Sunday, 10 November 2013

Failure of the Scottish justice system over Megrahi conviction

[Because of the dislocation caused by my annual move from Edinburgh to the Roggeveld Karoo, I missed an article in The Scotsman on 6 November by Michael Kelly criticising, quite justifiably, the Scottish Government’s proposed abolition of the requirement of corroboration in criminal cases. Here, belatedly, are a few sentences:] 

The government’s stated aim is to make conviction easier – not surely the most important goal of a legal system where protection of those wrongly accused has always been the priority. With that political imperative the Crown Office will be expected to hit higher targets and is unlikely to want to make it more difficult for itself to do so.

This government has a poor record when it comes to the administration of justice. Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi was released on the same bleeding heart excuse before his appeal against conviction might have revealed his innocence – and a failure of the Scottish justice system over his conviction in the first place. You will remember he had to withdraw his appeal as a condition of his release.

[Withdrawing any ongoing appeal is not a precondition for compassionate release. But since the Cabinet Secretary for Justice, quite unnecessarily, insisted that Megrahi's compassionate release application should be dealt with alongside, and concurrently with, the Libyan Government's application for prisoner transfer, where abandonment of any appeal is a requirement, Mr Kelly is in practice not in error in stating that withdrawal of his appeal was a condition of Megrahi's release.]

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