No halt in plans to move jury trials to Ayr

Cabinet Secretary for Justice, Humza Yousaf, has ruled out halting controversial plans to transfer criminal jury trials from Dumfries and Stranraer to Ayr Sheriff Court.

Wednesday, 6th January 2021, 10:37 am
Updated Wednesday, 6th January 2021, 10:38 am
Stranraer Sheriff Court

He has also refused to commit to jury trials returning to local courts once the Covid-19 pandemic is over.

Instead Mr Yousaf confirmed the Scottish Courts and Tribunal Services would be pressing ahead with the move despite fierce opposition from the legal profession who claim it is putting their lives at serious risk as well as their families and colleagues.

Now Galloway and West Dumfries MSP Finlay Carson has vowed to carry on the fight and seek a commitment from the Scottish Government that criminal trials will return to local courts as soon as possible.

He said: “I will now be writing to the justice secretary asking for confirmation that trials will return to Dumfries and Stranraer Sheriff Courts once the pandemic restrictions are ended.

“There is no doubt in my mind that there should be further erosion and centralisation of court services post Covid-19.

“The Scottish Government appears to be ignoring its own advice over travel restrictions by allowing this crazy idea of transferring court services to Ayr Sheriff Court which is in a higher tier level than the one in Dumfries and Galloway.”

Mr Carson raised the matter during a question and answer session at the Scottish Parliament after having been approached by a number of worried solicitors.

He questioned why the cabinet secretary was reluctant to spend approximately £40,000 on making both Dumfries and Stranraer Sheriff Courts able to continue operating during the pandemic.

Mr Yousaf confirmed more than £15m had been allocated to ensure court cases could continue to take place.

However, insisted that it would not be possible to review the Dumfries and Stranraer case in isolation.