Should you go about interfering in other countries’ judicial processes.

Foreign secretary William Hague today added to the calls from the Scottish Parliament Justice Committee for the Governor of California Arnold Schwarenegger, his justice minister, the US attorney general, and the senior doctor in the California prison service to come to Scotland to face the Scottish parliament Justice committee questioning in their investigation into the release of AL, the murderer of Scottish visitor to California Jock Tamson. Tamson’s murder caused particular disquiet in Scotland. AL had maintained his innocence throughout the process but was pardoned on compassionate grounds by the Governor of California following the diagnosis of untreatable bowel cancer.

The Scottish government protested against the release of AL to the US government. Secretary of State Clinton and President Obama explained this was a matter within the Californian jurisdiction but the Scottish government formally protested and Bill Aitken, convener of Scotland’s powerful Justice committee demanded that Schwarzenegger appear in Scotland to explain his decision – and whether the Governor had been influenced by representations from [well known burger chain] – an important American employer, keen to buy land from AL’s parents, who suggested to the US federal government that AL should be released from prison.

Snce the release [well known burger chain] has, as a result of its incompetence managed to destroy the natural beauty of Rum, Eigg, and Muck, as each island has drowned in a sea of hydrogenated fat, following an unfortunate breach in the hull of one of [well known burger chain]’s fat tankers.

Governor Schwarzenegger has explained that he was exercising a quasi-judicial function and has accounted to the California legislature, and will face the judgment of the Californian people. He explained that he had received no representations from [well-known burger chain].

Bill AItken has now sent a letter to the Governor and to President Obama pleading with him to appear before his justice committee to explain the position in full to the Scottish people.

In the recent dialogue between President Obama and Prime Minister David Cameron the President assured Cameron that Schwarzenegger had made the wrong decision. They violently agreed that AL’s release was wholly inappropriate.


Sound ridiculous?

It is.

The Scottish government and parliament should not expect to be able to interfere in a quasi-judicial decision in another country. Particularly it should not expect that in a federal legal structure – where power is devolved to state legislatures, that the federal government of that country should intervene on its behalf.

But I guess when your country has at least 50 times the population you assume that you can bully small countries into acquiescing in your process – even where all documentary material relating to the decision has been released.

I think that procedurally certain aspects of the manner in which MacAskill reached his decision – potentially risked calling that decision into question. But this was a decision he took after proper deliberation, based on proper evidence. He has accounted to the Scottish parliament. He and his party will account next year to the Scottish people in the Holyrood elections. He is right not to go to the US. They should respect the judicial and quasi-judicial processes in other countries. And our Prime Minister should learn when overseas that whether or not the UK is a junior partner we have 3 (and a bit) distinct legal systems in the UK – and each should be respected. And until he learns that he should keep his mouth shut.

Edited 8.45 with many thanks to @peatworrier for the improvement.

About loveandgarbage

I watch the telly and read when not doing law stuff and plugging my decade and a half old unwatched Edinburgh fringe show.
This entry was posted in lockerbie, scottish politics, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Should you go about interfering in other countries’ judicial processes.

  1. daibhid_c says:

    Excellent. Although I would add that [well known burger chain], for all it’s faults, is only one of the organisations involved in the Hebridean fat spill – it’s just all the others were British, so the government doesn’t blame them so much…

  2. Anonymous says:

    What a spendidly written post.
    All true, but then both the US and UK governments seem to feel perfectly within their rights to walk roughshod over legal systems no matter where in the world (as long as the country concerned is smaller and poorer than they are, and it doesn’t have influential [or big] friends).
    Why did we expect anything different?
    I expect if Obama decided to invade Scotland on the basis that we have WMDs (and he’d be right, we do), his half witted junior and very naive partner would be standing shoulder to shoulder with him.

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