Wednesday, June 8, 2011
Crown Prosecutors seek Nat Fraser retrial as they bring in heavy hitter Alex Prentice QC who bagged Tommy Sheridan, will Appeal Court allow re-trial?
As expected the Crown Prosecutors did not oppose the quashing of Nat Fraser’s conviction.
Given they withheld evidence; they really didn’t have a choice since the ‘he looks guilty’ defence wasn’t available.
However, the Crown Office because people are looking at them hard, has asked judges at the Appeal Court in Edinburgh to order a retrial.
And given the Appeal Court’s track record as a de facto arm of the Crown Office, this should be granted in the case of Nat Fraser.
Fraser from Elgin, in Moray, was ordered to serve a life sentence with a 25-year minimum term after being found guilty of killing his wife Arlene in 1998.
Her body has never been found.
And he says he didn’t do it.
Lord Hope in upholding his appeal opined that if withheld evidence had been present in the original case then the jury might have returned a verdict of not guilty.
Down at the Crown Office, someone was cute.
Nat Fraser returned to court in Edinburgh exactly two weeks after the UK Supreme Court, the highest court in the UK ruled his 2003 conviction was unsafe.
Five judges at the Supreme Court in London unanimously agreed with Fraser's assertion that Scottish prosecutors breached his right to a fair trial because of the non-disclosure of evidence.
That means his Article Six rights were violated.
The UK Supreme Court judges then sent the case back to Scotland, saying judges there must decide if his conviction should be quashed and whether he should be tried again.
Addressing a hearing before the Lord Justice General Lord Hamilton, Lord Reed and Lord Carloway in Edinburgh, advocate depute Alex Prentice QC who bagged Tommy Sheridan said the Crown does not oppose the quashing of Fraser's conviction, but it is seeking a retrial.
Fraser's defence team is led by Maggie Scott QC, who rightly opposed the application for a fresh prosecution to be held.
It is doubtful that Nat Fraser can get a fair trial in Scotland, his case is too high profile and he was victim of a malicious prosecution, this statement doesn’t consider the merits of the Crown’s previous case.
Only their actions in prosecuting it!
And we all know they can’t be trusted, even if they change the faces.
So, what should Lord Justice General Lord Hamilton, Lord Reed and Lord Carloway in Edinburgh do?
Well they can wash their hands by saying re-trial, make it someone else’s problem and clear the decks.
Or they can say, no to a re-trial.
In deciding whether to do ahead, they should consider the remarks of Lord Hope that the outcome of the trial in his opinion would have been different.
A major part of the prosecution case hung on a lie.
I believe that Lord Justice General Lord Hamilton, Lord Reed and Lord Carloway will take the line of least resistance and grant a re-trial.
Because it is the easy option, requiring little thought and they are already seen by some as de facto Crown Office employees anyway.
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University