What good is a Justice Secretary who turns his back on victims of injustice ? .. or let me put it another way .. what good in public life is a ‘powerful’ politician who wont even help his own people ?
These are certainly questions many will be asking today as Scotland's Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill delivered a bitter blow yesterday against victims of injustice and the many ordinary Scots and people from across the world who took part in the "Silent Walk for Justice" in Edinburgh which began near Edinburgh Castle and ended at the foot of the Royal Mile at the Scottish Parliament.
The ‘silent walk for justice’ was arranged by Guje Borgesson, the mother of Annie Borgesson, who was found dead at Prestwick harbour in December 2005. Guje and Maria Jansson, Annie’s best friend have long battled for the Crown Office to give the family a Fatal Accident Inquiry in to Annie’s unexplained death, however the Crown Office have so far refused to do anything further in the case of Ms Borgesson’s death and also in a number of other unexplained deaths, some of which have been the subject of intense media scrutiny over the failings of various Scottish Police forces to property investigate what are suspicious deaths by any standards.
The participants of yesterday’s ‘Silent Walk’ expected & hoped that Mr MacAskill, or at least someone from his office would meet with them outside the Scottish Parliament at the end of their walk down Edinburgh’s Royal Mile. However, that was not to be, and to make matters worse, a spokesman for the absent Mr MacAskill claimed the Justice Secretary was "unaware of the protest" which had been widely covered in the Scottish media beforehand.
Several people today condemned Mr MacAskill for failing to meet those who gathered outside the Scottish Parliament yesterday in freezing weather to make their voices heard on the many cases of injustice in Scotland which the Scottish Government so far have done little or nothing to address.
One of those attending said "What good is a Justice Minister who isn't interested in justice and wont even come out to meet people who his own colleagues in legal circles are actually causing the injustice to ?"
Maria Jansson, one of the organisers of the ‘silent walk for justice’ commented “I truly hope that the many people that participated yesterday received new hope and strength to go on with high spirit and the feeling that we are together in this. We have all the same focus, namely to get the truth out in the open so that Justice can be done.”
“We must not judge each other, or measure or weight each other we have already been judged or measured by the authorities, and also by people. Now is the beginning of something new, for us all and by coming together we have made injustice visible, there are so many different True stories behind the many cases. Those stories, are to often forgotten in the Media coverage”
Fortunately for the rest of us, there are people who put in the effort to campaign against injustice, and Guje, Maria, and all those who attended or supported the aims of the silent walk are to be commended for their input into what must be one of Scotland’s most pressing issues – the very high level of injustice attributed to our failed Scots justice system which sadly seems to be low on the priorities of the current Justice Secretary and others in the Scottish Government.
Maria continued : “We walked together as humans, we made injustice visible, and showed every one that there are gaps in the justice system that needs to be filled.”
Its a pity though, that Mr MacAskill couldn’t manage a little bit of humanity yesterday, feigning ignorance through his spokesman of a highly publicised protest which many ordinary Scots were well aware of.
From my own experience, and I'm sure everyone would agree - those who turn their backs on the abused, the weak and those victims of injustice - all injustice, are as guilty as the abusers who cause it, and to think that not one member of staff from Mr MacAskill's office even put in a small effort to come out and receive the marchers is disgusting.
I think we can conclude quite easily Mr MacAskill has turned his backs on ordinary Scots, on victims of injustice, on those with no voice ... preferring instead to sit in Parliament and make grand statements about who he will personally protect in the monied professions, than make a small human effort to be a part of the rest of society who hope for better and fairer treatment.
In the following two videos, Mr MacAskill can be seen attesting to a ‘great debt’ the Scottish Government owes to the legal profession. Mr MacAskill goes further to say he will always personally protect lawyers
Surely Mr MacAskill as Justice Secretary, you owe the victims of injustice and the rest of us in Scotland who are not lawyers, a debt of service & duty too ?
It’s all about money - Kenny MacAskill said he would personally protect the legal profession, so why not help victims of injustice ?
The effort and goals of the 'silent walk' must go on, and without a doubt, Scotland needs a more compassionate, more capable and more attentive Justice Secretary who will speak to and for the needs of all Scots.
Here follows the Herald's report on the Silent Walk for Justice in Edinburgh including their video coverage :
The Herald newspaper interviews the silent walk for justice participants :
JULIA HORTON December 05 2008
INJUSTICE and prison separated us, yet we are always with you, your family.' A heartfelt message displayed on one of several large, neat placards held aloft yesterday by the wife and children of convicted Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi.
Others with similar messages ended Your son, Khalid' and Your son, Ali', as the youngsters publicly demonstrated their devotion to their imprisoned father.
For the Libyans there is no doubt that Al Megrahi is the victim of a miscarriage of justice. But there are many more people across the country who also feel that their loved ones have been wronged by the Scottish justice system.
Around 100 friends and relatives gathered in Edinburgh yesterday to highlight their cases, marching solemnly down the Royal Mile from Edinburgh Castle to the Scottish Parliament.
Their posters were of varying sizes and styles but their message was the same - Justice for Kevin', Justice for Jason', Justice for Annie'.
