The Scottish judicial system is being subsumed by Westminster
Westminster Unionist politicians and landed gentry have been instrumental in many breaches of the 1707 Act of Union determined upon standardizing the laws of “Greater England” for their own nefarious purposes through many creeping changes in Scottish legislation each weakening the Scottish Judicial system which was to be retained independent from English interference for all time.
Unionist determination to wipe Scottish Law from the Statutes of Westminster was advanced in 1999 when the “Crown Office” for near 500 years independent from government was transferred lock, stock, and barrel to the political control and direction of the Westminster appointed Scottish Secretary at the Scottish Office.
Westminster is now pressurisng the Scottish Judiciary to do away with trial by jury, the removal of the “not proven” verdict and many other incidencies. There is no end to the abuse of Scots by the rich men of England.
The departure of William Gordon Chalmers left Scotland without a champion.
Aberdonian William Gordon Chalmers was the permanent head of the procurator-fiscal service from 1974 to 1984 and zealously guarded the power of the Scots over their fiscal service.
He was a man of traditional values but was endowed with great vision to build a service to meet the challenges of the future and cope with an increase in serious crime at a time of economic stringency.
He was proud of his Aberdeen roots, having attended both Robert Gordon’s College and Aberdeen University. And served as an officer with the Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders, in the Second World War in which he was awarded the Military Cross.
After hostilities ceased he became a solicitor and practiced in Aberdeen before joining the procurator-fiscal service as a depute-fiscal in Dunfermline in 1950.
During this period he gained a reputation as a fiscal who was prepared to take on a difficult case and work on it to secure the best possible result.
Although he enjoyed good relations with the police, he was always careful to ensure his and the fiscal’s independence in the process of investigating and prosecuting crime.
In 1959 he was promoted to senior depute-fiscal at Edinburgh then, in 1963, entered the crown office as an assistant to the crown agent before becoming deputy crown agent in 1967 and crown agent and Queen’s and lord treasurer’s remembrancer in 1974.
In the 1960s the fiscal service was a relatively small one, consisting of about 80 lawyers throughout Scotland compared to near 400 today.
He saw the need for a national prosecution service dealing with sheriff court cases and prepared high court cases but took over the prosecution of cases in the burgh police courts in what became the district courts in 1975 and assumed responsibilities for prosecuting cases from government departments and local authorities.
Within a two-year period in the mid-1970s the number of lawyers employed in the fiscal service doubled to almost 200.
With that change came the need to develop improved management structures and better accountability, while recognising the need for local discretion to meet the public interests of the area and the circumstances which can arise during the currency of individual prosecutions.
To meet the challenges of an increase in serious crime as well as taking over district courts, he commissioned two young researchers, Dr. Jackie Tombs and Sue Moody, whose book “Prosecution in the Public Interest” highlighted a distinct lack of alternatives to prosecution.
In the foreword, Chalmers spoke of how “the old methods are simply not good enough for modern circumstances. The approach of fiscals to their work has changed, is changing, and will change even more”.
He was a member of the two Stewart committees on alternatives to prosecution which led to fiscal fines and fixed penalties for less serious offenses.
He developed a system of warnings to alleged offenders and encouraged schemes for certain offenders to be directed to social work and others to make prompt compensation for their crimes.
The latter initiative was appreciated by victims who often became forgotten in the criminal process in those days.
Chalmers also looked abroad for ideas and supported an international project which looked at prosecutorial decision-making. It showed Scottish prosecutors to be consistent in their approach across a wide range of cases.
During his tenure, the fiscal service went from strength to strength despite in latter years having to cope with a Westminster government keen to reduce public spending.
For all his interest in managing and developing the organization, he retained a keen and personal interest in its casework and was appointed a “Companion of the Bath” in 1984 for his work in the fiscal service.
He was saddened by the changes which had taken place the fiscal service after he left which he perceived weakened its independence as an arm of the executive.
In his day, he said that he had always fought to keep the Crown Office separate from the Scottish Office and indeed until devolution the Crown Office had been funded directly by the Treasury.
While he held traditional views on many matters, he was receptive to change and conscious of the need to provide a prosecution service fit for future challenges.
With all due respect to those who succeeded him, he was known to many who had served him as “The Real Crown Agent.”
A fitting memorial to Chalmers would be for the fiscal service to recover its pre-eminence in investigating crime and maintain its independence in a devolved Scotland.
William Gordon Chalmers, crown agent, born 4 June 1922, died May 28, 2003 (The Scotsman-Obituaries)