Gay 'magic circle' claim dismissed by inquiry

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REPORTS OF a homosexual circle among Scotland's elite legal figures that conspired to pervert the course of justice were officially dismissed as 'without foundation' yesterday.

After a five-month inquiry by William Nimmo Smith QC, and the Procurator Fiscal, James Friel, their report into the so-called 'magic circle' concluded that there was no evidence to suggest a conspiracy has ever existed.

Announcing details of the report to the House of Lords, the Lord Advocate, Lord Rodger of Earlsferry, said that he had studied the findings and had looked at the details of five cases examined by Mr Nimmo Smith and Mr Friel. 'I have decided that no criminal proceedings fall to be instructed,' he said.

The report had made it clear that there was no evidence of irregularity in the conduct of business in the Crown Office or Procurator Fiscal Service (the branches of the Scottish legal system that decide on prosecutions).

Mr Nimmo Smith and his colleague interviewed more than 100 senior figures in the law, police and the media. Those questioned included Lord Fraser of Carmyllie, formerly Lord Advocate, now Minister of State at the Scottish Office; senators of the college of justice in Edinburgh; Lord Hope, the Lord President of the Court of Session in Edinburgh; Malcolm Rifkind, the Secretary of State for Defence and former Secretary of State for Scotland; and Sir William Sutherland, the Chief Constable of Lothian and Borders Police.

The interviews were described as 'informal discussions rather than interrogations similar to cross-examinations'.

The report said that no prominent member of the Scottish legal establishment, 'is or has at any material time been compromised by reason of homosexuality or homosexual behaviour'.

However, Lord Dervaird, now a professor at Edinburgh University, but a former Scottish judge who resigned in December 1989 after informing Lord Hope that he had been 'indiscreet' during his period on the bench in 'carrying on a homosexual relationship', receives a special two-page chapter in the report.

The report says that his official conduct as a judge was not affected by the 'matters which led to his resignation'.