A solicitor found to have behaved “inappropriately” towards a woman while working as a sheriff remains on full pay nearly five years later.
Jack Brown, who became a sheriff in Aberdeen, was the subject of a sexual misconduct allegation against a female solicitor.
Sheriff Brown was suspended in December 2018 but prosecutors decided against criminal proceedings.
A later professional tribunal failed to take into account evidence from two other alleged victims and a second tribunal hearing into his conduct is to be held.
Mr Brown has been suspended on full pay since then, and it is understood the government are funding his legal fees in addition to his salary of nearly £160,000 a year.
The case was referred to the first minister and the lord president in February this year and Nicola Sturgeon ruled a second tribunal must be held.
It is understood a fresh tribunal will begin in January 2024, nearly a year later.
A Scottish Government spokeswoman did not respond to questions about its decision to fund the sheriff’s legal costs.
She said: “Sheriff Jack Brown is subject to ongoing Fitness for Judicial Office Tribunal proceedings.
“Once the tribunal has made its decision, ministers will lay the tribunal’s report before the Scottish Parliament in line with duties set out in the Court Reform (Scotland) Act 2014.
“Under Section 23(6) of this Act, the Scottish Government is obliged to pay such expenses as they consider are reasonably required to be incurred to enable a tribunal to carry out its functions.”
Scottish Conservative shadow justice secretary Russell Findlay said: “With chronic financial pressures across the justice system, it’s bad enough that almost £800,000 has been spent paying a sheriff to sit about doing nothing.
“It is even worse to now discover that hard-working Scots are also being rinsed for his legal bills. SNP ministers must now come clean about the full cost of this.”
Behaved ‘entirely inappropriately’
The original tribunal concluded Sheriff Brown had acted “entirely inappropriately” but not to remove him from office.
This was challenged by the complainer – known as Ms X – and a judicial review was held which resulted in Court of Session judge Lord Woolman quashing the tribunal’s decision and the matter being referred back to the first minister.
Lord Woolman said evidence from the other women should have been heard.
Sheriff fined for pornography chat
The continuing row comes the week after another sheriff found himself on the wrong end of the law.
Former senior sheriff Alistair Duff from Dundee was fined after he mistakenly left his microphone open while talking about pornography with another person.
He had been conducting a training course online and was reported for the shocking sexist and racist language he was using.
A spokesman for the Judicial Office said: “A fitness for office tribunal is convened by the First Minister and the Scottish Government appoint the Chair and Tribunal members, it is not something the Judicial Office can comment on.”