Sunday, October 31, 2010

Cardinal O' Brien And The Lockerbie Bomber

My blogging time is strictly limited these days, and accordingly I'm a few days late with this, but it's something I feel very strongly about.
His Eminence Keith Patrick Cardinal O' Brien, Archbishop of St. Andrews and Edinburgh and Scotland's senior Roman Catholic clergyman, has apparently added his voice to those seeking an independent enquiry into the circumstances surrounding the conviction of Abdelbaset Al Megrahi for the Lockerbie bombings. In my opinion, his decision to do so was unwise.
As is well known, Mr. Megrahi was released on compassionate grounds in 2009, having been diagnosed with cancer of the prostate. However, prior to his release he abandoned his appeal against conviction in the High Court of Justiciary. This means that it is part of the law of Scotland that Mr. Megrahi has accepted his guilt in this matter. To my mind, this is not the action of an innocent man.
In a sane system, this would render functus all further process in, and discussion of, the Lockerbie case. The responsible would be able leave Lockerbie to the chatrooms, the conspiracy theorists and the morbid narcissists, a type for which the Lockerbie case seems to have a particular attraction. However, the botched, bag of the fag packet nature of the devolution settlement effected by the Scotland Act 1998 seems to have rendered some of those under a public duty to be responsible into fraught, jumpy creatures. The emblem of devolved Scotland should not be the Lion Rampant but the Siamese cat.
Don't get me wrong, the Lockerbie case still throws up some pressing questions. If it is the case that the devolution settlement has enabled Mr. Megrahi to have a right to further process, such as a referral to to the Criminal Cases Review Commission, when he has accepted his guilt, then the law of Scotland has gone insane. If this loophole exists, it should be closed so tight it should be considered a singularity.
If it was the case that a deal of some kind was done so that Mr. Megrahi would get his liberty provided he dropped his appeal, then it is the kind of matter over which better administrations than our seedy, crappy, Christmas cracker novelty of a soi-disant, ersatz 'Scottish Government' would fall. If this has happened, it deserves to fall.
However, one question that doesn't arise is the most basic of all - who did it? Mr. Megrahi's abandonment of his appeal renders fruitless all further speculation concerning his role in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103, with all the violence and destruction that ensued. Instead of the issues of guilt and innocence being confused, in law they are crystal clear, thanks to the actions of nobody other than the convict. I wish that the Cardinal had picked another battle.

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3 Comments:

Blogger Charles said...

Having spent over twenty years studying Lockerbie, I can quite see why Mr Margrahi (sic) was unwilling to stay in his prison, given the chance to go home. Indeed representatives of his government told him to drop his appeal and he would go home quickly. He had little choice in the matter.

Why should the man who had suffered a travesty of a trial at Zeist (remember no jury) endure the tender and almost criminal attentions of the Scottish prosecutorial or justice system any longer.

It is quite clear that he is innocent of the charges put to him, with all the evidence being faked by the CIA and amplified by UK intelligence and forensic services.

It was the US and Iran who jointly carried out Lockerbie, as you will see on my blogspot, adifferentviewonlockerbie.blogsot.com, which has the advantage of not using silly Latin legal tags to explain things that can quite well be explained in English.

It is a good thing you blog rarely if you write tripe like this.

01 November, 2010 06:36  
Blogger Martin Meenagh said...

I'm in two minds about this. I think that an Inquiry on the lines that you are unhappy with would be fruitless, and I think that those unhappy with the case on which the state rested would not be won over anyway.

I also think that it is too late for a Warren-Commission style thing. Anyway, that example, in which a reasonably good inquiry was undermined and traduced by the pressures within and outwith it very quickly is not a good one. Releasing all the records may well compromise the country, even now, and endanger people in the middle east and here.

So we're left with what is essentially a parlour game deepened by the knowledge that real people whom others still love and remember died in great numbers and that it is probably a little early for the 'Jack the Ripper' or 'JFK' style cod forensics that people love to indulge in.

There are almost always evidential loose ends and doubts in a case; after all, though ‘reasonable doubt’ is no longer used as a form of words, verdicts are not turned in on the basis of ‘no doubt at all’. I'd still like to find out about that suitcase, the Syrians, the break-in at Heathrow, and the details of Mr Megrahi's release, for example. Even so, I'm fairly sure that it would do no one any good to know, whatsoever....

01 November, 2010 07:10  
Blogger Martin said...

Charles,

It would be an unnecessary departure from my Christian principles to say that I couldn't give a toss about you or your blog, so I won't. Your blogger profile describes you as being a 'Lockerbie researcher'. Although I have never seen such a job description in Yellow Pages. I'm sure it's a very fulfilling way of spending your time. It would, however, do your ability to make friends and influence people no end of good if you were to leaven your extremely abrasive manner with a little respect for knowledge. The expression 'functus' is not a 'silly Latin legal tag' but a perfectly competent term of art within Scottish criminal procedure. I know this because I have been a solicitor in Scotland not once but twice. If understanding the language of procedure is beyond your competence, I would suggest you avoid commenting on it.

The nature of your logic seems a bit skewed, come to think of it. While in prison, Mr. Megrahi had no diplomatic status. He was a common convict. Having abandoned his appeal, he still is. 'His government' had no power to compel him to do anything. If he listened to their advice, I'd love to know how closely he listened to his solicitors.

Now, this little exchange is a about as touchy-feely as I get with people who start getting lippy in the Combox. It is not me, but would certainly appear to be you, who has a great deal of difficulty with the establised legal status of Abdelbaset Al Megrahi. Whatever qualifications you actually have to comment upon this matter other than your opinions, allied to a perhaps unjustified belief in their own correctness, I don't know; but I do know the Scottish criminal courts, and I do know that Megrahi abandoned his appeal. That's enough for me.

Now go away and don't come back, because you'll be moderated away. This is one situation in which you're not having the last word.

Martin,

As ever, your description of further speculation concerning Lockerbie as a 'parlour game' is, as ever, both gracious and apt. I would only add that it seems to be equally timewasting and futile.

01 November, 2010 07:39  

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