Collection BEL - Joe Beltrami papers relating to Patrick Meehan, victim of miscarriage of justice

Identity area

Reference code

GB 249 BEL

Title

Joe Beltrami papers relating to Patrick Meehan, victim of miscarriage of justice

Date(s)

  • 1969 - 1984 (Creation)

Level of description

Collection

Extent and medium

1 volume + 1 folder

Context area

Name of creator

(1932-2015)

Biographical history

Joe Beltrami was born on 15 May 1932 in Rutherglen, Lanarkshire. He was educated at St Aloycious' College in Glasgow, then studied law at the University of Glasgow and completed a legal apprenticeship with the local firm of Baird Smith Barclay and Muirhead. He set up his own legal firm, Beltrami & Company, in Glasgow in 1958. Willie Dunn joined him as a partner shortly afterwards and the business soon established a large clientele. Beltrami specialised in criminal law and first came to public prominence when he successfully defended Walter Scott Ellis, who was accused of murder in 1961. In a similarly high-profile case, Beltrami defended Patrick Meehan, who was accused and wrongfully convicted of murder in 1969. After a 15-year battle, which also involved a campaign by the television commentator, Ludovic Kennedy, Beltrami and Nicholas Fairbairn succeeded in having Meehan's conviction quashed. Meehan was granted a Royal Pardon and received a large compensation payment and Beltrami subsequently published a book about the case, entitled 'A Deadly Innocence'. Beltrami was also known for representing Arthur Thompson, the self-styled Glasgow gangster, for over four decades. In 1993 he became the first Solicitor-Advocate to plead in the Court of Criminal Appeal. He died in Glasgow on 24 February 2015.

Archival history

These papers were in the custody of the donor until they were given to the University of Strathclyde.

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Content and structure area

Scope and content

Items relating to Beltrami's 15-year battle to overturn the conviction of his client, Patrick Meehan, for the murder of Rachel Ross during a burglary in 1969. Beltrami's efforts secured a unique Royal Pardon for Meehan, plus a substantial compensation payment. The collection includes:

  • Incomplete (pages 2-7 only) xerox copy of the Edinburgh High Court indictment against Patrick Connolly Meehan for theft, housebreaking, assault to severe injury, robbery, murder and fraud, 1969;
  • Incomplete copy letter from [Joe Beltrami, Beltrami Dunn & Co] to R.B. Laurie, Secretary, the Law Society of Scotland, Edinburgh, 5 April 1976, seeking an opinion on matters of confidentiality concerning the precognitions of the widow, son and daughter of William McGuiness;
  • Copy letter from [Joe Beltrami, Beltrami Dunn & Co] to the Crown Agent, Crown Office, Edinburgh, 16 September 1976, concerning the Crown's delay in pronouncing the innocence of Meehan's co-suspect in the murder of Rachel Ross, James Griffiths (Griffiths was shot dead by a police marksman in 1969);
  • Xerox copy of the recommendation by D[avid] A.O. Edward Q.C., Edinburgh, that Patrick Meehan should be offered the sum of £47,915 in compensation, 22 December 1983, with annotations by Beltrami;
  • Xerox copy of the cheque for £47,915 issued to Patrick Meehan by H.M. Paymaster General on 8 February 1984, with annotations by Beltrami;
  • Photograph of Patrick Meehan with Joe Beltrami, signing for receipt of his compensation payment in Beltrami's office, 1984, with annotations on the reverse (this image is published on the dust jacket of Beltrami's book, 'A Deadly Innocence');
  • Copy of Joe Beltrami, 'A Deadly Innocence: the Meehan file' (Edinburgh: Mainstream Publishing, 1989), containing an inscription by Beltrami on the flyleaf.

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling

Accruals

None expected.

System of arrangement

Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

Open

Conditions governing reproduction

Language of material

  • English

Script of material

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Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

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