MSP calls for law reform following attack on elderly crofter

Highlands and Islands MSP Jean Urquhart has urged the government to press ahead with reform to the law on corroboration following a brutal attack of an elderly crofter in his own home.

Ms Urquhart has called for the law to be reformed in the next parliamentary session, saying the lack of prosecution “brings the need for a change in the corroboration law into sharp focus”.

On 27th July last year, Kenneth MacKenzie Hillcoat of Laid on Loch Eriboll, was subjected to a two-hour ordeal of beating and death threats against him and his family after an assailant pulled him from his bed at around 3am.

jean urquhart
Jean Urquhart said currently “the law of the land is unable to bring the perpetrator to book”


The attacker identified himself to Mr MacKenzie Hillcoat and local people told police that he had made threatening remarks about the crofter in a local pub the previous evening. Mr MacKenzie Hillcoat’s extensive injuries were also photographed by police but despite this evidence the Crown Prosecution Service were unable to bring a prosecution, citing lack of corroboration.

Ms Urquhart has now written to the Cabinet Secretary for Justice, Michael Matheson MSP. She said: “I believe that the assault on Kenneth MacKenzie Hillcoat brings the need for a change in the corroboration law into sharp focus. Mr MacKenzie Hillcoat, who is over 80 years old, was attacked literally in his bed, by a man who clearly identified himself, but has been told there is little chance of a prosecution.

“There appears to be no doubt about the identity of Mr MacKenzie Hillcoat’s assailant, with this entire tight-knit community well aware who committed this crime. Yet the law of the land is unable to bring the perpetrator to book.

“The people of Laid, Durness, and northwest Sutherland as a whole deserve to feel safe in their beds, but for now I cannot say that they do.

“In my letter to the Cabinet Secretary I have pleaded with him to make reform of the corroboration law an urgent priority for the new session of the Scottish Parliament on May 5, and if I am re-elected to that Parliament I will be pressing to make sure victims like Mr MacKenzie Hillcoat are no longer denied justice.”