An employee of The Crown Office has been found guilty of breaching the Official Secrets Act and Data Protection Act by leaking information about court cases to people he knew.
At the end of a seven day trial at Edinburgh Sheriff Court today a jury returned verdicts of guilty against 25-year old Iain Sawers from Edinburgh on a charge of attempting to pervert the course of justice, the Official Secrets Act and nine under the Data Protection Act.
Sawers joined the Productions Office of the Procurator Fiscal Service in Chambers Street in 2008. His induction covered security of information and the warning that any breach could lead to disciplinary proceedings. Also, that under the Official Secrets Act, the unauthorised disclosure of documents was an offence.
The offences by Sawers came to light when police began an investigation into the case of 27-year old Calum Stewart on charges of breach of bail and attempting to pervert the course of justice by threatening his ex-partner, Kelli Anne Smillie, if she gave evidence in a trial in July, 2013.
Stewart paid for her and her mother to leave the country and go on holiday to Benidorm on the week of the trial.
The police investigations led them to a number of phone calls and text messages between Stewart and Sawers between January 24 and 29 this year. These led to Stewart phoning Kelli Anne threatening her and calling her, her mother and sister “grasses”.
They were to be witnesses in the outstanding trial which has since been deserted by The Crown.
The police also recovered Sawers’ iPhone. Although many messages had been deleted, forensic experts were able to recover them and the telephone numbers of the senders and receiver. They showed that between April 2008 and January 2014, Sawers had passed on information to other people on nine occasions. A check on the Productions Office computer showed that shortly after receiving a call, Sawers’ secret personal user number was used to access the information. The information was then phoned to the inquirer.
The messages included someone inquiring about a friend: “Will he be getting the jail?”. Reply: “Not sure yet, system aint been updated, should know by lunch”.
Another call documented Sawers agreeing to checkl documents for a friedn and asking “What you needing checked?” Names and addresses of people involved in cases were also given out.
The jury also found Stewart guilty of attempting to pervert the course of justice and breach of bail. Neither men gave evidence during the trial.
In his closing address to the jury, Fiscal Depute, Keith O’Mahony told them: “This trial is about you as members of the public, who at some time in the future may be the victim of a crime. If you are, you will go to the police and they will bring the case to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service. When you report that case you must have confidence your details - name, address, date of birth and telephone number will be kept safe, secure and confidential and not disclosed to others, particularly to people who may wish to harm you.”
Sheriff Kenneth Maciver deferred sentence on both men until September 19.
He told Stewart, who has 15 previous convictions, that custody was inevitable.
Sawers, who has no previous convictions, was told: “You were a member of the Procurator Fiscal Service, in a position of trust and that trust was betrayed. That has an effect on the reputation of the Procurator Fiscal Service and public confidence in it”.
The Sheriff, however, warned him that due to the nature of the offences he was considering imposing a custodial sentence. Sawers was allowed bail.