Victim of Islay fatal road crash named

The 33-year-old man who died in a road crash at Kildalton Cross in Port Ellen on Islay on 4th April has been named by Strathclye Police as Jacek Kaplon, a London-based Polish national.

An unnamed man, also 33 and thought to have been in the car, which left the road and hit a tree, has been arrested and was due to appear at Campbeltown Sheriff Court yesterday.

33 year old arrested over fatal Islay road crash

A 33 year-old man has been arrested and detained by Strathclyde Police over the fatal road crash at Port Ellen on Islay on Saturday (4th April).

He is expected to appear at Campbeltown Sheriff Court tomorrow (Tuesday 7th April).

Three men, all 33 years-old, were in a car which left the road and hit a tree at Kildalton Cross at Port Ellen around 9.10pm on Saturday. One man died at the scene and the other two were airlifted with serious but not life-threatening injuries to the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Paisley.

Stone of Destiny Ian Hamilton QC, sent money from the public to continue legal fight against RBS

Ian Hamilton, the Scots QC who will forever be associated with the daring student raid that recovered the Stone of Destiny, Scotland’s Coronation Stone, from Westminster Abbey on Christmas Day in 1950, has found himself again the People’s Champion.

He had lodged a claim in the Small Claims Court against the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) who had touted to his wife – and many others, rights shares in September 2008, at a point when the bank already knew that it was in trouble.

An expensive team of lawyers representing RBS argued successfully at the Small Claims Court (where 83 year-old Mr Hamilton represented himself) that the case should be heard at the higher Sheriff Court. The argument was that there were serious implications for RBS in the precedent set for other cases against it should Mr Hamilton win.

Part of the tactic was also to silence Mr Hamilton as cases heard at the Sheriff Court see costs awarded against the loser which is not the case in the Small Claims Court. At this stage of his life Mr Hamilton cannot look forward to earning back any large legal costs awarded against him and so, when the decision was made in favour of the RBS, he withdrew his claim.

However, his David and Goliath effort won public admiration and respect – and has also seen him cast as a potential advocate for a host of small shareholders who had been similarly, allegedly, misled.

Mr Hamilton has been spending his time returning money sent to him by supporters urging him to pursue the case at the Sheriff Court.

The QC’s position is that sending him money is all v ery well but genuine determination to bring the RBS to book should  be seeing a flurry of similar claims made against the bank at the Small Claims Court. So far no one has done this. People seem to hope that Mr Hamilton might lead a group action – without realising that this option does not exist in Scots law.

To encourage and support people in lodging their own case at the Small Claims Court, Mr Hamilton has published a self-help guide on his blog site. He is hopeful that Scots law mayat some point be changed to allow group or class actions but in the meantime is urging people to lodge inexpensive claims through the Small Claims Court.

Stone of Destiny QC must wait a week to hear which court will hear Hamilton v RBS

Ian Hamilton QC, whose name will forever be associated with the deed of derring-do on Christmas day 1950 when he and three fellow students repatriated the Stone of Destiny from Westminster – albeit initially in two halves. They managed to break it while they and it went into hiding together.

Anyway, as we have reported recently, Mr Hamilton was in court yesterday (18th February) – specifically in the Small Claims Court in Oban in Argyll. He was beginning his case against the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) for compensation for a share issue the bank persuaded him and others to buy into in June 2008. Mr Hamilton, who is representing himself, argues that the bank was insolvent and concealed its financial situation at the time of this share issue.

The amount at stake is small and is within the limits that the Small Claims Court is empowered to deal with. The problem for the bank is that if Mr Hamilton wins, other larger shareholders will be encouraged to pursue legal action for compensation on their own account.

The RBS has therefore been arguing that the case should be heard by a higher court – perhaps the Oban Sheriff Court. This move is being resisted by Mr Hamiton because if he lost he would required to pay the RBS legal costs which in the Small Claims Court are limited to £150. In the Sheriff Court the costs applied could bankrupt him.

At the age of 83, Ian Hamilton is naturally unprepared to risk this financial wipeout and has said that if the decision of the Oban Small Claims Court is to pass the case to the Sheriff Court, he will have no choice but to withdrawn his case.

