Saturday, 30 July 2016

Unscientific, bureaucratic red-tape, legal obstruction

Aberdeen Sheriff Court, 29th July

Sheriff Morag McLaughlin, presiding

In Aberdeen Sheriff Court 3 yesterday, Friday, 29th July 2016, from the dock, representing myself, I spoke to my "Computer evidence discovered but disclosure unjustly refused" email of 22nd July, a paper copy of which apparently had been added as I requested to the court papers for Sheriff McLaughlin, presiding.

Mr Alan Townsend for the Procurator Fiscal's Office offered to help disclosure by investigating facilitating making copies of the seized computer data evidence available to me, as I requested, as a useful alternative to the immediate return of my property.

In court, I read to Mr Townsend from the prosecution's own Forensic Computer Examination Report -
"Using specialist hardware and software, we copied the contents of all the relevant computer hard disk drives and other storage media onto our central storage system.
Thereafter we used the copies to examine the contents, leaving the original disks and media completely unaltered."

But Mr Townsend seemed to believe that the original equipment would have to stay in police / prosecutor hands for now, even though, as I point out again, exact copies of the data have already been made by the Police Scotland cyber-crime forensics team so there would seem to be no practical need for the crown to retain possession of the original equipment.

Additionally, Mr Townsend claimed that the prosecution could not agree facts with an accused representing him / herself so the conclusions of the Forensic Computer Examination Report could not be considered "agreed" between prosecution and defence, however much I state that my defence agrees with those conclusions which are, after all, merely matters of public record, published on the internet and advertised from my own front window.

"An anomaly" was I think how Mr Townsend described this legal obstruction to what seems to be the obvious thing to do now - return my equipment with its irreplaceable scientific research data, please!

"Unscientific and bureaucratic red tape" is how I might describe this legal obstruction.

However, if the prosecution and police were to make disclosure of computer data evidence as requested and to offer to make such copies of the seized data for the defence as are needed then I shall, of course, accept such copies with thanks.

Sheriff McLaughlin granted me a further postponement, rescheduling the trial diet for the 1st November, with another intermediate diet on 7th September.

Saturday, 23 July 2016

Computer evidence discovered but disclosure unjustly refused

Not having found a solicitor and following Sheriff Stirling's advice, I enquired about "disclosure of evidence" by writing to the Procurator Fiscal's Office on July 14th and when there was no reply, wrote again on July 18th, emailing court officials in addition.

The Procurator Fiscal Depute replied on July 19th informing me that the Duty CID Inspector at Queen Street Police Station would facilitate collection of disclosed evidence. When I replied the same day, enquiring if the defence would be provided with copies of the computer and memory device data, I was told that the Procurator Fiscal Depute had no intention of disclosing the seized computer data evidence itself, only a computer examination report prepared for the prosecution.

When I contacted the police, Aberdeen Service Centre, on July 20th, by telephone and by email, and left a message for the Duty CID Inspector, I was informed he was busy and would get back to me in due course.

Aberdeen Sheriff Court, 21st July

Sheriff Margaret Hodge, presiding

I told Sheriff Hodge that the Procurator Fiscal Depute's email's proposed disclosure of evidence was incomplete and unsatisfactory. James Dunbar, the Procurator Fiscal Depute in court wondered why I wanted to access the computer data because he understood that I was not disputing authorship of the tweets.

Sheriff Hodge explained that time pressures because of all the other intermediate diets she was hearing that day meant that she did not have time for me to go through in detail reading from my emails to the court to explain my reasons for wanting the computer data evidence itself disclosed and she asked for a quick verbal summary.

So I was rushed and not being a lawyer with all my arguments memorised, I only had time to comment that if the computer examination report was material then the computer data upon which the report was based was material too and should be disclosed to the defence.

I also pointed out that apart from the items of evidence I had gleaned while being represented by Mr McLeod of George Mathers Solicitors, I had not had any evidence disclosed to me directly by the procurator fiscal depute as yet because the procurator fiscal depute had only two days ago (July 19th) replied to my request for disclosure, the email exchange between us had gone on into the afternoon and it being a hot day on 19th July I was too exhausted to contact the police that day and when first thing early on 20th July I did contact the Police Scotland Aberdeen Service Centre, the Duty CID Inspector did not get back to me, I was told because the police were busy with other matters.

