Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Befuddlement and anger at Scottish Government’s stance

[A long article by Robert Forrester, secretary of the Justice for Megrahi campaign, appears today on the website of the Scottish lawyers' magazine The Firm. It raises many interesting issues about the recent report by Senator Robert Menendez et al into the repatriation of Abdebaset Megrahi and about official reaction to JFM's call for the Scottish Government to set up an independent inquiry into his conviction. On the Scottish Government's stonewalling on the establishment of such an inquiry, Mr Forrester has this to say:]

SNP activists quite openly express their befuddlement and even anger at the government’s stance. JFM has no allegiances to any political parties but does empathise with those members of the SNP who can’t comprehend the government’s reaction to what, on the face of it, seems to be an electoral gift to a party that professes its very raison d'être is Scotland’s independence from the UK.

On the 9th of November, armed with its public e-petition, JFM persuaded the Scottish Parliament Public Petitions Committee (SPPPC) to write to the Scottish Government asking it to cite the legislation it is relying on to support its somewhat disingenuous contention that it lacks the power to sanction an inquiry into matters which fall squarely and exclusively under Scottish jurisdiction. The SPPPC graciously gave the government until the 10th of December, an entire month no less, to locate just such legislation. Three weeks after the deadline, the government has still failed to reply. Surely it can’t be, given the legions of legal advisers at its disposal, that the government’s claim is fallacious after all. It’s all a bit embarrassing really. On the one hand, the SNP seems to want to break Scotland’s ties with the Union, whilst on the other, the behaviour of the government in abrogating its responsibilities on this matter leaves one with the image of the First Minister clinging on to the apron strings of mother Britannia.

It won’t be much of a vote winner amongst the electorate who are concerned about the direction the criminal justice system is currently moving in if the government finally has nothing left to resort to other than mimicking UK Foreign Secretary William Hague’s recent remarks by saying that an inquiry wouldn’t be in the public interest. Nor will it enhance the SNP’s democratic credentials if the government is seen to give the SPPPC the brush off.


  1. As an SNP member I have several times posted here on this riddle. To me it implies very heavy forces at work behind the scenes and has implications for Scotland and the SNP far beyond the Megrahi affair. It suggests that in any matter of importance to Westminster, the SNP is utterly powerless and cannot even act in its own party-political interests, let alone the interests of justice or the nation. I can see no grounds for supposing that this influence would end with independence - whoever holds the reins of power in the Scottish justice system seems to be not only outside of the Scottish democratic system but outside of Scotland. I cannot imagine such an entity relinquishing its power under any conceivable constitutional arrangement.

    I was rather puzzled by the SNP's retention of Elish Angiolini on their accession to office in Holyrood - now we have seen her execute a highly questionable role in the Sheridan affair (see Ian Hamilton's piece in the Firm). Was her retention a decision also made elsewhere?

  2. MISSION LOCKERBIE, Geneva 29 December 2010, doc. 1019.rtf.
    google translation, german/english:

    The meeting in Geneva from 2nd of January, 2011 is postponed to Monday 10th of January, 2011.

    An enlightening meeting under alias "(Multi)Leaks" brings new facts on the "Lockerbie-Affair" to ligth, with "explosive force"; the session is protected.

    A replica "X-Factor Lockerbie Vision" (XFLV) against the unilateral and proven false U.S. "JUSTICE UNDONE" report from Senators Robert Remendez, Frank Lautenberg, Charles Schumer and Kristen Gillibrand, on 21 December 2010.

    Interesting parts of the new factors are:
    > the PanAm willful misconduct due lax security screening (1992);

    > the questionable work of Legal firms Speiser Krause and Kreindler in the "Lockerbie-Affair";

    > the "sophisticated" civil action (via the war risk) against to the only accused Libyan officials, Fhima Lamin Khalifa and Al Megrahi (Mohamed) Abdel Baset Ali (according to the U.S. and UK Indictment of 14/15 Nov. 1991); Civil Court Judgement and Settlement (total US$ 2.7milliarden) in 1996, before the legal decision on the court in Kamp van Zeist 2001 was made...

    > the visits by Swiss Security Service at Bern CH u.a."by ex Officer *Mark Allen (MI-6) on April 1989; and in June 1989, by other well-known Scottish officials...
    *Sir Mark Allen ex (MI-6) hired 2004 as senior adviser to BP in London...

    > then the unauthorized delivery of a MST-13 timer circuit board (Prototype) by "BUPO" (June 22nd 1989), designed for Scottish and U.S. officials;

    > The interesting distribution of financial settlements of US$ xxx, millions via Minmar (495) Limited, 51 Eastcheap, London, by Stephen John Tricks --- for Pan American World Airways Inc. Liquidation Trust. Trustee of the Pan Am Liquidation Trust, acting by Paul Rendich and responsible Officer of Pan Am again Paul Rendich and acting as Witness Elaine Jones two times...

    > The fateful capital assistance of US$ 2.7 billion from (xxxxx side) via Bank of International Settlements in Switzerland (BIS) to the Gaddafi International Foundation (GICDF) in Geneva. etc.

