Former Labour MSP Gordon Jackson has escaped prosecution for an alleged motoring offence after appeal judges ruled it had been time barred.
The QC who is also the former MSP for Glasgow Govan had failed to respond to letters asking him to disclose the identity of the driver of a hired car which had been caught speeding on the motorway.
When eventually the police visited his home Mr Jackson claimed that he could not remember receiving any letters and did not know who had been driving at the time of the offence.
In December 2008 the hire vehicle was recorded speeding on the M80 near Dunipace, Stirlingshire. The hire firm identified Mr Jackson as the hirer of the vehicle and letters were sent to his home asking him to identify the driver.
After the second letter elicited no response from the former Labour MSP, two police officers went to Mr Jackson’s house. Mr Jackson said he understood what was required of him, but stated: “I have no recollection of the correspondence.
“I have no idea who was driving at the relevant time and date as my wife and I both drive the car.”
Such cases require that the defendant be served with formal court papers within six months and prosecutors took as the start date the date of the police visit. However the Judiciary Appeal Court in Edinburgh have ruled that the starting date should have been the date of the first letter. As this was January 2009 and a complaint against Mr Jackson was not served until 23rd October it meant that the six months had elapsed.
Not content with this victory, the former Labour politician has now demanded that the Crown pay his legal fees. That request will be considered at a hearing to be held at a later date.
Mr Jackson is no stranger to controversy. Whilst a Labour MSP he was continually criticised for continuing his lucrative legal work whilst claiming his £50,000 MSP’s salary. Eventually, after several years, Mr Jackson provided a written guarantee that he would cease his after his local Labour party warned him he could not do both jobs.
He has also tried to claim cash from the public purse by suing a council for £50,000 after he slipped and fell on an icy pavement.
Mr Jackson is not the only former Labour politician trying to escape prosecution. Ex Labour MPs David Chaytor, Elliot Morley and Jim Devine are also trying to avoid prosecution for allegedly fiddling their MPs expenses claims by claiming that a centuries old act protects them.
They say that the 1688 Bill of Rights states that only the Westminster Parliament could try and, if guilty, punish them. The Supreme Court will hear their case around October 18th.
If the Supreme Court rejects their bid Morley will stand trial at Southwark Crown Court on November 16. Chaytor and Devine will stand trial some time in 2011.