The Lockerbie trial again makes the headlines, with Dr Hans Köchler, the United Nations observer to the Trial which took place in the Netherlands under a bizarre set up of Scottish Law, calling for an international inquiry into the handling of the case.
Of course, the handling of the case - such as it was, is consistent with Scottish Justice, or should I say Scottish Injustice .. and 'institutions' such as the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission, which itself has played the major part recently in 'recommending' an appeal into the Lockerbie Trial, leave a lot to be desired in terms of impartiality.
Over the past week, I have had a few emails from solicitors who have identified themselves to ensure their authority in their words. Only a few times over the course of the past year and a half of this blog has that happened, but the past week has certainly broken that record.
One fairly senior solicitor in the profession, willing enough to speak to me but unwilling to speak in public due to what happens to those in the profession who do, said to me "Don't you think it is so telling of Scots Law that our own people who are caught up in injustice have to rely on the faint prospect of an inquiry into a case relating to a terrorist incident on Scottish soil ? ... why can't we do something for our own people without having to be prodded by international agencies ?"
He's right of course. Scotland seems to excel at mistreating it's own people for greed & power when it comes to problems with the Justice system .. and those at the top, seem to go along with it for what motive ? deals to stay in power ? deals to keep the creaky justice system afloat & avoid legal challenges which might strike most of it down ? a cheap house on the side or a scandal swept under the carpet ?
All of those from inside the legal profession contacting me over my well aired sentiments on the leadership of the Law Society of Scotland seem to agree wholeheartedly too .. although I can only assume Douglas Mill's supporters have held their tongues for now, perhaps concocting yet another deviously despicable plan to get back at me later on.
Certainly folks, it seems democracy isn't allowed in the legal profession - something we shouldn't be surprised about, and while they have all these fancy public debates on 'the law', plotting the course of the law, how it should be steered, who should be influenced to do what, who should make a few threatening letters & statements in the press against change, etc ...the legal profession always has it's own interests at heart.
Just the other day, leaks of the formation process of the new Scottish Legal Complaints Commission reached my eyes, where it seems further discussions have been made over what the Commission should and shouldn't do and who should be appointed and who should not .. and what should be declared ...
Oh yes of course, our new SNP Executive will tackle that one, after all, I did, in a way, as you know, support 'change for the better' - if it was of course, change for the better ... but is it turning out to be change for the better ?
Well, would you believe, the solicitors who are going to sit on the Commission are not to be asked to declare their full regulatory history before being appointed. .. so in effect, we can have some of the worst members of the legal profession sitting on Committees of the new Scottish Legal Complaints Commission, or advising it, while having unsuitable regulatory histories and no one will ever know about it !.
There would be a problem of course, with any declaration of a regulatory history by a solicitor or the Law Society of Scotland. That problem is - they tend to be liars when it comes to telling how badly they have performed in the past, so could anything be believed from a member of Scotland's legal profession so willing to sit on the new 'independent' Scottish Legal Complaints Commission ?
Perhaps an even worse problem has emerged in the formation process of the new SLCC, with the possibility of the infamous insurers to the Law Society of Scotland's Master Insurance Policy, Marsh UK and the many insurance firms who underwrite the infamously corrupt "Professional Indemnity Insurance Scheme of Scotland's legal profession, are vying for the business to provide services to the new independent legal complaints body. Sources within the Executive say this could be on the cards - although it was hoped no one would notice ...
Such are the problems with the new Commission, even before it's got off the ground, I have asked the Justice Secretary to confirm or deny these matters reported to me .. and time will tell on the response from the Scottish Executive on how honest or independent the SLCC will be ... giving an indication of who is interfering, and who is being allowed to interfere with our supposed remedy to the failure of the Law Society of Scotland for decades to regulate complaints from the public against a massively corrupt membership.
I have been running my own tests on the intentions of the Executive to deal with matters of injustice in the field of regulation of the professions, and have to report a rather blunt set of responses, indicating that injustice may well be here to stay for now.
In one instance, John Swinney's Finance Department incredibly choosing to let Westminster make an order there be no inquiry into regulation of accountants for now, and in another instance, when a member of the public who appeared at last year's Justice 2 Committee with evidence of memos written by the Chief Executive of the Law Society himself, interfering in negligence cases against crooked lawyers, has been effectively told to get stuffed and that now there will be no support for any claim against the Scottish Executive - quite a turn around from what was said at the Justice 2 Committee hearings and the confrontation with Chief Executive Douglas Mill over his own written words.
So, will Granny swear by the SNP ? ... because we know from Douglas Mill's own bizarre claims before the Justice 2 Committee last year, that Granny couldn't swear by the Law Society ... We will just have to wait & find out ... I will be publishing this critical material in later articles for you to consider for yourselves.
Getting back to Lockerbie, being but a symptom of the injustice in Scotland felt by many of our own citizens, Dr Hans Köchler and the United Nations might do well to listen to the trials of the Scottish public themselves too, our experiences and victimisation at the hands of our very own legal system, where politicians have stood by and allowed disgraceful & corrupt conduct to become routine, by those who 'serve' the legal system or use it as a business model.
