Our latest podcast episode focuses on the arrest and trial of Grand Master of the Orange Order in Scotland Alan G Hasson. Read the full version below. 

The Reverend Alan Hasson was one of the most colourful and controversial figures of the late 1950's. 

At the height of his powers, he was a media darling and his name was seldom out the newspapers with reporters seeking his views on the many moral and religious issues of the day. 

However, by the start of the 1970's it all ended in tears with his reputation trashed by a fraud scandal. 

So where did it all begin and where did it all go wrong? 

Despite having an Irish Catholic mother and an Egyptian father The Reverend Hasson was a staunch protestant and one of the country's best-known Church of Scotland ministers.  

He had been born in Tiger Bay Area of Cardiff in Wales in 1926 to this mixed marriage. 

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His parents separated when they were young and brought up in Inverness-shire where he excelled at schoolwork and got a good set of Highers results. 

He joined the army at the age of 21 to do his National Service and reached the rank of Captain having served in the Far East. 

After leaving the army he did an honours degree at Glasgow University and then graduated in Divinity, where he impressed his lecturers with his intellectual brilliance. 

At the time - despite later Unionist leanings - he was a keen Scottish Nationalist and wore the kilt and played the bagpipes. 

He also taught himself to play the organ, piano, violin and of course the flute. 

In 1952 he did an exchange study at New Your Theological Seminary where he was again described as a brilliant student and earned a masters in Systematic Theology. 

After four years as minister at Bonhill South church in Bonhill, Dumbartonshire he also took on the extra responsibility of nearby Alexandra North parish. 

He was admired as a rising star of the Church, good with the elderly and committed theologian with a strong work ethic and brilliant intellect, who had memorised all the works of Burns. 

At this time, he was also known as a good swimmer and talented shinty player. 

He was also Chaplain and a Grand Master of the Orange Order in Scotland having risen through the ranks to the top post in 1958 while only 32. 

Furthermore, he was now seen as an unofficial spokesman for the Loyalist movement both at home and in Northern Ireland. 

However, his outspoken views had seen him banned from speaking at gatherings in the six counties. 

He opposed the move towards ecumenism by the Church of Scotland and even ran a newspaper called Vigilant, whose views did not always meet with the approval of senior Orange Order figures. 

On one occasion the organisation was forced to pay compensation to a tobacco company after one article implied that money from sales of their popular Senior Service brand went to the Pope. 

He also caused a rift between the Orange Order in Scotland and their counterparts in Northern Ireland. 

Every July 12th Hasson would head out from his church manse in Bonhill, to lead the local Orange Order parade in nearby Balloch Park on a white horse. 

However, one year a replacement had to be found after someone painted it green. 

His church would be packed most Sundays to hear the charismatic minister at a time when more people went to church than football. 

He was also a powerful orator who could attract large crowds to public meetings. 

Despite his loyalist leanings he remained on good terms with people of all religions and none and was known to lend a helping hand regardless of who the person was or their background. 

A good example of Hasson's relaxed approach to life was the Boys Brigade dances held in his Church hall. These were a great success with local teenagers in the 1950's and early 60's.  

Music was provided by a local band who were able to play the new rock-and-roll, which was emerging from the USA, played by bands like Bill Haley and the Comets. 

Haley was banned from performing live in some British cities, and his first film was accompanied by riots in some cinemas.  

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This music was being criticised for its affect on young people across Britain from churchmen to politicians.  

However, Hasson couldn't have cared less and encouraged the new music in his church hall 

The dances were a huge success financially and recruited new young members to his church at the same time. 

Hasson also attracted a reputation and publicity for marrying young runaway couples from England and abroad who took advantage of the less stringent age requirements for Scottish weddings.  

During his time as grand master he made enemies within the Orange movement for his strict adherence to discipline, lodge rules and of course his love of self publicity. 

It was said that he thought of himself as a reincarnation of King William of Orange and he would often refer to himself, somewhat jokingly, as the Protestant equivalent of the Pope.  

By 1959 the Glasgow based Orange Order had ran up large debts from a programme of building repairs. 

Hasson then told astonished members that he had come up with a mathematical formula that would earn them funds from wins on the Football Pools, the then equivalent of the National Lottery. 

