HMA v WILLIAM BEGGS 2018
“Limbs in the loch’ killer William Beggs was convicted of murder and given life imprisonment in 2001 for murdering a man and dismembering his body and throwing it in different lochs. The convicted murderer sought legal aid for a UK Supreme Court appeal against a ruling to refuse the release of CCTV footage he believes will help prove his innocence.
However, his claim for state funding was refused. The Court of Session held that the board’s determination was not “irrational nor unreasonable”. Mr Beggs has always maintained his innocence and believes there is evidence that may assist his claim in CCTV footage from cameras located in Kilmarnock town centre on the night of the deceased’s disappearance.
Strathclyde Police refused his request, but following a complaint to the Scottish Information Commissioner the police undertook to release all except three items to Mr Beggs. There was one item, relating to a man whom they had excluded from their investigation into the deceased’s death and this was not released to this day. Mr Beggs sought judicial review of the decision to refuse legal aid on appeal, but the judge observed that the issue of reasonableness was a matter for the board.
Lord Woolman said:” “The Board’s decision was not irrational, nor did it err in law. It looked at the advice of senior counsel and noted that he referred to the appeal as having arguable prospects of success. He added that a private client would not take this very expensive decision to appeal it to the supreme court and pursue it though other means.