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Submit Response is a weblog by Jack Mottram, a journalist who lives in Glasgow, Scotland. There are 1308 posts in the archives. You can subscribe to a feed. This post was made on and belongs in the politics category. The previous post was , and the next post is .

Free Brian Leith

The case of Brian Leith is a depressing one.

Brian has cancer, currently in remission, and as a result of his treatment developed epilepsy. Finding conventional medicine was ineffective in controlling his fits, he started to grow cannabis, exclusively for his own medical use.

After being arrested and charged, the Legal Aid solicitor assigned to him failed him miserably (I hope no one sues me for saying so, but to my eyes, the incompetent handling of the case verges on negligence) and Brian ended up with a two-year sentence. To make matters worse, in a bizarrely wrong-headed move, Brian was at one point placed in solitary confinement as he was believed to be suffering from depression (presumably worsened by the fact that he was placed on the grim ‘beast wing’ usually reserved for sex offenders.)

Initially released after 20 days, awaiting an appeal, Brian’s lawyer cocked up again, and he was registered as a fugitive while visiting his mother in England, after the appeal failed. As a result, he’s back in Porterfield prison, Inverness, serving the longest sentence for cannabis cultivation of any prisoner there charged with the same crime, despite being caught with less weed than any other inmate.

Whatever your views on legalising cannabis, it’s hard to see why a man with cancer and epilepsy, who was quietly growing plants that eased his suffering because he didn’t want to get mixed up with dealers, should be separated from his family and have his health put at risk.

There’s a petition underway - please sign up if you feel Brian’s case is a miscarriage of justice, and, if you live in Scotland and have a minute, a quick letter to your MSP or the Scottish Executive Justice Department can’t hurt Brian’s chances of a reprieve.

Brian is also keeping a Prison Diary, which you can read on the website devoted to securing his freedom, which has more details on the case.

Posted at 1pm on 05/08/04 by Jack Mottram to the politics category.
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  1. yup, read about that on the ‘other’ place - its just bloody awful, wish we could do more to help him

    Posted by badgergirl at 5pm on 05.08.04

  2. The weird thing is that it’s getting no press beyond the Big Issue (someone who works there knows your man Brian)

    Sunday Herald might well be on the case now, thanks to Len, so hopefully with a bit of fuss kicked up he’ll have a better chance at appealling. Though I would’ve thought the unbelievably bad advice of the solicitor would be enough to secure an appeal - I mean, not mentioning the mitigating circumstances in court? WTF?

    Posted by Jack at 5pm on 05.08.04

  3. it would appear the legal aid lawyers are much like the NHS doctors, they have about five minutes for you and aint in the least bit concerned or interested in your case/illness

    sad state of affairs, all in all


    Posted by badgergirl at 5pm on 05.08.04

  4. I dunno about that - I love the NHS for saving my lungs, and received excellent treatment (even if they did cock up shockingly along the way to the operation!) and I’m fairly sure the majority of Legal Aid lawyers are, at the very least, competent, albeit overworked.

    The lawyer who we’re probably going to get an angry letter from soon failed on a number of counts that look pretty shocking to me - like informing his client that an appeal had failed and he needed to be in the country, or, you know, mentioning the fact that Brian Leith had cancer and epilepsy and wasn’t selling gear to anyone (I assume - there’s no specific clarification of this on the site that I can see, so if he was selling weed, this post is toast and I’m removing my name from the petition!)

    Really the question here is how anyone growing a Category C (or soon-to-be Cat. C?) drug for personal medical use can end up behind bars at all…

    Posted by Jack at 6pm on 05.08.04

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