Friday, 9 October 2015

Promotions for prosecutors involved in CIA Giaka cables scandal

[What follows is the text of an item posted on TheLockerbieTrial.com on this date in 2000:]

The Lord Advocate [Colin Boyd QC] announced on Monday [9 October 2000] that Alan Turnbull QC, one of the senior Crown counsel at the Lockerbie trial, was being promoted to Home Advocate Depute. [RB: The Home AD was the most senior prosecutor in the Crown Office after the Lord Advocate and the Solicitor General for Scotland.]

The announcement has come as a surprise to many including Turnbull himself, who has of late been keeping a very low profile at the Camp Zeist trial.

Turnbull's low profile in the courtroom has had a good deal to do with the results of his trips to the CIA "reading room" at the US Embassy in The Hague.

Accompanied by Senior Procurator Fiscal Norman McFadyen, Turnbull read through the secret text of numerous CIA documents.

Presumably both he and McFadyen decided that what was hidden behind the redacted versions of the CIA cables and shown to them was not relevant to the defence case or that it did not undermine the Crown case.

Subsequent events in court have shown that the text that lay behind the redacted cables was highly relevant to the defence. What compounded the problems for the prosecution was that Turnbull and McFadyen, knowing now what lay behind the some of the redactions, must also have known that the notations written along side the redacted areas which were supposed to describe in general terms what was hidden, turned out to be utterly misleading and bogus.

These notations were obviously designed to throw any interested party off the track of what really lay behind the blacked out sections of the cables.

Turnbull clearly was clearly involved in this exercise in preparation for the Crown's examination of the Libyan informer Giaka but that task fell to Advocate Depute Campbell and Turnbull took a back seat.

Turnbull and McFadyen, both highly experienced prosecutors, must have been aware that allowing this deception to go forward could be damaging to the Crown's relationship to the court, leaving aside the legalities and ethical consideration of their actions.

Sources close to the trial have told us that Alastair Campbell QC, was very concerned about this and was not prepared to allow this situation to go unresolved and his actions ensured that the defence was informed.

That Turnbull and McFadyen stayed silent on these matters for so long is a real cause for concern. We do know that they had to sign confidentiality documents before the CIA would allow them to see material and one could fairly ask if they had any authority to do so, bearing in mind the Crown's responsibility to the Court. What form of undertaking Turnbull and McFadyen gave the CIA should be made public. 

Given the background to these events, the timing of the announcement of Turnbull's promotion caused surprise in many quarters.

Informed sources have told us that that there are several members of the legal profession considering lodging formal complaints with the Faculty of Advocates and the Law Society of Scotland regarding the conduct of Alan Turnbull and Norman McFadyen in relation to the CIA cables. 

[RB: In March 2003 there was also promotion for Norman McFadyen. He became Crown Agent, the civil service head of the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service. These two promotions tellingly illustrate just how seriously Lord Advocate Boyd took the Crown’s shameful behaviour over the CIA Giaka cables.

All four of the prosecution lawyers mentioned above are now judges in Scotland.]

3 comments:

  1. the notations written along side the redacted areas which were supposed to describe in general terms what was hidden, turned out to be utterly misleading and bogus.

    These notations were obviously designed to throw any interested party off the track of what really lay behind the blacked out sections of the cables.


    I never knew that! It's highly relevant and makes the Crown advocates' behaviour far worse even than I had believed it to be.

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  2. Incredible. By any standards a criminal offence.
    Of course such people become judges in Scotland.

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  3. I fear we have become desensitised to such behaviour, and to that behaviour being condoned and even rewarded.

    We become used to the double standards that say, if what you do is helpful to the powerful and the establishment, you will not be criticisised (let alone sanctioned) and will probably be rewarded. If on the other hand you do the same thing but it is helpful to a criminal or even to a group which is out of favour with the establishment, expect the full wrath of the law to fall on your head.

    We see it at present in politics, where the same behaviour is either overlooked or lauded when it is carried out by people on the side of the establishment (or the side which has the favour of the mainstream media, which is much the same thing), but is held up as "abuse", "bullying" and unacceptable when it is carried out by those on the side challenging the establishment.

    It becomes wearing, and in the end you just settle for the realisation that this is how it is and this is how it will continue to be.

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