Monday, 17 January 2011


[This is the heading over a report in Scottish lawyers' magazine The Firm recording Dr Jim Swire's personal reaction to the Scottish Government's letter to the Public Petitions Committee responding to the petition seeking an independent inquiry into the conviction of Abdelbaset Megrahi. It reads as follows:]

My first and personal reaction to the Scottish Government's (SG's) reply to the Holyrood Petitions Committee's presentation of JFM's petition to the SG is to feel shame.

Shame that we in Scotland should have been reduced to listening to reasoning which seems not to have any merit other than a blatant desire by deep and powerful groups within our body politic to try to protect themselves against exposure of the monstrous mistakes which seem to have been made in the past, chiefly surrounding the Zeist conviction of Baset Al-Megrahi.

The SG claims to have total faith in the verdict reached at Zeist despite our own SCCRC having no such confidence.

They seek to lay responsibility for the present impasse upon the shoulders of the man who they proclaim unquestioningly to believe to be the most brutal mass murderer ever to inflict his deeds upon our nation.

They even seek to blame the absence of successful appeals thus far, not upon the quality of the evidence and proceedings, but upon the decisions which the alleged mass murderer himself made, namely the decision not to speak for himself in court at Zeist, and later, in the face of a lingering and painful death (as well as subsequent representations by his own dictatorial government and a visit by the SG's own Justice Minister), to withdraw his second appeal.

How could a defendant from an alien culture be expected to ignore the advice of his own expert defence team of the day at Zeist, steeped as they supposedly were in the antecedents of Scottish law, and working as they must be presumed to have been for his advantage? The performance of his then defence team, and thus the advice not to speak in court, must itself be part of any inquiry into how this man came to be convicted, and the verdict reached, on such evidence.

As for the decision to withdraw his second appeal, this was reached following disgraceful and deliberate delaying tactics in the High Court by the Crown Office team, which knew that the appellant's time was running out in the face of an inexorable, painful and terminal medical condition. The Crown Office conduct of the second appeal, far from being a secure tool in justification of the validity of the original verdict is another aspect of the despicable way in which our nation has treated this man's case: it too should be added to any full inquiry into the verdict and its consequences.


The SG's Justice Secretary had responsibility for the decision to free Megrahi on compassionate grounds. The SG cannot for one moment argue against the desperate situation he and they knew him to be in.

And what have they done to bolster this whole dishonest process? They have sought to isolate the material used by the SCCRC when evaluating the safety of the verdict, by introducing secondary legislation in February 2010, clearly designed to keep that material out of the reach of all who would challenge the propriety of their own position.

Through the SCCRC, the legal arm of government has told the political arm of Government and the rest of us as clearly as its constitution allows, that this verdict is considered unsafe. The SG knows that, yet in its desperation to conceal what looks like the failure of many of the servants of this State, the best it can do is to claim that the actions taken by a frightened and dying human being from a different culture justify it's own actions.

The SG has also now admitted that its original claim that it lacked the powers to mount an inquiry (such as that requested through petition by JFM), was untrue. Multiple 'reasons' seeking to justify avoiding taking an action inevitably become just excuses. When some of those 'reasons' turn out to have been untrue, any claim to integrity is also lost.

Whence then stems the SG's belief that the verdict is safe? Does it stem from Westminster? Or from Washington? It simply cannot stem from our own legal system. So much for Scotland's integrity and independence.

Oh! shame.

If ever there could be further reason to seek review of this case, it lies within this SG document. Any attempt to ascribe motivation for such behaviour points down the very same road as the McKie case and a number of others: the objective of Scotland's Government and some of those who work for it seems to have become to conceal the depths of failure into which we the electorate have, thus far, allowed them to sink.


  1. Dr. Swire is hitting hard here. I don't feels as "up" on issues relating to Scots law and UK politics, enough to say what is and isn't despicable. But this did seem a contender, and this letter helps me (and others) clarify that a bit. So, I'm glad it was written and then published.

    Just to add something harder yet, a Malcolm X to make even this strong statement into a MLK (on this day):

    If ever there could be further reason to seek review of this case, it lies within this SG document. Any attempt to ascribe motivation for such behaviour points down the very same road as the McKie case and a number of others: the objective of Scotland's Government and some of those who work for it seems to have become to conceal the depths of failure into which we the electorate have, thus far, allowed them to sink.

    But was it really failure to achieve some goal that led to the deplorable investigation, conviction, denial of appeal, and possibly assassination of the second appeal?

    Or was it a success? For some reason (junior partners?) Scotland has been used - has used itself - to maintain this mythology, from cradle to grave it seems is the intent.

  2. The thing is tho Adam, Scotland could, and should, have railed against what was done to it: it should have refused to be part of what, originally, was a Westiminster government's plan, to bury the truth. It had its own legal system and that system should have ensured that justice, real justice, was done. Instead we even had the Lord Advocate himself, misleading judges about the US cables the prosecuation tried to keep from the defence: the cables that would, eventually, consign Gaika's testimony to the dustbin. Our "justice" system meant those judges managed to overlook the fact that Gaika also implicated Megrahi. If his testimony could not be trusted, why was that part allowed to stand?

    I feel utter despair for Jim Swire and the other relatives, I really do. If it feels bad for us, how must it be for them?

    The other thing tho Adam, the worst thing for me, is that we have a country here, Scotland, and the people here, the voting public, KNOW, this whole thing stinks. I have never spoken to anyone who believes Megrahi was guilty. I tell a lie: there was one person but in discussing it with me he freely admitted he knew nothing about the SCCRC report or the trial, or even the case itself. Nothing at all. So we'll ignore him.

    I believe passionately if people acted on their views and declared that this matter cannot be left unsettled then no Scottish Government, whatever Party is in power, could refuse to investigate further and get into the grounds for that appeal. When enough people tell governments enough is enough, no government can ignore them. Its called democracy.

  3. Adam, the other thing you said, that Jim Swire is hitting hard is spot on too. The tone is very un-Jim Swire-like. I think this too shows the incredible strain of all this. The frustration, with so much evidence out there in the public domain, must be intolerable.


    The 'Scottish Justiciary' is on one floor, on which probably has the TRUTH and the RIGHT not have access...?
    Die 'Scottish Justiciary' befindet sich auf einer Etage, auf welcher vermutlich die WAHRHEIT und das RECHT keinen Zugang hat...?

    by Edwin and Mahnaz Bollier, MEBO Ltd. Switzerland, URL:

  5. If
    ... you can keep your head when all about you
    are close to break from the burden of the truth
    If you can trust yourself when good men doubt you,
    and close your eyes for their good reasons too

    If you can speak against your better knowledge
    but still as strongly, as if coming from your heart
    and state your faith in matters known disproven
    and mislead people, at least a major part.

    If you can talk with crowds and keep your coolness,
    and keep your mind on how to gain their votes
    And if you master tactics of evasion
    whenever evidence might rock your boat

    Democracy, my son, will truly serve you
    it's nothing but a numbers game
    Those fools who live by principles and honor
    will die forgotten, while millions praise your name.