Trial of SNP MP Angus MacNeil adjourned

The trial of an SNP MP who is accused of dangerous driving after a crash which saw a 17-year-old seriously hurt has been adjourned because the politician and witnesses had to catch their ferries home.

Angus MacNeil appeared at Lochmaddy Sheriff Court, in the Outer Hebrides, on Wednesday as procurator fiscal Miriam Clark accused him of the driving offence in which the dirt bike rider suffered serious injuries to his leg on October 30, 2020.

The 51-year-old Western Isles MP denies the charge made against him.

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SNP MP Angus MacNeil

Sheriff Gordon Lamont was told by the mechanic that, as a result of his injuries, he now finds it hard to work on vehicles because of the pain and, to try and cope, he is “constantly taking paracetamol”.

The court heard how the rider was travelling along the A888, near the Castlebay Community School on MacNeil’s home island of Barra, when MacNeil pulled out and crashed into the teenager.

The driver, who is now 18, was taken to St Brendan’s Hospital on the island, but was later airlifted to the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital, Glasgow, where he went through a round of surgery to treat his fractured leg. He has been left with permanent scarring.

His friend, 17, told the court he saw the crash.

The 17-year-old told the court MacNeil pulled out of the road-side parking bay in a way that was “slow, normal, like anybody else would pull out” and that his bike-riding friend was travelling about 30mph, which MacNeil’s advocate John Brannigan highlighted was faster than the 20mph speed limit.

Just seconds later his friend was then hit by the car. “I have seen [him] coming down the road and the car coming out. [He] swerved off to the left and I heard a bang.”

Running to the nearby crash, he was then confronted with seeing his life-long friend seriously injured.

“When we reached him he was on the floor – he didn’t start screaming until about 30 seconds on,” he said.

The charge against MacNeil, who was first elected to the House of Commons in 2005, is that he failed to “keep a proper lookout while performing a manoeuvre” and, as a result, crashed into the youngster.

Recalling the moments leading up to the crash, the 18-year-old motorcyclist said he only saw the sidelights of MacNeil’s Ford switched on and could not see the MP in the car.

MacNeil then pulled out, the court was told, and the rider tried to turn away, but the car and dirt-bike crashed and the teenager told the court he came off towards the side of the bike.

“I would have thought someone doing a U-turn or something of the sort they would have used their indicator or something of the sort to suggest such a manoeuvre,” he told the court.

After being knocked off, he said he remembered MacNeil calling an ambulance and that he was drifting in and out of consciousness.

He told the court he was not speeding and insisted he would have been going at 20mph at the time.

At the conclusion of his evidence, the court was told both the witnesses and MacNeil needed to catch ferries to get home.

Sheriff Lamont said the case would be adjourned until May 18.

The trial continues.