Scots Advocates raise funds to tackle trafficking

Advocates have raised �13,000 for modern day victims of slavery
Advocates have raised �13,000 for modern day victims of slavery
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Scottish Advocates - inspired by 17th Century slavery case - have raised £13,000 for victims of human trafficking

The money was raised at a charity ball held in honour of the central character in a 17th Century court case.

The Tumbling Lassie fundraiser was inspired by a 1687 Court of Session action, when a travelling showman demanded damages from a couple who had given refuge to a girl forced to work as a performing gymnast.

The showman produced a written contract to prove he had “bought” the girl from her mother.

But the judges dismissed the claim and a report of the case stated: “But we have no slaves in Scotland, and mothers cannot sell their bairns.”

The money raised by the ball, held at the Sheraton in Edinburgh earlier this month, will be shared between two groups, Trafficking Awareness Raising Alliance (TARA) and the International Justice Mission (IJM), which tackle human trafficking at home and abroad.

Alan McLean, QC, formed the Tumbling Lassie Committee after he came across the little-known case by chance

He, along with advocates, Patricia Comiskey, Maryam Labaki, Eric Robertson, Janys Scott, QC, and Iain Mitchell, QC, worked to raise awareness of the case and help modern day victims of slavery.

Mr McLean said: “We have been inspired by the level of support we have had from within the legal profession and from those outside it – we are delighted to have been involved in raising this much money for these worthy causes.”

A seminar was held before the ball to examine the history of the law on slavery and people trafficking and the current Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Scotland) Bill, passed by the Scottish Parliament earlier this month.

One of the speakers at the seminar was Jenny Marra, MSP, a key voice in the campaign for anti-trafficking legislation.

She said: “The Tumbling Lassie Seminar was a thoroughly enjoyable and informative event. Taking time out to trace the genesis of our legal principles by looking back at the 17th and 18th Century cases to see how these principles have been reiterated today in the Bill is not an opportunity afforded to many legislators on statutes we pass in Holyrood.”

Bronagh Andrew of TARA, commented: “Community Safety Glasgow’s TARA Service were delighted to be invited to speak at the seminar and celebrate the recent passing of the Bill at the Tumbling Lassie Ball. The seminar brought home to us the parallels with historical enslavement and the similarities in the experiences of survivors across the world.”

She added: “The Tumbling Lassie Committee’s passion and commitment to combat human trafficking and uphold universal human rights has assisted in raising awareness of the issue across Scotland. The opportunities to enhance the work of the TARA team through their fundraising activities will bring real change to the lives of the women we support.”

Andy Bevan, of IJM, said: “The UN estimate that four billion people live outside the protection of the law – they are in desperate need for people like us to raise our voices on their behalf. The Tumbling Lassie events, both the seminar and ball, certainly achieved this.