Friday 10 February 2017

Lord Advocate Peter Fraser ennobled

[On this date in 1989 Peter Fraser QC was elevated to the peerage as Lord Fraser of Carmyllie. What follows is excerpted from his entry in Wikipedia:]

Fraser first stood for Parliament for Aberdeen North in October 1974, but was beaten by Labour's Robert Hughes.

He was elected as a Conservative & Unionist Member of Parliament for South Angus in 1979, where he remained in the House of Commons until June 1987 (from 1983 representing East Angus). He was Parliamentary Private Secretary to George Younger, Secretary of State for Scotland. In 1982 he was appointed Solicitor General for Scotland by Margaret Thatcher and became Lord Advocate in 1989. He was created a life peer as Baron Fraser of Carmyllie, of Carmyllie in the District of Angus on 10 February 1989 and was appointed a member of the Privy Council the same year.

During his time as Scotland's senior law officer, he was directly responsible for the conduct of the investigation into the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103. Lord Fraser drew up the 1991 indictment against the two accused Libyans and issued warrants for their arrest. But five years after the Pan Am Flight 103 bombing trial, when Abdelbaset al-Megrahi was convicted of 270 counts of murder, he cast doubt upon the reliability of the main prosecution witness, Tony Gauci. According to The Sunday Times of 23 October 2005, Lord Fraser criticised the Maltese shopkeeper, who sold Megrahi the clothing that was used to pack the bomb suitcase, for inter alia being "not quite the full shilling" and "an apple short of a picnic".

Lord Advocate, Colin Boyd, who was chief prosecutor at the Lockerbie trial, reacted by saying: "It was Lord Fraser who, as Lord Advocate, initiated the Lockerbie prosecution. At no stage, then or since, has he conveyed any reservation about any aspect of the prosecution to those who worked on the case, or to anyone in the prosecution service." Boyd asked Lord Fraser to clarify his apparent attack on Gauci by issuing a public statement of explanation.
William Taylor QC, who defended Megrahi at the trial and the appeal, said Lord Fraser should never have presented Gauci as a crown witness: "A man who has a public office, who is prosecuting in the criminal courts in Scotland, has got a duty to put forward evidence based upon people he considers to be reliable. He was prepared to advance Gauci as a witness of truth in terms of identification and, if he had these misgivings about him, they should have surfaced at the time. The fact that he is coming out many years later after my former client has been in prison for nearly four and a half years is nothing short of disgraceful. Gauci's evidence was absolutely central to the conviction and for Peter Fraser not to realise that is scandalous," Taylor said.

Tam Dalyell, former Labour MP who played a crucial role in organising the trial at Camp Zeist in the Netherlands, described Lord Fraser's comments as an 'extraordinary development': "I think there is an obligation for the chairman and members of the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission to ask Lord Fraser to see them and testify under oath - it's that serious. Fraser should have said this at the time and, if not then, he was under a moral obligation to do so before the trial at Zeist. I think there will be all sorts of consequences," Dalyell declared.

[RB: Readers may also care to be reminded of James Robertson's magnificent jeu d'esprit Oh, come on, it's all over now.]


  1. And did Fraser testify to the SCCRC under oath as Tam Dalyell suggested. If not he can still do it now as the investigation is still live.

  2. He missed his chance in this life.