Thursday, 21 August 2014

Scottish Government shirking responsibilities by expecting foreign authorities to pick up gauntlet

What follows is taken from an item posted on this blog four years ago today:

Call for public inquiry into bombing

[This is the headline over a report in today's edition of The Herald. It reads as follows:]

Dignitaries and campaigners including Desmond Tutu have called for the Scottish Government to launch a public inquiry into the Lockerbie bombing.

In an open letter, some 24 signatories including relatives of the victims, such as Dr Jim Swire and Jean Berkley, today call for a full and open inquiry.

The letter questions recent moves by the Scottish Government “to abrogate its responsibility and pass the buck to London” in relation to calls for a public inquiry.

First Minister Alex Salmond and Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill have said that Scotland has neither the power nor the resources to hold an investigation.

The letter states: “When it came to granting compassionate release to Mr Megrahi, the Scottish Government was adamant that the matter fell under Scottish jurisdiction and would brook no interference in the nation’s affairs.

“When it comes to the establishment of an inquiry, why does Edinburgh appear so keen to abrogate its responsibility and pass the buck?

“One cannot have one’s cake and eat it. The excuse frequently offered is that a Scottish inquiry would not possess the requisite power of subpoena when it comes to requiring evidence to be produced.

“This same argument not only applies to Westminster but to the General Assembly of the United Nations Organisation also. In fact, the only body with the powers that Mr Salmond is looking for is the Security Council of the UN.

“In other words, given this, and the fact that the General Assembly appears to be reluctant to take the bull by the horns, it is down to individual nation states.

“The Scottish Government should not be allowed to shirk its duties and responsibilities to the bereaved and its electorate by expecting other, foreign, authorities to pick up the gauntlet.”

The letter, sent to ministers to coincide with the anniversary of Megrahi’s release, makes the point that Holyrood should be fully able to assess the details of what happened because the case was investigated by Scottish police, the trial was conducted under Scots law, and Megrahi was held in a Scottish prison and released on compassionate grounds by a Scottish minister.

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