New Year Honours recognition for founder of MiniTrials

31 Dec


The founder of the Faculty’s MiniTrials, which help demystify the law for school pupils, has been awarded an OBE in the New Year Honours.

Lord Kinclaven (Sandy Wylie, QC) said it was a wonderful surprise and that he was not just touched, but overwhelmed at the accolade for “Services to the Introduction of the Scottish Legal System into Schools”.

“I am speechless but delighted. This is a great honour from Her Majesty which must be dedicated to the thousands of young people, teachers, lawyers and court staff who have worked together so enthusiastically and selflessly to make MiniTrials such a success in so many places over the past 15 years or so. I am immensely proud of them all,” added Lord Kinclaven.

“I hope that this public recognition of MiniTrials encourages even more schools to take part. It is a simple, user-friendly way of finding out more about our Scottish legal system – and it is great fun, too. I would like to see every school given an opportunity to take part.”

MiniTrials have been held in sheriff courts throughout Scotland, usually featuring eight schools from the local area.

Helped by lawyer volunteers and working from information packs compiled by the Faculty, the pupils act out two jury trials – an assault case and a drugs case.

They convene the court, prosecute and defend the accused, and deliver a verdict, under the watchful eye of a professional lawyer who takes the role of the sheriff.

It is not a competition, and there are no winners or losers.

Gordon Jackson, QC, Dean of Faculty, said: “One of the great attractions of MiniTrials is having them in real courtrooms, which adds to the occasion and helps the understanding of what happens in our courts on a daily basis.

“It’s important when there are so many ways, on screen and in print, for misconceptions to be given that youngsters should know how we do things in Scotland, and that we have our own unique system.”

Janey Murdoch, an S6 student at Portobello High School, took part in the latest MiniTrials at Edinburgh Sheriff Court.

“It was really exciting, not only getting to be in the courtroom, but given a tour of the cells. Ten out of ten. Everyone should do this,” she said.

Schools, both primary and high schools, can hold their own MiniTrials event, under guidance from the Faculty.

Also in the New Year Honours, Lord Mulholland, the former Lord Advocate, Frank Mulholland, QC, was made a CBE.