Thursday, 1 March 2012

We can’t keep pretending that Lockerbie is over

[This is the headline over an article (published on 28 February but which has just come to my attention) on the website of The Reid Foundation (a think tank established in memory of Jimmy Reid) by the foundation’s director, Robin McAlpine.  It reads in part:]

The tide in Lockerbie is around our ears; it is too late to play Canute, but there is just about time to lift up our heads.

I will admit that the Scottish legal system is not my area of expertise. I try hard to follow the key debates and manage to have some opinions on elements of change but I simply don’t have the tools to really investigate the state of our justice. I could tell there was something profoundly rotten it the Shirley McKie fingerprint case. There was just too much stonewall and not enough convincing argument, too many holes and too many people who simply didn’t buy it. I knew the second I heard it that the Scottish legal system was on the wrong side of the slopping out debate. Likewise on Cadder and the right to a lawyer (although I must admit to having some mixed opinions on that one).

On the other hand, I have absolutely no patience with the ‘it's not a proper legal system’ attitude that seems to be creeping into debate. (…)

But then we get to Lockerbie and it all falls apart. I remember the night it happened. Even then I wondered how it is that people could be speculating about who did it within days. How? Just a guess? Then the guess sort of changed (why?) and from that point even my untrained eye seemed to see a process of shoring up that guess.

I am no trial expert but everything I read of proceedings at Camp Zeist bothered me. As soon as I hear the words ‘secret service’ or ‘national security’ I assume that justice cannot be done. That doesn’t mean that the right person isn’t caught and convicted, just that they will not have a real chance to test the case. Witnesses get paid – can you imagine that in any other case? The CIA prompt people with answers, evidence is withheld, nods and winks seem to be taken as statements of fact. And the outcome seemed to me then and seems even more so today that Scottish justice was treated like a flexible concept with which to pursue international diplomacy and keep the spies spying.

I understand the pressures. What bothers me is not so much that we seem to have rented our principles out in return for a fast, easy conviction and an end to the messing around. What bothers me is that even though we must all know something is up, we keep holding to a line of defence. The Justice Secretary seems to have been told that there can be no deviation from the line that the conviction is safe. It looks to me like a system defending itself against the indefensible. (And by indefensible I do not mean that it is corrupt or got everything wrong, but simply that clearly something is wrong and denying it seems futile.)

So here’s a test of our maturity as a nation. Can we put our hands up and say ‘look, we were naive and shouldn’t have been bounced into this. We were, we were wrong and we’re going to put it straight’. Or once more – as in McKie, as in Cadder, as in slopping out – will we just keep reassuring ourselves that the tide will not come in, even as it laps around our ears?

[An interesting article has just been published on the website entitled Lockerbie Bomber Was Innocent; New Documents Support the Obvious.]

1 comment:


    Thank you ALJAZEERA for the documentary film 'Lockerbie: Case Closed';
    he covers the Scottish Fraud on !
    Bravo ALJAZEERA, the future free media for the Western World;

    Bravo ALJAZEERA, > futurs de média libres dans le monde occidental;
    Bravo ALJAZEERA, > dei media futuri liberi nel mondo occidentale;
    Bravo ALJAZEERA, > das zukünftige freie Media für die westliche Welt;
    Bravo ALJAZEERA, > de toekomstige vrije media in de westerse wereld;
    Bravo ALJAZEERA, > framtida fria medier i västvärlden.

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