Thursday, 15 March 2012

James Robertson on Megrahi book (and Peter Fraser)

[What follows is a review of Megrahi: You are my Jury on the Amazon website by ‘Ken Fyne’ who (I am reliably informed) is none other than Scotland’s most distinguished living novelist, James Robertson:]

For those who have long had severe doubts, if not downright disbelief, about the way the Lockerbie investigation and trial were conducted, John Ashton's book provides all the detailed analysis of what went wrong that one could wish for. Just about all the relevant information is gathered here, so it is an excellent handbook for anyone interested in this tragic affair.

Of course the purpose of the book is to put Megrahi's side of the story, and some will find that difficult or even offensive. But what emerges - whether or not you believe that he is the victim of a miscarriage of justice - is such a damning critique of the Scottish justice system that it is surely inconceivable that the legal and political establishment can hold out much longer against disclosure of all the facts. It is certainly unacceptable if the report of the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission into why Megrahi may have had an unfair trial is not soon published in full: that report is now leaking like a sieve and there is no longer any sensible reason not to let us see all of it.

Personally I believe that Megrahi is innocent. I am willing to be persuaded otherwise but the original trial judgment certainly failed in every way to convince me of his guilt. John Ashton's book scores particularly highly in describing all the information that came to light AFTER the trial - including much evidence that appears to have been deliberately withheld from the defence team by the Crown and the police. The incredible interference and control of American intelligence agencies in the affair is also well documented.

This book rightly concentrates on why Megrahi's conviction was wrong, and does not dwell on the question of his compassionate release, which is a secondary matter. Whether Scotland opts for independence in the next few years or stays within the United Kingdom, its justice system has a terrible stain on it, and will continue to have unless and until a full inquiry into the whole sorry business brings the facts out of the shadows.

[James Robertson also has a letter published in today’s edition of The Herald.  It reads as follows:]

Is the Lord Fraser of Carmyllie who envisages a future scenario in which English aircraft "bomb the hell" out of Glasgow and Edinburgh airports by any chance the same Lord Fraser of Carmyllie who last year was appointed by Alex Salmond as an adviser to the Scottish Government on standards of ministerial conduct ("English 'would bomb our airports'", The Herald, March 13 & Letters, March 14)?
And could he be the same Lord Fraser of Carmyllie who as Lord Advocate drew up the indictment against Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi for the Lockerbie bombing, was satisfied by the verdict against Megrahi, yet subsequently described the Crown's key witness, without whose evidence Megrahi could not have been found guilty, as "not quite the full shilling" and "an apple short of a picnic"?
And can we take anything said by Lord Fraser of Carmyllie with any degree of seriousness?

[A letter from Tom Minogue in the 16 March edition of The Scotsman reads as follows:]

In a 2005 interview, Peter Lovat Fraser, Lord Fraser of Carmyllie, who as lord advocate set up the Lockerbie trial at Camp Zeiss in the Netherlands – which resulted in the conviction of Libyan Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi – said that the key prosecution witness, Tony Gauci, was “not quite the full shilling”, and “an apple short of a picnic”.

As we now know (...) on the contents of the 821-page Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission dossier, that Gauci received payment equivalent to £2 million, does it not raise questions about the former lord advocate’s judgment?

Surely if a man of modest means such as Mr Gauci can become a millionaire for giving evidence for a few days in a Scottish court case, he cannot be said to be anything other than very astute?

If he were to be the subject of analogy surely a more fitting example would be “as sharp as a tack”?

1 comment:

  1. Haha. Breathtaking: "The Crown's key witness is an apple short of a picnic, therefore the defendent is guilty"

    It's Monty Python come true. Did the esteemed gentleman continue by speaking in tongues?

    Weird world.