Tuesday, 4 December 2018

Justice has been devalued

[This is the headline over a letter from Iain Mckie published in today's edition of The Herald. It reads as follows:]

Congratulations to Kevin McKenna on his perceptive and timely critique of our justice system (“Do not believe the big lie that the British justice system is fair”, The Herald, December 1).

As a former police officer and justice campaigner, I am sad to say that the lessons of the past have not always been learned.

In both capacities, I have witnessed innocent people wrongly condemned to the Kafkaesque nightmare that is prison.

The root causes are much more than a collection of disparate individual failures. They are systemic in our whole approach to justice. The very court system we rely on to deliver justice is often an embarrassing shambles that affects victims and the accused alike and fails to deliver the checks and balances necessary to prevent injustice.

Many accused hand themselves over to a system that is slow, inefficient and increasingly expensive. It is also often overstretched and under resourced.

Real change will only result when there is the political will to re-assess and update our justice system and its institutions in the knowledge that blind faith in the judiciary, courts, law and police is no way to work towards a fairer and more just society. Unfortunately, I suspect Kevin McKenna’s pleas will fall on deaf ears as our justice system so often fails to deliver in these important areas.

We have a system that is rooted in the past with the maintenance of the status quo being of more importance than ensuring everyone is equal before the law.

As the 30th anniversary of Lockerbie approaches on December 22, we would do well to remember the words of Martin Luther King: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

It is Scotland’s disgrace that, for nearly three decades, the truth about the UK’s worst terrorist atrocity has been sacrificed at the altar of expediency.

Time and time again political spin and vested interests have prevailed while our justice system has sat in denial with its collective head stuck firmly in the sand.

Where are the visionary voices offering escape from the old systems and self-serving values that have suffocated dissent and devalued justice?

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