[I am delighted that the first item to be posted on this blog during my current sojourn in South Africa should be the following report from Justice for Megrahi secretary, Robert Forrester, on yesterday’s proceedings before the Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee:]
The long and the short of it is that, insofar as I could assess, there was a full house of Justice Committee members present at the session and, quite unlike previous occasions, the vote did not split down party lines. They voted unanimously to maintain PE1370's status as open. JFM could not have been gifted a more welcome seasonal reward for its labours from the Justice Committee. It was clear from the contributions at today's session that the members of the Justice Committee viewed the Scottish Government's approach to dealing with our allegations as a significant factor in their decision to keep the petition open. In fact, it is fair to say that had we not lodged our allegations when we did, there was a very strong possibility that the petition would now be languishing in the history books as having been a valiant but failed attempt to seek redress on this tragic issue. Moreover, had the government not done what they did (namely, informing JFM that if we wished to have our allegations investigated, we, perversely, were going to be limited to submitting them to the very bodies we were complaining about), the Justice Committee may not have been quite as unified in their position as they ultimately were.
A complementary relationship has come into being where not only are the petition and the allegations justified and substantial in their own individual rights but they mutually support each other. In their resolve today, the Justice Committee put the ball firmly back in the Crown's court. There has been a full month of deafening silence from this quarter since JFM handed over our forty-one page supporting document to officers from Dumfries and Galloway Constabulary. We believe we have presented the police and the Crown Office with eight soundly argued and compelling allegations many of which take a very different approach to past discussions on the shortcomings of Zeist. The Justice Committee have now put a firm, unanimous and unambiguous parliamentary seal of approval on this campaign. The convenor and all their members deserve our equally unanimous gratitude.
Thanks must also go to the JFM Signatories (John Mosey, Tessa Ransford, James Robertson and Christina Dunwoodie), who were able to make it along to the hearing today to accompany the JFM Committee members. It was the best turnout we have had since the petition was launched two years ago.
[A report in today's edition of the Maltese newspaper The Times can be read here; and one in The Herald here.]