Anyway, Sheriff Hodge ordered another intermediate diet on 29th July to give me more time to get evidence disclosed.

Before I left the dock, I pointed out to the court that I had other reasons to state for not proceeding to trial in the Sheriff court but Sheriff Hodge said that those should be considered at the trial.

I was not quick witted enough to think of saying this to the court but I will observe here and now that it is somewhat prejudicing the issue of whether or not trial is appropriate in the Sheriff Court when a Sheriff decides to proceed to trial regardless of any arguments for not doing so.

Later that day, I wrote by email to Chief Inspector Grame Mackie, the local area commander for Aberdeen City South, asking for help in contacting the Duty CID Inspector for disclosure of evidence and later that day I got a phone call from DI Lee Jardine, who told me he was tasking a DS to meet me and hand over the documents to be disclosed, which I did later that day, being made to sign a document making threats of imprisonment if I did something wrong with the evidence being disclosed.

So I poured over the documents and wrote an email the next day, the 22nd July, yesterday, in the following terms.

Computer evidence discovered but disclosure unjustly refused.

PF Aberdeen v. Alastair Peter Dow. PF Ref - AB14008188.

Court ref SCS/2015-060310. Police Ref PGP0244410714

To: Aberdeen Sheriff Court, Aberdeen Procurator Fiscal's Office & Police Scotland

Dear Sir/Madam,

I acknowledge receipt of a bundle of paper documents from officers at Queen Street Police Station, Aberdeen on the afternoon of 21st July 2016.

However these documents represent only discovery, or notification of the existence, of computer evidence which was seized by police and which has been examined by employees of "Cybercrime Unit (North), Police Scotland" and their report submitted as part of the prosecution's case.

These documents do not represent disclosure to the defence of the computer evidence itself which the defence (me representing myself at the moment) considers crucial to the presentation of the defence case. Wrongly, my request for the disclosure of the computer evidence itself has been refused by the Procurator Fiscal Depute - see emails copied below.

So there has been no disclosure of the available computer evidence, only discovery of its existence, with disclosure wrongly refused.

I would first note that in the view of the defence, the Cybercrime Unit officers' report is redundant to the prosecution case because all the relevant conclusions of the report are already matters of public record, published by me on the internet and openly advertised in my own front window ...

Please view the attached images "Book 1 Photograph 1.jpg" and "Book 1 Photograph 2.jpg" of the front ground floor window of my home at 21 Hollybank Place, as is shown in photographs 1 and 2 of book 1 of photographs taken by the police's imaging support officer.

... stating the publicly published truth that I, Alastair Peter Dow am
  • the author of the website 
  • the owner of the @peterdow Twitter account 
These obvious facts have never been disputed by me and are facts which the prosecution have never had and never will have any need to prove, rendering both the cybercrime officers' report and the prior police raid and seizure of my computer equipment -
  • entirely unnecessarily and pointless, 
  • a complete waste of police time and resources, 
  • a violation of my property and human rights in law, 
  • an incompetent and unlawful abuse of state power, 
  • an obstruction of my duties as a scientist to humanity, obstructed by the simultaneous police seizure of my irreplaceable science research data, also stored on my computer equipment, 
  • inflicting upon me a catastrophic loss for 2 years of my scientific research data in computer science, physics, mathematics, engineering, medicine, biology and social sciences. 
In response to the report's conclusions I am irresistibly tempted to comment "No shit, Sherlock!" noting wryly that one of the investigating police detectives in this case is named "Sherlock", DC James, 0601.

Aside from the question of whether or not the discovered computer evidence items are required by the prosecution, disclosure of the computer evidence is crucial to the defence for 2 reasons.


The police seizure of my computer and memory devices has inflicted upon me a catastrophic loss for 2 years of my irreplaceable science research data, threatening my future ability to publish the results of my progress of my scientific research over many years.

