Following the extradition from Madrid and later arrival at Edinburgh Airport on Friday 30th January 2004 John was lodged at St Leonard's Police Station in the city. He appeared from custody at Edinburgh Sheriff Court on 2nd February 2004 but was denied bail due to the extradition and the false facts originally reported by Revenue officials and now promoted by Procurator Fiscal Depute Mrs Joan Guy. Indeed, Crown Counsel continued to promote this false information during hearings before senior Judges of the Supreme Court in order to prevent John obtaining Interim Liberation.
The trial proper did not commence until September 2004 being some 7 months after the extradition. John was unable to fund his own defence due principally to the scheming method in which he had been arrested and detained in Spain triggering the collapse of his business and only means of support. This was an entirely unnecessary event undertaken in a most heinous way by Revenue officers whose only aim was to bring this case to trial at any cost in order to satisfy their political masters in London. Oral evidence given by the then Deputy Chairman of the Inland Revenue, Paul Gray (pictured right) to the Committee of Public Accounts of the House of Commons on Wednesday 15 December 2004 clearly relates this policy. When pressed by Alan Williams M.P. he admitted that the Lamberton case was the only one of its kind since the conversion from Capital Transfer Tax and that their regime was effectively one of deterrence/compliance. Put simply, the Lamberton case was brought in order to serve as as deterrent to others. On 20 November 2007 Gray was forced to resign as Chairman of HMRC after only a year at the helm due to substantial operational failures. We are not in the least surprised going by their record in this case. Never mind because they gave him a cosy loft in the Cabinet Office to wile away the hours on his £200,000 salary before retiring on full pension. The policy promoted by Gray so resolutely will inevitably come back to haunt those public officials who remain and were directly concerned in this debacle. See additional Press article.
In the run up to the trial John was forced to dismiss several lawyers on the basis of their ineptitude and inability to properly prepare his defence. Investigations later revealed the Scottish Legal Aid Board's (SLAB) inability to properly fund cases which were complicated and consequently required additional resources. Others resigned from the case due to being politically and judicially compromised in what was effectively a case against the Government. Up until just recently, John's lawyers were refused legal aid funding to undertake certain crucial work in the case, work which would have resulted in a very different outcome.
On another occasion John was forced to act on his own behalf when his legal representatives refused to seek an adjournment in order to procure documents and cite witnesses. The subject was sarcastically touched upon by the Prosecutor (Mrs Joan Guy) after the trial when she commented to journalists that:- "the real problem was that he would not accept the legal advice". This same Prosecutor also attempted to get John to plead guilty to the charges in order to forgo the necessity of a trial on the basis that any financial gain to him from the alleged crime be limited to £120,000. This kind offer was summarily rejected by John.
In a final sinister turn of events just before the commencement of the trial, all John's witnesses from Northern Ireland were handed over to the Crown by a former lawyer simply because he couldn't be bothered to arrange transport and accommodation for them. The Crown had no such constraints however and took these witnesses over formally as Crown Witnesses with the Press later reporting that they had given evidence against John when this was completely untrue and yet another false and prejudiced representation of the facts.
The trial proper commenced at Edinburgh Sheriff Court on the 1st September 2004 and was presided over by Sheriff Gordon Liddle (pictured right). John's legal team consisted of Mr Herbert Kerrigan Q.C., Mr Steven Borthwick (Advocate) and Mr Tom Wardlaw (Lawyer). John was charged with embezzling his aunt who had died some six years earlier, failing to make a full return for Inheritance Tax purposes and of defrauding his brother of his half of their aunt's estate.
John's legal team were given a very short time to prepare the case for trial due to the many adjournments which had already taken place. In fact, so much time had elapsed that a High Court Judge had to authorise the continuation of proceedings on at least two occasions and was unwilling to sanction any further time for the proper preparation of the case. This had the effect of denying John's defence the opportunity to precognose additional witnesses and to secure documents. The Crown continue to this day to refuse full disclosure in the case contrary to recent rulings by the House of Lords and in particular, refuse to hand over files relating to the former Inland Revenue. This is what passes for justice in Scotland!