    A hard-fought re-investigation adds to the legal fact that Mr. Al Megrahi and Libya have nothing to do with the "Lockerbie tragedy".
    Justice for Mr Abdelbaset Al Megrahi and for the Great Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya. Mr Abdelbaset and the Libyan people deserve the right to prove that the truth is revealed and that their honour will be fully restored.
    The game is on; there is now nothing stopping a new search for the real culprits behind the atrocity on PanAm 103...

    Date of Meeting, 10th of January 2011, in the Heart of Europe near Palais des Nations Geneva.

    The Meeting Experience and strategie rights by MEBO Ltd. Edwin and Mahnaz Bollier, Switzerland .-. / -.-

  3. Of the many interesting issues raised by Mr Forrester, what say he on the subject of SNP activist befuddlement - if the government did not express confidence in the judicial process and the appeal procedure of any particular case, there would be criticism from the legal establishment of interference? I'm not a legal or constitutional expert but I would have thought expressing confidence in the professionalism of the judiciary (does that include judges and the system?) to carry out their work properly was demonstrating detachment and non-interference. And on a specific case, even more so. The opposite stance would be criticised for political tampering, surely?

  4. Then a separate point from the last, to avoid befuddlement (good word that)...I think the JFM has to take great care to avoid the opposition (whoever they may be) conflating the Megrahi appeal issues and politics, especially SNP politics in an election year, and in fact, conflating with any peripheral criticisms of the present judiciary, Cabinet Justice Department etc.
    The Senate earlier successfully conflated the BP spill and Megrahi's release since it is a proven tactic to polarise the opposition into apparently holding opinions they don't necessarily hold, effectively weakens the main argument.

  5. I applaud Robert for voicing publicly his own knowledge of the absolute astonishment of many SNP supporters regarding the manner in which the issue of Megrahi has been handled by the Scottish Government.

    And let's face it the SNP government absolutely interfered in this case in the run up to the release and by failing to acknowledge the existence of that appeal waiting to be heard throughout the first two years of its arrival in government here. It interfered with the Justice System itself by claiming publicly the verdict was sound even while six grounds sat there screaming it almost certainly wasn't.

    MacAskill went further still when he visited Megrahi and then suddenly the appeal was gone and he failed to tell us honestly what the connection between those two things was.

    In fact we can point to politicial interference at every turn in the Megrahi case from Westminster, to the White House to Zeist and back to the Scottish Parliament. The stench of politics is what cost the man justice in the first place. Political interference is what cost this country its international reputation. A strong politician with a strong and determined Party behind him who were committed to justice could and should have taken all of these things on. Salmond could have done it.

  6. Don't give up on Alex Salmond and Kenny MacAskill just yet!

    I detect the realisation dawning upon them and the SNP that Scottish Independence and the successful resolution of the Lockerbie issue are now inextricably entwined.

  7. Patrick let's hope so! A guid new year to you.

  8. From one Lockerbie campaigner to another, Jo G (and to all of The Lockerbie Case correspondents): Happy Hogmanay!

  9. Dear Blogiston,

    Sorry to take so long in responding, I've been travelling about a bit over the last few days.

    I take your point, assuming I haven't got the wrong end of the stick. However, there are cases which provide precedent both on a UK and Scottish level, and as such seem not to have ruffled constitutional feathers overly much. In fact, the question you raise was also put to us during the SPPPC meeting of the 9th Nov by one of the MSPs and, although we couldn't give specific examples off pat when requested at the time, if memory serves, Prof Black said he would rake them out for the committee, which I believe he did before the end of that very day. I don't have a copy of this myself, but I'm sure if you ask him, he would be more than happy to submit a copy to yourself.

    I hope that that will go a little way towards dealing with the practical side of things. Being very interested in the ins and outs of constitutional law and how it functions myself, I'd be happy to discuss the wider philosophical aspects of what you have raised, but am just back home and am heading off for bed right now. Nevertheless, if you want to have a chat, the good prof has my permission to give you my e-mail address.

    Yours sincerely,
    Robert Forrester.

  10. Here is the text of my e-mail to the Scottish Parliament's Public Petitions Committee (referred to by Robert Forrester):

    I write in response to the issue raised in this afternoon's hearing regarding the constitutional propriety of a judicial decision's being referred to the Scottish Law Commission for consideration.

    I know that my former student [X] has e-mailed you drawing attention to the SLC's Report on Sharp v Thomson (Scot Law Com No 208, 2007). In this instance the reference was made to the Commission by the Scottish Ministers. Another example that springs to mind is the Commission's report on Dorchester Studios v Stone, published as Irritancies in Leases (Scot Law Com No 75, 1983). Here the reference was made by the Secretary of State for Scotland, but if it were to occur today, it would be the Scottish Ministers who would do it.

    There are other examples -- both before and after devolution -- of decided cases being referred to the Commission, but I hope these two will suffice to reassure the Committee of the constitutional propriety.

    May I also say that the powers which now repose in the Scottish Ministers to recommend the exercise of the royal prerogative of mercy in the case of a convicted person would involve the institution by those Ministers of an inquiry into the safety of the conviction in question. Once again, there is no constitutional impropriety in this -- indeed it is the only way in which the decision whether to recommend the exercise of the prerogative can properly be taken.