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Council chairman cleared of dropping tacks on disputed circuit

A lawyer and community council chairman has been cleared of sabotaging the Etape Caledonia race last year after charges against him were dropped by the Crown.

Alexander Grosset, 62, was charged in connection with the scattering of thousands of tacks during the Perthshire event the road closure, which locals say last May.

Several hundred cyclists had their tyres punctured by the tacks in the race, the only one of its kind in the UK where all the roads are closed to other traffic during the event.

According to the BBC, the Crown offered no explanation of why the case was dropped and police have no plans to charge anyone else.

At the time, it was thought that anger around the road closure, which some locals say severely disrupts their movements, had led to an act of sabotage.

The 81-mile ride around Pitlochry on May 17, which attracted around 3,500 competitors, had to be halted for about an hour-an-a-half after the tacks were discovered.

After full and careful consideration of all the facts and circumstances by Crown counsel, it was decided there should be no further proceedings

Mr Grosset - one of a number of vocal critics of the event - was arrested and charged three days later with culpably and recklessly placing carpet tacks on the road.

The church elder and former solicitor from Bridge of Gaur, Pitlochry, was accused of showing a complete disregard for the safety of the participants in the event.

But the Crown Office has now said proceedings will be dropped.

A spokesman said: "We can confirm that the procurator fiscal in Perth received a report concerning a 62-year-old man in relation to an incident on 16 May 2009.

"After full and careful consideration of all the facts and circumstances by Crown counsel, it was decided there should be no further proceedings."

Mr Grosset, who is chairman of the Rannoch and Tummel Community Council, was among people targeted in an internet hate campaign after he was arrested.

The incident received much publicity on message boards and forums, where the home and e-mail addresses of some of those against the race were posted.

Although the criminal charges have been dropped there is still the possiblity that Mr Grosset could be sued in the civil courts, where the burden of proof is lower, by a cyclist or cyclists who suffered damage to their bicycles or equipment as a result of riding over the tacks.

Organisers of the Etape Caledonia are expecting the 2010 renewal of the event to attract even greater number despite the incident.