Tuesday, 26 May 2015

UK Government rejects neutral venue Lockerbie trial scheme

[What follows is the text of a report published in The Herald on this date in 1994:]

Scottish Secretary Ian Lang yesterday rejected a plea by Tory MP Sir Teddy Taylor for the law to be changed to enable two Libyans suspected of carrying out the 1988 Lockerbie bombing to be tried abroad.

Sir Teddy (Southend East) said leading and respected Scottish advocates had stated clearly and publicly that a fair trial before a Scottish jury was simply not possible because of recent press coverage.

He added that the Libyan Government had said it willingly would send the two accused to any other country.

Sir Teddy urged: ''In fairness to the relatives of the victims of this appalling disaster, it would be better for the Government to consider legislation, for example for a trial in The Hague, so the truth on this dreadful issue could at last come forward, rather than the present situation where nothing is happening for years.''

Mr Lang replied: ''But the investigation took place under Scots law and the charges are being brought on that basis.''

He insisted there was no evidence to support the contention the Libyan Government would be any more amenable to holding a trial in any other country, even if that were possible, ''which would be extremely difficult in the circumstances''.

Mr Tam Dalyell (Linlithgow -- Lab) claimed the Lord Advocate had not taken account of all the evidence in the case, and accused the Crown Office of being ''a bit lazy''.

Mr Lang retorted: ''You persist in setting yourself up as some kind of amateur sleuth in this matter.''

He pressed Mr Dalyell to support the Lord Advocate and the Government ''in seeking to enable this trial to take place''.

[In January 1994, I had secured the agreement of the suspects’ Libyan lawyer and the Libyan Government to a neutral venue trial. This had not been made public, but was known to Teddy Taylor MP, Tam Dalyell MP, the United Kingdom Government and the Scottish Crown Office. It took more than four more years (and a change of government) before the UK eventually saw the light.]

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