Crown Office refuse to release discussions on blocked rape case. A LORD ADVOCATE who aligned himself with rape awareness groups & Scotland’s current top judge to demand politicians remove a miscarriage of justice safeguard from the legal system – blocked the prosecution of a footballer for rape after contact with the accused’s QC.
Former Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland was in charge of the Crown Office & Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) as Scotland’s top prosecutor at the time allegations of rape were raised against footballer David Goodwillie by victim Denise Clair in January 2011.
As Lord Advocate, Mulholland held the last say in authorising a prosecution or deciding to block further action.
The Crown Office decided not to prosecute David Goodwillie and his co- accused, David Robertson – a decision which occurred after contact between Paul McBride QC & the Crown Office – and according to sources - Mulholland.
The revelation of contact between Goodwillie’s lawyer - Paul McBride QC and prosecutors - came following a Freedom of Information request by the Sunday Mail newspaper, in which the Crown Office confirmed contact took place.
The Sunday Mail featured a report on the Crown’s decision to withhold details of communications between McBride and the Crown Office.
The Crown Office said: “We do hold some records of telephone discussion between the late Paul McBride and staff at Crown Office”
However, officials at the £113m a year Crown Office refused to release further details on the conversations with the now deceased Paul McBride, stating to do so “would inhibit legal opinions or advice expressed in future”.
Denise fought a five-year battle for justice which this year saw the Court of Session rule she had been raped by footballers Goodwillie and co-accused David Robertson.
The 30-year-old originally sought £500,000 in compensation, but damages were later agreed at £100,000 in the civil action at the Court of Session in Edinburgh.
In late January, Lord Armstrong ruled Goodwillie - the former Scotland international footballer and his ex-teammate David Robertson were rapists.
The judge ordered Goodwillie & Robertson to pay £100,000 damages in what was the first civil rape case of its kind in Scotland – coming after Mulholland blocked all attempts to charge Goodwillie & Robertson who would have had to face a criminal trial if the prosecution had not been blocked by the then Lord Advocate.
As of date of publication of this article, Goodwillie is appealing the ruling.
The mother-of-one maintained she was incapable of giving free agreement to sex because of her alcohol consumption, but Goodwillie, 27, who now plays with Plymouth Argyle, and Robertson claimed the incident had been consensual.
Lord Armstrong, said: "Having carefully examined and scrutinised the whole evidence in the case, I find the evidence of the pursuer (the woman) to be cogent, persuasive and compelling."
Lord Armstrong said: "In the result, therefore, I find that in the early hours of Sunday 2 January 2011, at the flat in Greig Crescent, Armadale, both defenders (the footballers) took advantage of the pursuer when she was vulnerable through an excessive intake of alcohol and, because her cognitive functioning and decision-making processes were so impaired, was incapable of giving meaningful consent; and that they each raped her."
The judge said he found neither Goodwillie - who also played for Aberdeen and Blackburn Rovers - or Robertson to be credible or reliable on the issue of whether they had a reasonable or honest belief that she was consenting.
He rejected evidence relied on by the players that Ms Clair was not particularly affected by alcohol and was no more drunk than anyone else in the company they had been in that night.
Lord Armstrong said that prior to the incident the victim – Ms Clair - had enjoyed life, but her life changed following the decision not to proceed with a prosecution.
Lord Armstrong said: "She found that decision difficult to understand and had felt that she had not been believed."
The judge added: "She felt that her life had been destroyed by something which had happened although, because of her lack of memory, she was not fully aware of what it was that had caused that effect."
The Crown Office said it stood by its previous decision not to prosecute the footballers – a decision taken during the tenure of Frank Mulholland as Lord Advocate – which is now subject to calls for a full inquiry.
A Crown Office spokesman who refused to be identified said: "As Lord Armstrong stated in his judgement, the standard of proof to be satisfied was that of the balance of probabilities which is a less onerous requirement than the standard in criminal cases, which is beyond reasonable doubt.
"Further, there is no requirement of corroboration in civil cases unlike in criminal cases.
"This case was looked at very carefully by Crown counsel who concluded that there was insufficient evidence in law to raise criminal proceedings. As a result no proceedings were instructed."
Lord Mulholland now sits on the bench of the Court of Session after having been made a judge by by anti-corroboration co-campaigner Lord Carloway – Scotland’s current Lord President & Lord Justice General.
Lord Mulholland as he is now known - blocked a prosecution of Goodwillie and his co-accused David Robertson for rape – after he gave evidence at Holyrood in November 2013 - demanding msps on the Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee agree to his plans to scrap corroboration – a safeguard against injustice - which Mulholland ironically claimed blocked the prosecution of rape cases.
Video footage of Frank Mulholland’s evidence to MSPs urging they repeal corroboration – to enable him to prosecute rape offenders, can be viewed here:
Mulholland also blocked criminal charges against the driver of the Glasgow bin lorry which ran out of control in December 2014 killing six people in the centre of Glasgow while injuring 15 others.
Lord Mulholland recently featured in an investigation into judicial use of taxpayers cash to find overseas trips & junkets. Mulholland took a £1,200 trip to the European Court in Luxembourg for three days funded by public cash.
