Silk cuts up rough over court smoking ban


By Neil Pooran

ONE of Scotland’s top lawyers has vowed to flout a ban on lighting up outside court.

The Scottish Court Service has told lawyers and their staff to stop smoking outside the Court of Session, Edinburgh, and use a designated shelter.

But colourful QC Donald Findlay, who is often seen sporting a pipe, says the bureaucrats have no power to stop him from enjoying a smoke. Mr Findlay said: “I am resigned to being a member of the underclass of Scotland – the smokers who make up a quarter of the population.

Photo: Tomasz Sienicki


“I won’t smoke…just to make a point…but until somebody shows me a law which I am breaking, I will adopt my usual policy on these things and do what I like within the law.

“I will light up my pipe, if I want to have a smoke, unless somebody can point to the rule of law which says I am not allowed to do so. In which case I will, of course, comply with it.

“People have to have a legal basis for telling me I am not allowed to do something.”

The Faculty of Advocates told its members “the courts” had asked them to stop smoking in the colonnades of Parliament House, which is home to the Court of Session, and in the car park. Mr Findlay, who is also chairman of Cowdenbeath FC, has already quizzed the legality of the move. He said: “By what lawful authority have they issued this edict? What is the punishment for failing to comply with this edict?

“How is it to be enforced, given that 24 hours a day, seven days a week the car park and the colonnades are used by members of the public, people coming to the court and tourists?”

It is understood there have been complaints from those visiting the courts about smoke and cigarette butts being left behind.

A spokeswoman for the Scottish Court Service said: “An administrative email has gone to all Parliament House staff, informing those who smoke that a new smoking shelter is available and that staff should use this instead of smoking in front of the building.

“Staff are already aware they should not smoke in front of the building, so this recent email served as a reminder of an existing direction. The view of the Scottish Court Service is that visitors should not have to walk past groups of people smoking to get access to the courts and offices.”

“A copy of the email was sent to the faculty for information and faculty members are requested by the Scottish Court Service not to smoke in front of the building.”

Mr Findlay responded: “Well, if this is a request, I decline.”

The colonnades outside Parliament House provide shelter from the elements and – because they are open on one side – cannot be classified as “indoors” under smoking legislation. But Sheila Duffy of Ash Scotland said: “The law covers enclosed areas, but what people are doing is smoking just outside the buildings.

“Now the courts have recognised that people are having to smoke just outside the building. I would congratulate the courts for extending protection beyond the letter of the law. Donald Findlay is saying he’s not a member of staff but I would hope he would see the point of trying to protect people from smoke.”

The Faculty of Advocates did not wish to comment.