In 1993 Lord Trefgarne approached Professor Black (having been given his name by the then Dean of the Faculty of Advocates) for advice in determining whether there was any legal mechanism whereby the impasse could be resolved that had resulted from the UN Security Council’s demand that the two Libyan suspects be handed over for trial in Scotland or the United States and Libya’s refusal to do so on the grounds that Libyan law did not permit the extradition of its nationals for trial overseas. Over the course of the next six years, Lord Trefgarne and Professor Black worked strenuously to secure acceptance of the neutral venue scheme that Professor Black formulated in early 1994. No payment was sought or received for these endeavours. It was only after Abdelbaset al-Megrahi’s conviction at Zeist in January 2001 and Professor Black had publicly expressed the strong view that that conviction was legally unwarranted [RB: eg on the BBC HARDtalk programme the week the verdict was returned; and in an article in the May 2001 issue of the Edinburgh Law Review] that an agreement was entered into with his lawyer, Dr Ibrahim Legwell, that Lord Trefgarne and Professor Black should receive payment for future political and legal advice on avenues of appeal.
In the event the only sum actually paid barely covered expenses. Lord Trefgarne and Professor Black again emphasise that this was an entirely proper arrangement reflecting the circumstances of the time.
Lord Trefgarne did declare this matter in the House of Lords Register in accordance with the rules then in force.
[This statement is issued in the light of forthcoming publication of a letter sent in 2007 by Lord Trefgarne to Saif al-Islam Gaddafi seeking his assistance in securing the payments envisaged in the agreement with Dr Legwell. No such payments were made (apart from a sum which barely covered the expenses which had been incurred by Lord Trefgarne in funding various trips to Libya for consultations).
The story features (behind the paywall) in the 11 September edition of The Sunday Times. A news agency report from The Press Association can be read here. A report published on 13 September on the website of The Times (behind the paywall) contains the following:]
The peer admitted today that he had registered his work on behalf of the bombers in just 2003 and 2004 in the Lords’ register of interests despite acting as an advisor for al-Megrahi’s legal team until 2007.
In a personal statement to the house he will say: “I accept that although the business to which the letter refers was correctly entered in your Lord’s records in 2003 it was removed in 2005, which was clearly premature. I also accept that the use of Lord’s writing paper was inappropriate.”
The letter to Saif, which was discovered by The Sunday Times, referred to “fees owed over a considerable number of years prior to September 2001”.
In a statement after the discovery of the letter Lord Trefgarne and Professor Black said that no payment had been sought for advice prior to al-Megrahi’s conviction in January 2001. (...)
He told The Times the money he actually received in relation to the al-Megrahi case, which was paid unexpectedly directly into his bank account, “barely covered expenses” and that his letter to Mr al-Islam produced no results. (...)