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Judge not satisfied with "unreserved apology"

22 March 2006

The security firm Reliance and one of its executives have been ordered to appear before Lord Hardie following the delay in a murder trial because staff were not available for escort duty.

The trial at the High Court in Edinburgh is of Jennifer Liehne, 42, alleged to have suffocated her seven-month-old daughter Jacqueline 23 years ago. The delay last Friday happened because no Reliance officers were available as escorts for Liehne in the dock.

At yesterday's hearing Paul McBride QC offered an unreserved apology on behalf of Reliance for the inconvenience caused to jurors, witnesses and staff.

A combination of factors, including absences from work, bad weather and a road accident leading to congestion on the roads, had caused the two-hour delay, he explained.

However, Lord Hardie did not feel this was a satisfactory explanation. He pointed out that as well as delaying the trial, the wait had deprived children in Glasgow of the services of a paediatric consultant who was a witness in the case.

He ordered the firm and James Greenoak, Reliance's operations director for Scotland, to appear with counsel before him. Lord Hardie has also ordered statements from staff and a police report into the road accident which supposedly caused the delay.