Perhaps there has to be a much wider international inquiry into the fiefdom of Scottish Justice as a whole, not just on Lockerbie ... and the world must find out if our country's justice system can be trusted with anything ? certainly the public of Scotland deserve better.
UN Lockerbie trial observer urges independent inquiry into the case MICHAEL HOWIE HOME AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (firstname.lastname@example.org)
THE United Nations observer appointed to oversee the Lockerbie trial has called on Alex Salmond, the First Minister, to agree to demands for an international inquiry into the handling of the case.
Dr Hans Köchler has written to Mr Salmond and Jacqui Smith, the Home Secretary, calling for experts from countries not involved in the case to investigate the way the investigation was conducted by UK and US authorities.
His letter follows the decision by the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC), announced last week, to grant a fresh appeal into the conviction of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi.
In a summary of its 800-page report, released following a three-year review into the case, the SCCRC said it had found six grounds which indicated that a miscarriage of justice may have occurred.
These concentrated on the evidence of Tony Gauci, the Maltese shopkeeper who said a man resembling Megrahi had bought clothes from his shop which were found to have been wrapped around the bomb that brought down Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie on 21 December, 1988, killing 270 people.
The SCCRC also said it rejected nearly 50 other grounds presented by Megrahi's defence team.
It also dismissed claims that Megrahi's original defence team was incompetent and rejected an attack on the credibility of a key witness, forensic expert Allen Feraday. The SCCRC also rejected claims evidence was invented to lead a trail to Libya.
"The commission has 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," it said.
Such exoneration of the authorities was described as "rather strange" by Dr Köchler, who concluded in an earlier report that the original Camp Zeist trial was "not fair and was not conducted in an objective manner".
In his letter, Dr Köchler called for "a full and independent public inquiry of the Lockerbie case and its handling by the Scottish judiciary as well as the British and US political and intelligence establishments".
He also called for the SCCRC's full report to be made public.
His letter states: "In order to avoid bias, such an investigation will require the participation of additional legal experts, to be appointed by the United Nations Organisation, from countries that are not involved in the Lockerbie dispute.
"Those politicians in the United Kingdom and the United States who have proclaimed an international 'war on terror' will not be credible in their strategy if they prevent a full investigation into the causes of the explosion of Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie. All those responsible, without exception, must be brought to justice."
His call for an independent inquiry was last night backed by the Reverend John Mosey, whose daughter was killed in the disaster, a member of the support group UK Families Flight 103.
"There has to be some sort of independent inquiry. We have been calling for that for some time. I realise it wouldn't necessarily be a public inquiry at all times because it would have to deal with the dissemination of highly-sensitive intelligence.
"An international panel of experts would guarantee a certain open-mindedness. The problem with an inquiry in Scotland, composed of Scottish legal establishment figures, is who can we trust to chair it? Who is not establishment? This proposal has some mileage in it."
A Scottish Executive spokeswoman said: "Our focus remains fixed on ensuring that justice is done in the public interest. " HEARING WILL BE NEXT YEAR
AN appeal over the conviction of Megrahi will not be heard until well into 2008.
There has been speculation that a hearing could be staged as early as this year, but such a timescale will be impossible to meet for the Libyan's defence team.
Following the move to grant a fresh appeal, Tony Kelly, Megrahi's lawyer, said he had "a blank sheet" upon which to write a new set of grounds to try to have the conviction quashed.
Press Release from Dr. Hans Köchler, the United Nations Observer on the Lockerbie Case follows :
Lockerbie case: Call for independent investigation
United Nations observer Dr. Hans Köchler sends letters to Scottish and British officials
Dr. Hans Köchler, the international observer appointed by the United Nations to the Lockerbie trial in the Netherlands, today reiterated his call for a full and independent public inquiry of the Lockerbie case, a measure which he had initially suggested in April 2002.
In letters sent to the First Minister of Scotland, Alex Salmond, the British Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, the British Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith, and the Minister for Africa, Asia and the UN, Mark Malloch Brown, Dr. Köchler transmitted his statement on last week's decision of the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC), in which he emphasized, inter alia, that, in order to avoid bias, an investigation into the handling of the Lockerbie case by the Scottish and British authorities will require the participation of additional legal experts, to be appointed by the United Nations Organization, from countries other than the UK, US and Libya, i.e. from countries that were not involved in the Lockerbie dispute.
In the statement issued today, the UN observer also expressed his full support for the proposal made by Tam Dalyell, former MP and Father of the House of Commons, to end all doubt with a public inquiry.
In his earlier comprehensive reports on the Lockerbie trial (issued on 3 February 2001) and appeal (issued on 26 March 2002) Dr. Köchler had suspected a miscarriage of justice - a conclusion now also reached by the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission ("The Commission is of the view ... that the applicant may have suffered a miscarriage of justice": Dr Graham Forbes, Chairman of the Commission, according to an SCCRC News Release of 28 June 2007).