[This is the headline over an article published today on the Scottish Review website by the editor, Kenneth Roy. It reads in part:]
Although it is tempting to dismiss the honours list as the ultimate exercise of human vanity – tempting because it so obviously is – the disposition of gongs at the top of the school tells us a great deal of interest about prevailing values and trends. (...)
D is for damehood. A d was awarded last weekend to the recently retired lord advocate Elish Angiolini for her 'services to the administration of justice in Scotland'. The constituency which this appointment is likely to offend includes many with a particular interest in the administration of justice in Scotland (...)
Mrs Angiolini appeals to the media because of her impeccable roots and her common touch. She is the sort of law officer who makes a great fuss of saying that some criminals should be locked up for life. The prosecution of the Sheridans – Tommy going down, Gail saved from Cornton Vale at the last minute – probably did her no harm, either. But it was her handling of the Megrahi case which earned her the greatest respect from the popular press and, perhaps, the public at large.
Her refusal to admit the possibility that a miscarriage of justice had occurred – even as the evidence piled up that an innocent man might have been sent to Greenock prison – confirmed for her media fans the stereotype of the don't-mess-with-me daughter of a Govan coal merchant, who had fought her way to the top and wasn't standing for any nonsense; far less any nuance.
In overlooked truth, it was a debacle on a grander scale than the World's End. It was epic. For one reason or another, important evidence helpful to Megrahi was not available at the trial, just as important evidence helpful to Nat Fraser was not produced at his. The appeal process dragged on, so tortuously slowly that, inevitably, suspicions were aroused that the Crown Office was employing those well-known techniques of any establishment in a tight spot, obfuscation and delaying tactics.
But again Elish Angiolini walked away with barely a mark. If anyone took the flak for the Megrahi fiasco it was the justice secretary Kenny MacAskill, whose release of the 'Lockerbie bomber' in August 2009 provoked howls of outrage (though not from this magazine). The Crown Office, meanwhile, having dragged its heels for so long, was able to blame Megrahi for abandoning a second appeal. Perfect.