Monday, 23 April 2012

MacAskill evades Parliamentary Pan Am 103 “concern”

[This is the headline over a news item published today on the website of Scottish lawyers' magazine The Firm.  It reads as follows:]

Justice Minister Kenny MacAskill has dodged a key written 
Parliamentary question which may have opened the door on a public inquiry into the ongoing Pan Am 103 debacle. 

The Scottish Government can hold an inquiry if “particular events have caused, or are capable of causing, public concern, or there is public concern that particular events may have occurred.”

MacAskill was asked by Justice Committee convener Christine Grahame whether the Pan Am 103 case constituted such an event, in the light of further revelations arising from the publication of the SCCRC report which concluded a miscarriage of justice may have occurred.

MacAskill’s written answer to the query does not address the point raised by Ms Grahame. 

“The Statement of Reasons produced by the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission in the Al-Megrahi case provides details of the grounds on which the commission referred the case to the Court of Appeal,” the answer states.

“The only appropriate forum for the determination of Mr Al-Megrahi’s guilt or innocence is the Appeal Court. The court would have had the opportunity to consider the material contained in the Statement of Reasons had Mr Al-Megrahi not withdrawn his appeal. It remains open to Mr Al-Megrahi or to other interested parties to ask the commission to refer the case to the Appeal Court again.”

The answer does not engage with the query’s central issue of whether the SCCRC findings constituted a “public concern” within the meaning of the Inquiries Act of 2005.

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