Douglas J. Cusine: Why is the Justice Secretary so quiet about the malicious prosecution scandal?



Douglas J. Cusine asks why Scotland’s Justice Secretary, Humza Yousaf, has been so quiet about the malicious prosecution scandal.

One has to wonder if Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf is in hiding or is otherwise keeping a low profile over the Rangers case. There was a discussion in the Scottish Parliament on 11 February. Whether he was present on that occasion, I do not know, but, absent or not, one would have expected some comment from him following that discussion.

Not a word of which I am aware. It may be that he agrees with the comment made by Rona Mackay MSP, that “lessons have been learned”. So, then, what’s all this nonsense about an inquiry? Hers is an interesting comment because one would assume that if lessons have been learned, we would all know (a) who authorised the prosecution and its further progress; (b) why that happened; and (c) what provisions have been put in place to ensure, so far as possible, that there is no recurrence.

I may have missed something, but I doubt if I would have missed any observations on these issues. It would not be unreasonable, in my view, to assume from Ms Mackay’s statement that she wants this issue swept under the carpet. Even if Templeton’s carpet factor were still in existence, it would not have the time or the materials to make a carpet big enough.

If the Justice Secretary does not share her view, and no one else who contributed to the discussion seemed to, it is not acceptable for him to maintain this silence. He may be of the view that the Lord Advocate should be in the firing line, but whatever one might think of the Lord Advocate’s comments to the Scottish Parliament, there is nothing else he can say. It is for the Scottish Parliament to decide what should happen next and one would expect something from the Justice Secretary on that. I accept that is not an easy matter, but that is what he is paid for and if the kitchen is too hot, he knows where the door is.

Alistair Bonnington’s view was that the Justice Secretary “doesn’t have clue” what to do. If he wants to demonstrate that Alistair is incorrect in that opinion, it is time he came out of hiding, or wherever he is, and says something about an inquiry, preferably, something constructive. If he hopes, as Ms Mackay seems to, that this matter will disappear, he is not living in the real world.

The failure to move on this means, among other things, that any cloud hanging over those who were and those who are currently in the Crown Office, remains as does any distrust in the minds of the public.

Not fair, in my view, but the Justice Secretary may not agree.

Douglas J. Cusine is a retired sheriff and a respected author of articles and books on legal and medico-legal topics.



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