Saturday 17 October 2009

First Minister on release decision

Here is what the First Minister, Alex Salmond, had to say today about the release of Abdelbaset Megrahi in his keynote speech at the SNP annual conference in Inverness. The full speech can be read here.

"I am told that our Labour/Tory/Liberal opponents cannot understand why we are more popular now than when we were elected.

"It is simple. People like the record of action of an SNP government compared to the wasted years of a peely wally executive

"As a party and as a government, we will stick firm to our principles.

"And without fear or favour, we will take the big decisions. And delegates that is exactly what Kenny MacAskill has done.

"I was delighted but not surprised when statesmen like Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela welcomed the decision to release Mr Al Megrahi.

"Delegates, Kenny MacAskill made the right decision for the right reasons. He showed that there is a place for compassion in the administration of justice. That even in the face of the most terrible atrocity, the most severe provocation, we can put mercy before retribution.

"We all recognise the suffering of the families of the victims. What they have experienced no family, no person, should ever endure.

"But the evil of terrorism thrives in the darkness of fear and shrinks from the light of compassion.

"It is right that Mr Al Megrahi was tried and convicted for his crimes, but it is also right that he has been sent home to die.

"Last week Arun Gandhi came to see me - the grandson of Mahatma Gandhi.

"He seeks with our Scottish churches to found a reconciliation centre in one of our great universities.

"One of the things that he told me is that his grandfather's philosophy is much misunderstood.

"His resistance was not passive but active.

"His dedication to non violence a strength not a weakness.

"Sometimes someone has to break the cycle of retribution with an act of compassion.

"That is what Kenny MacAskill did and we should be proud of him for doing it."


  1. Mr Salmond said, "What [the families of the victims] have experienced no family, no person, should ever endure."

    To further that aim, how about legislation to something like the following effect?

    "If, in respect of any criminal case, a significant number of persons who

    a) are deemed by the court to be victims of a crime, and

    b) have no clear potentially corrupting relationship to the convict,

    state that they consider the conviction to be unsafe,

    then that conviction will be investigated judicially by a process available independently of, and alternative to, the standard process of appeal by the convict, and with the power to quash the verdict."

  2. A fine idea!
    Another simple and compelling one could be:
    Whenever the SCCRC has come to the conclusion that a miscarriage of justice might have occurred in the Scottish legal system it imperatively follows that an independent inquiry must take place in order to secure the high standards of the Scottish legal system.

  3. "But the evil of terrorism thrives in the darkness of fear and shrinks from the light of compassion."

    Mr Salmond, if only you could stop hiding behind the fine words and tell us the truth. You're a privy councillor, so surely you know the dark deal done over Megrahi?

  4. I see from the list of Privy Councillors ( ) that it's not just the political elite such as the Rt Hon Alex Salmond, but that the whole Scottish judicial establishment appear to be PCs. So, by extension from Ruth above, they must all know the dark deal done over Megrahi!

    The current Lord Advocate, Elish Angiolini, and Lord Boyd of Duncansby are on the list. So are Lord Rodger of Earlsferry and Lord Hope of Craighead, both of whom have just been appointed to the 12-member Supreme Court of the United Kingdom. Eleven judges have been named so far and one more appointment to the Supreme Court remains to be made: I hope it's not Lord Boyd. ( )

    According to Wikipedia: The Supreme Court has no authority over criminal cases in Scotland, where the High Court of Justiciary instead serves as the supreme criminal court. It may hear appeals from the civil Court of Session, just as the House of Lords did previously, but permission to appeal is not a feature of the Scottish legal system and any case can proceed to the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom if two Advocates certify that an appeal is suitable. ( )

    All of which brings me to ask: in their search for truth and justice, could Matt Berkley and other Lockerbie relatives bring a civil case in the Court of Session, and then have it taken to the Supreme Court for a final judgment (always assuming Privy Council members allow it) ?

  5. Patrick, here's something might interest you from Gerald James.
    The Privy Council oath which all members take means they cannot freely discuss any matter they are informed of or told of “Under Privy Council terms”. This means that the Cabinet and opposition leaders cannot discuss freely in Parliament or elsewhere any matter told to them on “Privy Council terms”. This means in practice that the key MPs cannot discharge their democratic duties. It is in effect a gagging system like Public Interest Immunity Certificates dispensed by Judges on application of Government and its agencies. All senior Judges and Appeal Judges are Privy Councillors as is the Lord Chancellor, The Attorney and Solicitor General and other invited and key persons. This secret unelected body has a wide range of powers. On the surface other permanent secretaries, sometimes the Cabinet Secretary and certain members of the established aristocracy are Privy Councillors......

    It is widely and erroneously assumed the Cabinet is the Executive of the elected Government whereas in our unwritten ill defined constitution it is in reality the executive arm of the Privy Council.

    The Privy Council is responsible for the arrangements leading to the making of Royal Proclamations and Orders in Council for certain formalities connected with Ministerial Changes: for considering application for the grant or amendment of Royal Charters, for the security and approval of by laws and statutes of Chartered Institutions, of the governing instruments of universities and colleges, for the appointment of High Sheriffs and many Crown and Privy Council Nominees for governing bodies.

    Under the relevant Acts, the office of the Privy Council is responsible for the approval of certain regulations and rules made by the governing bodies of the medical and certain allied professions.

    The President of the Council has responsibility for the working of the Privy Council. A leader of the House of Commons he or she is responsible for supervising the Government’s legislative programme. He or she allegedly upholds the right and privileges of the House as a whole and in its capacity it falls to him or her to move motions relating to the procedure of the House. In January 1994 the Privy Council assumed responsibility for the newly formed Central Drugs Coordination Unit. The Judicial Committee of the Privy Council is the highest Court of Appeal for the Commonwealth except the United Kingdom and those countries which had abolished appeals to it. It still can confirm death sentences in certain territories and in the UK hears ecclesiastical cases and appeals against disciplinary decisions by disciplinary bodies of the medical professions and certain allied bodies. Its more secret and sinister workings are little known and in theory it is the advisory body to the monarch. It appears that the bulk of elected politicians do not penetrate its inner recesses yet can be influenced by it.

    The Privy Council allied with the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) and the Cabinet and Cabinet Intelligence Unit which is the real control over the security and intelligence services are part of the secret permanent unaccountable Government.

  6. Here's an example of the power of the Privy Council in action. The comments made by Andrew Mackinlay, a Labour backbencher,refer to the blocking of the minutes of key Cabinet meetings in the run up to the Iraq war.

    "It really is appalling and also it is a bad day for Parliament when you get the synthetic anger from the Opposition, cosying up, the Privy Council Club closing down debate and discussion on things which must be revealed"