The Crown Office has today issued the following statement in response to the Sunday Herald’s publication of the SCCRC report. It features in a BBC online article. In my view the statement is inaccurate and misleading. My comments are in normal typeface.
The commission was working to facilitate the publication with appropriate protection for all of the persons named in it taking account of their human rights (articles two and eight) and issues of confidentiality. The unauthorised publication by the Sunday Herald today does not deal with any of these issues which rightly constrain all public authorities by law … [The Crown Office has] become very concerned at the drip feeding of selective leaks and partial reporting from parts of the statement of reasons over the last few weeks in an attempt to sensationalise aspects of the contents out of context.
Publication was authorised by Abdelbaset, who is the person whose human rights are most affected by publication. Under Section 32 of the Data Protection Act, the media can publish in the public interest. The report does not required any sensationalising; it is sensational.
Persons referred to in the statement of reasons have been asked to respond to these reports without having access to the statement of reasons and this is to be deplored. Further allegations of serious misconduct have been made in the media against a number of individuals for which the commission found no evidence. This is also to be deplored. In fact the commission 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 …
This gives the impression that Megrahi: You are my jury and the previous reports in the Herald made unsubstantiated allegations against certain individuals and failed to report that the commission found no evidence that evidence was fabricated. In fact they did no such thing and were careful to report the commission’s findings on these matters.
… [It is] not appropriate or helpful to seek to try a case in the media. The only place to determine guilt or innocence is in a court of law. The trial court accepted that this was an act of State sponsored terrorism and that Megrahi did not act alone. Investigations will continue to bring the others involved in the murder of 270 persons to justice. As a result the Crown will be making no further comment on the evidence in the case and on the statement of reasons.
It is entirely appropriate that the weaknesses in Abdelbaset’s conviction and the conduct of the Crown be explored in the media and it is ludicrous to suggest otherwise.