Cop critiques budding author’s tortuous prose


POLICE Scotland appear to have added literary criticism to their list of public duties.

Newly-released documents detail the hilarious moment an officer lost his cool with a budding author.

James Dewar, who describes himself as a “writer who is beginning to explore a craft”, sent an email request to the force last month.

The tortuous request about detective work, sent on June 10, included one sentence containing 95 words and one comma.

The author hoped the police would be able to provide some insight for his novel
The author hoped the police would be able to provide some insight for his novel


Mr Dewar, whose missive lacked paragraph breaks, wanted information about investigative processes that he could use in an upcoming novel.

Inspector Graeme Cuthbertson – head of the FoI Central Processing Unit – initially responded with the patience of a saint, tactfully observing that the letter was “difficult to decipher”, and sending links to relevant websites.

Mr Dewar responded with a second letter that was just as long and sparsely punctuated as the first, explaining that he is “intending to be a proper author in the future”.

Before the officer could even reply, Mr Dewar sent a third letter, requesting an internal review of Police Scotland’s handling of his request.

Insp Cuthbertson replied with a second patient message in which he explained that they had done their best to help.

This prompted yet another lengthy and difficult to follow letter, causing the Inspector finally to crack.

On June 24 he told Mr Dewar: “I don’t think there is much I can add on this issue other than to suggest you make research requests more straightforward and to the point without additional or unnecessary comments, make sentences shorter and try to punctuate with appropriately placed paragraphs.”

He added: “Best wishes for your new career.”

The correspondence between the two appears to have ended at this point.