Judge’s attempt to protect aristocrat’s son overturned

Perth Sheriff Court. Picture: Ian Rutherford
Perth Sheriff Court. Picture: Ian Rutherford
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A Justice of the Peace (JP) tried to keep details of a titled teenager’s criminal court case hidden from the public.

The judge, who is not legally qualified, attempted to prevent the public from finding out about the case involving the Honourable Charles William Llewellyn Cadogan, who pleaded guilty to speeding at 71 mph through roadworks on the A9 and was given 28 days to pay a £300 fine.

The Scottish Court Service initially backed the JP’s ruling but were forced to back down after a complaint led to an internal inquiry.

Cadogan – who represented himself at Perth’s JP court – admitted the offence and made no attempt to seek special treatment from the court.

But the JP refused to reveal the details of a letter Cadogan had written to the court and actively prevented the teenager from speaking publicly during the hearing.

When journalists asked for sight of the letter – which contained Cadogan’s mitigation – he again refused, despite guilty plea letters routinely being made public.

Cadogan – whose father is Viscount Chelsea and grandfather is the Earl of Cadogan – was accompanied in court by his father, represented himself and handed a letter pleading guilty and explaining the incident to the JP.

The handling of the caseran contrary to the Scottish Court Service’s own stated policy on open justice.

When the Scottish Court Service was asked about the handling of the case, a spokesman initially said: “The clerk sought the JP’s decision on whether he wished the letter to be made available and his decision was that it should not be. That is a judicial decision, not one made by the 
clerk.”

However, the following day the spokesman said: “Having discussed the matter with court staff at Perth and colleagues in the SCTS corporate communications team, we have come to the conclusion that you can be shown a copy of the letter in this case, subject to any redactions which may be required for data protection reasons.”

Cadogan’s letter was revealed to contain little more than a polite and fulsome apology for speeding and an explanation that he had put his foot down because he was excited to be approaching his Scottish estate after a long drive.

Cadogan said: “It was irresponsible of me. I apologise for what I’ve done. I believe I’ve learned my lesson and it won’t happen again.”