INTERIM REPORT by AM (Courtwatcher)
I attended Lanark Sheriff Court yesterday, as a courtwatcher. The case involves Carstairs State Hospital against Arnold (Andy) McCardle. Sheriff Stewart is to decide, today, whether to allow the Hospital's consultant psychiatrist, Dr Colin Gray, to forcibly inject Andy with anti-psychotic drugs.
Dr Gray and colleagues allege that Andy has a mental illness, specified as "delusional beliefs". This illness "manifests as delusions". Andy's "delusion" is that, having seen Strathclyde police officers drug-dealing with known criminals, his life is at risk whilst he is a potential witness. Neither the police officers nor the criminals wish Andy to testify against them, so have a vested interest in preventing him doing so. Certain incidents have occurred - most recently, Andy's abduction from Parliament Square, Edinburgh, where he had left the Supreme Court buildings "a free man" after three senior judges considered that he had been illegally detained under an unlawfully-imposed section order by Dr Gray.
It now transpires that Dr Gray had failed to tell anyone, prior to or during that hearing, that he had imposed another order, allegedly the day before the hearing. Having abducted and again illegally held Andy, Dr Gray now wishes to start "treatment" before the criminal courts can determine whether Andy is the victim of organised crime. Andy requested Sheriff Stewart to sist Dr Gray's case until the criminal case has been heard, as he could not otherwise have a fair hearing. The Sheriff said she could not do so as this hearing must be taken "in isolation, as a civil case"; and Dr Gray alleges that drug treatment "may help Andy to conduct his criminal case".
When I attended the hearing yesterday, Mrs McLean, the court clerk, did not wish me (the only member of the public) to be present. She instructed the usher, before the sheriff arrived, to find out who I was and ask me to leave as "it will be a closed court". I asked that Andy be allowed to decide whether he wished it to be a public hearing. The sheriff allowed me to stay, at Andy's request.
Andy represented himself. His former solicitor, Mr McQuillan, had had to be dismissed at an earlier date as he did not wish to act on his client's instructions; but he attended throughout on a voluntary basis. Anyone in Andy's position would feel traumatised. He has been illegally-held since 2001 and had his human and legal rights abused. His formal complaints to numerous authorities, including the Legal Services Ombudsman who investigated the action of the Amicus Curiae ("court's friend") Graham Bell QC, have been upheld but no action taken.
Andy was quietly-spoken and respectful in court. I was very impressed by his rationale and cross-examination of the two consultant psychiatrists, who constantly repeated that Andy had delusional beliefs. Dr Gray had to admit, though, that his statement that Andy had refused to attend leisure activities and education was a lie: Andy had been denied access to leisure activities, and his choice of courses - legal theory and legal framework - had been deemed "inappropriate". And Lord Abernethy's order, that Andy be allowed access to his own documents, was not complied with as "it is not hospital policy". The Hospital authorities are being allowed to flout the law, and the wishes of senior judges.
The case will conclude today. Andy considers the hearings to be illegal and has stressed that he has no wish to be a human guinea-pig and have his memory distorted through drugs: he will resist treatment and "would rather die".
Anyone who has suffered harassment, persecution or victimisation for blowing the whistle on corrupt professionals is a potential victim. According to Dr Gray's criteria, whistleblowers are mentally ill (ie. have "delusional beliefs") if they admit to the above "symptoms". Sheriff Stewart asked Andy whether he wanted to call any witnesses: what better witnesses than other whistleblowers!
Lanark Sheriff Court
24 Hope Street
Lanark ML11 7NE
Tel: 01555 661531
Fax: 01555 664319