Brian Wilson’s robust defence of the Scottish legal system in the context of the Lockerbie verdict reflects a heady mixture of novel, curious and ultimately untenable theories as to why the verdict is “unassailable”:
Firstly he posits the “Universal Respect and Emulation” theory of justice. Fortunately, many people do not share Mr Wilson’s swooning admiration for our legal system. If they were still around, I’m sure Oscar Slater and Paddy Meehan would be among them.
Furthermore, a perceived “respect and emulation” for the Scottish legal system does not mean that the judiciary is always optimally impartial, or that its assessment of the evidence is infallible, or that their assessment of the credibility of the witnesses is unassailable. And it does not mean that their judgments cannot be questioned.
Secondly, Mr Wilson proposes what I would style the arithmetical theory of justice.
He argues that those who argue for Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi’s innocence allege “the Scottish legal system messed up on every available count”. This he says it would have to have done twice, involving nine judges, five Lord Advocates, and umpteen prosecutors, forensic scientists, policemen etc.
Clearly his disbelief derives from the headcount (and the eminence) of those involved. The logic implicit in Mr Wilson’s reliance on the “umpteen” composition of the Scottish legal posse involved suggest that miscarriages of justice are technically impossible.
I regret to say the Peter Cadder case involved more than nine eminent judges, more than a few prosecutors and at least “umpteen” policemen.
Thirdly, he argues what I would term the blind faith theory of justice.
Mr Wilson, perhaps aware of the weaknesses in the headcount approach, takes a leap of faith regarding his belief in the integrity of the conviction of Megrahi: “I don’t believe it” he declares. Perhaps he would believe it if he carefully studied the Cadder case and in particular, the Supreme Court’s dissection of it.
Finally he offers the “I Know my Place” theory of justice.
He simply does not believe that the courts could have got it wrong because, he writes: “I feel utterly unqualified to disparage the judges who heard the evidence in the High Court of Justiciary in Camp Zeist”.
If everyone followed the “I know my place” approach, the Birmingham six, the Guildford four, the Maguire three, Barry George and many others, would still be squirming in the squalor of a British jail vainly protesting their innocence.Despite the novelty of Mr Wilson’s theories, and the quality of his admiration for the Scottish legal system, the Megrahi conviction remains where it has always been – deep in the depths of justified doubt.