[This is the heading over a letter from Martin Allen in today's edition of the Sunday Herald. It reads as follows:]
It used to be the case that, to secure a conviction, it had to be shown “beyond reasonable doubt” that the accused had committed the crime (Lockerbie: now pressure switches to America, News, July 25). Now it seems that when a crime has been committed, justice is served if a guilty verdict is served on the person who seems most likely to have committed it, regardless of such holes as there may be in the prosecution’s case.
In the case against Abdelbaset al-Megrahi there are such holes. His defence team were denied access to alleged key evidence, and the veracity of a key witness for the prosecution is thrown into doubt by evidence suggesting they were offered huge rewards by overseas organisations to testify.
Megrahi’s abandonment of his appeal cannot be taken as an admission of guilt, given the likelihood of his belief that to continue with it would prevent a compassionate release. His case is one in which a not proven verdict would have been appropriate. Since the Camp Zeist verdict cannot be changed except by a further court hearing, it would be appropriate if those legal experts who have reason to doubt his guilt were to sign a letter to that effect, addressed to the governments of Scotland, the UK, the US and Libya.
[An interesting suggestion. But I fear that such a letter would be pointless: the four governments mentioned just want the whole Lockerbie affair to go away. The only thing that will cause the first two to change their attitude is (a) extreme public and media pressure or (b) legal action that compels them to do so.
A letter from Kevin Donnelly in Scotland on Sunday reads:]
Scotland's reputation has again been dragged through the mud on a world stage, this time by a combination of US politicians seeking to boost their home popularity ahead of elections, a British Prime Minister keen to protect the reputation of oil giant BP, and some home politicians opposed to the SNP on any issue.
It was wrong and profoundly misguided of the four senators to use the world's media to summon Scotland's First Minister and justice secretary to account before its foreign affairs committee. It also displays a misunderstanding of the Scottish Government's role and limited powers under devolution.
The problem for the senators is that no one with half a brain believes the Scottish Government had any involvement with oil deals in the desert.
The fact remains that Kenny MacAskill rejected the Prisoner Transfer request (the basis of the oil deal claims), but was bound by precedent set by previous Scottish Governments and Scottish Office ministers to release al Megrahi on compassionate grounds - it's that simple.
While Scotland can be proud that First Minister Alex Salmond and his justice secretary were diplomatic but firm in their responses to the US Senate committee, we have witnessed the appalling spectacle of a UK prime minister, foreign secretary and ambassador in Washington falling over themselves in a clumsy effort to rubbish Scotland and defend BP.
It must now be a profound question for everyone in Scottish society whether Scottish foreign relations are best served by a UK Government, which has set itself so clearly and fundamentally against Scottish interests abroad.