The Pattison Crash
last updated March 24th 2015


"What Happend When?                        The indictment
time frame        time frame
Click on the images to expand/shrink

The defence used an another accountant - Thomas Harrison, Newcastle-on-Tyne - to explain the accounting system of Pattisons and explain the omissions. He said that if he had been called in for making an examination prior to the floatation he would have found the omissions. These omissions in the end of 1895 were no more or no different from what had taken place in previous years. He was also of the opinion that it was unimportant for the preference shareholders if the profit was £31,000 or £21,000. In both cases it was sufficient money to pay them as this was only £7,500.
   "So long as the preference shareholders got their 5 per cent, they had no right to ask about their own business, and you think that would be right in this case? – It is a very common practice.
The Solicitor-General – Well we are more cautious in Scotland (laughter)
The defend also used a family solicitor (Georg David Ballingall) to explain the economical situation of Mrs Pattison - mother to the brothers - who's income was dependent of the stability of the company as she got £1,250 per annum from the preference shares she had.

On his own desire Walter Pattison went into box and Mr Ure led evidence in behalf of his client. He explained his duties - which was in the cash department and he had nothing to do with stock sheets, blending of whiskies, invoice journals etc. He denied all allegations of forming a fraudulent scheme (prospectus), for embezzling £40,000 (Clydesdale Bank) or of the £6,000 of Arrol´s (whisky sold twice). He made a favourable impression and, answering clearly and straightforwardly. As far as he knew all invoices for goods as purchased had been debited to goods account. He certainly believed that at the time. It was outside of his department altogether, but the had no reason to doubt that, and had no suspicion that anything was wrong.
He was first informed in January 1899 by his trustee in bankrupcy about the fact that the omission of credit notes hade given an inflation of the profits.
He also said that what Mr Wardlaw, the Clydesdale Bank agent said happend at the meeting january 7th 1897, was totally wrong. He did not know at the time that the money was applied to Pattison, Elder & Co. It was not by his instructions that money was paid to their accounts.

The Solicitor-General then commenced his address to the jury,
     It was no part of his duty to unduly press the case against the prisoners, and anything he had to say was on behalf of the public, in whose interest it was that no innocent man should suffer and no guilty man should escape.
He went through the details of all four charges in the indictment and talked about the motive of the crime and said that the Pattisons had got £150,000 in cash for the preference shares and characterised the floatation as a gigantic swindle. He also said that the attack made by the defence upon the methods of Carter, Greig and Co (who made the signed financial certificate included in the prospectus) was the most perfect red herring he had seen. (divert the attention from the inquiry)
He finsished to say that to the jury: This is a kind of charge that would only be brought against a man of good position, because a man of no reputation and no character would never have a chance to commit a crime like this.

The case was adjourned until next day.

Next day ->
Aberdeen Journal - Tuesday 16 July 1901
Aberdeen Journal - Wednesday 17 July 1901
Advocates Library/National Library of Scotland