It seemed to work as lodge records from that time showed he won them £3000, the equivalent of £60,000 today. 

However, the pressure of running two churches and the debt-ridden Orange Order appeared to take its toll. 

In 1960 he was admitted to the Crichton Royal Hospital in Dumfries after he appeared to have suffered a nervous breakdown. 

During this time the lodge took out a court order to stop him from taking loans in their name and he was expelled. 

As a result, he decided to take his wife and child to Canada and resigned from his two churches for "personal and financial reasons."  

He became minister of a church in Winnipeg, where he was again never far from controversy. 

Hasson was banned for causing friction within the congregations and at one point locked out the building though he was later able to return after he took out a court action.  

In 1963 he was then dismissed for causing further unrest among the congregation. 

At this time one possible reason for his abrupt departure from Scotland soon became clear. 

Around £10,300 had been found missing from the Orange Order coffers in Glasgow. The equivalent of almost £250,000 today. 

Detectives from the City of Glasgow Police were called in to investigate and a warrant was soon issued for Hasson's arrest. 

It seemed that only Hasson and the lodge treasurer had access to the funds at the time. 

It was decided at that time not seek his extradition from Canada but to wait and see if he returned to Britain. 

Over the next decade Hasson, according to a book by the legendary solicitor Joe Beltrami, became well known in Canada as a game show presenter, quiz host and sports commentator. 

He was not in a rush to come back to Scotland, anytime soon. 

Eleven years after he fled to Canada, the authorities, however, got the break that they needed. 

Information was received that the Orangeman was flying to the Middle East from Canada for a visit. 

For some reason known only to Hasson he decided to travel to his destination via London Heathrow. 

Glasgow detectives alerted the Metropolitan Police and both they and their Scotland Yard colleagues were lying in wait when he changed planes. 

Hasson was said to have been taken aback by the police welcoming party and the slickness of their operation. 

Within a matter of hours, he was back on the plane to Glasgow and sitting in a police cell. The following day he appeared at the city's Sheriff Court on embezzlement charges and was refused bail. 

Instead he was remanded in custody at Barlinnie Prison in Glasgow to await trial. 

Months later he was formally indicted at the High Court in Glasgow and a trial date set. 

His legal team lodged a special defence of incrimination or impeachment blaming the treasurer for the fraud. The only other person who had access to the Orange Order funds. 

Both his solicitor Benny Heslin and QC Colin McEachran had put a lot of work into the case over the previous four months. 

The amount of files on the court defence table in front of the judge was testimony to that. 

But in an astonishing move on the day of his trial Hasson decided to sack his counsel and defend himself. 

The trial in 1971 which lasted seven days was a media sensation at the time because of the reputation of the former minister. 

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Under cross-examination, Hasson accused the treasurer of stealing the money, something which he denied. The ex-churchman said he was the only person other than himself who could sign cheques. 

This was of course denied by the hapless treasurer whose reputation was being trashed in the witness box. 

During the trial Hasson also claimed to be an expert in Middle East politics, military strategy, and a counterintelligence officer for the Palestine Liberation Army. 

One of the onlookers was Beltrami who, like many other solicitors, wanted to see how Hasson fared while defending himself. 

In his 1988 memoir, The Defender. he said: “I formed the view that he was doing particularly well and seemed to be enjoying the attendant publicity." 

Then right of the blue Beltrami got a letter from Hasson asking him he could come to the prison and speak with him.  

As the trial was coming to a conclusion he wanted the lawyer to help prepare his final speech to the jury.  

He told the brief, who died in 2015, that he did not possess enough legal knowledge to do himself justice in his summing up. 

The irony of a staunch Protestant asking a devout catholic of Italian Swiss descent for help was not lost on Beltrami. Particularly as the lawyer was also a keen Celtic fan. 

Nevertheless, Beltrami went to Hasson's cell that night and the following evening to help him prepare and polish his speech. 

That day, as the trial came to an end, the court was packed with lawyers to see how he fared on his own. 

In The Defender Beltrami added: "Most of them were more than impressed in the way that he tackled his speech. 

"He had little recourse to notes and his summing up was done dramatically. 

"Hasson seemed to have most of the qualities that would have made him, had he wished, a successful actor." 