The police seizure of my science data has rendered me offended in the extreme and indeed, at times, near apoplectic with righteous frustration at what amounts to, I consider, in effect a crime against science and a crime against humanity committed by the state.

Consequently, I may be too stressed to present my defence calmly, forensically and most effectively, as I should be allowed to do especially if required to present my own defence, as I seem to have to do, for the time being, my previous solicitor having withdrawn from acting for me and before such time as I can find a replacement solicitor to provide me with appropriate professional representation.

Appearing in the dock is already stressful enough without additionally having to endure the additional stress caused by the catastrophic loss of my science research data.

If the Crown's refusal to allow disclosure of the computer evidence is overturned, if the seized computer equipment and data is returned to me or copies of the computer data made available to me, if consequently my science research data can be saved for its future use in the service of humanity, then such a reassuring change of circumstances would certainly allow me much more peace of mind and a fairer opportunity to present my own defence to the best of my ability.


In addition, the defence may wish to consider the option of presenting evidence for the defence - such as a defence report or a defence presentation based on data which may be extracted from the discovered computer evidence - but only possible if such evidence were to be disclosed to the defence as I request and not merely discovered but still tantalisingly out of reach while disclosure is refused.

Without the computer evidence being disclosed, the defence would be obstructed from an opportunity to present any such computer data sourced evidence for the defence.

Therefore, for two reasons, the computer evidence should be disclosed as requested by the defence by overturning the Procurator Fiscal Depute's refusal to disclose the computer evidence
  1. To allow me, the accused, the peace of mind to defend myself best 
  2. To allow for the option of the defence presenting computer-sourced evidence 
Whilst the prosecution may not consider the computer equipment seized to be "material" to their prosecution case, the defence certainly considers the computer equipment to be exceptionally material evidence and indeed crucial to the best possible presentation of the defence's case.

So the stubborn refusal by the Crown to allow disclosure of the computer evidence to the defence would be entirely unjust, disadvantaging the defence in a unfair and unjust way, a perversion of the course of justice and therefore a crime in law, committed by officers and officials concerned, which any fair court of justice would be bound to find these officers of the crown guilty of, if it ever comes to that.


Quoting from the cybercrime officers' report, they state on pages 1 & 2 -

"The following items were also examined, but were not found to contain relevant information, either due to them not being a data storage device, not containing files of interest or not having been used at the time of the alleged offence:
  • 4 X Cd's 
  • Hard Drive 
  • USB Stick 
  • External Hard Drive 
  • Floppy Disk 
  • Hard Drive 2 
  • Pen Drive 1 
  • Nokia Mobile Phone - Alastair Peter Dow 
  • Black Box and Cable 1 
  • Black Box and Cable 2 
  • USB Port and Cable" 

I now request the immediate return to me of all those items of my property now admitted by the prosecution to be "not found to contain relevant information".

Now that the truth of the irrelevance of those items to the prosecution's case has been admitted by the prosecutor's own experts' report, there can be no lawful reason for the prosecutors and police to refuse to return those irrelevant items which are my property and therefore I am the only person who has a lawful right to possession of those items.

Such items are not relevant to the prosecution but are most relevant to me and I do need them returned to me immediately!

So please return my seized items that are now admitted to be "not found to contain relevant information" as is your duty according to law!


Quoting from the cybercrime officers' report, they state on page 2 -

"Using specialist hardware and software, we copied the contents of all the relevant computer hard disk drives and other storage media onto our central storage system.

Thereafter we used the copies to examine the contents, leaving the original disks and media completely unaltered."

Firstly, I would like to welcome the reports' claim that my original disks and media have been left completely unaltered. My data is most precious to me and needed in future for my scientific duties to humanity. At all costs, this data must be preserved. Indeed it would be a crime against science and a crime against humanity not to preserve this data.

I went to great lengths to keep my science research data safe and secure and only officers of the police state could have gotten their sticky hands on my data to put its integrity and safety at risk. Therefore there is an extraordinary obligation on officers and officials to protect and defend the integrity of this seized data under all circumstances.

