[This is the heading over a batch of letters published in today's edition of The Herald. The first two read as follows:]
If I wrote to US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton demanding that all the uncharged and untried prisoners still held at Guantanamo Bay be set free, or that all the poor wretches who have spent sometimes 20 years under sentence of death in American prisons be released, I doubt if she would reply.
But if she did, it would probably be to tell me that as a foreigner my views were irrelevant as I had no authority to comment on or criticise the US justice system.
And she would be correct.
So what gives her the right to publicly criticise the Scottish justice system for releasing Abdulbaset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi on compassionate grounds, and to call for him to be put back in jail in Scotland, or even worse in America (“Clinton calls for Megrahi’s return to jail”, The Herald October 24)?
The man is dying a slow and painful death from cancer, and would certainly have been dead by now if he had not been treated with expensive drugs manufactured and sold to Libya by an American company.
Some human compassion would not go amiss, especially since there are still serious doubts about Megrahi’s conviction and the actions of the CIA in procuring the principal evidence for this.
As an avowedly Christian country, American citizens and their politicians too often reveal a very Old Testament thirst for vengeance, and little of the New Testament message of love and forgiveness. Sadly this is also often reflected in the application of US justice.
They would do well to follow instead the example of Scotland, the nation on whose founding principles their own Declaration of Independence is based.
Iain AD Mann
Conservative MSP John Lamont was quoted in The Herald as saying: “The last time Alex Salmond travelled to the Arab states to seek investment for Scotland he discussed the release of Mr Megrahi” (“Salmond trade trip defended against Megrahi claims”, October 25).
As a point of fact, the First Minister has never previously visited any Arab state, which renders the quote inaccurate.
In every regard the Scottish Government dealt with the case of Megrahi according to the rules and regulations of Scots Law, and without any consideration of the economic, political and diplomatic factors that the then Westminster Government based its position on – which as Sir Gus O’Donnell’s report revealed was in favour of Megrahi’s release.
The record demonstrates this beyond doubt. As the First Minister said in his reply to the Qatari ambassador of July 21, 2009: “The decision will be made on judicial grounds alone”; and the minute of his meeting with the Qatari representatives in Edinburgh on June 11, 2009 also makes it abundantly clear that the Megrahi case was being determined as a strictly “judicial matter”.
Exactly the same point was made to the UK, US and Libyan authorities, and indeed to any other interested party.
The issue of a trade mission to help Scottish companies succeed in growth markets is an entirely separate matter, and something to be supported in tough economic times.
There are clearly significant opportunities for Scotland in the region, given that, for example, IMF figures record economic growth of 16 % in Qatar in 2010.
Kevin Pringle,Senior Special Adviser, First Minister of Scotland