[This is the headline over a report published today on the website of Scottish lawyers' magazine The Firm. It reads as follows:]
Professor Robert Black QC has challenged the First Minister Alex Salmond’s intention, repeated yesterday at Cabinet in Fort William, to introduce primary legislation to facilitate the publication of the report which ruled the conviction of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi may have been a miscarriage of justice.
Black says that the matter can be dealt with by a simple statutory instrument, without resort to primary legislation, which must pass through the entire Parliamentary process.
“There is still no explanation given of why primary legislation is being resorted to in order to permit publication of the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission report.” Black said.
“It can, and should be done by Statutory Instrument (secondary legislation) just as the Scottish Government did earlier when it permitted publication but only if those who supplied the information to the SCCRC consented. An unqualified permission to publish can be given through exactly the same legal mechanism as the earlier qualified permission.”
The confidentiality condition imposed on them is being strictly construed by the SCCRC, who have interpreted Megrahi’s statement that the full report could be released with the agreement of other concerned parties, as conditional upon the disclosure of all material held by the commission
“I intend to publish in full the findings of the SCCRC. It hasn't been done to date because under the current law you have to have an agreement from all parties. It hasn't been possible to secure the agreement from all parties and therefore the statement is in limbo,” Salmond said yesterday.
“However, we believe that we can change the law so that the matter can be published under the full discretion of the SCCRC, and that is what we intend to do."
The First Minister has not addressed the issue of why primary legislation is preferred over a statutory instrument.
[For a fuller discussion of the primary v secondary legislation issue, see Scottish Government obfuscation over removal of SCCRC consent requirement.]