The legal community in Scotland has been intrigued by the public debate between the Lord Advocate and Lord Justice General on the question of the prosecution of the World’s End murders (on which see here). This morning the following contribution was published in the letters page of The Scotsman
Clash of cultures?
I am amazed at the furore surrounding the Lord Advocate’s remarks in parliament (your report, 28 September), which, at worst, could be interpreted as being mildly critical of Lord Clarke’s handling of the World’s End murder trial.
I find the public overreaction to these comments by the Lord Hamilton, the Lord Justice General, amazing. It is as if Elish Angiolini had bullied a vulnerable and defenceless junior official. The impression I have of the Law Lords who sit in our High Court is that the ravings of the devil himself would not trouble this group.
When, in 2001, I researched the all-male Speculative Society of Edinburgh, I found two-thirds of our law lords came from this privileged group of public schoolboys who all attended Edinburgh University, where they spent three years of winter Wednesday nights in gaining the “extraordinary privileges” of the Spec. Lord Hamilton is Spec member No 1793, and Lord Clarke member No 1857.
An integral part of the Spec’s apprenticeship for greatness involves a member delivering an essay of their choice, which is then rudely ridiculed by the other members, who are suitably fortified by claret. Since both lords Clarke and Hamilton survived this trial by ridicule, it can reasonably be assumed that neither is a shrinking violet.
Their sensitivity in this affair may be more to do with a clash of cultures. The New Club boys might accept all sort of flamboyant and outrageous behaviour from one of their own (remember Spec member No 1677, former solicitor general Nicky Fairbairn) but do not take kindly to being chided, however mildly, by a coalman’s lassie from Govan.
Editorial note: I am not a member. I have never been approached to join. I didn’t even know they existed while a student at Edinburgh. The only story I know of the society involves a fire alarm due to their log fire and the firemen have a door answered by a member. “You can’t come in here, this is a private club.” Fireman: “We can go where we like we’re the [expletive deleted] fire brigade.”