Sunday, 29 November 2015

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Ex-magistrate lied to senior Carlisle judge to go on holiday

A former magistrate and football club boss lied to a senior judge so he could avoid a court hearing that clashed with his holiday plans.

Donald Cameron photo
Donald Cameron

Donald Cameron, who was previously chairman of Gillford Park Football Club in Harraby, Carlisle, narrowly escaped a jail term after judge Peter Hughes QC described his actions as “calculated and “flagrantly dishonest”.

He was fined £7,500 after admitting contempt of court, and given 56 days to pay. The court heard how Cameron, from Greystoke, near Penrith, had been involved in a legal dispute between the Gillford Park club and the owners’ of the ground where the team played.

Early last year, he used his solicitors to apply for a hearing adjournment, saying he had been invited to give a talk to an important international conference in Spain.

Cameron told the court he regarded the task as an honour and so he was keen to attend the event. At a later date, a solicitor for the football ground's owners became suspicious but Cameron stuck to his story, only admitting the truth when he was asked to provide as evidence his flight tickets to Barcelona.

It later emerged that the real reason Cameron wanted to abort the court hearing was that it clashed with a holiday he had booked with his disabled partner – though he claimed he had forgotten the court date when he booked the holiday in Majorca.

Dismissing a claim that he had simply overlooked the court date when booking the holiday, Judge Hughes said: “What is much more likely is that you, rather arrogantly, decided that the date did not suit you.”

The judge said he had rarely seen a litigant caught out in such a “blatant” attempt to manipulate the legal processes of the court.

The judge told Cameron: “Although your conduct was calculated and flagrantly dishonest, it was exposed for what it was, and the course of justice was speedily put back on track. The person most damaged by what you have done was, in the end, yourself. Your reputation and trustworthiness will never be the same again.”

The judge said he had taken account of Cameron’s former good character and his work as a magistrate.

Judge Hughes said the case could have been dealt with as a potential offence of perverting the course of justice. The contempt could have justified a four-month jail term following a guilty plea. “I have anxiously considered whether my public duty requires me to pass such as sentence,” continued the judge.

“I feel I can effectively and more strictly mark the seriousness of your conduct in another way, by imposing a substantial financial punishment on you as a clear deterrent to others.”

Cameron’s barrister Jonathan Rogers said he had been motivated by his good intentions towards his partner, and the offence was born out of confusion in his client's domestic situation.

Cameron was involved in a protracted legal dispute with Carlisle and District Railway Sports and Athletics Club over the state of the Gillford Park ground.

Stephen Skinner is now chairman of Celtic Nation, which is the name the club now goes under. He confirmed that the dispute between the club and the ground’s owners had been settled.


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