Saturday, 23 May 2015

Tired old mantra

[What follows is a comment posted by me on this blog on 23 May 2012. I wouldn't today change a word.]

It is sad, but entirely in character, to see the Scottish Government and the Crown Office repeating the tired old mantra that the only proper way to address concerns over the Megrahi conviction is through a court of law. It is indeed true that the only way that the verdict can be overturned is through a further appeal. But we have clear evidence now of flaws -- indeed wrongdoing -- in the Lockerbie investigation and in the conduct of the prosecution. It is quite certainly not the case that only way in which these matters can be ventilated is in an appeal against the verdict. They are matters which have caused, or are capable of causing, public concern; and that is precisely the test that must be satisfied for an inquiry under the Inquiries Act 2005. It would be outrageous if police and Crown wrongdoing in a case could be exposed only if the accused person chose to exercise his right of appeal. Such wrongdoing is a matter of public concern and it is to address such concerns that the 2005 Act exists.  Moreover, such an inquiry could lead to a royal pardon (indeed royal pardons almost invariably flow from inquiries into cases in which there has been a conviction). A royal pardon does not overturn the verdict, which technically still stands, but it is an official recognition that the conviction was flawed. So there really is no constitutional or legal problem about asking for an inquiry into what went wrong in the investigation and prosecution of the Lockerbie case.

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