Standing in the chilly winter's afternoon, Hugh McLeod explained that he was there to fight for his son, Kevin McLeod, who drowned in Wick Harbour in February 1997.
The police concluded that the 24-year-old electrician's death was accidental after his body was recovered from the water on a Saturday morning following a night out at a club in the town.
But his father Hugh and mother June are convinced that their son was the victim of foul play and died after being beaten up.
A fatal accident inquiry in 1998 returned an open verdict and the family has challenged the police's conduct in the case ever since. They eventually secured an apology over the way Northern Constabulary dealt with their complaints, but have failed to get the cold case review which they believe could bring justice.
Clutching a Justice for Kevin' poster, Mr McLeod said: "The justice system needs to be changed. We hope that a lot of people here will get some form of justice. For us, that would be convicting Kevin's perpetrators."
A lone piper heralded the start of the Silent Walk for Justice, as the McLeods fell into line, walking two by two with other families along the pavement.
At the front of the procession was Guje Borgesson, who organised the event after becoming convinced that she had not received justice over the death of her daughter, Annie.
Like Kevin, Annie was found drowned, in her case on a beach at Prestwick in 2005.
No criminal investigation was launched because police believed that the 30-year-old Swedish woman committed suicide. But her mother could not accept that Annie would take her own life, and bruises and DNA found on her daughter's body fuelled her fears that the case was a murder.
Speaking as she walked slowly down the street, holding on to a photograph of Annie smiling out through long blonde hair, Mrs Borgesson, 55, said she was heartened by the show of support at the march.
She said: "I feel great that there are all these people here who share the same goal to show our concern about the justice system."
It was the second such peaceful protest she has arranged, with the first in Prestwick last year, and she had high hopes that Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill would meet the group to accept a book of letters outlining their stories.
Arriving outside the Parliament as darkness started to fall, the campaigners gathered together and placed their placards on the ground along with candles.
The image of Al Megrahi in traditional Muslim dress rested beside pictures of other alleged victims of injustice, including cyclist Jason MacIntyre, who was killed when a car hit him on the A82 in January this year.
Corinne Mitchell, mother of Luke Mitchell, who was c onvicted of the murder of schoolgirl Jodi Jones, was marching with her dog and a poster of her son. Mitchell, 20, is serving at least 20 years for the 2003 killing of his 14-year-old girlfriend but maintains he is not guilty.
There was also a photograph of Michael Ross, the soldier recently convicted of the killing of Bangladeshi waiter Shamsuddin Mahmood in Orkney in 1994.
Ross's lifelong friend, Susan Robertson, was among the group yesterday. The 30-year-old from Dunfermline admitted that she didn't think the event would create any major change in his case, but she said: "I am here to support Michael and his family."
More positive was Sandra Brown, long-time campaigner for justice for Coatbridge schoolgirl Moira Anderson, who disappeared in 1957 and whose body has never been found.
She said: "The Vicky Hamilton case, where they didn't give up for 17 years, shows that justice is still possible.
As it became clear that no-one from the Scottish Government would be meeting the group outside, Mrs Borgesson made a speech imploring the Justice Minister to act.
As candles flickered or went out in the cold breeze she said: "We have come here to take part in the silent walk of justice with the expectation that you can offer us some help ... We come from a wide variety of backgrounds but have all experienced the co mmon sense of frustration and hopelessness that there does not seem to be a solution to our problems." She added: "I'm amazed by the number and variety of people who have joined here today because they too feel that justice has eluded them."
As a few curious passersby looked on, the piper launched into Flower of Scotland before a minute's silence was held in a final, hopeful gesture of solidarity and respect.
He drowned in Wick Harbour in 1997 after a night out. His parents Hugh and June McLeod reject the police explanation of accidental death and remain convinced that their electrician son was the victim of foul play, dying after being beaten up in an argument with a man. A fatal accident inquiry in 1998 returned an open verdict and the family has challenged the police's conduct in the case ever since.
WHEN the body of Annie Borgesson was discovered washed up on a Scottish beach in December, 2005, police concluded that she had committed suicide. But the 30-year-old Swedish woman's mother, Guje Borgesson, believes her daughter was murdered because bruises and unidentified female DNA were found on her body. Last year she demanded a fatal accident inquiry into the death of her daughter, whose body was found on a beach at Prestwick in Ayrshire.
He was jailed for at least 20 years in 2005 for murdering his 14-year-old girlfriend, Jodi Jones. But Mitchell and his mother Corinne maintain he is innocent of the 2003 crime that shocked their home town of Dalkeith. He lost an appeal over the conviction and length of his sentence earlier this year but will appeal to reduce his jail term again next month. His family believe that evidence not heard at his original trial proves his innocence.
DECORATED war hero Michael Ross was jailed for life earlier this year for the killing of waiter Shamsudden Mahmood at a restaurant in Orkney in 1994. The soldier, just 14 when the murder took place, denies he was the balaclava-clad killer who burst into a Kirkwall restaurant and shot the 26-year-old waiter dead. His father, Edmund Ross, has always maintained his son's innocence, and a businessman has offered a £100,000 reward to help clear his name. A school friend recently claimed that she could give him an alibi.