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‘Fear of the front page’ provokes Crown Office condemnation over media’s publication of SCCRC Lockerbie miscarriage of justice report

26 Mar

COPFS Bonuses Lord AdvoccateCrown Office hit out at media publication of report alleging miscarriage of justice in Lockerbie trial. AS surely as night follows day, Scotland’s institutionally inept and always-willing-to-hide-a-judge’s-criminal-record Crown Office & Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) have hit back today at the Sunday Herald’s publication (yesterday) of the Statement of Reasons issued by the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC) in connection with the case of Abdelbaset Al Megrahi, in which the SCCRC appear to have sided with the vast majority of legal and non legal minds over the conclusion Mr Al Megrahi may well have been unjustly convicted by an unjust Scottish pantomime court based in the Netherlands.

Within the Crown Office statement, issued earlier today, it was stated “It is not appropriate or helpful to seek to try a case in the media. The only place to determine guilt or innocence is in a court of law. The trial court accepted that this was an act of State sponsored terrorism and that Megrahi did not act alone.”

Shooting the messenger is a favourite tactic of the Crown Office, particularly when any resulting publicity portrays Scotland’s prosecution service as anything less than perfect.

Therefore, news reports of the Crown Office being institutionally racist, instructionally corrupt, institutionally vindictive, or just plain paying themselves tens of thousands of pounds in bonuses, or covering up millions of pounds of legal aid theft by solicitors and seeing to it no one is prosecuted, and of course, more recently, concealing the criminal records of members of the judiciary, some of whom seem to have been giving the Lord Advocate’s PF’s their desired verdicts in trials, are not welcome in Chambers Street, and certainly not welcome in four feet high headlines in the press.

Clearly in the case of the Lockerbie Trial, the media, and campaigners are more interested & motivated at getting to the truth of what happened over Lockerbie, Scotland in December 1988 than the Crown Office, or indeed the same discredited justice system which originally convicted Abdelbaset Al Megrahi in 2001, and which, we are now told by the Crown Office, should be relied upon once more to determine guilt or innocence.

Of course, it is a given that any appeal in connection with Mr Megrahi’s conviction must be decided by a Scottish court. However, as we have seen time & time again in Scottish courts, a very prejudicial venue where the Crown Office & their Procurators Fiscals seem to have the run of the playground, the question Scots may now wish to ask themselves is, can any of our judges now be trusted to come clean over the growing feeling their colleagues brought about a serious miscarriage of justice in the original Lockerbie Trial, and went on to cause many more miscarriages of justice to cover it up ?

The Crown Office Press Release attacking Scotland’s Sunday Herald :

LOCKERBIE STATEMENT OF REASONS

The Crown notes the publication today by the Sunday Herald of the Statement of Reasons of the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission in the case against Megrahi.

The Commission was working to facilitate the publication with appropriate protection for all of the persons named in it taking account of their human rights [articles 2 and 8] and issues of confidentiality. The unauthorised publication by the Sunday Herald today does not deal with any of these issues which rightly constrain all public authorities by law.

We have become very concerned at the drip feeding of selective leaks and partial reporting from parts of the Statement of Reasons over the last few weeks in an attempt to sensationalise aspects of the contents out of context.

Persons referred to in the Statement of Reasons have been asked to respond to these reports without having access to the statement of reasons and this is to be deplored. Further allegations of serious misconduct have been made in the media against a number of individuals for which the Commission found no evidence. This is also to be deplored. In fact the Commission found no basis for concluding that evidence in the case was fabricated by the police, the Crown, forensic scientists or any other representatives of official bodies or government agencies.

Other matters of significance are:

1. The SCCRC found nothing to undermine the trial court’s conclusions about the timer fragment, namely that it was part of a timer manufactured by a Swiss company, MEBO, to the order of the Libyan intelligence services.

2. The SCCRC report confirms that Tony Gauci was paid a reward by US authorities only after the first appeal.

3. No inducements or promises of reward were made by US and Scottish Law enforcement prior to his evidence being given.

4. At no stage was he offered any inducement or reward by Scottish authorities who acted with complete propriety throughout the case

5. The SCCRC recognised that Tony Gauci was not motivated by money and that he had allegedly been made an offer to go to Tripoli and be rewarded “by Libyan Government officials”

With regard to the differing accounts by Megrahi the Commission noted that:

i. There were inconsistencies and differences in account between his statements to an investigative journalist, his defence team and the SCCRC in matters of significance.

