Top lawyer Gordon Jackson accused of watching football during Sheku Bayoh inquiry

The KC is already facing a five-month suspension for naming Alex Salmond’s accusers on a train <i>(Image: PA)</i>
The KC is already facing a five-month suspension for naming Alex Salmond’s accusers on a train (Image: PA)

Top lawyer Gordon Jackson has denied claims he was watching the World Cup on his phone during the Sheku Bayoh inquiry.

The KC is already facing a five-month suspension for naming Alex Salmond’s accusers on a train when he was representing the former first minister at his 2020 sex offences trial.

The sister of Mr Bayoh has claimed Mr Jackson was audibly following football during the inquiry in to her brother’s death.

In a statement issued through her lawyer, Kadie Johnson said: “We are in a Public Inquiry to hear evidence of how and hopefully why my brother Sheku died.

“Yesterday afternoon Gordon Jackson KC, a lawyer for three of the officers, PCs Smith, Good and Tomlinson, had the audacity to sit and watch football during the evidence of an expert witness Joanne Caffrey.

Read more: Family say Kirkcaldy man is ‘Scotland’s George Floyd’

“We were left so angry and found this behaviour to be disrespectful to us as a family, our lawyers, the Chair and assessors but for us it smacked of contempt for this inquiry, Never mind having respect for us as a family, but what about the police officers he represents.

"This is not the first time, but one of many occasions, that we have been dismayed at the manner in which some of the police lawyers have acted during the hearing.

"We have a direct eyeline and see what they do but yesterday was the final straw for us to find that a lawyer being paid thousands of pounds from public money to do his job was busy watching the World Cup.”

Asked to respond to Ms Johnson’s statement, Mr Jackson texted: “I did not watch football.” Asked to clarify, he added: “I wasn’t watching anything."

Claire Mitchell KC made formal representations to inquiry chair Lord Bracadale yesterday over “football” noises coming from a phone but she did not name Mr Jackson.

Addressing the judge, she said: “The Chair will have heard during the course of the hearing this afternoon there was some noise from the back of the Inquiry room, which appeared to be coming from a telephone.

"Now, that sounded not like a telephone might go off like a ringing tone, or perhaps a pinning because they have forgotten to put off the tone or something, but it sounded actually as if something was being listened.

"The Chair can make their own inquiries -  but it sounded like football.”

Lord Bracadale this morning opened proceedings with a statement on Ms Mitchell's complaint.

The judge said: “I have three matters to mention. First, yesterday at the close of business Ms Mitchell drew my attention to an incident earlier in the afternoon in which in the course of evidence a legal representative appeared to use a mobile phone for a purpose clearly unrelated to the proceedings of the Inquiry.

"While that was a particularly egregious example, it was not the first occasion on which the sound of mobile phones has disturbed proceedings.

"I have no difficulty with mobile phones being used silently to make communications on matters relating to the Inquiry, but inappropriate use within the hearing room is both distracting and disrespectful.

Read more: Sheku Bayoh Inquiry — sisters speak out as death probe begins

"Second, I have received representations about legal representatives engaging in lengthy conversations during the evidence.  This can be distracting to others in the hearing room and to those watching on YouTube.

"While I accept that occasionally it will be necessary for legal representatives to speak to each other during the proceedings, I remind them that as well as using mobile phones silently, as I have just suggested, there is a facility on Opus 2 for having private conversations.

"Third, I have received representations to the effect that certain legal representatives have on occasion reacted to some of the evidence by adopting inappropriate facial expressions.  If that has been happening it would, on any view, be very disrespectful and wholly unacceptable.

"May I remind legal representatives that these proceedings are being broadcast and watched around the world.

"It is therefore as surprising as it is disappointing to have to address members of the Scottish legal profession in these terms.  I very much hope that I will not have to do so again.”

Mr Jackson, one of the country’s highest profile court lawyers, is a former Labour MSP. He stood down as dean of the Faculty of Advocates after news emerged of his train conversation about the Salmond trial.  Mr Jackson’s suspension is on hold pending an appeal.

The inquiry is seeking to find post how Mr Bayoh died while being detained bu police in Kirkcaldy in 2015. Mr Jackson is representing three officers involved in the incident.

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