It is pleasing to note that African-born slave, Joseph Knight, is to feature in one of the specially commissioned banners which will be hung at Perth City Hall when it reopens in 2024.

Transported to Jamaica as a child from Guinea, Knight was sold to John Wedderburn of Ballindean, who brought him to Scotland in 1769 to work as a domestic servant. While in Scotland, Knight was baptised and married Ann Thompson, a family servant, with whom he had at least one child. He was, however, refused permission by Wedderburn to live with his wife and family.

Given this refusal, Knight then left his service but Wedderburn had him arrested. In 1774 Knight brought a claim before the justices of the peace court in Perth and when they found in favour of Wedderburn, Knight appealed to the Sheriff of Perth. The latter found that the state of slavery is not recognised by “the laws of the kingdom”.

In 1777, Wedderburn appealed to the Court of Session in Edinburgh, Scotland's supreme civil court, arguing that Knight still owed him perpetual service and might be taken and sent back to Jamaica by force. The Court sustained the sheriff's decision, holding that in effect, slavery was not recognised by Scots law. Fugitive slaves could therefore be protected by the courts if they wished to leave domestic service or were resisting attempts to return them to slavery in the colonies.

It is fantastic to see that this lesser-known but highly significant episode in Scotland’s history is to be recognised in this manner.

Alex Orr




Does Johnson have an evil twin?

Westminster is an increasingly implausible soap opera. The only explanation left to us is that Boris Johnson has an evil twin who makes mayhem and mischief while the PM is diligently beavering away selflessly serving the nation. We’ve been asked to believe less credible stories.

Grant McKechnie



London calling, Nicola

Given the disenchantment of many people over the leadership of Boris Johnson, I am surprised that Nicola Sturgeon hasn't capitalised on the situation by accepting an invitation to appear before the House of Commons Scottish Affairs Committee to provide information and discussion on matters affecting the people of Scotland.

Voters south of the border are used to the perpetual moaning of SNP Commons leader, Ian Blackford, even to the extent of MPs walking out when he starts to speak. It would have been an excellent opportunity for Ms Sturgeon to have presented a more balanced view of the issues Scotland shares with the rest of the UK.

Even SNP stalwart MP Pete Wishart seemed perplexed by Ms Sturgeon's failure to take up the invitation, supposedly due to the range of commitments she already had.

Yet it seems she had the time to fly to the USA to tell basically uninterested American people about her plans for Scottish 'independence'. Perhaps it's little wonder that the latest YouGov poll suggests that there has been little increase in the appetite for Scotland to go it alone since the 2014 referendum and that is even after the blunders of Boris Johnson whose misdeeds should have been a gift to opposing politicians.

Bob MacDougall



Airlines are key to Rwanda plan

Boris Johnson has said people fleeing torture and war could be flown out of the UK to Rwanda in a matter of weeks. But the UK government is relying on one of a few small airlines to remove people – and after public campaigns, all the major airlines have refused to take part.

By coming together in our thousands, we can show these companies that taking part would be a disaster for PR and profits. Today, let’s make sure people across the UK start to see what these airlines are up to – and that these companies feel the heat. 50 people have been sent letters to say they will be relocated to Rwanda and given only 7 days to explain why they shouldn’t be removed, so we haven’t got any time to lose.

To be a refugee is not a choice. But these airlines have a choice. It’s up to them whether they profit from the pain of torture survivors – or take a stand for refugees instead. Put simply, if all of these airlines refuse to fly – Priti Patel’s Rwanda plan will fail.

Brian McKenna



Lawmakers cannot be lawbreakers

Sue Gray has now published her report into parties that took place in Downing Street during Covid lockdowns.

The report is damning for the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister was on television nearly every day preaching observance of the Covid rules, whilst at the same time allowing, and attending, rowdy parties in Downing Street.

It’s time for him to go. Lawmakers cannot be lawbreakers.

Failure to resign will cement the view that there is one rule for the powerful, and another for the rest of us. That would be toxic for our democracy and our reputation around the world.

Civil servants should not be left to carry the can. The buck stops with the Prime Minister.

Conservative MPs must act now to replace the Prime Minister. They either stand with the Prime Minister, or they stand with democracy.

Hugh Fitzpatrick


Sink Russian ships now

The only way to prevent famine in Africa and the Near East is to sink all of the the Russian Black Sea Fleet.

This will also reverse the strangulation of the Ukrainian economy.

Russian flagged ships with stolen cargoes of grain should be impounded and the Ukrainian growers paid the value of the cargo.

It’s no use being afraid of the Third World War. That has deliberately been started already, and the aggressor must be stopped. We are all in turn next.

Tim Cox




I remember scrambles

I loved the correspondence about the long-terminated tradition of throwing coins for good luck out to the crowd of youngsters gathered outside churches at weddings.

I am old enough to have participated in, and savoured, those delights, when it was still possible to get a treat for a tanner or less from a local shop.

For the eager youngsters in the Gorbals, it was known as a scramble reflecting their stampede to collect the coins thus distributed.

It came as news to me that in Coatbridge such a distribution of coins of the realm was known as a scatter presumably reflecting the largesse of the donors of such dosh to the assembled mob greedily awaiting their rush to scoop up their hard fought for rewards.

Those days are gone now but they did bring moments of joy to kids and appreciated it.

Denis Bruce



Make cyclsist pay their way

Over the last five years the walking and cycling charity Sustrans was given £234 million by the Scottish Government. Well, actually, it was the taxpayers who funded Sustrans and paid for the 694 staff and extraordinarily generous salaries of the eight earning between £60,000 and £120,000. Looks more like a business than a charity.

Since taxpayers fund Sustrans and cyclists' facilities, cyclists should pay annually towards these and have identification plates and third party insurance. Those who break the law by cycling on pavements, crashing red lights and injuring people can then be identified and have their bike confiscated.

100 words

Clark Cross



Nicola Sturgeon is due an apology
Now we know from the primary witness, and unconscious source of the incident, that Nicola Sturgeon did not, in the run-up to the 2015 General Election, say (in answer to a casual question from the French Ambassador) that she would prefer the Conservatives to win over Labour, but that she simply thought this would be the result.      
Ambassador Sylvie Bermann, in your interview of 22 May, makes this finally clear for the public record.  

A mistranslation by one of her officials (about which she was subsequently ‘furious’, she tells us) somehow found its way to the ears of a Liberal Party aide to the Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael MP, who authorised it to be leaked to the Daily Telegraph, where the false story duly appeared.  
In the subsequent court case, Mr Carmichael was cleared on the extremely narrow (I think laughable) grounds that he had not sought to advance his own constituency prospects in Orkney.
Mr Carmichael was certainly advancing his own electoral propects in effect, in attempting to influence the election in favour of the government of which he was a candidate-part.  

Can we all agree now that at least he owes our First Minister an apology? And an apology too, to the Orkney Four who brought the unlucky case in the name of the democracy we all should defend.
Peter Lomas
St Andrews