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Mystery over sex allegations against sheriff from Dundee

Sheriff Jack Brown.
Sheriff Jack Brown.

Mystery surrounds the status of former Dundee lawyer Jack Brown, who was the subject of sexual misconduct allegations four years ago.

Scotland’s legal authorities have drawn a veil of silence over the case, despite a Scottish judge concluding a fresh hearing is required into his conduct.

Police took statements from a female lawyer – known as X – who lodged the complaint, as well as from two other women.

Mr Brown, who was a sheriff in Aberdeen, was suspended on full pay.

However, prosecutors decided not to pursue the matter through a criminal prosecution.

The sheriff remained suspended and was the subject of a fitness for office tribunal, which concluded although he had behaved “inappropriately’’, it did not justify his removal from office.

Sheriff Jack Brown was a Dundee solicitor.

That finding was challenged by X, who argued it was unfair the tribunal was not aware of additional allegations which could have had an impact on the key issues.

Finding quashed

Following a judicial review, Court of Session judge Lord Woolman quashed the tribunal’s decision in February 2022, adding the issue is now in the hands of the Lord President and the First Minister.

It is for them to decide whether a new tribunal should be set up.

Lord Woolman said: “Were it competent for me to decide these matters, I would conclude that the case should be determined by a freshly constituted tribunal.’’

Dundee Sheriff Court.
Mr Brown worked at Dundee Sheriff Court.

The status of Mr Brown’s case has not been revealed by the authorities in the intervening months.

The woman who made the original complaint also remains in the dark.

A Judicial Office spokesperson told The Courier: “Judicial conduct is dealt with on a confidential basis.

“The Judicial Office for Scotland does not comment on fitness for office tribunals.”

Second high profile case

Michael Marra, MSP for North East Scotland, has written to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to ask why there has been such a long delay in concluding the case and to question the secrecy surrounding it.

He said: “This case needs to be resolved as a matter of urgency for all of those involved and crucially, to maintain public confidence in the justice system.

“The complainants will rightly be demanding swift resolution for themselves and for their families.”

Michael Marra MSP.

The mystery comes amid concerns about another case involving a leading member of the justiciary – former Dundee sheriff Alastair Duff, the ex-head of the Judicial Institute for Scotland.

The 67-year-old – who coincidentally sat on the panel of Mr Brown’s original fitness for office tribunal – was charged by police and reported to the procurator fiscal in January of this year.

However no information about the case has yet been made available by the fiscal’s office.

Mr Marra said: “Whilst there is no apparent evidence that the severe delays of these two cases are in any way linked, everything must be done to avoid the appearance of favour or bias in our justice system.

“Everything should be done to prevent the public drawing their own conclusions.

“The judicial review concluded that the tribunal should be reconvened or a new tribunal arranged.”

Advice request rejected

However, Courier sources have confirmed at least one of the members of the original tribunal is now deceased, while Sheriff Duff would automatically be barred from taking
part in a reconvened tribunal due to his being charged and reported to the fiscal.

Last month, Conservative MSP Russell Findlay wrote to the Scottish government, seeking publication of ministerial correspondence concerning Sheriff Duff’s arrest and resignation from the Judicial Institute.

Russell Findlay MSP

This request were rejected a month later.

The Scottish Government did not respond to a request for comment from The Courier.