I'm glad the trial happened but surprised by the verdict

Comment: Robert Black
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The Independent Online

I have to say I am very, very surprised by the verdict as I thought the case would be found Not Proven. It means the prosecution case has been vindicated - I thought their case was not very strong but it has convinced the judges and that is what counts. Had I been a judge I would not have agreed.

I have to say I am very, very surprised by the verdict as I thought the case would be found Not Proven. It means the prosecution case has been vindicated - I thought their case was not very strong but it has convinced the judges and that is what counts. Had I been a judge I would not have agreed.

There were occasions when I thought that this trial would never take place at all. I first suggested the idea of a trial in a neutral venue in January 1994 but it was not agreed by the US and UK until August 1998.

It took almost five years. I always suspected that this was because the authorities felt the case against Libya was not particularly strong and perhaps they were not in favour of bringing a trial at all. This may be far too cynical but it would be one explanation for the vehemence of the US and UK against the proposal.

This trial is unprecedented -it is a one off. In future it may be that such events are considered by the international criminal court that is being set up under the auspices of the UN.

But, at the time when I was trying to arrange it, there was no such court. In my view something had to be done to break the impasse that had set in with the US and UK saying the suspects must be tried under "our laws" and the Libyans saying they would not extradite our nationals for trial.

The main question for me now is that there should be an inquiry into the prosecuting authority in Scotland. Did it tackle the case with the professional and ethical standards suitable for prosecuting a criminal case?

I have suspected that once the decision had been taken to go down the Libya route - rather than alternative theories - then the prosecuting authorities in Scotland may have closed their eyes to anything that pointed in another direction.

On a personal level I am immensely proud of having helped bring the trial and persuading the US and UK to agree to something that they did not initially want to.

I was born in Lockerbie and went to school there and that is one of the reasons why I got involved. I have made many enemies in doing so but I am quite happy about that.

Robert Black is Professor of Scottish Law at Edinburgh University.