TAX FIDDLE DEAL DEATH - Frank Mulholland’s Crown Office headline appetite for VAT tax carousel case ended in death of top QC:
A case disastrously gone wrong for the headline craving Crown Office under Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland - was a secret deal to bring back alleged tax cheat Imran Hussain from Pakistan.
To this day, Mr Hussain stands accused of a £300million VAT Carousel Fraud.
A media investigation coupled with Freedom of Information probes revealed secret discussions had taken place between Paul McBride QC and Mulholland’s Crown Office - over a move which would have seen the then Lord Advocate grab credit for prosecuting and convicting what is thought to be Scotland’s highest ever value fraud case.
In a Freedom of Information response, the Crown Office admitted to holding one ‘single email’, in which McBride had made contact with Lindsay Miller – who was the then head of the Serious Organised Crime Division in the Crown Office.
It was the same Lindsay Miller who responded to the FOI requests from journalists.
Commenting on Lindsay Miller’s response to the FOI request, a COPFS review undertaken by Gertie Wallace, the head of the Criminal Justice and Disclosure Team at the time said:
“In the reply from Lindsey Miller, Head of Serious and Organised Crime Division on 4 May you were advised that information held by COPFS was contained in one email indicating Mr McBride made contact with the Head of the Serious Organised Crime Division in COPFS on 16 January 2012 regarding a Mr Hussein.”
“The reference to Mr McBride’s contact with Mrs Miller is contained in an email between COPFS and Crown Prosecution Service dated 16 January 2012. There is no further information held by COPFS regarding contact between the late Mr McBride and COPFS regarding his client Mr Hussein.”
“I understand that information held about Mr McBride’s contact with Mrs Miller about Mr Hussein has also been provided to you following your request for information dated 6 June seeking documents and discussions on correspondence between Crown Office and Crown Prosecution Service between Paul McBride and COPFS, to which you have now received a reply dated 14 June from Mrs Miller.”
Imran "Immy" Hussain, 34, has been on the run from HMRC investigators for eleven years over a VAT scam in which he allegedly stole £300million from UK taxpayers.
It is understood that top QC Paul McBride, 47, met fugitive Hussain during the trip to Pakistan where he died in March 2012.
Prior to McBride flying to Pakistan, he met and discussed the case with Crown Office staff including Mulholland.
However, the secret between the Crown Office, McBride and involvement of the Inland Revenue went wrong - after McBride died of a heart attack while in Pakistan to meet Immy Hussain to discuss a secret deal allegedly involving a trial and what the Crown may ask for on sentencing.
Media reports at the time in 2012 quoted a friend of Mr Hussain, saying “He wants to come home - but not to spend 20 years in a cell.”
"His preferred outcome [believed to have been the deal on the table from COPFS] would be to hand over a large amount of his money and do a light sentence - that way, the authorities could say justice has been done and point to the cash seizure as a success."
It was also reported at the time - McBride told a friend that he was going to Lahore to meet a wealthy client wanted for a major fraud in the UK.
Legal sources and friends of the lawyer, who was found dead in his room at the Pearl Continental Hotel, believe he met Hussain.
McBride travelled to Pakistan with solicitor Aamer Anwar - who said the lawyers attended a wedding during their stay.
Hussain had been living the high-life in Dubai, where he owned two luxury houses, a fleet of cars and a yacht. He also travelled to Europe by private jet.
He spent fortunes on wild parties and thought nothing of buying Rolex watches for his pals.
But he was forced to leave the desert kingdom when HMRC investigators were sent to track him down.
Hussain, from Newton Mearns, Glasgow, had already been in contact with HMRC about a possible deal.
Sources have described communication between Hussain and HMRC as "very sensitive".
One legal source said: "Paul was in Pakistan in his professional capacity as an advocate.
"He was there to meet a Scottish Asian who is wanted for VAT fraud and wants to come back to Scotland.
"His contacts at the Crown Office were at the highest level and he operated and negotiated at such a level."
Another associate of Hussain said: "Things got a lot more difficult for him when he had to leave Dubai. He realised that HMRC weren't going to give up on him and he has now been in Pakistan for the last couple of years."
Hussain is suspected of heading a Europe-wide operation who set up hundreds of bogus firms linked to VAT fraud, also known as carousel fraud. Gangs claim back VAT on goods they say were imported and then exported.
But the goods - usually small but high-value items such as computer chips and mobile phones - never existed.
In an astonishing turn of events caused by the death in Pakistan of Paul McBride - while he was there at the behest of the Lord Advocate – Frank Mulholland and many others from the world of politics including First Minister Alex Salmond, and figures from the legal establishment attended Paul McBride’s funeral held at (name the church) in wherever during the year.
Previous articles on the Crown Office and Lord Advocate Mulholland’s exit from COPFS, can be found here: PASS THE CROWN: As one Lord Advocate exits, another is set to take charge of Scotland’s ‘institutionally corrupt’ Crown Office & Procurator Fiscal Service
For previous articles on the Crown Office, read more here: Scotland's Crown Office - in Crown detail