Thursday, 12 December 2013

Columnist Michael Kelly uses Megrahi release to attack SNP human rights record

[Today’s edition of The Scotsman contains an article by regular columnist, former Lord Provost of Glasgow and anti-independence campaigner, Michael Kelly, headed Constitution no guarantee of rights, in which he argues against the proposal that an independent Scotland should have a written constitution. What follows are three paragraphs from that article:]

An unwritten constitution keeps the ultimate decisions in the hands of elected politicians who the electorate can change rather than hand it over to judges politically appointed for life who can stagger on into their dotage enforcing standards that are fifty years out of date.

But more than the formality of whatever constitution Scotland is landed with if the electorate are misguided enough to vote for independence are the principles and integrity of those who formulate any written version. It is a fair assumption that if there is a Yes vote the SNP will be charged with devising it. The SNP’s record on human and civil rights is not one to inspire confidence.

First, and we must mention it as it is fundamental to the argument, this government freed the biggest mass murderer in Scottish legal history. By executive order it over-rode the life sentence imposed by a Scottish court on al-Megrahi and prevented the culmination of due process by halting the appeal procedure.

[Compassionate release of a convicted prisoner by the responsible government minister from a judicially-imposed sentence of imprisonment is specifically provided for in legislation passed in 1993 by the United Kingdom Parliament, years before the Scottish Government and Parliament came into existence. Kenny MacAskill followed the law, practice and precedent in releasing Megrahi under that legislation. To suggest that he embarked on a frolic of his own and blithely overrode the sentence of the court is arrant nonsense.

The controversial circumstances in which Megrahi came to abandon the appeal that the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission had allowed him to bring are discussed here on John Ashton’s Megrahi: You are my Jury website.]


  1. The Scottish government was evil to release the evil terrorist, so Vote No.

    The Scottish government is evil because it won't countenance the proposition that the man wasn't an evil terrorist, so Vote No.

    I'm beginning to sense a pattern here.

  2. Ironically Megrahi’s release is an argument against a written constitution and Michael Kelly would be wiser to point this out rather than dispute the release.