the trial said was due to being shaken.

But Gormley's family has never believed he was guilty. They claim Lord Dawson favoured the prosecution evidence.

Different opinions

Their medical expert, Dr. Louay al-Alousi, who is a consultant forensic pathologist, said : "In my opinion the likelihood that this child had severe injuries due to a fall is very likely."

The need for the evidence to be summed up impartially in the trial was stressed by legal authorities.

Lord Dawson Lord Dawson: Five years on bench before retiring
Vincent Belmonte, a solicitor-advocate, said: "This is a case where the evidence had to be considered wholly in a calm and rational way.

"To show a degree of partiality may well have made the jury give more weight to one side or the other."

During his five years on the bench, several sentences and verdicts handed down by Lord Dawson have been overturned.

John Scott of the Scottish Human Rights Centre believes there is cause for concern.

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