In the (redacted) version of Justice for Megrahi’s letter alleging criminal misconduct in the Lockerbie investigation and prosecution that was released to the press on 23 October 2012, allegation no 1 reads as follows:
“1. On 22 August 2000 the Lord Advocate, Colin Boyd QC, communicated to the judges of the Scottish Court in the Netherlands information about the contents of CIA cables relating to the Crown witness Abdul Majid Giaka that was known to members of the prosecution team [A B and C D] who had scrutinised the cables, to be false. The Lord Advocate did so after consulting these members of the prosecution team. It is submitted that this constituted an attempt to pervert the course of justice.”
A number of journalists have interpreted this paragraph as embodying an allegation that Colin Boyd attempted to pervert the course of justice. The latest of these is Kenneth Roy in an article in today's edition the Scottish Review headlined A High Court judge and an allegation of criminality. This raises concerns about the standard of English comprehension amongst journalists, because the paragraph makes no such allegation -- indeed was very carefully drafted in order to avoid it. What the paragraph alleges is that two members of the prosecution team, A B and C D, supplied to Colin Boyd information about the CIA cables which A B and C D knew to be false (because they had scrutinised the cables) and which they knew he was going to, and did, communicate to the court. That is the perversion of the course of justice that is alleged.
I am disappointed when journalists attempt to explain or excuse their flagrant misinterpretation of a text by reference to its -- non-existent -- ambiguity. The paragraph quite simply does not say that Colin Boyd perverted the course of justice. To represent that it does is an error on the part of the reader, not the writer.