Sunday, 15 May 2011

SNP plans law change over Lockerbie files

[This is the heading over a report published today on the Independent on Sunday website. It reads in part:]

New laws to allow the publication of Lockerbie files are to be brought in by the SNP. (...)

The SNP wants to change the law to allow the publication of papers from the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC), which said there were six grounds where it believed a miscarriage of justice may have occurred.

That paved the way for Megrahi's second appeal against his conviction, which he dropped shortly before he was released on compassionate grounds in August 2009, after he was given three months to live.

Currently the release of the SCCRC papers can be blocked by one or more of the parties who gave evidence to the review.

Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said the SNP now plans to bring forward new legislation.

First Minister Alex Salmond said in February that he would change the law if the SNP won a second term.

Mr MacAskill told the Scottish Sunday Express: "This is something the new SNP Government will do in early course. We have always been as transparent as possible.

"And following the announcement last December that the SCCRC was unable to secure the necessary consents to release its statement of reasons in the Megrahi case due to current legislation we now intend to bring forward primary legislation to overcome those problems presented by the consent provisions."

Labour MSP Richard Baker said: "We need to know what Kenny MacAskill's reason for this change in the law is.

"He has always maintained that Megrahi was properly convicted by a Scottish court and that he had no reason to doubt his guilt.

"Now he appears to be casting doubt on his own assertion and if that is the case then Mr MacAskill needs to explain whether that influenced his decision to grant compassionate release.

"The documents that need to be released are the medical evidence that Mr Salmond relied on before he released Megrahi and the minutes of the meeting between himself and Jack Straw where the First Minister reportedly asked for a deal on the Prisoner Transfer Agreement.

"He doesn't need to wait or change the law to get these documents in the public domain."

He said that medical evidence on the condition of offenders is heard in court every day in Scotland and Megrahi's case should be no different.

[Every time Richard Baker MSP opens his mouth about Lockerbie and, it has to be said, many other justice-related subjects, one's views on the abysmal calibre of most Scottish Labour MSPs are resoundingly confirmed. Prisoners (and ex-prisoners) share the same rights in respect of medical confidentiality as any other inhabitant of Scotland. For Kenny MacAskill to release the medical reports relating to Abdelbaset Megrahi would, quite simply, be illegal. If Mr Baker does not know this, he should not be Labour's Justice spokesman in the Scottish Parliament. When reports on an accused (or convicted) person's medical condition are referred to in court, these reports are not released to the general public, but are for the use solely of those professionally engaged in the proceedings.

I note that Kenny MacAskill again refers to the law being changed by primary legislation. As has been pointed out more than once on this blog, primary legislation is unnecessary. The necessary change could be made, quickly and efficiently, in secondary legislation by statutory instrument.

A similar article appears on the website of the Scottish Sunday Express. It is reproduced on the Newsnet Scotland website, which I encourage readers to access because of the responses that follow the article. More welcome pressure, from primarily SNP supporters, for an independent inquiry into the Megrahi conviction.

This story has now (Monday) been picked up on The Scotsman website. It also features on the website of the staunchly pro-Labour Daily Record.]


  1. MISSION LOCKERBIE, doc. nr.1395.rtf. (google translation, german/english):

    There are a closely GUARDED SECRET why Abdelbaset Al Megrahi may have nothing to do with the "PanAm 103 bombing".
    A further opening of the "Pandora Box" will show soon that Al Megrahi was used to cover up other *persons who wher involved in the "Lockerbie Conspiracy" against the Gadhafi-Regime; important: these *persons not were involved in the real PanAm 103 atrocity.
    Its work in Malta also have provable nothing to do with the real "PanAm 103 atrocity"; it is a deliberate miscarriage of justice !

    by Edwin Bollier, MEBO Ltd. Telecommunication Switzerland.

  2. A change in the law to allow publication of the SCCRC report?

    A new Lord Advocate to replace the disastrous Elish Angiolini?

    Whatever next?

  3. Can you believe Richard Baker is a lawyer????????

    His quotes here are priceless even by his own absurd standards.

    Does Baker recognise the Scottish Criminal Case Review Commission and its function? Is he actually saying "Kenny says he's guilty and the entire Scottish legal system rests on his opinion."? Is he serious?

    What a complete disgrace he is as a lawyer.

    Then again, perhaps the most vomit-inducing thing about Baker is that he knows all he says is absolute bull**** but he just says it anyway. What a thoroughly dishonest individual.