William Beggs was convicted of the murder of Barry Wallace in 1999. He maintains to this day that he is innocent. 

In January 2020, he had a parole board hearing following the completion of the punishment part of his sentence. His application for parole was refused because he was deemed to present a moderate level of risk. Additionally he had not engaged fully with rehabilitation services offered and as such there was restricted insight into his offending.

Beggs argued that there was a material error of law and a breach of his article 5(4) ECHR right.  

Material Error 

It was found that, for Beggs to be successful on this ground he had to prove that the decision was ‘so outrageous in its defiance of logic or accepted moral standards that no sensible person who had applied his mind to the question to be decided could have arrived at it’.

Lord Richardson accordingly rejected this point of argument. 

Breach of ECHR

Turning now to consider the ECHR argument presented, Lord Richardson stated that the petitioner did not adequately explain why he was of the view that there was a lack of independence. 

Lord Donaldson stated that “This leaves the final two factors relied upon by the petitioner being: first, the alleged lack of a clear dividing line to ensure ‘administratively and legislatively’ the Parole Board is objectively independent from the Scottish Government; and second, the absence of an available mechanism for review of the Tribunal’s decision. These factors are general and relate to the overall legislative and institutional framework in which the Parole Board is placed. No circumstances particular to the petitioner’s case are identified in relation to either of these factors.”

As such, the petition was refused.