Agenda and minutes

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No. Item




Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Gordon Blair, Mary-Jean Devon, Audrey Forrest, George Freeman, Graham Archibald Hardie and Roderick McCuish.




There were no declarations of interest.



Report by Head of Legal and Regulatory Support


The Chair welcomed everyone to the meeting and introductions were made.  He then outlined the procedure that would be followed and invited Police Scotland to speak in support of the Chief Constable’s complaint.




Sgt Maginnis referred to a request from the Chief Constable that, in terms of Paragraph 11(1) of Schedule 1 of the Act that the Licensing Committee suspends Mr Robertson’s licence.  She advised that the Chief Constable complained in terms of Paragraph 11(2)(a) of Schedule 1 of the Act that Mr Robertson was no longer a fit and proper person to hold the licence.  In addition, she advised that the Chief Constable was requesting the Committee to order the immediate suspension of the licence, in terms of Paragraph 12(1) of Schedule 1 of the Act, on the grounds that the carrying on of the activity to which the licence relates was likely to cause a serious threat to public safety.  In support of the Chief Constable’s request Sgt Maginnis read out the details of an incident which occurred on 4 October 2019.   She confirmed that a report had been submitted to the Procurator Fiscal and that as the matter was sub-judice she was constrained with regard to the nature of any further information she could provide at this time.




Mr McGuinness advised that his client, Mr Robertson, was a 46 year old man who was married and had two young daughters.  He confirmed that he has held a taxi drivers licence for approximately 8 years and had an exemplary record.  He referred to this matter being brought to the Committee’s attention by Police Scotland following an incident which has led to criminal proceedings against Mr Robertson being considered.  He confirmed that the Procurator Fiscal would consider in due course whether or not to prosecute.  He said that whilst these wheels of justice turned Mr Robertson enjoyed in law the presumption of innocence and that he was entitled to maintain silence which he was doing so on legal advice.  He advised that in due course, if the Procurator Fiscal was persuaded to issue a prosecution, Mr Robertson would have the opportunity to discuss his position on this matter and that the Sheriff would consider this in due course.  He advised that it would not be appropriate at this time to disclose in public the details of Mr Robertson’s position. 


He asked the Committee to bear in mind the presumption of innocence itself.  He commented that the presumption of innocence was not a silver bullet for every situation and that it would be appropriate for the Committee to consider whether or not the allegation was serious enough that it would merit the imposition of a penalty at this stage when Mr Robertson could still be exonerated later.


Mr McGuinness asked the Committee to consider the impact on Mr Robertson if his licence was suspended at this time.  He said that he was a married man with two young children and that he had a mortgage.  He advised that over the last month or so Mr Robertson had only managed to work his taxi on one occasion as he was so anxious about things.  He said that the family have managed to live off savings and have had financial assistance from parents.  He advised that Mr Robertson’s wife had also been off work due to anxiety which stemmed from all this.  He said that this family unit were under enormous pressure at this time.  He advised that if Mr Robertson’s licence was suspended it may be several months before the Procurator Fiscal made a determination and that would only be the start of it.  He explained that there would be a process through the Court system which again could add three months.  He said that it could be July or August before Court proceedings reached a conclusion.  He advised that if Mr Robertson’s licence was suspended today this would result in irreparable financial harm to this family unit.  He indicated that the two children would feel the brunt of it and said that there would be substantial mortgage arrears and personal debt.  He said that at the end of the process Mr Robertson could be acquitted in late summer of 2020 but his life would be in ruins if his licence was suspended today.  He referred again to the presumption of innocence not being a silver bullet and said that he could imagine if a taxi driver was found with live firm arms an allegation of this sort would be serious enough to warrant the immediate suspension of a licence.  Mr McGuinness referred to the charges against Mr Robertson relating to simple possession of a very small amount of a controlled substance.  He suggested that this was not serious enough to displace the presumption of innocence, particularly having regard to the impact the suspension would have on this family.  He confirmed that Mr Robertson had no previous convictions under the Misuse of Drugs Act and that this was the first time he had ever faced the possibility of Court proceedings under this legislation.


He invited the Committee to refuse the Chief Constable’s request and allow Mr Robertson to continue to provide for his family.




Councillor Trail asked Mr McGuinness if Mr Robertson would be willing to give a statement on what happened and if there were any mitigating circumstances.  Mr McGuinness said that it appeared Mr Robertson had a defence but advised that it would be highly inappropriate to disclose that before any Court appearance.


Councillor Trail commented that there was nothing to say whether or not Mr Robertson was a regular drug supplier or was using his taxi to supply drugs.  He said that if the Committee allowed Mr Robertson to continue this for another 4 or 6 months then it would be on the Committee’s conscious.  Mr McGuinness advised that there were no suggestions that this was taking place.  He referred to the allegation read out by Sgt Maginnis and said there  ...  view the full minutes text for item 3.