[This is the heading over a letter from Thomas Crooks published in today’s edition of The Scotsman. It reads as follows:]
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.