David Goodwillie and ex-teammate could face private prosecution for raping woman


The lawyer working to bring forward a private prosecution against disgraced footie star David Goodwillie and his ex-teammate said he hopes to restore his client’s faith in Scotland’s criminal justice system.

Thomas Ross QC hopes to mount a private prosecution against Goodwillie and David Robertson for the rape of Denise Clair.

Former Scotland player Goodwillie and retiree, Robertson were found to have raped Ms Clair in civil court proceedings in 2017.

The pair were ordered to pay damages but neither were handed criminal charges.

Raith Rovers have rescinded the deal handed to striker David Goodwillie
Raith Rovers have rescinded the deal handed to striker David Goodwillie

Clair is now working alongside Ross and solicitor Melissa Rutherford to secure a private prosecution.

This is where an individual or organization seeks to prosecute the accused, as opposed to action being taken by the Crown Office.

Writing about the move in Scottish Legal News, Ross said: “Many have claimed that any criminal prosecution would have ended in an acquittal. Those people may be right, but 11 years on the controversy around the case has not been abated.

“A private prosecution would give any accused person the opportunity to persuade a jury that a verdict of not guilty should be returned.”

Denise Clair cannot forgive the prosecutors who dropped the case

A letter has been sent to Scotland’s top prosecutor, Lord Advocate Dorothy Bain QC, giving her notice of the intention to bring a private prosecution. The case will not be able to proceed, however, if the Crown Office refuses permission.

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Ross stressed “many hurdles” would have to be overcome before an action could take place.

Despite this he was clear: “It is time to prepare a bill of criminal letters, seeking leave of the court to commence a private prosecution.

“This is a course that the court will only authorize in exceptional circumstances and many hurdles will have to be overcome.”

He said that when looking at the judgment from the civil case Ms Clair brought, it was “very difficult to read Lord Armstrong’s judgment… without coming to the conclusion that something went badly wrong between the matter being reported to the police on January 2 2011 and Crown Office giving assurances that there were to be no criminal proceedings only six months later.”

With “special circumstances” requiring to be demonstrated before the case can proceed, Mr Ross said these may arise from “the fact that the Crown seems to have given immunity from prosecution only six months into the investigation when the reason for that decision is not obvious “.

He said: “The complainer feels that she was let down by the criminal justice system and Melissa and I are delighted to accept the challenge of restoring her faith in it.”

Ross added: “Melissa and I have no personal animosity towards anybody involved in this case. Our interest is in restoring the complainer’s faith in the Scottish criminal justice system.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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