NATIONAL readers have joined in the debate on the pros and cons (no pun intended) on the Scottish “not proven” verdict and to adopt English-style juries (Letters, October 11). They should be aware that the guilty/not guilty verdict was a result of a 19th-century attempt to introduce English law into Scotland.

Scots law and the proven/not proven verdict is based on European law, which is based on Roman law. English law is based on the Norman Conquest, feudal and peculiar English class system. Winnie Ewing and many others say that studying Scots law influenced her to go for independence. When the Glasgow High Court was refurbished in the 1990s the English contractor who built a jury box for 12 jurors had to rebuild it for 15. Scots law juries were intended to prevent a tie.

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Scots law was suspended during the occupation of the 1820 Scottish Republican Rising, when English judges and English court systems accompanied English troops into the trials of the insurgents. Scottish juries were suspended after they refused to convict the insurgents. One, James Moir, a tea merchant from the Calton in Glasgow, defended himself twice and was acquitted. The infuriated judge called him “Rory O’Bore”.

Academics dismiss the Scottish Rising as “Peterloo on Horseback“, or “agent provocateur-led“. Maybe, but more than 60,000 insurgents took up arms for a Provisional Government of a Scottish Republic. Moir, who has a suite named after him in the Mitchell Library, had a brother transported to Australia. Others were sentenced to be hung, drawn and quartered. The sentences were reduced to hanging and beheaded afterwards and the bodies were dissected by students. Baird and Hardie had their remains dug up, from Stirling, at midnight and transferred to Sighthill Cemetery in Glasgow to avoid riots.

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Purlie Wilson, frae Paisley, was hung on Glasgow Green amid riots. The rioters pulled up railings and fought the troops. In Greenock after the crowd was fired upon, the casualties included a young boy. The rioters used a battering ram to break into the town jail and released the political prisoners.

This year, Peterloo – where troops fired on a peaceful demonstration in St Peter’s in the Field, Manchester – is widely publicised, including an excellent film. Scottish workers demonstrated in solidarity throughout industrial Scotland. The 1820 rally, only a year later, will pass without any official recognition, certainly not by the National Trust for Scotland, whose directorship consists of titled folk, landlords and appointee Kneel Oliver, arch Unionist. There is no NTS memorial to the defeated insurgents at the Battle of Bonnymuir, nor even an official signpost. Instead, there is a cairn erected by the permission of the local farmer by the 1820 Society, who had to raise their own funds.

Most think the Wallace Memorial at Abbey Craig, Stirling, was raised by the NTS. It was mainly raised by the efforts of the Scottish Republican Chartists, led by none other than James Moir, who refused to allow the Nobles to have their crests carved into the building.

As for the not proven judicial compromise, I have twice served on the High Court jury, twice been a Crown witness, twice a defence witness and twice the accused, acquitted on not proven verdicts. I will not detail the lengths the Ubiquitous Twig (Special Branch) and their bosses in the Met and MI5 went to, to put me out of action, as this may beyond the experience of comprehension and belief by most folk, both in the courts and out of it. All I would say to the very able Justice Meenister, Humza Yousaf, is, look for the political motives behind these cyclical attempts at interference in our legal system. Kenny MacAskill was more than aware of these recent historical attempts.

Donald Anderson