Monday, 20 December 2010

Tell the truth over Lockerbie

[This is the headline over an article published today on the website of the Morning Star. It reads in part:]

A Scottish MSP accused the Foreign Office and other interested parties today of using legal blocks to hide evidence in a review of the conviction of the only man jailed for the Lockerbie bombing.

Christine Grahame of the Scottish National Party called for a change to legislation which has allowed the Foreign Office, Crown Office and other parties to "block" publication of a report by the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission into the 2001 conviction of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi. (...)

The SCCRC conducted a review of the conviction and found that a potential miscarriage of justice may have occurred. But the commission has been prevented from publishing its Statement of Reasons after the Foreign Office and Crown Office apparently refused permission.

Under the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (Permitted Disclosure of Information) Order 2009, interested third parties can refuse permission for disclosure of evidence they directly or indirectly provided to an investigation.

Ms Grahame told the Star that the law effectively acted as "a gagging order" and said that the Scottish government should amend it to allow publication of all the evidence in the case.

Ms Grahame has tabled a parliamentary motion arguing that, under the order: "Third parties such as the Crown Office and the Foreign Office and relevant police authorities have refused consent in writing to disclosure of information provided directly or indeed indirectly by them."

That meant, she said, that "parties with an interest in the conviction remain untested, and, as a consequence, that access to undisclosed information has been successfully blocked."

She urged the government to repeal or amend the order "in the interests of openness, accountability and justice."

Jim Swire, whose daughter Flora was killed in the bombing, told MSPs at Holyrood last month: "I now believe that Scottish justice's verdict on this man is not safe, it must be re-examined.

"And until it is, the name of Scottish justice will lie in the gutter."

A Scottish government spokesperson said: "The Scottish government has always wanted to be as open and transparent as possible on this issue.

"Based on legal considerations about the most effective way of overcoming constraints of existing legislation, we are now considering primary legislation to address the issue of consent while retaining the necessary protection for any third parties potentially affected."

The Foreign Office had not responded by time of press.

1 comment:

  1. She should have a word with the creator of the clause. He sits a few rows in front of her at Holyrood. MacAskill I think his name is.