At the very end of the proceedings, the trial judge Lord Johnston told the jury that they had two clear choices. 

If they believed Hasson they had to acquit him and if they believed the treasurer they had to convict. 

However, it was at this point that the Lord Johnston made a blunder in his charge, which Beltrami quickly picked up on. 

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Under Scots law the jury have the option of a third verdict not proven, which was explained to them by the judge. 

However, Lord Johnston said that such a decision by the jurors would be "inappropriate" and "unsatisfactory." 

Beltrami was amazed by what he had heard knowing he judge had made a major error in trying to influence the jury's verdict. 

He went down to the cells and told Hasson what he had heard and said that if he were convicted he would have strong grounds for an appeal. 

The jury came back within the hour with a guilty verdict. It was clear they had not been impressed with Hasson's powers of oratory. 

The former minister was then asked to speak on his own behalf before the judge sentenced him to three years in prison Beltrami went to see him the next day and said he would be lodging an appeal. 

He had been involved in a similar case in 1964. 

Then a capable homicide conviction had been overturned after the judge told the jury that he didn't like not proven verdicts. 

That had become what is known as 'case law' and would boost any chances of a second victory. 

An appeal date was set for three weeks time at the High Court in Edinburgh. 

There all three judges led by Lord Wheatley quashed the conviction after only 30 minutes and Hasson was a free man after serving only 21 days of his sentence. 

Beaming with delight he strolled out of the court with Beltrami into the afternoon sunshine where he told waiting pressmen:"I prayed my god, how I prayed. 

"Now my prayers have been answered. I think there will be convulsions within the Orange Orders as a result of the verdict. 

"Some of them will be standing on their heads." 

And in a reference to his role as a counterintelligence officer for the Palestinians, he added:" "I am now going back to being a spy for the Arabs if they want me. 

"It's a great day." 

Though controversial, the Not Proven verdict, is often described as a safety valve against possible miscarriages of justice 

The verdict means that the prosecution case has not been established to the standard demanded in our criminal courts - beyond reasonable doubt. 

The late judge Lord Clyde once stated: ''The verdict of not proven is well established in the law of Scotland. It has for some centuries proved a useful part of our criminal law and in practice it has worked well. 

''In our view it ought to be left completely open and free to a jury to return such a verdict, if they so decide, after hearing the evidence and speeches at a trial." 

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In the Defender Beltrami also went on to mention key reason in favour of the controversial verdict. 

He said: "It gives the jury who have some lingering doubts as to the guilt of the accused - and who are certainly not prepared to say that he is innocent - the chance to find the charge against him not proven." 

On their return to Glasgow from Edinburgh, the two men stopped off at Beltrami's home in Bothwell, Lanarkshire for tea and biscuits. 

Hasson joked that he was so impressed with Beltramis's legal skills he was considering a religious conversion. 

However, Beltrami's devoutly catholic housemaid wasn't so impressed, because of his previous reputation. 

She ignored Hasson while he was in the house and resigned a short time later from Beltrami's employ. 

Later reflecting on his time as the Orangeman's legal adviser Beltrami, said: "In his wildest dreams I would wager that at no time did he envisage a situation whereby a Roman Catholic - myself in fact - would hand him a lifeline and where he would seize it gladly." 

Little is known of Hasson after his 1971 acquittal. 

He never returned to Bonhill, where his reputation was unaffected. 

Local people believe that if he had misappropriated Orange Order funds it had been to help the local needy. 

He was regarded by many on both sides of the divide as a bit of a Robin Hood who bought furniture, clothing and carpets for many poor people on both sides of the divide.  

Ironically his departure from the Orange Order helped to heal the rifts between the Irish and Scottish Grand Lodges. 

It was said he tried and failed to rejoin the Church of Scotland as a minister. 

But it is unlikely they would have wanted him back with his reputation now trashed. 

No one will ever really know the truth of what happened to the Orange Lodge money. 

Hasson reportedly told one parishioner that he had made a huge mistake which he regretted to his dying day. 

He later changed his name to Alan Cameron and ended up playing the bagpipes and busking in Edinburgh and raising money for charity 

A far cry from the fame and adulation he had enjoyed in an earlier life.