At heart, Mr Hamilton’s action is about making the point that the large and the powerful must be accountable without draconian cost to the ordinary citizen who may well have right on her or his side. He said in court that people were said to live in a democracy but that: ‘If this is so, there must exist a court in which the members of that democracy can defend their little pieces of property against the big beasts which prowl about in our society’.

At the start of the case in Oban yesterday, Mr Hamilton withdrew an allegation of fraud against the RBS which had previously been contained in the writ.

The RBS’s Solicitor advocate, Joyce Cullen, said that, with the bank denying all the claims made by Mr Hamilton, the action would include ‘detailed pleadings’ and there was no provision for this in the small claims court. She argued that the complexity of the case therefore indicated that it be heard in a higher court.

Both Mr Hamilton and the RBS will have to wait for Sheriff Simon Pender’s ruling on the issue which he will give next week.

Argyll-resident QC of ‘Stone of Destiny Four’ in legal challenge to RBS on Wednesday in Oban

Ian Hamilton QC, from North Connel in Argyll, is engaged in a legal dispute with the Royal Bank of Scotland. Mr Hamilton has taken a case against the bank at Oban Small Claims Court. He aims to recover the £1,282 cost of RBS shares that he bought in June – a time when he says the bank was technically insolvent. His case therefore rests on the presumption that RBS ‘fraudulently’ sold him the shares by concealing its insolvency.

In June 2008 RBS invited its shareholders to invest in a rights issue. Mr Hamilton’s wife received the invitation and he, on her behalf, bought around 640 shares at £2 each. they currently stand at 21.8 pence per share.

Mr Hamilton claims that RBS induced him make this investment ‘by concealing the true state of their finances’. In an alternative claim, he alleges the bank was ‘negligent in representing themselves as solvent at all material times when in fact they were insolvent’.

Were Mr Hamilton to win this case it would not set a precedent but it would offer encouragement and hope to other small shareholders to take the same route to recover their failed investment.

This has led RBS to take a legal step designed to frighten Mr Hamilton into dropping his case. It has written to Sherrif Court Clerk in Oban, asking that Mr Hamilton’s case be moved from the Small Claims Court to the higher Sherriff Court. The bank’s strategy is based on the Small Claims Court’s limit of £200 on costs payable. This limit does not apply to cases heard in the higher court.

Mr Hamilton says that, should the court agree to the RBS request and should he lose his case at that level, the RBS costs which he would then be required to pay would bankrupt him.

Oban Sheriff Court will, this Wednesday (18th February), hear Mr Hamilton and the RBS present their respective arguments on which court should hear the case.

Mr Hamilton was one of the now legendary gang of four students – along with Gavin Vernon, Kay Matheson, and Alan Stuart – whose ingenuity saw them seize the Stone of Destiny from Westminister Abbey on Christmas Day 1950. Mr Hamilton has written on the matter: No Stone Unturned: The Story of the Stone of Destiny (published in 1952 by Victor Gollancz and by Funk and Wagnalls; and The Taking of the Stone of Destiny (a modern reprint by Seven Hills Book Distributors pubished in 1992)

Rare 13th century face-mask jug found in dig at former Council Chambers in Rothesay

Rathmell Archaeology Ltd was commissioned to undertake a programme of archaeological works before building work began on the site of the former Council Chambers and Sheriff Court at Rothesay on Argyll’s Isle of Bute. This was a condition of the planning consent given to Fyne Homes who are to develop 25 new homes on the site.

The buildings and their location beside Rothesay Castle added up to a significance recognised in the comprehensive archaeological dig that took place behind the site’s High Street facade in October 2008.

A previous dig at the site – in 2006 – unearthed two small sandstone walls and a hard-packed layer of mortar indicating a possible floor. This contained fragments of medieval green glaze potter and the sereis of finds prompted the latest dig.

Now – among a range of smaller finds of ceramic and metalwork – the archaeologists have found a rare 13th century ceramic face-mask jug. This will be handed over to the Crown who will decide where it will be housed. Somewhere near the Lewis Chessmen, perhaps, some way from home?

Alan McDougall, Director of Fyne Homes says: ‘We are all excited about the findings which have been uncovered on the site. Rothesay is an ancient Royal Burgh with a rich and dynamic historical past. This excavation has given us the chance to help further our understanding of how Rothesay grew and developed’.