Saturday, June 02, 2012

Lord Justice Clerk Lord Gill confirmed as new Lord President, controversial Lockerbie Lord Advocate Colin Boyd made a Court of Session judge

Lord GillLord President to be, Lord Gill LORD BRIAN GILL, Scotland’s current Lord Justice Clerk has been confirmed today as the new Lord President, replacing Lord Arthur Hamilton who retires later this month. The appointment of Lord Gill has been welcomed by many in the legal & political world, and also campaigners for law reform & the media. Lord Gill’s appointment is covered in the popular Scots law blog “A Diary of Injustice in Scotland” HERE and readers may be interested to view Lord Gill’s appearance before Holyrood’s Justice Committee, covered by Scottish Law Reporter in 2009, HERE

However, while many welcome Lord Gill’s appointment as Lord President, the hopes of reform to the justice system and courts have been set back with the First Minister’s nomination of Lord Colin Boyd, who has now been appointed to a post of judge at the Court of Session.

Lord Boyd was the Lord Advocate in the fit up trial of Abdelbasset al Megrahi for the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland in December 1988. There had been speculation earlier in April that Lord Boyd was to be made a judge, reported on Professor Robert Black’s Lockerbie Case blog, HERE

The announcement from the Scottish Government :

Appointment of Lord President and Senators

First Minister Alex Salmond today welcomed the appointment by Her Majesty the Queen of The Rt Hon Lord Gill as Scotland’s new Lord President. Lord Gill replaces the Rt Hon Lord Hamilton who retires on 8 June. Mr Salmond said that Lord Gill was an outstanding individual who would lead Scotland’s judiciary with independence and integrity and had a clear vision for the continued modernisation of the Scottish courts. Lord Gill was nominated by the First Minister taking account of recommendations made by a selection panel constituted under the Judiciary and Courts (Scotland) Act 2008.

Mr Salmond said: "I warmly welcome the appointment of The Rt Hon Lord Gill as Scotland’s new Lord President. His commitment to reform and modernisation is clear and under his leadership I am confident there will be substantial improvements to the justice system. He is an individual of great stature and integrity and in leading Scotland’s judiciary will enjoy the respect and confidence of those around him."

"I would also like to take the opportunity to thank Lord Hamilton for his leadership over the last few years in establishing the new role of the Lord President and the new governance arrangements for the Scottish Court Service. The changes introduced by the Judiciary and Courts (Scotland) Act were of considerable constitutional significance, and their successful introduction will stand as a testament to his period in office."

Her Majesty the Queen, on the recommendation of the First Minister, has also appointed Lord Boyd QC, Michael Jones QC, and David Burns QC as Senators of the College of Justice.

First Minister Alex Salmond nominated Lord Boyd, Michael Jones and David Burns for appointment on the basis of a report by the independent Judicial Appointments Board for Scotland.

Lord Boyd, Michael Jones and David Burns will take up their appointments later in 2012.

Lord Gill is Scotland's longest serving judge. He is a graduate of the Universities of Glasgow and Edinburgh and lectured in the Faculty of Law of Edinburgh University before being admitted to the Faculty of Advocates in 1967. He was appointed Queen’s Counsel in 1981. He is a member of the English Bar (Lincoln’s Inn, 1991; Bencher 2002); an advocate depute 1977-1979; Standing Junior Counsel to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (1974-1977), the Home Office (1979-1981) and the Scottish Education Department (1979-1981); and Deputy Chairman of the Copyright Tribunal (1989-1994).

He was appointed a Judge in 1994 and Lord Justice Clerk in 2001. Lord Gill is Chairman of the Lands Valuation Appeal Court and was Chairman of the Scottish Law Commission from 1996 to 2001. In 2008, he was appointed by the UK and Scottish Governments to Chair the Public Inquiry into the fatal explosion in 2004 at the ICL factory in Glasgow. Lord Gill was also Chairman of the Scottish Civil Courts Review (2007-2009). He is Chairman of the Council of the Royal School of Church Music and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and a Fellow of the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama. In 2011, Lord Gill was awarded a Papal Knighthood of the Order of St Gregory the Great.

Lord Boyd qualified as a solicitor in 1978 and was called to the Bar in 1983. He was appointed QC in 1995. He practised at Caesar & Howie from 1978 to 1982 and as an Advocate from 1983 to 1997 building up a practice in civil and particularly planning law. He acted as Advocate Depute from 1993 to 1995 and was appointed Solicitor General for Scotland (for the UK Government) in 1997 and for the Scottish Executive in 1999. Lord Boyd was Lord Advocate from 2000 to 2006. His time in office saw the devolution of legislative responsibility to the new Scottish Parliament and the introduction of the European Convention on Human Rights into domestic law. He brought in significant reforms to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service. He was also responsible for the prosecution of the Lockerbie trial. He returned to practice as a solicitor advocate in 2007 joining Dundas & Wilson, Solicitors as a Consultant and Head of Public Law. He was appointed a Privy Councillor in 2000. He became a Life Peer in 2006 and is an Honorary Professor of Law at the University of Glasgow.

Mr Jones was called to the Scottish Bar in 1977 and to the Bar of England and Wales in 1987; he was appointed QC in 1989. He has acted as standing counsel to the Department of Trade in Scotland and has been an Advocate Depute. Apart from his practice, he has covered several roles within the Faculty of Advocates and has taught advocacy skills both in the United Kingdom and overseas. Since 2008 he has been Senior Partner with Simpson & Marwick, and Head of its Dispute Resolution Department and its Advocacy Unit. Mr Jones has been Part-time Chairman of the Police Appeals Tribunal since 1997 and Ordinary Judge of Appeal in Jersey and in Guernsey since 2005.