ii. He had “personal relationships” with various members of the Libyan intelligence services, including Senussi and accepted that he had been seconded to the Libyan intelligence services (JSO) and that Said Rashid was his superior in the JSO.

iii. Senussi was involved in his secondment to Libyan intelligence services (JSO).

iv. He had travelled with a Colonel in the Libyan intelligence services (JSO) on a false passport in 1987

v. Megrahi gave the Commission conflicting accounts of his connection to the Libyan intelligence services (JSO)

vi. Megrahi confirmed he had knowledge of a man in Spain who was assassinated because he was allegedly an American spy

vii. Megrahi has given a number of different explanations to his lawyers and the Commission about his presence in Malta and use of a false passport on 21 December 1988

viii. The SCCRC believed “there was a real risk that the trial court would have viewed his explanations … as weak or unconvincing” “In particular, the Commission notes the unsatisfactory nature of aspects of their (Megrahi and Fhimah) explanations and the various contradictions which are apparent both within and between their accounts.

Although it is possible there are innocent reasons for these deficiencies, they do lead the Commission to have reservations about the credibility and reliability of both as witnesses.”

The commission’s role is to conduct an investigation and determine whether there may have been a miscarriage of justice. It does not follow that there was a miscarriage of justice, only the Appeal Court can decide that. It should be noted that not all referrals by the SCCRC result in convictions being overturned; less than half of convictions referred to the Appeal are overturned.

In preparing for Megrahi’s second appeal [which followed the Commission’s report] the Crown had considered all the information in the Statement of Reasons and had every confidence in successfully defending the conviction in the Appeal Court for a second time. Although it is entirely a matter for the Commission if the case is referred again to the Appeal court the Crown will defend the conviction.

It is not appropriate or helpful to seek to try a case in the media. The only place to determine guilt or innocence is in a court of law. The trial court accepted that this was an act of State sponsored terrorism and that Megrahi did not act alone.

Investigations will continue to bring the others involved in the murder of 270 persons to justice. As a result the Crown will be making no further comment on the evidence in the case and on the Statement of Reasons.

Notably, the First Minister welcomed the Sunday Herald’s publication of the SCCRC’s statement, more on which can be read at Scottish Law Reporter Crown Office ‘misled court’ : SCCRC statement on Lockerbie Trial reveals possible miscarriage of justice over conviction of Abdelbaset Al Megrahi

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One response to “‘Fear of the front page’ provokes Crown Office condemnation over media’s publication of SCCRC Lockerbie miscarriage of justice report

  1. Pat Ro

    March 28, 2012 at 5:06 pm

    Among the paradigm of “Everything I learned at school is wrong,” might be accompanied by “Everything I learned in law school is wrong.” Who knows how many professions it affects?

    Such mixed messaging does nothing to endow the professions with integrity, or a premise of authority that deserves it, especially when the very persons designed to exhibit that integrity are the very ones who undermine it.

    Coming to the conclusion that the whitewashing of the profession and endowing it with a semblance of immunity sufficient to raise it to a level of immunity was the idea behind both “lawyer-client confidentiality,” but especially, the Professional Codes of Conduct and practice which must always be deliberated in private before a society of peers to enforce the lawyer’s code of omerta that is idolized and worshipped in the medical profession.

    If one is Congressman, President, Governor, or Judge, one has little need of this professional courtesy since it is endowed by the office. Ordinarily, however, ordinary lawyers aren’t thus endowed, and had to figure out for themselves how to endow themselves of this “official privilege.” Hence, the ABA, and its ilk, in order to artificially confer such privilege, and in the alternative, to allow all manner of wrongdoing from contract to any form of representation for client or company that works to whitewash or cleanse the reputation of any lawyer, and a highly prized commodity by lawyers giving them their oversized reliance upon their professional image, and playing it to the hilt on every possible stage where legality is referenced, hence, the prohibition of practicing without a license, and its ferocity of defense.

    But, if lawyers were up to the challenge, would they need to invent this alternate universe in which they were presumed to exist? Wouldn’t their personal reputation precede them, rather than borrowing one from the professional artifice?

    Professional fraud comes in many forms but when it is so interwoven into the nature of the profession and its standing in society, where is the personal regulation except by its own artifice of convention designed to protect it?

    Do lawyers need independent regulation to validate their profession?
    Are we producing criminals rather than lawyers?

    If tricks of the trade are meant to choose methods of evading law: like forum shopping, judge shopping, substitution of laws, pick and choose laws, alteration of laws, and their timing, haven’t we produced the most skillful criminals around?

     

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