Monday 12 June 2017

Donald Macaulay QC and Lockerbie

Lord Macaulay of Bragar QC died on this date in 2014.

After charges were brought in November 1991 against Abdelbaset Megrahi and Lamin Fhimah their Libyan lawyer, Dr Ibrahim Legwell, formed a team of lawyers from countries with an interest in the Lockerbie case, including Scotland and the United States, to advise and assist him. One of the Scottish lawyers on that team was Donald Macaulay QC. At a meeting held in Tripoli in October 1993 (referred to in the media as a "legal summit") this legal team advised Megrahi and Fhimah not to surrender themselves for trial in Scotland. It was in response to this decision (which came as a considerable shock to the Libyan Government) that I formulated a scheme for a non-jury Scottish court to sit in the Netherlands. The story is told in more detail here.

I remain of the view that the advice given by the international legal team to Megrahi and Fhimah was unfortunate.  I am convinced that if the pair had been tried by an ordinary Scottish jury conscientiously following the standard instructions that juries are given about how to approach their decision-making and the assessment of the evidence led before them (including burden and standard of proof), both accused would have been acquitted.

Donald Macaulay was not a brilliant lawyer, but he was a quite magnificent jury advocate. Had I ever been charged with a serious crime, I would have wanted him to defend me. Head and shoulders above all of today's High Court "stars".

No comments:

Post a Comment