Today's announcement by Cabinet Secretary Sir Gus O'Donnell that the British Government did all it could to assist the release of the man convicted of the Lockerbie bombing adds further weight to the suspicion that the greatest miscarriage of justice in Scottish legal history involved the British state.
Why was Al Megrahi released?
The question brings forward many competing explanations. According to Sir Gus O'Donnell he was freed because British oil interests demanded it. He was handed back to Libya so that BP could gain access to their huge untapped oil reserves.
The SNP Government are apparently appalled at this suggestion and the inference they had any part in this grotesque affair. But there are those of us who think they doth protest too much!
Arguing, as the SNP do, that he was released because the Scottish Justice system is known for its compassion and humanity, recognised he had terminal cancer and wished to see him spend his last few days with his family, is of course utter twaddle. The Scottish justice system has no such qualms. And it is an insult to our intelligence to suggest it has. People die in Scottish prisons all the time. If the SNP believe he was responsible for the worst mass murder in modern Scottish history then why did they insist, as a condition of his release, that he abandon his legal appeal against conviction. His case was being sympathetically examined by the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission. The idea that such a reactionary outfit as the SNP would show him the mercy he apparently never showed his victims is offensive nonsense.
The truth is itb suited both the Scottish legal establishment - of which the SNP is part- and the British state to prevent the full facts of this case coming out. Al Megrahi's hearing was widely expected to conclude that this was, to put it mildly, an unsafe conviction. It is now a matter of public record that Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny McAskill met AL Megrahi privately in his cell in Greenock prison and told him he could have his his freedom only if he agreed to abandon that appeal.
So Alex Salmond may be absolutely right to accuse Gordon Brown of rank hypocrisy in regard to his public statements following the release of Al Megrahi. But he is equally guilty of such a charge. The First Minister Salmond is taking us for mugs if he expects us to believe he is not also complicit in covering up the worst miscarriage of justice in Scots legal history.
Officially the SNP believes Al Megrahi was responsible for the bombing of Pan AM 103.
Officially the SNP believes the Scottish Justice system reached its verdict in possession of all the facts. Officially they also believe the Scottish Justice system is based on values of compassion and humanity and that this is exercised so liberally that the man convicted of cold blooded killing 300 people deserves mercy in abundance.
This is the same SNP who opposed compensation to those denied their human right to toilets in their cells, to those denied a lawyer at police interrogations and against offenders having the vote. Are we really to believe they are so liberal and compassionate as their release of Al Megrahi suggests?
I accuse the SNP of complicity in this cover up. The worst miscarriage of justice in British legal history also denies the victims of Pan Am 103 and their families the justice they deserve and the SNP knowingly plays its part.
I sat on the Scottish Parliament's Justice 2 Committee between 2003-2007.