[One of the reasons given by the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission for refusing the Megrahi application was the failure by his former solicitors, Taylor & Kelly, to supply requested documentation relating the appeal which was abandoned when Megrahi sought repatriation on being diagnosed with terminal cancer. Taylor & Kelly have responded in a press release which reads as follows:]
It is with some surprise that we learn today that the Commission have come to the view that papers have not been forthcoming from us as Mr Megrahi’s appeal representatives. As soon as a request was made from the commission we asked to be advised of the basis of the request – the power of the commission to ask for access to material. Despite making clear that we were anxious to assist, we have not as yet been told of the Commission’s authority to have access to amongst other things private communications. As solicitors we cannot deliver up papers in our possession simply upon request, even to a body such as the Commission.
No indication was given to us until today that the Commission were interested in the part of our actings relating to Mr Megrahi’s appeal being abandoned.
The Commission have very wide powers indeed. They could have made application to the Court for access to materials. In any such application, they would clearly have been required to state the basis of the request, and the basis for any court to order us as solicitors to have to part with confidential papers. We prefaced that in communications with them and asked them to provide authority for any application. We remain in the dark on this important point.
As solicitors we are bound by professional obligations which are the subject of regulation by the Law Society of Scotland. In the event that we have in some way not met our professional obligations the Law Society could have been consulted.
As it was, at the conclusion of our actings in this case we sought and obtained our own legal advice about the custody of the papers.
No further enquiry was made of our solicitors individually or any others who formed part of the legal team. The Commission in its previous consideration of Mr Megrahi’s case interviewed each member of Mr Megrahi’s team about decisions made in the course of the trial. If focus had centred on the abandonment of the appeal then that could have been pursued by seeking to interview those involved in that aspect of the case.
Solicitors when acting in any case are privy to all sorts of private and sensitive information from their clients, other professionals, the court and so on. It would be odd indeed if those confidences were to be easily breached simply upon request.
The basis of our searching for a proper basis of the Commission’s request was not nit picking, but, rather to ensure that our clients remain confident that the privileged communication between solicitor and client will not be easily violated.
It is a pity that the Commission have decided upon this application on such a basis. We are sorry that the Commission has not given further thought to formulating a basis for their request and sharing with us what was being sought.