Secondly, I would note that the fact that the data has already been copied rather contradicts the claim of the Procurator Fiscal Depute in the below-copied email of Tuesday, 19 July 2016 -

"The Crown will not be making copies of all that is contained within your computer/memory devices." - Procurator Fiscal Depute

As far as those seized items considered "relevant", copies of all the data contents of those items have indeed already been made by the cybercrime unit officers!

Consequently, there would be no detriment to the prosecution if the original computer equipment was returned to me, all relevant data having been already copied onto the cybercrime's central storage unit.

Therefore please now return to me all items of my computer equipment -

1. The irrelevant items not being required by the prosecution
2. The relevant items having been already copied by officers of the cybercrime unit.

I cannot emphasise enough - no language is strong enough - my scientific research data must be saved and returned to me in the service of humanity and in the public interest. Not to do so would be dereliction and violation of duty by all those neglecting and refusing to do so.

Hopefully, if my precious data is returned to me safely as soon as possible then perhaps all parties in this case can look forward to an amicable settlement of this matter.

(Alastair) Peter Dow
Bachelor of Science with Honours
Ground Right Flat
21 Hollybank Place
AB11 6XR
Tel. 01224 583906

Thursday, 7 July 2016

Unfair trial still on for 3rd August 2016, whether I'm represented or not

Aberdeen Sheriff Court, 6th July 2016

Sheriff Alison Stirling, presiding

Representing myself in Court 3, I requested a further postponement to give me further time to find a solicitor to represent me but this time Jamie Dunbar, Procurator Fiscal Depute, opposed any further postponement.

In court was Leslie Green, a solicitor with George Mathers solicitors who unexpectedly stood up to interject that he was aware I had indeed been trying to find another solicitor, which was nice of Les because, as Sheriff Stirling commented, she thought that George Mathers solicitors had withdrawn from acting for me, which indeed they have.

Sheriff Stirling noted all the previous postponements for various reasons and asked me why I thought solicitors weren't volunteering to act for my defence and I said that it was really for those solicitors to answer for themselves but I surmised it may be because they were busy and this was a complicated case.

Sheriff Stirling ordered an additional intermediate diet (scheduled for 21st July 2016) suggesting that unless I quickly found a solicitor, I should prepare to represent myself which, she said, would mean initially familiarising myself with the evidence disclosed to the defence which the prosecution would be relying on to make their case in court.

Jamie Dunbar said that for disclosure of evidence, I would have to attend the Procurator Fiscal's Office in Huntly Street. That's next to St Mary's Cathedral, between Huntly Street and Crimon Place.

Meantime, the (unfair) trial remains scheduled for the 3rd August 2016.

Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Out after 3 days in police custody. In court again tomorrow.

On the morning of last Friday, 1st July 2016, I was at home in Aberdeen when 2 plain clothes police men arrived, detained me and after I had pointed out my education certificates on the wall, they drove me to Kittybrewster police custody centre, explaining they were investigating an alleged breach of bail conditions, and stopping off en route to post my rent cheque for me, which was nice.

We chatted en route and it transpired that one of the officers had studied chemistry at Robert Gordon Institute of Technology, though he was honest enough to admit that he had not done as well as I had done in my Highers because he had "not studied".

It couldn't be that my intelligence in knowing what it is my duty to post on the internet could be superior to the "intelligence" received by Plod Scotland that I had broken my bail conditions? No, of course not.

I got my leaflet on my rights in custody and it said I had a right to ask to see a solicitor so that's what I asked to do.

Not having a solicitor at the time since Mr McLeod of George Mathers solicitors withdrew from acting for me, the police first of all gave me a phone call to speak to a duty solicitor in Edinburgh via a service offered by the law society.

Later I got another phone call to speak to a local solicitor.

But because I kept asking to see a solicitor (because after all, I was trying to find a new solicitor) by the time a second duty solicitor could be found who was available to attend at Kittybrewster, the officers who had detained me had gone off shift.

So with the duty solicitor kindly in attendance, I was interviewed by a third plain clothes officer, who mentioned "DISQUS" and arrested me for an alleged breach of bail.

I was held overnight and next day, I was charged with a breach of bail and told I would be held until Monday, the next court date.

