Illegal Transportation of People (Scottish Airports)

– in the Scottish Parliament on 5th June 2013.

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Photo of Margo MacDonald Margo MacDonald Independent

4. To ask the Scottish Government whether it will use the criminal justice system to establish whether people have been transported illegally through Scottish airports and discourage it from happening again. (S4O-02198)

The Lord Advocate (Frank Mulholland):

The use of torture cannot be condoned. It is against international law and contrary to the common law of Scotland.

As the member will be aware, a police inquiry was conducted into allegations of extraordinary rendition at Scottish airports in 2007-08. Following the inquiry, the police concluded that there was insufficient credible and reliable information to enable them to commence a criminal investigation.

I am aware of the information that was provided by the rendition project involving researchers at the University of Kent and Kingston University. I consider that that information—and any other information that is additional to that considered by the police in 2007—should be the subject of police consideration. I will therefore ask Police Scotland to give consideration to that information.

Photo of Margo MacDonald Margo MacDonald Independent

I thank the Lord Advocate for his full reply. It is a better quality of reply than we have had on the issue up until now. However, as he is aware of the recent research, he will realise that allegations persist that such flights came through Scotland. I ask him to not dilly-dally and wait for someone to tell him that there should be an inquiry, because the evidence is there in front of his eyes and the will is there too, I imagine, from this Government, because the present minister said—in, I think, 2007—

Photo of Margo MacDonald Margo MacDonald Independent

—that it comes down to political will. Fundamentally, that is what is lacking from the Executive. The Government, as the Executive, must stand up for the values to which the people of Scotland adhere and maintain the laws that we have held dear for centuries. I appreciate that that is not in the Lord Advocate’s domain, but perhaps he could tell the minister that that is what we all believe.

The Lord Advocate:

I thank Margo MacDonald for her supplementary question. It is very important that there should be no dilly-dallying on this matter. I am confident that the police will conduct a thorough inquiry, which is always important in such matters.

However, it should be recognised that in order for criminal proceedings to be raised, it must be proved that a crime that is known to the law of Scotland has been committed; that an identified individual or individuals have committed or aided and abetted that crime within this jurisdiction; and that the individuals have the necessary mens rea—that is, knowledge that their actions are furthering the commission of the crime, and intent. Importantly, speculation, conjecture, innuendo and belief are insufficient. What we need is hard evidence—sufficient evidence that meets the requisite high standard of proof is required. However, I am confident that the police will do their duty and will conduct a thorough inquiry in accordance with Police Scotland principles.