Friday, 25 November 2011

Terrorists on Trial: The Lockerbie Case

[This was the title of a seminar held at The Hague on 23 November 2011. The principal speakers were Judge Howard Morrison (Judge at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia); Scottish QC Paul McBride; and investigative journalist and Lockerbie author Ian Ferguson. The Sun newspaper yesterday published an article about Paul McBride "leading debate" at the seminar. In the audience were Lockerbie relatives Dr Jim Swire and Rev John Mosey. The comments that follow were provided by Dr Swire after the seminar.]

Colin Boyd, (who was Lord Advocate at the time of the trial) had been invited, and had accepted, but apparently declined to come when he heard that I would be there!  Nice story anyway.

I liked McBride, we got on well, and he simply spouted old material on a Powerpoint set of slides provided to him by the Crown Office. He was not 'leading the debate', and had no fire in his belly I felt. We did not clash at all.
There were of course significant contributions from the floor.

The main discussion was supposed to centre on the consequences for communities served by the criminal justice system used. I was able to point out that:

1.)  The Zeist set up was indeed theatrical and designed to encourage press and TV attendance, while the use of the 'relatives' lounge at Zeist by members of the prosecution team (never the defence) to groom American relatives into believing that they were hearing the truth emerging, and that 'the bastards who did this are going to go down for a very long time' has seriously damaged relations between the British and many of the US relatives.

2.)  In the context of the effect on regimes I amplified a point raised by Hague research fellow, Dr Beatrice de Graaf concerning the question of the effect on the regimes which had hosted the real terrorists, ie Iran and Syria. Did the academics present think that absolution from accusation over Lockerbie might have emboldened those regimes through making them feel that the US would not retaliate against them? Could this, I asked have contributed to the position the world now finds itself in, where Iran has long range rockets, is on the brink of nuclear capability and has openly threatened to destroy America's protege Israel, while Assad in Syria seems to feel he can turn whatever force he likes upon his own people and not be stopped by the West.

But my main function there was to get to know the academics, judges, members of the ICC etc, and to distribute copies of the Davina Miller paper to them.  I made sure that Paul McBride took one with him. [RB: The Davina Miller paper is an article to be published in the December 2011 issue of the journal Defence & Security Analysis. A synopsis of the article appears here (at pages 75 to 77 of the PDF document.]

Good may come of this.

Certainly a bevy of people some much younger than I am are now motivated to carry on raising questions, even if something should happen to me. 


  1. I cannot find the synopsis of the Davina Miller paper in the link.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. It's at pages 75 to 77 of the PDF document, section headed "Supplementary support 1". I have it on my screen at the moment, through following the link in the blog post.