[The above is the first sentence of an article posted today on Ian Hamilton QC's blog. The full text reads as follows:]
I fear for what is happening to the administration of justice. I blame the SNP because they are the government. It started under Labour so an election will make no difference. Here are examples of what I fear.
In the Megrahi case it emerged after conviction that a foreign state had given massive bribes to a vital witness or to witnesses.
It emerged that a vital fragment of the fuse relied on for the conviction had never been tested for explosive residue, a vital test in any explosives case.
More recently, and in another case. A journalist heard of the existence of a recording. He bought it from the holder, who later gave evidence. Why were the police not told of the tape so they could get a warrant and seize and investigate it? Why was the journalist not rebuked for interfering with the administration of justice?
In the same case a recording of a police interview was handed by someone to the BBC who used it in a broadcast. Tapes of police interviews are always confidential; yet it appears there is to be no enquiry into how this tape got into BBC hands and why they used it. It was, I think, a production in a case. It is contempt of court to make off with a production and to reset it. Why are the BBC not to be prosecuted?
Lastly and most sinisterly of all is the crown office’s attitude to the press. We only have two reliable investigative journalists in Scotland. One is Kenneth Roy with his Scottish Review. He is pursuing the matter of the BBC recording into a wall of silence. Good for you Kenneth.
The other is Steven Raeburn, editor of The Firm. It is our only legal magazine. It is read by most of Scotland’s lawyers. A free and informed legal press is of vital importance in the preservation of a proper administration of justice. (I air my grievance. At 85 I shouldn’t have to be writing this. The Lord Advocate should have dealt with these matters as they occurred.)
Now here is the really frightening thing. The Crown Office is refusing to answer any questions from Steven Raeburn. They do not like what he writes. They are holding him incommunicado. The legal profession is thus kept in the dark about the things that matter most. The things that matter most in any government department are the things the department don’t want anybody to hear about.
I have been critical of Elish Angiolini’s culture of secrecy in the past. She is the Lord Advocate. She is a member of the government. I now make my accusation wider. I now accuse the Scottish Government of living in a cocoon of fear, a cocoon of its own making; a fear of its own making. Can Alex Salmond not control his Lord Advocate?
Why is the Lord Advocate silent? Why will she not permit her own department to speak to the only journalist who speaks to the whole legal profession?
Secret justice is fascist justice. Secret justice is a danger to us all.
[The influential media magazine The Drum features this story on its website. It can be read here.]