Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Al Megrahi - The Buck Stops With the SNP

I appreciate and share the concerns the Americans have and BP have a lot of awkward questions to ask, and no doubt the Coalition will be sorely tempted to blame the previous government, but lets stick to the facts.
Al Megrahi was held under Scottish custody, the decision to release him was made by the Scottish Executive which is SNP controlled, therefore one should really be asking the Scottish Executive some awkward questions, in particular to Alex Salmond and the Scottish Justice Minister. I am sure they have a plausible sounding explanation but as I have said before, sometimes the crime is so great that life-long imprisonment is the best option


Anonymous said...

It all depends wich buck you are talking about.

The compassionate release request? That will be Kenny MacAskill as Justice Secretary since that it is the office which makes thos decisions. Not the First Minister or a political party.

But if it is the Prisoner Transfer Agreement whish is what the Senators are talking about then that will be in terms of a person Tony Blair but in terms of the office the Prime Minister of the UK - which is currently David Cameron. And if it is the Cabinet minister that gets the responsibility of what Blair did then the office is teh Foreign Sec which will be Margaret Beckett and William hague respectively.

And what "awkward questions" are you refering to? Both gentlemen have been asked numerous questions already in Parliament and at committees. What questions haven't been asked?

Paul Burgin said...

I think the Compassionate Release Request is the more important one and whilst the buck stops with the Justice Secretary (technically), the First Minister was closest in terms of vetoing and he did have the power to sack MacAskill.
As for awkward questions, well the real question is more who are they primarily directed to. The British government or the Scottish Executive

Anonymous said...

But it's the PTA the senators are asking about. The questions surrounding that - why and who wanted it - are ones for the UK govermment, or those personally involved, to answer.

What questions are there to be asked about compassionate release that have not been answered?

subrosa said...

Every paper connected with this case has been made public by the Scottish government. Oh, except the communications between the Scottish government and the UK government and the Scottish government and the US government. They both refused permission. Funny that.

Alex Salmond is perfectly happy to assist in any inquiry, but he refuses to have Scots law usurped by another country.

Perhaps you heard him on Newnight last night.

Indy said...

The decision to release him was in accordance with Scottish law.

In Scotland dying prisoners are routinely released from prison because prisons do not have medical facilities to deal with them.

The Prison Governor, the Scottish Prison Service and the Parole Board unanimously recommended that Megrahi should be released because he was no longer capable of representing a threat and because, had he remained incarcerated, he would have been dead within 3 months. That is the system in Scotland and has been for many decades, it was not invented solely for the case of Megrahi

I think the aspect of this that causes the most incedulity in Scotland is the demand to publish all correspondence connected to the case. The Scottish Government HAS published all correspondence connected to the case other than correspondence with the US Government because they refused to allow it.

So if US politicians want to see all the documents connected to the case ask your own Government not ours.

Here is where all the documents are published:


Paul Burgin said...

If the British government need to release documents I am all for that, but I still maintain that the final decision tested with Scotland and they should have responded to public wishes and reflected on the unique nature of the crime

Indy said...

The crime was indeed unique and so were the circumstances of the trial.

The Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission thought that there was sufficient doubt about the verdict to refer the case to the High Court on the grounds that the new evidence they found, and other evidence which was not put before the trial court, meant that that Megrahi may have suffered a miscarriage of justice.

Perhaps that is the missing element here in terms of public opinion. In Scotland people are well aware that there are serious question marks about the evidence presented to the Lockerbie trial. We cannot be sure he is guilty. In the USA there don't seem to be any doubts or questions about the verdict even in light of the significant matters uncovered by the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission.

Personally I would be in favour of compassionate release even if there was no doubt about the verdict. But there's no question that many people up here believe that Megrahi has just been a scapegoat, including quite a few relatives of the victims. They are a bit suspicious of the fact that Megrahi dropped his appeal. Dropping the appeal was a condition of making an application under the Prisoner Transfer Agreement. There was no requirement to drop the appeal under the application for compassionate release. Nevertheless it has been dropped.