Press Release 11 November 1997

SKAT are now more convinced than ever that in dealing with cases of toll non-payment there have been grave miscarriages of justice. For two years SKAT has requested evidence of Miller Civil Engineering’s right to collect tolls at the Skye Bridge. The Crown claimed to have produced the necessary documentation at the beginning of a series of trials last Tuesday when counsel for SKAT was to argue that there was no case to answer since Millers could not demonstrate that they were indeed assigned this right in the proper way by the Secretary of State. But the document produced in Dingwall Court purporting to give them this right has been dismissed as irrelevant by leading a leading Scottish legal academic. "I have absolutely no doubt that this ‘document’ does not constitute any form of consent by the Secretary of State", Prof. Robert Black QC of Edinburgh University’s Law Department said yesterday on examining the four-page document. "At any rate the transfer of rights can only be by means of statutory assignation".

The Civil lawyers Gillam Mackie of Edinburgh who are preparing the writ of interdict against Miller Civil Engineering support Prof. Black’s opinion on the status of the Crown’s evidence. "We cannot see it as relevant with regard to any written consent by the Secretary of State".

Continuing failure to do produce satisfactory documents raises serious questions about the safety of all the convictions of alleged non-payers. Furthermore the question is raised as to why this ‘document’ was accepted with alacrity by the Procurator Fiscal and endorsed by the Sheriff as proof in Dingwall Court as the proof that Miller were properly authorised and in possession of the right to collect tolls.

Drew Millar, SKAT’s convenor and Highland Councillor, who was fined 500 last week at Dingwall on several counts of non-payment is particularly angry. "I had to endure the trauma of being likened to a drug-baron in court for charges which another Sheriff had described as being on the lowest scale of triviality. Now it transpires that the document used to convict me was a load of rubbish. Clearly there is something far wrong with a system which tolerates this sort of abuse."

He continued, "It would seem that Miller’s lawyers tried to fob the courts off with irrelevant nonsense - they flatter themselves if they think they can hoodwink SKAT so easily with such ‘evidence’. It appears that 20m are missing and as we get closer to the truth of where its gone the establishment doors seem to be shutting tight."

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Copyright Ray Shields, 1997.

Most recent revision, 13 March 1998