Page last updated at 13:48 GMT, Tuesday, 9 September 2008 14:48 UK

Probation for toilet video lawyer

Peter Fitzpatrick. Pic by Central Scotland News Agency
The lawyer admitted spying on female staff at his law firm

A solicitor who hid a video camera inside a ladies' toilet cubicle and secretly filmed female staff has been given three years on probation.

Peter Fitzpatrick, 49, from Rutherglen, South Lanarkshire, admitted spying on women at law firm Muirhead Buchanan in Stirling between 7 and 14 March 2007.

Sheriff Margaret Gimlett said his attempts to hide the camera in a cardboard box were "clumsy".

She added that any woman with her "wits about her" would have spotted it.

The sheriff ordered Fitzpatrick to attend group work sessions and placed him on the sex offenders register.

At an earlier hearing, the court was told Fitzpatrick placed the camera inside a cardboard box and positioned it inside one of the ladies' cubicles.

It was very clumsy and I think any lady with her wits about her would have noticed that one of these boxes had been tampered with
Margaret Gimlett
Sheriff

The toilet, which was next to his office, had previously been used as a store cupboard and had been filled with boxes.

The camera was discovered by a female secretary who became suspicious when she noticed the box had a hole in it and was positioned to face the toilet pedestal.

When she picked it up she found the video cassette recorder with a tape in it.

'Damning indictment'

Sheriff Gimlett told him: "I have to take into account the victims, and there's obviously been a great violation of privacy.

"They will have been left feeling hurt and unclean.

"You were a partner in a firm of solicitors, and in such a firm the employees are entitled to feel totally safe when they go to the toilet.

"It was premeditated - not just done on the spur of the moment like flashing - but it was very clumsy and I think any lady with her wits about her would have noticed that one of these boxes had been tampered with."

The sheriff said Fitzpatrick had been ill with depression at the time of filming his colleagues and had been assessed as being at a low risk of reoffending.

Mid Scotland and Fife Conservative MSP Liz Smith described Sheriff Gimlett's comments as astonishing.

She said: "This man (Fitzpatrick) has committed a truly reprehensible offence and the public will be astonished by the suggestion that his victims were somehow at fault for not being more aware of the circumstances around them.

"How is that an excuse for his actions?

"It could be interpreted as a damning indictment of women, when they are blamed for not being more vigilant in an environment where they should be secure.

"I suspect we haven't heard the last of this case."


SEE ALSO
Lawyer hid camera in ladies' loo
09 Jun 08 |  Tayside and Central

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