City of Enlightenment


BRIGHT AND EARLY on Wednesday morning at the Signet Library, an audience of over 200 attended The Times breakfast discussion, “Future of Scotland: Cities Facing Forward”, one of a programme of similar events the newspaper is holding around the country. Hosted by columnist and senior Times writer Kenny Farquharson, the panel of speakers were Gordon Dewar, CEO Edinburgh Airport, Shona Macarthy, CEO Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society, and Louise Smith, head of digitisation, RBS. Magnus Llewellyn, editor of The Times, Scotland, welcomed everyone to such a beautiful location, reminding them that George IV on his 1822 visit to Edinburgh had referred to it as “the most beautiful drawing room in Europe”. In his introductory remarks, Kenny Farquharson reminded the audience of Edinburgh’s status as a cultural capital in world terms. His theme was taken up by Gordon Dewar who spoke of the critical importance of global ambition for any city looking to compete with destinations like Venice or Paris, rather than other UK cities. Shona Macarthy commented that Edinburgh already has what other cities want, a reputation as a global capital for cultural activities. The panel agreed that the Signet Library was the perfect venue in which to discuss such aspirations, since it is a model of the modernity and innovation that made Edinburgh the great city of the late enlightenment period. Today the building is as vibrant and full of ideas as at any time in its history, another essential ingredient in ensuring a historical city continues to evolve as it endures.

A SUPPLEMENT associated with the event appeared with that day’s edition of the Times. Elsewhere in the paper, as in all sections of the media, repercussions from the Harvey Weinstein sexual harassment complaints continue to dominate in news, editorial and comment pieces. In what is increasingly being seen as a watershed moment, the issue has moved beyond the entertainment industry to a broader discussion of the problem in other workplaces, including the political, legal and corporate environments. In a final ironic twist, it was revealed that disgraced former US Fox News host Bill O’Reilly had paid out the staggering sum of $32 million to Fox News legal analyst Lis Wiehl, after she threatened to sue him for sexual harassment. This brought to twelve the number of multi-million dollar lawsuits O’Reilly has settled over similar accusations. A regular contributor to his show, Wiehl appeared to give her expertise as a lawyer during a feature called “Is It Legal?”. Turns out it would have been much better for everyone involved if O’Reilly had asked himself that question.

ON THURSDAY evening, the WS Society introduced a new CPD event, the WS Property Law Panel. A focused seminar featuring expert panellists, the event built on the Society’s 225 years of expertise in delivering conveyancing training, beginning in 1793 with Robert Bell’s celebrated series of lectures. Hosted by Paul Quinn WS, Head of Property at Dickson Minto, the panellists addressed the most recent developments in law reform and policy, conveyancing practice and case law. The other panellists were Caroline Drummond of the Scottish Law Commission, Rachel Oliphant of Pinsent Masons and the Property Standardisation Group and Gavin MacColl QC. 

FINALLY, the WS Society is delighted that Lord Neuberger of Abbotsbury will be the guest speaker at the Society’s splendid Annual Dinner on 10 November. A sell-out as always it promises to be a magnificent and memorable evening.

— “Writer”

Writer's Week is not intended to represent the views of the WS Society or its members.