Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Societal harmony depends on the rule of law being upheld -

Maybe I am really naive but I always thought that the legal system was independent - that although many people would like to influence a legal judgement and will bring pressure to bear, we have to trust in the rational decision making capabilities of our lawyers and judges and trust that their influence is given due weight in any political decision such as the one made by the Scottish Justice Minister last week.

The law is not there to be "fair" it is there to be just. There is a body of precedent and cases are judged against it. There are plenty of cases that hit the news and generate a national or international outcry. I can cite the one of the couple who got divorced and he wanted all of their frozen embryos to be destroyed. He won. He won even through he could get re married and have children of his own and his ex-wife had no more eggs and thus no chance at children ever again. Nobody can think that is fair. However, it is the law and the law was upheld regardless of public outcry.

The release of the Libyan terrorist on compassionate grounds is clearly offending people and making them unhappy - and I am talking from the position of having a friend of mine, whom I saw two days before the event, blown up on that plane. However, the Libyan's circumstances matched the body of precedent and so the judgement was made to release him. The Minister’s decision was made over a long period of time during which he would have considered every angle thoroughly and had an opinion given to him by legal experts. It is highly disrespectful to the legal experts to even hint that they were unduly influenced by political pressure over any other consideration. I will be horrified and disappointed and lose trust in the legal system if that turns out ever to be proven.

We cannot let public opinion or political pressure sway our legal system. I choose to believe we did not let that happen in this case and cannot let it happen in the future. The fall out is complicated but the law was upheld.


  1. Am I only person who wanted to slap the normally lovely Evan Davies this morning? Was he being deliberately obtuse? What is so hard about understanding there is a difference between a statement saying 'we are not actively seeking this man's continued detention until he dies' - which implies that no express steps will be taken to impose obstacles and interfere with a Scottish Govt decisn to do whatever it thinks fit - which if Eng. Govt is to be believed was the statement made, and 'we do not want him to die in gaol' - which is how it was then paraphrased - which implies more of a will/intention to interfere to achieve that outcome. Asserting that this was just a disingenuous use of words, which a commentator on Today then went on to allege is simplistic. It seems it was a very careful use of words with a very clear meaning. That was the whole point. Apparently not to Evan. Or maybe I've just been a lawyer too long. End of rant.