Saturday, 28 May 2011

Instinctive hostility

[The following is a paragraph from a letter in today's edition of The Scotsman about the First Minister's reaction to Nat Fraser's successful appeal to the UK Supreme Court. The same comment could with justice be made in relation to the conviction of Abdelbaset Megrahi.]

When the merits of the Scottish legal system are questioned (internally or externally) Scotland's legal hierarchy and its nationalist politicians respond with an almost instinctive hostility that immediately obscures the rational basis of any external scrutiny that overturns a decision by the Scottish courts.

[Two interesting letters on the same subject appear in today's edition of The Herald under the heading It’s right to be proud of Scots law but justice must come first.]


  1. It used to be said by wags that you had to pass three tests to be a judge in Scotland. Firstly attend Edinburgh Academy, secondly become Solicitor General/Lord Advocate/Dean of the Faculty of Advocates and thirdly have a judge as father.

    One might hope that the selection criteria has widened in 21 century Scotland but I'm not too sure.

    Clearly any barrack room lawyer could see that Nat Fraser should have won his appeal when the crowns crucial rings evidence turned to dust when PC Lynch and his female colleague stuck to their story that the rings were in the house all the time.

    Again three of our finest judges sitting without a jury in the Netherlands fould ABAM guilty with the thinest evidence against him, leading the UN observer to say that the conviction was unsafe.

    Perhaps we need to sack a few judges?

    I also feel uneasy about the conviction of Luke Mitchell. Again a young person trated terribly by L&BP and convicted on very thin evidence.

  2. I'm not sure how a retrial can proceed in this case with the publicity surrounding it. I am sorry for the woman's family. This must be horrific for them.

    I recall at the time much being made of police precognition statements differing dramatically from what was in their notebooks. In cases as serious is this these things have to be looked at closely.

    Its also strange to say "Its right to be proud of the Scottish legal system but justice has to come first." If this system is something we're to be proud of surely it must follow that justice does come first in that system? Yet we know, don't we just, that it certainly doesn't.

  3. Strathturret, you mentioned Luke Mitchell. I don't know what the truth of that case is but at the time (ahead of his trial) when a great deal was being said, by Police, to the press about him I rang L&B to ask why they were doing this. Some of the statements coming from L&B were astonishing and all were designed to paint him as the only suspect and as a guilty man. Such behaviour by a Police Force fell, I felt, under the banner of contempt of court. There was information leaked too about his mother and she was presented via the press as some sort of accomplice almost. All of this behaviour was ignored by the Crown yet surely it should have intervened immediately. Whatever the truth about Luke Mitchell I always felt he was convicted long before his trial.

    When I rang L&B regarding these matters I got absolutely nowhere.

  4. We should look too at the Sheridan case and the antics of Police during it. One group of people, the Sheridans, were clearly the guilty parties while the other side were almost courted by the Police. Indeed it came out in the trial that one female witness exchanged emails with one of the Police Officers, was on first name terms with him and that he'd gone to the home of a friend of hers (a journalist) to interview her in the presence of the journalist. Not for her the indignation of formal police interviews being leaked to the BBC.

    I grew up hearing that Scots Law and our Justice System was the best in the world. It has been painful learning that this simply isn't true. Especially when, in one case, the deaths of nearly 300 people at Lockerbie were an aside to our "justice" system because dirty, filthy global politics mattered more than the truth.