| James Wolffe |
|Alma mater||University of Edinburgh, Oxford University/Balliol College|
James Wolffe QC is a senior Scottish lawyer. He is Dean of the Faculty of Advocates, the professional body of the Scottish bar.
Open letter to James Wolffe
Acclaimed political thinker and philosopher Professor Noam Chomsky is among the more than 30 prominent international figures to have raised concerns about the impartiality of Scotland’s prosecution service, the Crown Office, in an open letter to James Wolffe:
The Lord Advocate Mr Walter James Wolffe QC
Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Office
25 Chambers Street,
Edinburgh EH1 1LA
31st May 2020
Dear Mr Wolffe,
In recent weeks vocal independence supporters and backers of the former First Minister Alex Salmond, specifically the former UK diplomat, human rights campaigner and journalist Craig Murray along with fellow journalist Mark Hirst, have been arrested and charged in relation to comments they made publicly during and following the trial of Mr Salmond. Other supporters of Mr Salmond have also been contacted by police and warned over online comments they made in the wake of the trial.
We are particularly concerned to note that the investigating police officers are the same detectives who led the investigation against Mr Salmond over a period of two years and at considerable cost to the public purse. As you know, the prosecution following from that investigation, pursued again at considerable cost to the public purse, resulted in the acquittal of Mr Salmond on all charges and now raises the most serious questions about why that investigation and that prosecution were pursued.
Whilst we appreciate that you cannot be involved in individual cases you will undoubtedly be aware that complaints of alleged Contempt of Court were made against six other individual journalists widely regarded as being hostile in their reporting of Mr Salmond. No action by the Crown Office or Police Scotland has been taken against any of those individuals. This leaves the distinct impression that Police Scotland, at the direction of the Crown Office, are acting in a manner that is both biased and disproportionate.
As you will be aware, for public confidence to be maintained in our independent legal system the law must be able to both demonstrate it is acting impartially and be seen to be doing so. The actions taken so far risk establishing a public perception that both Police Scotland and the Crown Office are conducting themselves in a manner which is biased and is indeed political in nature. Such perceptions risk seriously damaging confidence in the Scottish legal system.
We would welcome your fullest public response to the concerns raised in this letter and any meaningful public assurances you can offer that both Police Scotland and the Crown Office are complying with their obligations to act with complete impartiality and to apply the law fairly.
Hundreds of people have signed the letter, of whom prominent signatories include:
Tariq Ali (human rights campaigner, journalist and historian)
Robert Black QC (Professor Emeritus of Scots Law, Edinburgh University)
Stuart Campbell (Editor, Wings over Scotland)
Marshall Carter-Tripp (Political science professor and Foreign Service Officer (retired) and Division Director, State Department Bureau of Intelligence and Research)
Professor Noam Chomsky (linguist and political scientist)
Elizabeth Coyle (solicitor)
Gordon Dangerfield (Solicitor Advocate)
Sir David Hare (Playwright, screen writer and film director)
Paul Kavanagh (Columnist, The National newspaper)
Hugh Kerr (Former Labour MEP, author and journalist)
Neil MacKay (Singer-songwriter, Scottish independence activist)
Campbell Martin (Broadcast journalist and former SNP MSP)
Robin McAlpine (Political strategist)
Ian Ogilvie (Former intl journalist Reuters, WSJ et al)
Tommy Sheridan (Convenor, "Solidarity" and former MSP)
Yanis Varoufakis (Author, former Greek MP and Finance Minister, philosopher, economist)
Roger Waters (co-founder Pink Floyd, political activist)
Lawrence B. Wilkerson, (US Colonel, Ret, former Chief of Staff, US Department of State)
Robert Wing (former US Foreign Service Officer)
The Chartered Institute of Journalists has also added its support for the above letter. (The CIoJ is the most senior professional body representing journalists in the UK and the oldest such body in the world.)