[A letter from Justice for Megrahi committee member Iain McKie is published in today’s edition of The Scotsman. It reads as follows:]
Restorative justice yet another fig leaf
After 30 years in the police service, and extensive experience as a miscarriage of justice campaigner on behalf of my daughter and others, I was intrigued by the enthusiasm with which MSPs have greeted the latest proposals for restorative justice where victims are offered face to face apologies from offenders (“Victims of crime set to get apologies”, 13 November).
Without taking away for one moment from the principle of restorative justice and the healing power of an apology, I fear this latest suggestion is yet another fig leaf to try to legitimise a failing justice system, which is failing victims, failing offenders and failing the people of Scotland.
Leaving aside the fact that the apology principle is so surrounded by caveats that it will only apply in a small number of cases and possibly for the wrong reasons, the proposals do nothing to restore the dwindling faith that many of us have in our justice system.
Idiocies like the removal of corroboration, sheriff court and legal aid systems in meltdown, an antiquated and ineffective system for gathering, presenting and evaluating expert evidence for our courts and, as the 25th anniversary looms, the total failure to order a public inquiry into the tragedy of Lockerbie, are meanwhile allowed to slip under the radar of those elected to represent us.
Instead of “first aid” relying on the regular application of fig leaves, we require major surgery in the form of a Royal Commission to take an in-depth look at a justice system that in some areas is no longer fit for purpose and in other areas is only kept afloat through the goodwill of those administering it and the reluctance of the individual to challenge the symbolic power inherent in the “majesty of the law”.
In case I should be misunderstood, however, I do have a belief in restorative justice and would gladly support legislation that demands face to face apologies to those victims and accused whose lives had been blighted by official and judicial incompetence.