Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Editor of The Firm writes to Kenny MacAskill

[What follows is the text of a letter sent today to the Cabinet Secretary for Justice by Steven Raeburn, editor of the Scottish lawyers' magazine The Firm. The full account on the magazine's website can be read here.]

The Firm magazine recently ran a poll of its readers, which found that 86% of respondents supported a public inquiry into the downing of Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie.

A copy of the news story which ran in the July issue of the Magazine is appended below for your reference, and a copy of the magazine is enclosed.

I can add that solicitors and advocates, in addition to the general public, have frequently and consistently expressed to me their despair at the damage that has been inflicted upon the law of Scotland by this case. No doubt you are already aware that the Scots legal system was once rightly regarded as among the best and most effective in the world. Regardless of its present efficacy, it is now regarded both domestically and (especially) internationally as an embarrassment, principally because of the damning reflection cast upon it by the passage of the Lockerbie case through it.

On behalf of the readers of The Firm – including over 10,000 solicitors and 500 or so advocates who wish to see the reputation of Scots law restored and be certain the legal system they work for and within is a source of pride to them, and not of shame- I am duty bound to ask for you to address their wishes for a public inquiry. Like them, it is my fervent wish that the legal system of Scotland, and those who work within it, can be certain that the law which is applied in their name is done so honourably and with full accountability, devoid of the stains and shadows that this case has thrown upon it.

The reason this case refuses to go away is simply because the answers provided by the judicial process have failed to satisfy the public interest on one hand, and those directly affected by these events on the other. Whilst one bad case cannot be fairly described as representative of all that goes on in Scots law, that one bad case is nevertheless a valid reflection of what our legal system is capable of achieving, and there is a large constituency of the public who are not satisfied with that conclusion.

For my own part, I will simply state that the first step to repairing any damage is to understand how it was caused. A full inquiry may begin to shed the necessary light that will allow repairs to be effected. In the interests of accountability, and on behalf of the readers of The Firm, I ask you to let me have your response and proposals for action.

As a journalist, I constantly remind myself of the words of the great Edward R Murrow, who noted that just because my voice is amplified to the degree that it reaches from one end of the country to the other, it does not confer upon me greater wisdom or understanding than I possessed when it reached only from one end of the bar to the other. What my journalistic reach does impose upon me however, is a correspondingly amplified duty to use my free speech responsibly, and I therefore cannot in good conscience offer any voice to the readers of The Firm if I do not take forward their legitimate concerns and, where necessary, act upon them. If I felt otherwise, I should simply publish cartoons instead. Justice must be done, even tho’ the heavens may fall. If you and I cannot do our best to achieve that, then both of us are in the wrong jobs.

I, and those 86%, look forward to hearing from you.


  1. Open letter:
    Criminal Justice Directorate
    Criminal Law an Licensing Division

    Zurich, July 15. 2009

    Dear Justice Secretary Mr McAskill

    Please make your position clear to the victims, Abdelbaset al Megrahi,Libya, other persons suffering financial damage (like
    MEBO Ltd) and the Public.

    Are you and the judges ready to accept MEBO's provable accusations against the Scottish Officials Dr Thomas Hayes, Alan Feraday (RARDE) and other persons in the Scottish Police for having falsified and manipulated decisive evidence (MST-13 timer) during the prosecution?

    Or are you and the judges only interested in covering-up these
    provable facts? Please give a clear statement.

    Please remember, the FBI Special Agent and Task Force Chief Richard Marquise answered Gideon Levy's (VPRO) question. G.L.: Would you have a case if you wouldn't have these evidence (MST-13 timer)? R.M.: Would we have a case. It would be a very dificult case to prove. It would be a very dificult case to prove ... I don't think we would ever had an indictment.

    And he said also: But I can tell you that now money was paid to any witness, any witness prior to the trial. No promise of money was made to any witness prior to the trial. G.L.: And was there paid any money after he trial? R.M.: I'm not gonna answer that...

    And he said: If someone manipulated evidence, if somebody didn't invesitgate something that should have been investigated, if somebody twisted it to fit up up Megrahi, or Fimah or Libya, then that person will go to jail. I mean that sincerely, that person should be prosecuted for that.

    We hope the Scottish Justice takes this fact to knowledge and goes into a faster action with a criminal charge against her officials than with the case of Mr. Abdelbaset al Megrahi...

    The long overdue Scottish revision of the judgement against Abdelbased al Megrahi
    helps Libya to reestablish its worldwide prestige that suffered severely under the unjustverdict against Al Megrahi.

    The manipulated evidence material shows clearly that Mr Megrahi and Libya have nothing to do with the Lockerbie Tragedy! Photos, documents and falsification evidence material, can be seen on our webpage URL:

    Justice For Abdelbaset Al Megrahi and Libya!

    Copys to Solicitor Tony Kelly, Hon.Justice Hamdi Faraj Fannoush, Mr.Saif El Islam Gaddafi, Mr.Abdulatti OBIDI, and Dr.Ibrahim Legwell Bar Association

    Yours faithfully

    Edwin and Mahnaz Bollier, MEBO Ltd., Switzerland

  2. I'm baffled. To whom is the above "comment" addressed? What is the Criminal Justice Directorate?

    I'm not surprised readers of "The Firm" support a full public enquiry - that would keep many of them on the gravy train for decades!

  3. As regards the Criminal Justice Directorate, see

  4. I am grateful to Professor Black for referring me to the Criminal Justice Directorate website. (I thought it might be some Swiss or Libyan quango!)

    The Criminal Justice Directorate seems to be a very worthy body dealing with social problems, drugs, sex offenders released into the community and non-custodial punishments in Scotland. I am completely baffled as to what it has to do with the Lockerbie case. Probably nothing!

  5. One of the Directorate's five divisions deals with:

    Victims, Witnesses, Parole & Life Sentence Review.

    Within the Scottish Government Justice Department, it is this division that will be advising the minister on prisoner transfer and/or compassionate release.