Monday, March 10, 2008

No Justification

Dr Jim Swire has written to The Herald newspaper in Scotland regarding the Judges decision last week to uphold the right of the UK government to block the release of documents to convicted Lockerbie bomber Megrahi's defence team in his current appeal.

Mr Swire, as many other observers, finds no justification for this stance taken by the UK government.

Article Here -

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Friday, March 07, 2008

Non-Disclosure Upheld By Court.

Today the Appeal court in Edinburgh Scotland has ruled in favour of the UK government and the UK's Advocate General's intervention, including it's raising of the PII (Public Interest Immunity) on the matter of the withheld document(s) in the appeal of Mr Megrahi.

In short, the appeal court has ruled that the UK Advocate General, acting on behalf of the UK government, and it's claim of PII can take precedence over any decision taken by the Lord Advocate for Scotland, as they would have done, and would have instructed any Lord Advocate of Scotland to do on their behalf, before devolution in Scotland. The Scottish Lord Advocate had previously given no objection to the referred document being disclosed, which has now been viewed by the Crown Office, the UK government, the Dumfries and Galloway Police, the Scottish Lord Advocate herself and the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission, whom after viewing it determined it's non-disclosure and contents may have led to a miscarriage of justice in Megrahi's original trial.

The PII now claimed of a document (relating to other non-disclosed documents) from 1996, four years before the original trial began, after already being passed through numerous departments, is nothing more than a grotesque attempt by the UK government to suppress information of the case which clearly shows a deviation from the official facts as presented by the government and the investigators in the original trial.

David Milliband, the UK Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs has stated :

"The documents were provided in confidence to the United Kingdom Government by another State. Disclosure of the documents would harm the United Kingdom's international relations with that State. It would undermine the trust in the United Kingdom of the State whose confidences were disclosed. It would reduce the willingness of that State (i) to confide information to the United Kingdom, (ii) to co-operate with the United Kingdom in various fields, including counter-terrorism liaison. It would raise serious questions in the minds of other Governments around the world about the confidentiality of their communications with the United Kingdom Government and therefore their willingness to make such a commitment."

Miss Scott, representing Mr Megrahi stated :

"The subject-matter of that plea is or concerns international relations, defence of the realm, national security and counter-terrorism all of which are reserved matters under and in terms of the Scotland Act 1998 and hence matters for the UK Government. The Crown has an interest in the consideration and disposal of that plea, namely to make submissions on whether the Crown is under a duty to disclose the documents for the purposes of the appeal and to make submissions about the procedures to be followed to enable the plea to be dealt with in a manner which does not violate the petitioner's right to a fair trial (including his appeal). The Crown cannot set out the basis for or detail of these submissions in these Answers without reference to the content of the documents and their relevance to other evidence in the case. Averments about these matters would undermine the Advocate General's plea. The two protectively marked documents were provided by a foreign authority to the UK Government in confidence. The related material comprises inter alia communications between UK Government Departments in connection with the two protectively marked documents and correspondence between Crown Office and Dumfries and Galloway Police."

The court, having now ruled in favour of the UK taking precedence over Scottish judicial matters, will now have to consider the PII claim in respect of the public interest, and that of National Security against that of the citizens right to a fair trial. A ruling on this matter will be made at a later date after further discussions.

Full appeal court ruling here -

Guardian Report here -

BBC report here -

Prof. Robert Black's Blog -

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