Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

Highland’s first female no-nonsense sheriff takes early retirement with plans to ‘enjoy life’

Sheriff Margaret Neilson, the first female sheriff to be appointed in the Highlands, has presided over her last trial at the Inverness Justice Centre.
Sheriff Margaret Neilson, the first female sheriff to be appointed in the Highlands, has presided over her last trial at the Inverness Justice Centre.

The Highlands’ first female sheriff says she is looking forward to a relaxing retirement having presided over her last case.

Sheriff Margaret Neilson hit the headlines in 2013 when she granted a warrant for controversial former Rangers owner Craig Whyte.

He’d failed to turn up to be a witness in the trial of two of his former employees.

Over the past 13 years, Sheriff Neilson was the senior judge in Inverness – serving on the bench at Inverness Castle, before relocating to the new north justice hub.

Now, she’s heard her last trial at the Inverness Justice Centre after almost 40 years in the legal profession.

Former Rangers owner Craig Whyte.

The sheriff had already established herself as a no-nonsense sheriff who would scold ill-prepared prosecution and defence lawyers.

But she was also respected for her astute sentencing and her knowledge of the law.

Born in Falkirk, she studied law at Edinburgh University and, after working in France for a couple of years, took up a post with solicitors firm Balfour and Manson in the capital.

She specialised in personal injury and employment, leaving her eventual partnership after 23 years to become a part-time sheriff.

‘Firm but fair’

And she also served on employment, immigration and social security appeals tribunals for those three years before going full-time in 2009.

Sheriff Neilson: “I was only supposed to be in Inverness for five years and the fact I have stayed 13 years tells its own story.

“I could be firm but I hope I have been fair in that time. It has been a difficult last two years but adjustments had to be made because of Covid.

“Everyone will hope it returns to normality soon and we will see jurors back in court which I believe is important.

Planning to scuba dive

“I have a commission as a retired sheriff so I may be back on occasion if available and needed.

“I will take six months off to consider what I intend to do.

“I will enjoy life, go walking, maybe scuba diving and, of course, reading and relaxing,” Sheriff Neilson added.

Her last cases

One of her last official tasks was finding 36-year-old disqualified driver Ian Stewart of Round House Court, North Kessock, guilty of driving while having been previously banned for eight years.

The court heard he was recognised by police behind the wheel in Longman Road on May 6, 2020.

He was also convicted by Sheriff Neilson of driving without insurance and breaching an undertaking not to drive.

He claimed he was only a passenger in the grey BMW.

Sentence was deferred until May 25 for a background report and a restriction of liberty order assessment.

Already a subscriber? Sign in

[[title]]

[[text]]