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.”
330 years later, it is shocking 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.
Following the success of our inaugural events to raise awareness and funds to fight modern slavery and people-trafficking at home and abroad in 2015, the next Tumbling Lassie Seminar (and the associated Ball) are taking place on Saturday 28th January 2017.
We are delighted to welcome as speakers at the Seminar human rights barrister Parosha Chandran and the Solicitor General for Scotland, Alison di Rollo QC, who will discuss the demands and dilemmas for justice systems north and south of the border in dealing with trafficking situations. Parosha Chandran is an expert on human trafficking for the UN, OSCE and Council of Europe and received the Trafficking in Persons Hero Award 2015 from John Kerry in Washington DC for developing the rule of law on trafficking in the UK and abroad. There will also be presentations from the anti-trafficking charities we are supporting - International Justice Mission and TARA.
There will be CPD credit available for this event for legal professionals.
There is no charge for attendance at the Seminar - a collection will be taken at the end which will be divided between our charities. Costs associated with hosting the event are kindly being met by the Faculty of Advocates.
We hope, in memory and celebration of the tumbling lassie and her vindication under Scots law 330 years ago, that you will feel able to support these events.