It is very difficult to get any sleep in the police cells at Kittybrewster.

The beds are very hard and uncomfortable. The 3cm to 4cm thick mattress provides little protection from the concrete floor.

The one blanket they give you is insufficient. The first Friday night / Saturday morning I used the one blanket for a pillow and to shade my eyes from the light which is kept on, though can be dimmed to a certain extent on request.

On Saturday, I asked for another blanket and that helped some but really one needed additional blankets or another mattress to provide a softer bed.

Unlike ordinary prison cells, there is no TV or radio and to occupy my mind I asked for a book to read. Mostly fiction was available and I preferred factual books but the best I got offered were two paper backs with too small writing for easy reading with my eyesight Barack Obama's "Dreams from my father" and Piers Paul Read's "ALIVE. The story of the Andes Survivors".

The better read in those circumstances was "ALIVE" because that story of stranded air-crash survivors having to eat the flesh of dead victims of the crash put my own circumstances of imprisonment as a political prisoner in Scotland into some perspective.

The most inefficient routine of the Kittybrewster police organisation was that prisoners have to ask the custody staff to bring cups of drinking water passed through the slot in the door. It would be so much more efficient if there was a drinking tap as well as the hand-washing tap provided in each cell.

As the hand-washing tap is already flow limited to prevent prisoners flooding the cells, there can be no good reason for not also providing a drinking tap which could also be flow limited and would save much hassle for the custody staff, who already have enough to do in terms of providing meals, cups of tea and arranging visits for showers and cleaning teeth but not shaving which is never allowed.

The other impediment to sleep is that all through the night, the custody staff are under orders to ask on the hour every hour "Are you OK?", which disturbs the sleep of anyone fortunate enough to be able to drop off to sleep.

The loud noise of doors and slot hatches slamming shut and prisoners banging on doors is very difficult or impossible to sleep through.

Consequently, the expectation is that a weekend in Kittybrewster is a recipe for sleep deprivation and no prisoner after that could possibly be expected to make a good impression of themselves in court on Monday.

The most terrifying experience for any prisoner occurs when prisoners at Sheriff court are held in communal cells by the security firm G4S, contracted to transport and hold prisoners to and from the courts in Scotland.

The communal cells hold perhaps 8 or so prisoners to a cell and inevitably one or more of those prisoners will have a short fuse and a record of explosive criminal violence.

I have previously raised with the political and government authorities the danger of these circumstances - and advocated one person to a cell but to no avail.

On this occasion, one of the prisoners I was sharing a cell with had just been told by a solicitor that he was likely to be remanded and he was in such a rage about that that he head-butted the steel door, but I felt he could so easily have turned his rage on any other prisoner there, perhaps on me if I had been unlucky.

I was huddled in a corner wishing I was anywhere but there. I just can't take those very dangerous life-threatening situations any more.

The consequence for political activists in Scotland while run as this United Kingdom is, is life-threatening dangers for dutiful political activism, not merely "doing time in prison for doing crime" as the ignorant are led to believe.

I had a meeting with another solicitor in the morning then later, some time after 1pm, a man from G4S informed me that I was to be released without appearing in court because the procurator fiscal had decided there was not enough evidence, for the time being anyway.

Free again, but for how long?

There is an intermediate (unfair) trial diet for this case listed in the Sheriff Court Rolls for Aberdeen Sheriff Court on Wednesday 6 July 2016, tomorrow, as follows.

    Accused Details           Court Ref No            PF Ref No         Court Room
11 Alastair Peter DOW    SCS/2015-060310    AB14008188     Court 3

Realistically, there is not enough time left now before tomorrow to find a volunteer solicitor, meet with, discuss and fully brief a new solicitor about all the details of the case so I intend to appear in court tomorrow, try to represent myself, with the intention of asking the Sheriff for another postponement to give further time to allow me to find a solicitor to represent me.

I'm more confident about representing myself to make such a simple request but only as a free man ordained to appear in the dock under my own steam, with a shave, a suit and tie on and no handcuffs! I only hope I leave the court building the same way!