Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Equality of arms? Fair trial? Forget it!

What follows is an item posted on this blog on 17 December 2007:

Crown refuses to reveal secret Lockerbie paper

This is the title of a front-page article in The Herald by Lucy Adams. Whereas I on this blog on 14 December merely speculated that the reason for this week's procedural hearing might be that the Crown had refused to hand over to Mr Megrahi's legal team the document relating to timers seen by the SCCRC, Lucy Adams (whose sources are usually impeccably reliable) states as a fact that this is the reason why the hearing has been called. She writes:

"Two months ago, the Crown Office was instructed to pass on the document or provide substantial reasons as to why it could not be given to the defence.

"However, The Herald can reveal the Crown has since opposed the petition and suggested it has no duty to disclose. It has refused to reveal, even to the defence, the country from which the document originated, or its full reasons for not sharing the information.

"The defence team is understood to be seeking the document which relates to supply of timers and an additional paper."

For the full story, see

The Edinburgh Evening News has picked up the story:

And here is a link to Dr Ludwig de Braeckeleer's commentary on OhMyNews:

It looks, therefore, as if the Crown is claiming Public Interest Immunity in relation to the document, on the basis of the public interest in maintaining good relations with the foreign country which supplied the document with the condition that its confidentiality be preserved. What the judges of the High Court will be required to do, in deciding whether to order the document to be handed over, is to balance that aspect of the public interest against the public interest in a fair trial (protected, inter alia by article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights) which involves an accused person having access to all evidence that might assist his case.

If this is indeed what the procedural hearing will be concerned with, I, for one, will find it interesting to hear the the Lord Advocate's representative arguing that maintaining good relations with a foreign country is a matter that should take precedence over the fairness of Scottish criminal proceedings.

[The sordid saga of the UK Government’s successful attempt to prevent Abdelbaset Megrahi’s lawyers obtaining access to this document, aided and abetted by the Scottish Crown Office, can be followed here.]

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