Thursday, 3 March 2016

Death of Lockerbie judge Lord Coulsfield

[The death has today been announced of Lord Coulsfield. What follows is taken from the notice on the website of the Faculty of Advocates:]

One of the judges who presided over the Lockerbie trial, Rt Hon Lord Coulsfield, has died, aged 81.
As John Taylor Cameron, he was admitted to the Faculty in 1960, and took Silk in 1973. He served as Keeper of the Library from 1977 to 1987.
On being appointed a Senator of the College of Justice in 1987, he took the judicial title Lord Coulsfield. He sat with Lords Sutherland and MacLean at Kamp van Zeist in the Netherlands when Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi was convicted of the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103.
[RB: Lord Coulsfield was a very distinguished judge whose reputation was tarnished by his acquiescence in the guilty verdict returned against Abdelbaset Megrahi (acquiescence that, within the Scottish legal profession, is widely believed to have been reluctant).]


  1. You are either in the system and abide by the rules, written or unwritten - or you are not.

    Should the judge choose to oppose the system he works with, he knows that it would spell a likely end to his prospects in his profession.
    Just as it would for any other employee acting against his employer's wishes in a critical case - but for a judge there is no new career awaiting in another company.

    When a judge fails it is is easy to shout "Disgrace!", and we do.
    But haven't we all at times at least shut up against better knowledge?

    Alfred Denning's ever-infamous words in the Birmingham Six appeal openly demonstrated how even a respected judge might bow to the pressure of circumstances. With indefensible statements that fly in the face of any concept of justice.

    So, we forgive. We understand. We say “Rest in peace” when they die.
    And we allow for the possibility that a person "otherwise" just might have been honorable in his profession.

    But we also pity this fellow who was just one millimeter from gaining eternal respect from the Lockerbie case.
    He missed out, and had to die with the knowledge that he essentially, in the by far most important case in his life, had failed his call.

  2. SM. what you are saying is so right in every respect. The Herd instinct is very strong as shown by All the judges boycotting a meeting because it was going to have an address by Julian Assange. Not one judge stepped out of line. That says everything you need to know about justice in our country. Beneath contempt.