[This is the headline over a report published today on the website of Scottish lawyers' magazine The Firm. It reads as follows:]
The full report of the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission which concluded that a miscarriage of justice may have occurred in the case of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi will not be published, the Commission says, because the parties who gave information to it have not all given “unqualified” consent.
However, the only qualification that the board said applied [in the case of Abdelbaset Megrahi himself] was that the other parties had to each consent too.
The First Minister confirmed that the Government would introduce primary legislation to allow the report to be published. The current requirement that the consent of all parties be obtained before publication was however introduced under secondary delegated legislation only.
Campaigners have argued that the restriction could be removed swiftly and easily without recourse to a complex primary legislative process.
In a Freedom of Information request from campaigner William Beck, the Commission was asked which of the named parties who provided information to the Commission had provided their consent, and which had not.
A senior legal officer at the SCCRC said:
“The Commission wrote to a number of the main parties who were responsible, either directly or indirectly, for providing information to the Commission, asking them if they were prepared to provide their consent, in writing, to the disclosure of the information they provided which was contained within the statement of reasons it issued in the case of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi.
“Those parties were the Crown Office, Dumfries and Galloway Police, the Foreign Office, Mr Megrahi and his legal representatives, and Mr Fhimah and his legal representatives. None of those parties gave their unqualified consent to the disclosure of the information.
“Mr Megrahi did not give his unqualified consent to the disclosure of the information he provided which was contained within the statement of reasons the Commission issued in his case.”
The Commissioner referred to a statement placed on the Megrahi: My Story website, which said that in a meeting on April 12th 2010, Megrahi ‘was happy for the documents to be released, providing all the official bodies that provided documents to the Commission agreed to the release of all of those documents.’
“In other words, he consented to the disclosure of all information only if others do so too,” the Commissioner concluded.
No timeframe has been provided from the First Minister for the introduction of the primary legislation he referred to.
[So we know what the only qualification was that Mr Megrahi attached to his consent. It would be interesting to discover what the qualifications were that the other persons and bodies attached. An expansion and clarification by the SCCRC to The Firm of Megrahi's attitude towards disclosure can be read here.]