Mr Burns was admitted to the Faculty of Advocates in 1977 and took silk in 1991. Prior to his admission he worked as a legal assistant in Rochester, New York and San Francisco. From 1977 to 1989 he was a Junior Counsel involved in family law, personal injury and planning. From 1989 to 1991 he was an Advocate Depute and on return to private practice he resumed his involvement in planning, personal injury and criminal law. Mr Burns acted as Defence Counsel in the Lockerbie case from 2000 until 2002. In 1998 he was appointed Deputy Commissioner of Social Security and served as a temporary judge from 2002 to 2005. He became a part-time Sheriff in 2007.

The salary of the Lord President is £214,165 per annum and the salary of a Senator is £172,753 per annum.

The Judicial Appointments Board for Scotland was established by Ministers in 2002 and it became an independent advisory non-departmental public body on June 1, 2009. The Board has statutory responsibilities under the Judiciary and Courts (Scotland) Act 2008. The Board's role is to recommend for appointment to the office of judge, sheriff principal, sheriff and part-time sheriff. The First Minister retains the statutory responsibility for making nominations to Her Majesty the Queen. The First Minister is required by statute to consult the Lord President of the Court of Session before making his nomination to Her Majesty.

The process of selection for the Lord President is set out in the Judiciary and Courts (Scotland) Act 2008 ("the 2008 Act"). In line with those provisions the First Minister established a panel of 4 people and invited them to recommend individuals suitable for appointment. The panel was chaired by Sir Muir Russell (Chair of the Judicial Appointments Board for Scotland) and also comprised the Rt Hon Lord Hardie and the Hon Lady Dorrian (senators of the Court of Session) and Professor Coyle (a lay member of the Judicial Appointments Board for Scotland).

A recent report in the Herald newspaper regarding criticism of Lord Boyd’s role in the Lockerbie case :

Lockerbie trial QC criticised

Lucy Adams
Chief Reporter

The commission investigating whether there was a miscarriage of justice at the Lockerbie trial has criticised the former Lord Advocate who led the landmark prosecution.

Colin Boyd, QC, now Lord Boyd, was head of the team which has been accused of failing to disclose crucial information to the defence working on behalf of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi, who was convicted of the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103.

In its 821-page report, the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC) criticises Lord Boyd for his handling of CIA cables, referring to Abdul Majid Giaka, an alleged double agent who was a Crown witness. Giaka identified Megrahi as a member of Libyan intelligence, but his subsequent evidence was rejected following revelations in the US intelligence agency's much-redacted cables that he had demanded and received reward money.

Lord Boyd originally told the trial there was no need for disclosure.

However, the SCCRC said it was "difficult to understand" his assurances on August 22, 2000, that there was "nothing" within the documents relating to Lockerbie or the bombing which could "in any way impinge" on Giaka's credibility. It added: "The matter is all the more serious given that part of the reason for viewing the cables on 1 June, 2000, was precisely in order to assess whether information behind the redacted sections reflected upon Majid's credibility."

The Crown subsequently shared some of the redacted cables after demands from the defence.

Lord Boyd last night rejected the commission's claim. He said: "I reject the suggestion that I or anyone else in the prosecution team failed to disclose material evidence to the defence. All of the relevant CIA cables were disclosed subject to some exceptions, principally to ensure that the lives of named individuals were not put at risk. They were disclosed as a result of a request from the court directed to me.

"I am satisfied that the Crown acted with propriety throughout the trial and endeavoured in this case, as with any other conducted in my name as Lord Advocate, to secure the accused's right to a fair trial." He added he was "satisfied" the verdict was proper and correct.

The SCCRC report refers to a number of occasions when it was not granted full access to security documents from the CIA. It was not allowed to disclose certain documents about the case – including one relating to timers found in Senegal which were similar to those thought to have caused the tragedy, and claims by former CIA staff.

The UK Security Services complied with all requests to share information with the SCCRC but said a number of documents could not be disclosed because of national security.

Yesterday, The Herald reported that the SCCRC dossier uncovers serious discrepancies in the Crown Office's reasons for not disclosing vital information. The commission, which reviews cases post-appeal and investigates possible miscarriages of justice, told the Crown it would take legal action if the prosecution did not hand over important documents and speed up information sharing.

Legal experts have now called for a public inquiry into who was responsible for the 1988 atrocity, full disclosure of the SCCRC report and an inquiry into Crown Office practice not to disclose key evidence to the defence during the trial.

Last night Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill wrote again to his UK Government counterpart, Kenneth Clarke, to ask for an exemption under data protection laws to allow the document to be published.

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: "With virtually every passing day, more and more of the content of the SCCRC's Statement of Reasons in the Megrahi case comes into the public domain. Ministers firmly believe this selective reporting of the information only emphasises the importance of the SCCRC being able to decide to disclose information in the Megrahi case."

A spokesman for the Crown Office said: "This highly selective reporting of the commission's consideration of the CIA cables and Majid gives a misleading account of this evidence and the role of Lord Boyd.

"In particular, it fails to acknowledge that the commission concluded that there was no miscarriage of justice on this point and it also ignores the trial court's thanks to Lord Boyd for his efforts to bring this complex and sensitive information before the court.

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