The trial continued for a period of some four weeks which was two weeks beyond that allocated. Crown Witnesses numbered some 37 in total although many never gave evidence, the defence were left with only one witness, John himself. Many of the witnesses never even met Mrs Paul whilst others professed to know her and more to the point, know her mind when they had only met her once and some years earlier. No-one within John's family including his only brother have ever made any allegation of impropriety against him and certainly never gave any evidence alleging such contrary to speculation in some media. The allegations in respect of Mrs Paul were invented by the Crown solely in order to strengthen their case for extradition and the manufactured charge of tax evasion. There was no embezzlement. Who ever heard of someone embezzling their own inheritance; it's was simply ludicrous and moreover, everyone without an agenda knew it. Family members who testified including John's brother gave evidence to the effect that John was true to his aunt to the very end when others had failed her abysmally. Mrs Paul's very own Church of Scotland clergyman even had the audacity to complain that she hadn't left the church a legacy in her will and further moaned that he hadn't been invited to tea after her funeral! You might just wonder what the hell this had to do with the charges, so did we? Basically, the Crown were intent upon scraping up any dirt they could in order to try and discredit John in front of a local jury. You will have already read about the Bank of Scotland's conduct towards Mrs Paul after she dumped them so unceremoniously and how they refused her a single penny under her late husband's Trust to improve her home yet handed over £405,000 to the taxman on her death. Little wonder they had nothing but contempt for John since he basically exposed them for what they are!
The Crown spent weeks attempting to exploit data relating to various financial dealings undertaken by John being absolutely transparent and more to the point, undisputed. Apparently, if you have offshore bank accounts and move funds between them, trade on the Stock Market and choose to live part-time in Spain, you are automatically labelled a tax evader and an absconder. This off-course was all for the benefit of the jury whose only experience of banking was the odd sojourn to the local Building Society down the High Street. At one stage during cross-examination John challenged the Prosecutor in respect of her off-the-cuff comments earlier that day to the effect that she was only doing the trial as a favour for the Inland Revenue. She reacted most aggressively, the comment having struck home with the desired effect. The Sheriff reacted by threatening to remove her and John from the Court but all the same chose to ignore the allegation which in itself amounted to an accusation of perverting the course of justice.
During submissions by Mr Kerrigan, Sheriff Liddle stated that he was not qualified in International Law and offshore Trusts yet continued to hear related evidence. At the end of the trial he also chose to denigrate an important document signed by John's late aunt on the basis that it was only a photocopy and not an original document. The truth being that the original was actually in Court in the custody of Mr Kerrigan. The Prosecutor in her wisdom had earlier refused to allow it to be lodged since it would have severely undermined her case. The Sheriff also refused to consider any of the submissions in relation to the extradition and chose to uphold the Crown's position that they could do whatever they liked once an extradited person was returned to Scotland irrespective of International Agreements. Apparently, Scotland has its own agenda within Europe. Hello! ever heard of the European Court of Human Rights! We believe this to be incompetent under the Human Rights Act and a breach of International Law, an issue which may yet go before the House of Lords or the European Court itself should this become necessary.
So much of the charges was deleted by the Prosecutor by the end of the trial that the Sheriff warned the jury that it was an all or nothing scenario. The Sheriff then refused to uphold a final submission by Defence Counsel to the effect that there was no case to answer due to there being a insufficiency of evidence.
In the end the jury failed to return a unanimous decision on any of the charges having for the most part seen through the charade as instigated by the former Inland Revenue and promoted by the Crown. They chose however to return simple majority guilty verdicts on all the charges which no-doubt got them off the hook. Simple majority decisions are part of the Scottish Justice System which in the final analysis can amount to 8 jurors voting guilty with 7 voting not guilty; this is what passes for justice. Decisions are supposed to be beyond reasonable doubt yet up to 7 jurors can express such doubt and be completely disregarded. What this in essence amounts to is a jury of 8 making all the decisions because the other 7 might as well have stayed in bed! No other jurisdiction within the United Kingdom including most of the civilised world permit such an event to occur. Being different doesn't mean you are better!
Scottish Justice or should that be Injustice!