The Pattison Crash
last updated March 24th 2015

"What Happend When?                        The indictment
time frame        time frame
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Mr Guthrie addressed the jury on behalf of Robert Pattison said that the Crown must stand or fall on the face with the first charge. He would show them this must fall and the others charges of the indictment would automatically fall. He said the Crown had failed to answer three questions:
    - when this fraudulent scheme was made?
    - what the scheme was?
    - the reasons for the scheme?

or more simple WHEN, WHAT and WHY ?
The first questions could not as per the defence not be answered for the simple reason - the Solicitor-General could not put a time to it. He explained that it must have been much easier methods for the Pattisons to inflate the profits than they were accused of it that was the intention, by pocket or destroy invoices so they never appeared in any books. He now also took up the expected profit from the brewery (Duddingston) of £5,000 which he said should also have been counted for when estimating future profits. And the third question: The Crown must show that it was to their interest, either imaginary or real. He would show that they had no conceivable motive, and if they had a motive they had the simplest and easiest way of doing it without any fraud. He asked; Who were these alleged schemers? Penniless adventurers who had everything gain and nothing lose? Instead of being penniless adventurers with nothing to lose, he held that they stood to lose £131.000 between them.
The Solicitor had said that they got £150,000 in cash, but the truth was that the got 50,000 on preference shares (and 25,000 of them belonged to the trust of their father), in buildings, or in undertaking to provide buildings. He said: "If there was a fraud here it was the act of no fool. It must have involved a most elaborate conspiracy, systematically. deliberately and dexterously carried out"
He also said about the omissions: When did these gentlemen, Mr Robertson Durham and Mr Murray, discover this - after they have had poring over books hours, days, weeks and months. "They discovered it after the thing was put to them in the witness box, and they declined to look into it, i.e the prisoners are proposed to be convicted for failing to see the effect of failing of debit certain accounts which the accountants in the previous period never saw till their attention was directed by me"

After the lunch Mr Ure on behalf of Walter Pattison. He said: "the jury has been subjected to a strain that was almost, if not quite, unparalleled the history of jury trials in this country".
He also said "he would not shed tears over the sorrows of whisky dealers, although he supposed these gentlemen had their rights; but not one of the whisky dealers produced could say that he had been injured by the action of the Pattisons to the extent of one penny"
He was also critical to the long time which had elapsed between the failure of the company and the bringing of the charges (December 1898 - July 1901).

The jury was absent for one hour and a quarter and when they returned, by majority they found
- Robert Pattison guilty on all four charges - sentenced to 18 months imprisonment
- Walter Pattison guilty on charge two and four (Clydesdale £40,000 and Arrol double sale)
- sentenced to 9 months imprisonment
Robert Pattison said ”My brother is entirely innocent of charges 2 and 4”
The crowd in court indicated that they considered the sentences very lenient.
Interesting is that the majority of the jury was against Walter Pattison on the second charge was 8 to 7 only and similar on fourth charge.

The big loosers was the Pattison family. Robert and Walter were achitects behind but also victims of an unscrupulous whisky bubble supported with money too easy to borrow from greedy speculators and banks.
Both brothers went in person bankruptcy. Walter died in London 1908. I have not yet been able to find out what happened to Robert after he was released from the prison in Perth in January 1903.


Aberdeen Journal - Wednesday 17 July 1901
Aberdeen Journal - Thursday 18 July 1901
Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser - Saturday 20 July 1901
Edinburgh Evening News - Tuesday 21 October 1902
Dundee Courier - Saturday 12 January 1907
Advocates Library/National Library of Scotland