Contempt of Court?

Yesterday the prominent Scottish Human Rights Solicitor Aamer Anwar was at a hearing to determine if he is guilty of contempt of court in relation to remarks he made following the successful prosecution of his client, Mohammed Atif Siddique, for providing material on bomb-making and weapons training, and threatening to become a suicide bomber.

Aamer Anwar said that his clients case had been heard in an “atmosphere of hostility” and made allegations that the prosecution was state driven.

His comments were considered to be disparaging by the trial Judge, Lord Carloway, and directed towards the jury, prosecution and the judge himself. His lordship passed the case on to senior colleagues of his to decide, as he felt it was not competent for him to make the findings himself.

Anwar’s counsel, Paul McBride QC, said today at the High Court in Edinburgh that this was an “over-reaction”. He went on to say:

A solicitor, in my respectful submission, may take reasonable steps to deal with his client’s reputation following a decision taken by a court.

It’s a fundamental principle that court hearings which are held in public can be fully and freely commented upon, whether to compliment and praise, or whether to criticise.

Judges Lord Osborne, Kingarth and Wheatley have decided that they need time to consider their decision and will endeavour to do so quickly so as to bring the matter to a conclusion.

Mr Anwar said, “It’s been a very difficult time”

Lord Carloway at the time was of the opinion that the remarks made by Anwar were not those of his client, but Anwar’s own opinions. Lord Carloway though that this might constitute a contempt.