Lockerbie Bombing

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 4:16 pm on 31st January 2001.

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Photo of Lord Hughes of Woodside Lord Hughes of Woodside Labour 4:16 pm, 31st January 2001

My Lords, I, on behalf of many other noble Lords, echo the tributes paid to the families of those who lost their lives in the Lockerbie disaster. I also echo the tributes to the police and to those in the judicial system who have brought this trial to a conclusion--in so far as it has been drawn to a conclusion at present.

Given that we have known the verdict for less than five hours, I understand that it is difficult to comment on the wider questions of the case and to come to definite conclusions. However, I wonder whether my noble friend can clarify a point which may seem trivial but which, nevertheless, I consider to be important.

During the one o'clock news bulletin on the BBC today the whole issue was introduced by stating that one of the accused had been found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum of 20 years to be served before parole could be considered. Three minutes later, in introducing a discussion, the very same newscaster, reporter or commentator at the BBC said that the accused had been sentenced to 20 years' imprisonment. There is a huge difference between a life sentence with a minimum of 20 years before parole and an actual sentence of 20 years. I believe that people who perhaps do not follow these matters closely need to be assured that the BBC can report news items accurately. That affects people's judgment of how far justice has been achieved.