In January 1687, during the reign of James VII and II, the little-known case of Reid v Scot of Harden (Mor. 9505) was decided in the Court of Session in Edinburgh. It was about a little girl, a 'tumbling lassie' or stage gymnast, who had fled from her manager (Mr Reid) because she was being physically worn out by her work dancing as part of his travelling stage-show. She had taken shelter with Scot of Harden and his wife. Reid sued the Scots, claiming that he had bought the girl from her mother and that she belonged to him. He even produced a written contract as evidence of the purchase. The Scottish Court of Session refused Reid’s claims, the case report declaring roundly:
'But we have no slaves in Scotland, and mothers cannot sell their bairns.'
More than 325 years later, it is astonishing but true that some people still live in Scotland effectively as slaves, often trafficked here on false pretences, threatened, trapped in menial work or worse, with their earnings withheld and their passports taken away. In other parts of the world, people languish in slavery because getting access to trained lawyers to uphold their rights (without which the tumbling lassie could not have been declared free) can be almost impossible. This should not be so.
The Tumbling Lassie Ball 2015 and the associated seminar are being held on 10 October 2015.
The Tumbling Lassie Ball and the associated seminar on the morning of the same day are being held to raise awareness and funds for two charities which fight for this sort of fundamental justice at home and abroad. The proceeds from the events will be shared between TARA, which works to support victims of trafficking in Scotland, and the International Justice Mission, which works with local lawyers in the developing world to fight slavery there.
We hope, in memory and celebration of the tumbling lassie and her vindication under Scots law, that you will feel able to support one or both of these events. The seminar, which is being generously facilitated by the Faculty of Advocates, will take place from 9.30am to 12.30pm at the Mackenzie Building, Off Old Assembly Close, 172 High Street, Edinburgh, Midlothian, EH1 1QX (registration from 9.00am). It will feature presentations on the past, present and future of slavery, people trafficking and the law in Scotland. CPD credit will be available for attending this event. There will be no charge for attendance but there will be an opportunity to make donations to our charities during the course of the morning.
If you would like to attend the seminar, please register at www.eventbrite.co.uk: http://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/the-tumbling-lassie-seminar-tickets-17202966536?aff=es2
Places are strictly limited and early registration is recommended.
The Tumbling Lassie Ball is being held at the Sheraton Hotel, 1 Festival Square, Edinburgh on the evening of 10 October. The evening will begin with a champagne reception (kindly sponsored by the Faculty of Advocates) and will feature a three-course dinner and dancing. The reception will commence at 7.00pm for 7.30pm, with carriages at 1am. Dress will be black tie. Tickets cost £85 per person and tables are available for booking for groups of ten or so.
If you would like to subscribe for Ball tickets or to take a table, please follow one of the following options:
1. Send your name, address, contact details (e-mail/telephone) and number of tickets required with a cheque for the total sum due to:
Patricia Comiskey, Advocate, Advocates Library, Parliament House, Edinburgh EH1 1RF. If you would rather pay by internet banking, please e-mail us your details and requirements at email@example.com and we will contact you with the relevant bank account information.
2. If you are a member of the Faculty of Advocates and would like to pay for tickets by deduction from your FSL account, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org with your name, a note of your FSL number and of the number of tickets you wish to purchase and we will make the necessary arrangements.
3. If you wish to pay by credit card, please go to www.eventbrite.co.uk (https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/d/local/tumbling-lassie/). As this method involves a small deduction from the ticket price and thus a small cost to the charities, we would encourage use of the other booking methods wherever possible.
Offers of further individual or corporate sponsorship or of contributions towards the Ball auction or raffle are welcomed. If you have any questions about the events, or have an idea about how you would like to contribute, we would be very grateful to hear from you. Please contact us at: email@example.com
The Tumbling Lassie Committee: Alan McLean QC (Chair), Patricia Comiskey (Treasurer), Maryam Labaki, Iain Mitchell QC, Eric Robertson and Janys Scott QC.