EARLIER this week, the BBC’s John Beattie, on Drivetime interviewed Sandy Brindley, the chief executive of Rape Crisis Scotland, and the past president of the Law Society of Scotland, Ken Dalling.

Brindley expressed a sincere interest in entering a rational debate on the subject of rape trials without juries and agreed that it was a radical proposal, which will go through Parliament and be scrutinised.

Dalling stated he was concerned these changes would undermine the current fair system and take away the right to a “fair trial”, by implication stating that any change would reduce “fairness”.

Beattie questioned the solicitor on data that suggests 99% of reported rape cases taken to trial result in a not guilty or not proven verdict. A success rate of one in 100 – hardly a meaningful deterrent, is it?

When asked, Dalling denied that based on these statistics “guilty men walk free”, a shocking denial of the data evidence in my opinion.

Beattie probed further by asking the solicitor if he agreed the contrary must therefore be true that 99% of women are making it up. The solicitor’s response was “I would need to look into the source of your statistics.” Beattie advised that these were Scottish Government statistics.

The solicitor’s concern was that judge-only trials would remove the fair consideration of the accused by their peers. Dalling also advised that there would be likely more prosecutions and convictions. I ask, what’s not to like about that?

In comments in other media, a statement was made that with the current situation, it appears men can “get away” with one attempt or actual rape without being found guilty and hence receiving a penalty.

If that view is truly held by the younger men and some older men, as this week’s civil case against Donald Trump has confirmed, I have no reason to doubt that a significant part of the population believes they are entitled. It is that belief and errant behaviour that needs correction.

Fine if that can be done by parents and peers, but by puberty that horse seems to have bolted with the stable doors (social media) not even creaking shut yet. So believing the complainant is a start, but we as a society are governed by how we have been socialised and make decisions based on our perceptions.

In a jury trial, the advocate representing the accused currently need only convince eight of the 15 jurors that the fiscal hasn’t proven the guilt. We can see from the current media – social as well as mainstream – that misdirection and omission can imply something that does not exist.

Each case is different, but solicitors and advocates are well-versed in these “soft skills” of manipulating jurors based on innuendo and sleight on the complainant’s character.

It appears that the Law Society of Scotland has set its head against any change to improve the lot and remove risks for 51% of the population, not even engaging in a pilot to examine a better way.

It smells of pre-Copernican thinking where Earth was theologically and ideologically placed at the centre of the universe but as we all now know it wasn’t, we aren’t and we have moved on.

Alistair Ballantyne

Birkhill, Angus

WHY oh why wasn’t Kate Forbes elected as the SNP’s leader and first minister? She is bright, she is intelligent beyond some others, she knowledgeable beyond expectations, and she has written about some excellent subjects in her weekly National column.

Kate has written knowledgeably on the royals and freedom of speech, about Joanna Cherry and events surrounding her that affect Edinburgh comedy venues and risk undermining the city’s “international reputation as the home of the Enlightenment”.

She has also written extensively on how the Scottish Government plans for the fishing industry with Highly Protected Marine Areas (HPMAs) could be set aside. HPMAs would allow nature to fully recover to a more natural state, allowing the marine ecosystem to thrive.

However, with Forbes living on the Isle of Skye, she is familiar with and has a possible vested interest in the Scottish coastal fishing industry and its survival – obviously a complication with the HPMA issues. There are many fishing families involved in similar Scottish fishing areas and have been for generations. This week she wrote on

a totally different issue, namely Scottish students and the question of apprenticeships, post-sixth year or even fifth-year studies (To learn and earn: why we must offer students universal apprenticeships, May 10).

I can remember, back in the day, when apprenticeships were much in demand for the likes of us “secondary modern school pupils” as we were called.

This is another excellent article and one I hope the government of Humza Yousaf might just read and take notice of.

I do wonder if any SNP government MSPs ever read The National with its fine information on the currency and a constitution for Scotland, for example.

However, I do feel we have lost the chance of utilising Forbes’s abilities in the form of a government leadership. Humza seems to be struggling to make his mark at the moment. Admittedly a bad start for him, and criticism of his coronation attendance doesn’t help.

But we are where we are. The members voted and so we have a new government of sorts that is going a different way from its predecessor with new priorities, hopefully, amongst other national issues, to put the Scottish economy back on track regardless of the annual financial contribution from the Westminster Treasury.

Alan Magnus-Bennett


THE individual who chose the title of the Illegal Migration Bill either had a sense of humour or didn’t recognise the ambiguity.

Cameron Crawford