Tuesday, 22 September 2015

22 September 1998 was quite eventful

[On this date in 1998, the prosecution team for the Lockerbie trial was announced. The press release reads as follows:]

The Lord Advocate, Lord Hardie has announced the composition of the team of counsel involved in the preparation for and conduct of the trial in the Netherlands of the accused in the Lockerbie case. The selection and appointments were made by the Lord Advocate in the course of the last few weeks and were confirmed yesterday when the team met for the first time at the Crown Office, Edinburgh.

The Lord Advocate will lead the prosecution team at the trial and will attend as required. Colin Boyd QC, the Solicitor General will be responsible for the overall supervision of the team during the preparation of the case.

The team members are: Alastair Campbell, QC (49), Home Advocate Depute; Alan Turnbull, QC (40); and Jonathan Lake (31), Advocate. A fourth advocate has also accepted the appointment but for professional reasons is not being named at present. [RB: The fourth member of the team was Morag Armstrong, Advocate.]

Alastair Campbell will lead the team in the absence of the Lord Advocate. Both Mr Campbell and Mr Turnbull who is a former Advocate Depute have considerable experience of preparing for and conducting major trials

The Lord Advocate said:

"In selecting the team of prosecution counsel for this trial, I considered the particular strengths of the counsel appointed by me. I am confident that the individual members of the team will complement each other and I am delighted that they were able to accept instructions to appear on behalf of the Crown in this case.

"A site has been identified for the trial and the prosecution team has now been appointed. All that remains is for Libya to comply with the United Nations Security Council Resolution and to deliver the accused for trial in the Netherlands.

"I hope that occurs soon so that the trial may commence at the earliest opportunity".

The team, which also includes senior Crown Office officials, has already commenced preparation for the trial. To enable Mr Cambell to concentrate on the case full time, he will resign as Home Advocate Depute with effect from 30 September 1998.

[On the same day, Dr Jim Swire and I were meeting Colonel Gaddafi. Here is what I wrote about this some years ago:]

On 22 September [1998] Dr Swire and I had a further meeting with the Leader of the Revolution.  On this occasion the meeting took place not in Tripoli but 400 kilometres to the east in a genuine (not reinforced concrete) Bedouin tent in a desert location inland from the town of Sirte.  We drove most of the way in the usual government black Mercedes, transferring into a 4 x 4 only for the last few off-road miles.  When at the tent nothing could be seen but sand and sky; but out of sight just beyond the nearest dunes was a lengthy convoy of communications vehicles, ambulances, canteen vehicles and troop carriers. 

Surrounded by the sand dunes and by noisily ruminating camels, Colonel Gaddafi, Dr Swire and I discussed the details of the British scheme.  He accepted my assurance that at least some of the concerns that Libyan government lawyers had raised were unwarranted and that it would be worthwhile to continue to seek clarifications and reassurances through the office of the Secretary-General of the United Nations regarding the remaining issues. 

Incidentally, this meeting with Gaddafi was held on the day that President Clinton's videotaped grand jury testimony regarding his relationship with Monica Lewinsky was televised.  In the course of the pleasantries that took place before we all got down to business, Gaddafi informed us that he had spent the morning watching the President's performance on CNN television.  What most shocked him, he said, was the revelation that on some occasions while Miss Lewinsky was dutifully serving her President, the latter was speaking to foreign Heads of State on the telephone. 

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