Glasgow solicitor Aamer Anwar is to face contempt of court proceedings over statements he made after his client Mohammed Atif Siddique was convicted for "terrorism". The contempt case will be heard before a panel of up to three judges in Edinburgh High Court. The date of the hearing has yet to be announced. The move was announced in a lengthy "note" issued by Lord Carloway, the judge in the Siddique case.
It is clear from the detailed contents of the note that this is a wide-ranging attack meant to remove from defence lawyers any possibility of dealing in a politically-aware way with politically-driven cases. Lord Carloway particularly objects to Aamer Anwar's public comment that the the prosecution was driven by the state. Yet there is clear evidence - for example in statements made by senior officials to parliamentary committees - that many arms of the state are routinely involved in the decisions leading up to a "terrorism" arrest. The ongoing involvement of the security services in the presentation of the Siddique case was made clear to anyone who doubted it by their public intervention as soon as the verdict was announced. Anonymous "security" sources told the press of startling new allegations against the convicted man - even though nothing relating to these allegations had been mentioned during the trial.
Lord Carloway seems to think that the legal/political facts of life should never be mentioned in public - at least, not by any anyone connected with the Scottish justice system. And he seems to think that a guilty verdict should bind everyone connected with the system to stick to the judge's interpretation of the evidence heard in court. Apparently the traditional lawyer's statement from the steps of the court is good enough for England, but not for Scotland.
Lord Carloway's vendetta risks bringing the whole Scottish justice system into disrepute. As if it wasn't in enough trouble already, with the fingerprint scandal not quite behind it, with the William Gage and Stuart Gair miscarriages of justice still fresh in many people's memory, and with the Lockerbie trial still rolling around in the basement like an unexploded hand grenade.
It would be nice to see the Scottish legal profession stand up in defence of freedom of speech and the right of people targeted by the state to an effective defence. But these seem to be ideas that the Scottish legal establishment hardly dare whisper even to itself.