Latest entry 1st August 2008
JUNE 21st 2007
The cause of most miscarriages of justice in the past 5 decades has
been the need to identify and punish a criminal at all costs. In any
high profile case that has come to public attention through the media,
the police and the courts are under pressure to prove that crime does
not pay, that murderers get caught, that seriously unacceptable
behaviour will incur retribution. Our society finds this necessary.
When individuals call for 'justice' they mean at worst revenge or at
the very least the evidence they do not have to take the law into their
own hands or look to their own resources to deter attack or abuse from
others. Crimes against children give rise to especially strong calls
for punishment. The power of deterrence has to be upheld. The social
contract is valid only when enforced by the sovereign power.
when a notable and admired BBC programme presenter was shot on her
doorstep the pressure on our services of law and order to prove that
this could not be done and got away with was considerable. But there
were no leads and no traces. Eventually, the closest they could get to
a possible suspect was then subjected to every possible examination and
pressure to fit the frame but even then no proof at all could be found.
But through a process of inuendo and the exposure of the admittedly
less than attractive life history of the suspect he gradually became a
figure that no jury would find difficulty in finding guilty should any
trace of tangible evidence connecting him to the victim be found. At
that point, efforts redoubled to find such evidence, however minute,
and though what was found at last was so minuscule as to be almost
meaningless, it was enough for a judge, a jury and a public desperate
for reassurance that even if we were not always 100% safe on our front
doorsteps, no gunman is safe from the long arm of the law.
Birmingham Six, The Maguire Seven, The Guildford Four were all victims
of the same need to prove that the arm of the law was long, strong and
inexorable in its operation. Some were guilty, but not of the crime at
issue. Some no doubt were content to keep the law off the backs of the
real perpetrators and believed that being innocent they would never be
convicted and were surprised when they were. All were eventually
exonerated. As far as I can remember the actual perpetrators were never
identified publicly or brought to trial.
hope is that we are now moving to a new stage in the development of
forensic science where the possibilities of reliably tracing the
physical connection between people, places, times and events is very
much greater, while a realisation of the errors and corruption that can
still bedevil attempts to arrive at absolute certainty is also growing
and better understood. The combination should bode well. Technology in
wise hands is the way humanity has made great advances in the past. The
combination of modern techniques should enable the police to step away
from the need, when under pressure to find the culprit, to take a
single science to its ultimate and possibly absurd limit. Even more
important, it should enable them to abandon completely their efforts to
force pictures of a puzzle into spaces they do not fit.in order to
prove their ability to track down the guilty when the pressure is
JUNE 28th 2007 - LOCKERBIE
Here is a very special case, but it is partly the same root cause.
There comes a point when the high-level, costly detective work has to
be drawn to a close. At the same time the community wants a result and
will not accept a non-conclusive end. In the case of the Lockerbie
Bomber a complex web of connecting evidence was put before a court
sitting in Holland under Scottish law and a man was convicted. Now it
seems the UK and US governments may have acquiesced in this result
because to find those really responsible was both too difficult to
prove and practically impossible at the time due to critical
international political developments. It looks as though an individual
may have paid with his liberty to solve an intractable political
problem. There are many who believe that the airliner was brought down
by Iranian operatives as revenge for the shooting down in error of an
Irania airliner by the US Navy.
Iran Air Flight 655 (IR655)
was a commercial flight operated by Iran Air that flew from Bandar
Iran to Dubai, UAE. Towards the end of the Iran Iraq War, On Sunday
July 3, 1988, the aircraft flying IR655 was shot down by the U.S. Navy
guided missile cruiser USS Vincennes between Bandar Abbas and
Dubai, killing all 290 passengers and crew aboard, including 38
and 66 children. The Vincennes was inside Iranian territorial
waters at the time of the shoot-down.
According to the U.S. government,
the Iranian airbus was mistakenly
identified as an attacking military fighter. The Iranian government,
however, maintains that the Vincennes knowingly shot down a
There is no way the Vincennes would have
deliberately shot down a civilian plane, but it is time to re-examine
the evidence against Megrahi even if Lybians were responsible.
Here's a summary from ITN to remind you of the broad details
IITN - Thursday, June 28 07:21 am
A review of the
conviction of the Lockerbie bomber, which could lead to a new appeal,
is set to be published.
Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC) is to reveal if it is
to refer the case of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi to the Court of
The Libyan was convicted in 2001
of the murder of 270
people after the bombing of Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie on
December 21, 1988.
It is possible that the SCCRC
will decide that
an appeal can be made on the grounds that a miscarriage of justice may
have taken place.
All 259 people aboard Pan Am
Flight 103 died
when the aircraft exploded above Lockerbie. The wreckage then killed 11
residents of the Scottish town when it fell to the ground.
Megrahi was found guilty of mass murder at Camp Zeist in Holland in
2001 and was later told he must serve at least 27 years in jail.
A previous appeal by Al Megrahi,
currently being held at Greenock prison, was thrown out in 2002.
JULY 21st 2007
truly terrifying truth which is now coming to light is this: if we did
not have a CPS that is independent of the police, the police WOULD HAVE
GONE AHEAD WITH A PROSECUTION IN THE 'CASH FOR HONOURS' CASE just to
prove they had a case which needed investigating and
justify the expense and their methods. This in turn would have involved
millions more in
costs. At the end, the pressure to get a result is the sort of pressure
that has led in the past to a miscarriage of justice. The
importance of an independent CPS has never been so clearly
demonstrated. The police, instead of accepting the CPS decision, have
allowed senior policemen to publicly question the result. This is truly
disgusting. Whatever the truth, no 'crime' has been committed worthy of
NOVEMBER 15th 2007
As expected Barry George's appeal has today been allowed and there will
be a re-trial. That is the right decision and the right procedure. The
original result was a typical result, in the case of a miscarriage, of
the adversarial system, the impressionablity and ignorance of juries,
and the public need for a result.
AUGUST 1st 2008
Barry George has of course been found not guilty this time. The
prosecution still put its absurd case, pretending it was fair and
logical, and the police spokeman afterwards expressed (unbelievably) "regrets" that
the origina verdict had been overturned. How many other 'Barry Georges'
are there in prison? Perhaps the police could use sone retrospective
DNA technology to get them out! Not likely though, is it?