Monday, February 27, 2012
Lockerbie comes back to haunt SNP Justice Sec Kenny MacAskill as new book claims he tampered with a witness, if true, his position is untenable
I have written previously that Kenny MacAskill in my opinion is unfit to be the Justice Minister of Scotland.
Apart from his law degree, his only qualification is that he fits the criteria of being Alex Salmond’s ‘pal’.
If you are Alex Salmond’s pal, you automatically qualify under ‘does your face fit’ rule in the Scottish National Party.
MacAskill is wrong for justice, oh so wrong.
George Laird said it before and it appears that George Laird is right again.
It now transpires in the public domain that Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill personally urged the man convicted of the Lockerbie bombing to drop his appeal.
This was the ‘carrot’ placed in front of Al Megrahi to pave the way for compassionate release from prison.
Some people may opine that is tampering with a witness during live legal proceedings!
If true, his position as Justice Minister is untenable, resignation isn’t an option, this is a sacking offence.
The claims regarding MacAskill are to be found in the authorised biography of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi.
The book reveals for the first time that Kenny MacAskill as the minister responsible for deciding whether he would return to Libya actively encouraged Megrahi to give up his case in the appeal court.
This allegedly happened in an exchange between a senior Libyan minister and MacAskill in a private meeting in Edinburgh.
The jist that:
"it would be easier for him to grant compassionate release if I dropped my appeal".
The Scottish legal system at the time was under the microscope on a number of issues that the SNP Government preferred to brush under the carpet as they saw themselves as the ‘new establishment’. It was important to cosy up to the Crown Office and Judges rather than be an impartial Justice Minister.
Many people believe that the Megrahi case was a fundamental miscarriage of justice, however the search for the truth was abandoned very quickly by the SNP Government as Alex Salmond wanted to be ‘statesmanlike’ on the world stage by publicly sticking two fingers up to the Labour Government in Westminster who had struck a ‘deal in the desert’ under Blair.
Compassion was the new SNP buzzword.
I campaign for Megrahi to be released on compassionate grounds to do his appeal which I believed stood a fair chance of being successful.
The SNP Government wrongly put him on a plane when they should have released him for the appeal, because it isn’t just important that justice is done, it has to be seen to be done.
The Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission had already highlighted six grounds for suggesting Megrahi's conviction was unsafe.
Anyone of them upheld would have been enough for his release and declaring a mistrial.
Of the ‘deal in the burgh’, Megrahi:
"On 10 August (2009), MacAskill and his senior civil servants met a delegation of Libyan officials, including Minister [Abdel Ati] Al-Obeidi. By this time I was desperate.
"After the meeting the Libyan delegation came to the prison to visit me. Obeidi said that, towards the end of the meeting, MacAskill had asked to speak to him in private”.
“Once the others had withdrawn, MacAskill told him it would be easier for him to grant compassionate release if I dropped my appeal. He [MacAskill] said he was not demanding that I do so, but the message seemed to me to be clear. I was legally entitled to continue the appeal, but I could not risk doing so. It meant abandoning my quest for justice."
If the appeal had no bearing on his release then questions have to be answered why the issue was brought up.
John Ashton, a former member of the defence team said:
"The Justice Secretary and his officials should, at all times, have made it clear to Mr Megrahi and his representatives that, if he chose to continue his appeal, it would have had no bearing on the justice secretary’s decision on whether or not to grant compassionate release. Furthermore, they should have been aware that, given Mr Megrahi's desperate position, even the slightest pressure that was applied would have caused him to abandon the appeal, even though he was not legally obliged to do so. Of course, by dropping the appeal he spared the Scottish criminal justice system a colossal embarrassment."
A spokesman for Prime Minister David Cameron said:
"This is yet another reminder that Alex Salmond's government's decision to free the UK's greatest mass murderer was wrong. Writing a book three years after he was released is an insult to the families of the 270 people who were murdered."
A spokesman for First Minister Alex Salmond was quick to deny the allegation.
The spokesman said:
"The Justice Secretary has not had a meeting with any party to this issue in the absence of officials. So there has been no such meeting."
Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson said:
"This is a staggering claim and implies that the Scottish Justice Minister was offering legal advice to help a convicted killer escape prison. The allegation is that rather than face a potentially embarrassing and public appeal in court the SNP shut Megrahi up on the promise that it would help in his eventual release – and supports similar claims previously made by SNP member Christine Grahame.
"The SNP Government asserts that they are trying to be more transparent, but this statement paints a far different picture. These are grave allegations and if the Justice Secretary has been withholding information then it calls his position into question. There is now an urgent need for Kenny MacAskill to make a statement to Parliament explaining these claims, followed by an immediate inquiry as so we can finally get to the bottom of this case."
Willie Rennie, leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats said:
"It is important that the Justice Secretary answers serious questions."
Kenny MacAskill will remain the Justice Minister of Scotland under the Alex Salmond ‘middle class pal’ rule for Government Ministers.
Anyone with a shred of decency would have canned MacAskill years ago.
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University