No role for 2010 Peebles Cornet, despite charges being dropped

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The criminal charges against last year’s Peebles Cornet have been dropped, writes Andrew Keddie.

But the decision by the Crown Office to discontinue proceedings against 29-year-old Finlay Barber will not affect his exclusion from a ceremonial role in this year’s Beltane Festival which began on Sunday with the service at the Cross Kirk, which was switched to the Old Parish Church due to heavy rain.

The organising committee of the annual celebrations, which reach their climax on Saturday, decided in January to relieve Mr Barber of his duties after he faced allegations of the abduction and rape of an 18-year-old woman at last summer’s T in the Park music festival at Balado Park near Kinross.

Mr Barber, who, under normal circumstances would have retained the title of Cornet until his successor Ewen Young was officially installed last night and would then have assumed the role of Right Hand Man, appeared in private at Perth Sheriff Court on July 30 last year, made no plea or declaration and was released on bail.

Last week the Crown Office confirmed: “The Procurator Fiscal in Perth received a report relating to Finlay Euan Barber in connection with an alleged incident occuring between July 11 and 12, 2010.

“As a result, proceedings were raised at Perth Sheriff Court and he appeared on petition on July 30, 2010, charged with rape and abduction. He made no plea nor declaration and was released on bail.

“As with any case, the Crown has a duty to keep cases under review. Following full and careful consideration of all the facts and circumstances in the case, including the available evidence, the Crown Counsel decided to discontinue these proceedings.”

A spokesman for the Beltane Committee told us: “We are pleased for Fin that legal matters against him are resolved. Our decision in January was made both in his interests and the interests of the Beltane Festival.

“At this late stage, we want to concentrate on organising this year’s festival.”

Mr Barber will thus have no ceremonial involvement, although 2010 Lass Jo Cassidy will support Cornet Young and his lass Laura Cox, along with 2009 Cornet and Lass Gareth Harrison and Laura Robson and 2008 principals Colin and Katy Noble.

The Barber family declined to comment.