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READERS’ LETTERS: Kirriemuir murder trial makes case for professional jurors

The High Court in Edinburgh.
The High Court in Edinburgh.

Madam, – I read all about the Steven Donaldson murder trial throughout its duration (Killers, Courier, May 4).

I feel heartily sorry for the victim and his family and friends.

Most of all I feel nothing but pity for his child who, very sadly, will have to go through life without ever having met or knowing his father due to the extreme wickedness of their other parent.

But some good may come out of this.

Specifically, this was a jury trial and I was appalled to read that one member of the jury took ill when they saw and heard some of the evidence.

The trial had to be stopped for more than an hour to allow the affected juror a break.

The system we currently have in Scotland of juries consisting of members of the public is well and truly out of date.

We currently have a situation where members of the public who have no criminal convictions of their own are chosen at random and ordered to appear for jury service.

Many, if not most people, do not even want to be jurors but they are criminalised if they do not turn up for jury service.

Jurors get no pay, no reward and they have had no legal training whatsoever for the task they face.

It is no surprise at all that some jurors take ill when they are forced to see and hear pieces of evidence which are truly gruesome and stomach churning.

All of this must be very traumatising and few cases could have been more traumatic for jurors than the Kirriemuir murder trial.

Perhaps this trial can be used to highlight the plight of jurors?

Maybe the Scottish Government will take note and use the sheer horror of that trial as a valid reason for replacing the current system with highly trained and professionally qualified jurors who actually want to do the job?

Kenneth Brannan.

42 Greenlee Drive,



Dredging keeps flooding at bay

Madam, – George Lindsay is correct about the value of dredging (Better solution to flood problems, Courier, May 6).

The Water of Leith in Edinburgh was regularly dredged when I was young, and it never flooded.

Then the dredging stopped and flooding occurred every year.

Recently the area around Murrayfield and Roseburn has been the subject of a huge renovation and reconstruction programme costing many millions, designed to stop flooding.

I remember showing photographs – taken in the 1950s – to SEPA and Scottish Water, and they could not believe they were looking at the Water of Leith.

It was a wide and deep river that was kept that way by annual dredging by Arnott McLeod, who used two lorries and an excavator to keep the river clear and safe.

Malcolm Parkin.

Gamekeepers Road,



Active river management

Madam, – I read with interest G M Lindsay’s letter about dredging.

He is so right.

Do people remember the EU regulation about no dredging? Look what happened in the Somerset levels some years ago when, with no dredging, the river Parrott burst its banks and there was severe, longstanding flooding of the Somerset Levels.

Farms were flooded and livestock drowned.

Why not dredge rivers? It is obvious and has been done for many years.

Isabel Wardrop.

111 Viewlands West,



Be careful what you wish for

Madam, – George Willmott is on the same wavelength as me when it comes to the removal of parking charges at Ninewells Hospital (Sick and infirm would lose out, Courier, May 6).

I have had several letters published over the past few years warning of the possible consequences in allowing Ninewells to become Dundee’s only park and ride facility, and as Mr Wilmott also states, the hundreds of staff cars migrating from the hill into the grounds.

As much as I feel aggrieved at having to park to attend an appointment, I would much rather pay something for the privilege than have to walk or set off much earlier, thus possibly taking up a parking slot for longer than necessary and thereby depriving someone else.

So my advice to advocates of free parking is be careful of what you wish for.

Geoff Bray.

Heather Croft,




Democracy shifts for Scots

Madam, – Once again the goal posts have been moved by a London establishment wishing to tighten its grip on our country’s assets.

Ruth Davidson told Scots they will have to earn a new referendum by getting the votes in parliament.

But “democracy” for Scots is an ever shifting line in the sand.

It changes on a whim of a capricious Westminster parliament.

We have no voice in our parliamentary union with London, unless it chimes with its own.

Yet Attorney General, Geoffrey Cox MP, in reference to the European Union stated his belief that: “Every sovereign state has the right to withdraw from a treaty if that treaty is not anymore compatible with its interests.”

That is an opinion shared by Labour’s Kate Hoey, who stated: “Why would a sovereign nation sign up to a deal with a union which says we are not allowed to leave when we want to?”

Why indeed?

Brexit is revealing English exceptionalism at its most barefaced.

Ken Clark.

c/o 15 Thorter Way,



Ruth confident for the future

Madam, – In her conference speech Ruth Davidson had a message for the Scottish people in general and for Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP in particular:

“I have a more positive view of Scotland’s future.

“I reject their mantra that says that we have to break up before we can possibly hope to prosper.

“I don’t see Scotland as subjugated or put upon or held back. Our message… is that Scotland can prosper.”

Indeed. It is high time someone injected implicit confidence in the Scotland of the here and now. In contrast the SNP has governed the country for the past 12 years in the spirit that a devolved Scotland is somehow “not normal“ and that a positive outlook requires ever more powers and, ultimately, separation.

Regina Erich.

1 Willow Row,



No say without a proper mandate

Madam, – Secular Scotland applauds the decision of Perth and Kinross Council to block un-elected church representatives from voting on issues affecting state-funded education, (Catholic church calls for urgent meeting over council voting ban, Courier, May 4).

People of all faiths and none have an equal right to stand for election to local and national government.

No-one should be handed governmental powers because they follow a particular religion.

Would we accept church representatives sitting and voting in the Scottish Parliament without having to earn the mandate from the electorate that guarantees democratic accountability?

If not, why should we accept such anti-democratic privilege in councils?

Robert Canning.

Secular Scotland,

58a Broughton Street,


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