Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Lord Boyd hits back at Lockerbie allegations

[Today's edition of The Times carries a report, behind its paywall, on the reaction of Lord Boyd of Duncansby QC, the Lord Advocate at the time of the Lockerbie trial, to yesterday's report in the same newspaper on my remarks following the performance of David Benson's Lockerbie: Unfinished Business. It reads in part:]

A former Lord Advocate yesterday broke his silence to hit back at campaigners who claim that the Libyan bomber was wrongly convicted.

In a powerful statement to The Times, Lord Boyd of Duncansby, who was in charge of Scotland’s prosecution service when Abdul Baset Ali al-Megrahi came to trial, said that allegations that the Crown Office had influenced the judges were “ludicrous”.

He added that Professor Robert Black, QC, who told an Edinburgh Fringe audience on Monday night that the judges had reached a guilty verdict contrary to the evidence because they were “consciously or unconsciously” under pressure from him to do so, was “irresponsible” and had cast “a slur on the reputation of senior and experienced judges”.

He added: “Al-Megrahi was properly convicted in this case and that conviction was upheld on appeal. He will die convicted of the worst mass murder ever carried out in British history, and deservedly so.” (...)

In the course of it, Professor Black said that the three trial judges, Lord Sutherland, Lord Coulsfield and Lord Maclean, had reached a verdict contrary to the evidence because they had been influenced by the power of the Lord Advocate, who was not only in charge of the prosecution but was also responsible for the appointment of Scottish judges.

Lord Boyd, who has not spoken publicly about such allegations before, said: “It’s a frankly pretty ludicrous allegation — a slur on the reputation of judges who are all very senior and experienced . . . I had been in office for all of three months when the trial took place, so I could not possibly have been responsible for their appointment. Had I been, there is no question of my having a hand in influencing them. This is not the culture of the Scottish judiciary. I utterly reject the suggestion.”

He was entirely satisfied that the conviction of al-Megrahi had been safe. “Every Lord Advocate from Peter Fraser to Elish Angiolini has examined the evidence at one time or another — six in total,” he said. “All were satisfied that there was either sufficient credible evidence to prosecute or, in my case, and Elish’s, that the conviction on that evidence was sound. Not one of us would have prosecuted or defended the conviction if we considered that there was any doubt . . . The process was robust and the conviction sound.”

Lord Boyd said that, as Solicitor General, he had been in charge of the preparation of the Crown case, and was entirely satisfied with its strength.

[Lord Boyd in his comments does not mention that one of the six grounds upon which, after a three-year investigation, the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission found that Megrahi's conviction might have amounted to a miscarriage of justice, was that, on the evidence led at Camp Zeist, no reasonable court could have reached the conclusion that Megrahi was the purchaser on Malta of the clothes that surrounded the bomb. Without that finding in fact, Megrahi could not have been convicted.]


  1. Two questions for Lord Boyd:

    1. Thomas Thurman of the FBI claimed to have been the forensic scientist who first identified the MEBO timer fragment. Why did you not call Mr Thurman as a prosecution witness at the Lockerbie trial?

    2. Tony Gauci was paid $2m for the identification evidence he gave at Camp Zeist. His brother Paul was paid $1m. When did you become aware that the brothers had been bribed?

  2. Actually, Patrick, more significant is when did those shining lights of Scots law, Hardie and Boyd, become aware that Giacka was a CIA property? My guess is that Hardie left the scene double-quick when he found out in February 2000, but for some reason Boyd was willing to soldier on and only owned up to the knowledge after the court forced disclosure of the CIA docs in, I seem to recall, early June that year, when the trial was well underway. Without Giacka the Crown would have found it very difficult to cobble up a case.