Saturday 24 March 2012

How do you solve a problem like Crown Office?

For at least two-and-a-half years the issue of publication of the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission’s Statement of Reasons in the Megrahi case has been a matter of public and political concern. The Scottish Government first produced a Statutory Instrument The Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (Permitted Disclosure of Information) Order 2009 which (so it was said) was intended to facilitate publication. When that, as could have been -- and was -- widely anticipated, did not have the desired(?) effect, the Scottish Government introduced the Criminal Cases (Punishment and Review)(Scotland) Bill which is currently before the Scottish Parliament. This is also so hedged about with conditions that publication of anything useful under it is in the highest degree unlikely.

But wait! All of this fevered activity was completely unnecessary.  All that needed to happen was for the Lord Advocate to grant to the SCCRC immunity from prosecution under section 194J of the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995, the provision which makes it a criminal offence for the SCCRC to publish its reports. This the Lord Advocate did yesterday.  If, as we have been assured from the outset, the Crown Office and the Scottish Government devoutly wished the Megrahi Statement of Reasons to be published, why was this step not taken long ago?

This is yet another indication that something is very seriously amiss at the top of the Crown Office, as is the disinformation that the Crown Office is now assiduously disseminating.

With apologies to Rodgers and Hammerstein:

How do you solve a problem like Crown Office?
How do you catch a cloud and pin it down?
How should you describe Crown Office?
A flibbertijibbet!  A will-o'-the wisp!  A clown!

Many a thing you know you'd like to tell it,
Many a thing it really ought to see.
But how do you make it stay
And listen to all you say

When deaf and blind it chooses now to be?

Oh, how do you solve a problem like Crown Office

To make it fit to work for you and me?

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