Saturday, 1 January 2022

Divergent views on Colin Boyd as Lord Advocate

[The following are excerpts from a report published today in The Herald:]

Jack McConnell tactlessly told his elected colleagues in the Scottish cabinet that he valued the advice of an unelected minister more than theirs.

The then Labour First Minister somewhat ungraciously rated the input from the Lord Advocate, Lord Boyd, above that of his fellow politicians.

The admission came at the Scottish cabinet of October 4, 2006, when Lord Boyd announced he was standing down after six years in post as “the longest serving Lord Advocate for more than a century”.

He said that the trial of the Lockerbie bombing suspects in 2000 and 2001 at the special court in the Netherlands had been a major achievement for the Scottish justice system.

Lord Boyd led the prosecution of the two Libyans accused of the 1988 atrocity. (...)

Mr McConnelll said it was “impossible to overstate the importance” of Lord Boyd’s role in the Lockerbie trial and conviction, and also saluted his court reforms.

“There was no one whose judgment as a Cabinet colleague he had valued more.”

[RB: Lockerbie campaigners did not share Jack McConnell's views about Colin Boyd. Here are some comments published on the occasion of his resignation:]

"Colin Boyd tried to balance what was known to his prosecution team of the famous ‘CIA telegrams’ in the court at Zeist, in the knowledge that the ‘star’ prosecution witness (Giaca) was also a worthless CIA quisling. His struggles to meet his clear duty to truth and justice and fair dealing with the court and the defence, made a ‘rabbit in the headlights’ look cool and sagacious. Meantime his predecessor in office had made the wise choice of lolloping off to the safety of a secure burrow in the nick of time." Dr Jim Swire

"I believe that history will view Colin Boyd’s reign as Lord Advocate as a shameful period where the independence of the Lord Advocate was sacrificed to the will of his political masters. 

"Two cases dominated his tenure – the Lockerbie Bombing and the Shirley McKie case. In both cases he stands accused of weakness and vacillation in the face of political pressure and a complete failure to act as, ‘the watchdog for justice’ – the role assigned to him by Lord McCluskey. 

"His dramatic overnight resignation in October 2006 has been seen by some as the captain jumping ship to save his skin. I hope that this accusation will be thoroughly tested during the planned judicial enquiry into my daughter’s case and in any future enquiry into the Lockerbie disaster." Iain A J McKie

[RB: Further, largely critical, accounts of Colin Boyd's performance in the Lockerbie case can be found herehere, and here.]

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