Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Kenny MacAskill answers Christine Grahame's written question

Christine Grahame (Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale) (Scottish National Party): To ask the Scottish Executive , in light of recent allegations that the Crown Office did not act with propriety in the disclosure of evidence to the defence team in the case of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi, whether the Scottish Government (a) has the power under the Inquiries Act 2005 to establish an inquiry into the actions of the Crown Office and (b) can refer the matter to the Inspectorate of Prosecution in Scotland.
Mr Kenny MacAskillThe only appropriate forum for determining Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al-Megrahi’s guilt is a court of law. The recent selective and partial reporting of the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission’s Statement of Reasons in relation to his conviction referred to issues in Mr Al-Megrahi’s second appeal which would have been properly considered by the Appeal Court had Mr Al-Megrahi not withdrawn his appeal.

The Scottish Ministers have a  general power under section 1 of the Inquiries Act 2005 which allows a Minister to hold an inquiry in relation to a case where it appears to him that particular events have caused, or are capable of causing, public concern, or there is public concern that particular events may have occurred.

Under the Criminal Proceedings etc (Reform) (Scotland) Act 2007, the Chief Inspector of Prosecution in Scotland is required to submit to the Lord Advocate a report on any particular matter connected with the operation of the Service which the Lord Advocate refers to the Inspector. The Scottish Government has no power to direct the Inspectorate of Prosecutions to establish an inquiry on any matter.

[The question was tabled on 15 March 2012.  I understand that Ms Grahame intends to ask a supplementary question arising out of the above answer. Scottish lawyers' magazine The Firm has published a typically pithy comment.]

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