Peter Fraser

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Person.png Peter Fraser   WebsiteRdf-icon.png
(Advocate)
Lord Fraser.jpg
BornPeter Lovat Fraser
1945-05-29
Died2013-06-22 (Age 68)
Alma materGonville and Caius College Cambridge, Edinburgh
SpouseFiona Macdonald Mair
PartyConservative

Peter Lovat Fraser, Baron Fraser of Carmyllie PC, QC (29 May 1945 – 22 June 2013) was a Scottish politician and advocate, and as Lord Advocate from 1989 to 1992 was Scotland's chief law officer.[1]

Background

Peter Fraser's mother died when he was 12 while living in Zambia, where his father was serving as a Minister of Religion. Anthony Eden, then UK Prime Minister, intervened at the request of family friend Brendan Bracken to help Fraser obtain a scholarship to Loretto School, the private school in Musselburgh, where Eden was a trustee.[2]

He was educated at Loretto School, Musselburgh and graduated BA (Hons) and LLM (Hons), at Gonville and Caius College Cambridge, before going to the University of Edinburgh. He was elected to the Faculty of Advocates in 1969 and in 1972 he lectured part-time in constitutional law at Heriot-Watt University for two years. In 1979 he was appointed Standing Junior Counsel for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and became a Queen's Counsel in 1982.

In 1969 he married Fiona Murray Mair.[3]

Conservative politician

Fraser was elected as a Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party Member of Parliament for South Angus in 1979, where he remained in the House of Commons until June 1987 (from 1983 representing East Angus). He was Parliamentary Private Secretary to George Younger, Secretary of State for Scotland. In 1982 he was appointed Solicitor General for Scotland by Margaret Thatcher and became Lord Advocate in 1989, when he was made a life peer as Baron Fraser of Carmyllie in the District of Angus, and a member of the Privy Council.

Unreliable Evidence

During his time as Scotland's senior law officer, he was directly responsible for the conduct of the investigation into the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103. Lord Fraser drew up the 1991 indictment against the two accused Libyans and issued warrants for their arrest. The Lockerbie bombing trial did not begin until June 2000, by which time there was a new Lord Advocate, Colin Boyd, who led the prosecution of the two accused Abdelbaset al-Megrahi and Lamin Khalifah Fhimah. On 31 January 2001, Megrahi was convicted; Fhimah was found not guilty.

Tony Gauci

Five years after the trial, Lord Fraser cast doubt upon the reliability of the main prosecution witness, Tony Gauci. According to The Sunday Times of 23 October 2005, Lord Fraser criticised the Maltese shopkeeper, who sold Megrahi the clothing that was used to pack the bomb suitcase, for inter alia being "not quite the full shilling" and "an apple short of a picnic".

Lord Advocate, Colin Boyd, who was chief prosecutor at the Lockerbie trial, reacted by saying:

"It was Lord Fraser who, as Lord Advocate, initiated the Lockerbie prosecution. At no stage, then or since, has he conveyed any reservation about any aspect of the prosecution to those who worked on the case, or to anyone in the prosecution service."

Boyd asked Lord Fraser to clarify his apparent attack on Gauci by issuing a public statement of explanation.[4]

William Taylor QC, who defended Megrahi at the trial and the appeal, said Lord Fraser should never have presented Gauci as a Crown witness:

"A man who has a public office, who is prosecuting in the criminal courts in Scotland, has got a duty to put forward evidence based upon people he considers to be reliable. He was prepared to advance Gauci as a witness of truth in terms of identification and, if he had these misgivings about him, they should have surfaced at the time. The fact that he is coming out many years later after my former client has been in prison for nearly four and a half years is nothing short of disgraceful. Gauci's evidence was absolutely central to the conviction and for Peter Fraser not to realise that is scandalous," Taylor said.

Tam Dalyell, former Labour MP who played a crucial role in organising the trial at Camp Zeist in the Netherlands, described Lord Fraser's comments as an 'extraordinary development':

"I think there is an obligation for the chairman and members of the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission to ask Lord Fraser to see them and testify under oath - it's that serious. Fraser should have said this at the time and, if not then, he was under a moral obligation to do so before the trial at Zeist. I think there will be all sorts of consequences," Dalyell declared.[5]

PT-35 "unsafe"

According to a press release on 20 October 2009 from Christine Grahame MSP, the key piece of Lockerbie evidence (timer fragment PT-35) was "unsafe".

Scottish police investigators did not make the key piece of evidential material used to convict Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, the man convicted of the Lockerbie bombing, secure an SNP MSP has claimed. Christine Grahame MSP has said the Crown Office has now confirmed to her that the fragment was taken to Germany and then to the US by Scottish investigating officers without the knowledge of the Defence team and more crucially the then Lord Advocate, Lord Fraser of Carmyllie, the senior prosecutor at the time of the investigation.

In an interview for Dutch TV, yet to be shown on UK television, Lord Fraser was asked if the fragment, known as PT-35 (alleged to be part of the bomb’s timer) had always remained in the UK. Lord Fraser responded:

"As far as I’m aware it’s always been in the UK."

Asked if it had ever been to the United States, Lord Fraser responds:

"Not that I’m aware of," adding that he would have known if it had left the UK, telling Dutch reporters: "What would have gone through my mind is, I’m not accusing the FBI or anything… [but] could this evidence get lost, or damaged or tampered with? No, no I would want to keep everything so that there can be no accusations at a trial that in some way [the fragment] has been fiddled with."[6]

Now SNP MSP Christine Grahame has confirmed that the same fragment also went to Germany two months before being sent across the Atlantic to Washington without, it seems, the knowledge of the Lord Advocate and the Crown Office. Ms Grahame herself a former lawyer, also claims Scottish police investigators did not record the fragment’s transportation across the world and in doing so broke the vital chain of evidence undermining the integrity of the fragment. She said:

"The Crown Office have confirmed to me that the fragment, PT-35, the piece of evidence that it was claimed by prosecutors linked Libya to the attack was also sent to Germany in April 1990 as well as the US.
"On the 22nd of June 1990 it was then taken to the FBI lab in Washington for examination by FBI officials there. Lord Fraser makes it clear he did not know and would not have allowed this evidence to be taken out of Scottish jurisdiction and control, but that is precisely what did happen. That leaves a very serious question mark over the central piece of evidence used to convict Mr Megrahi."

The senior Scottish police investigator involved in the case, retired Detective Chief Superintendent Stuart Henderson told Dutch journalists last December (2008):

"We couldn’t afford to let something like that go. It has never been in their [US] control at all. It couldn’t be, because it was such an important point of evidence it wasn’t possible to release it. It had to be contained to be produced at the court therefore you couldn’t afford to have it waved around for everyone to see it because it could have got interfered with."

"But that is precisely what appears to have happened," Ms Grahame said and separately confirmed she has seen additional documents yet to be made public that showed DCS Henderson had told Crown prosecution officials in a formal legal statement that the fragment had indeed been to the US. Ms Grahame added:

"I am not sure why DCS Henderson’s statements made separately to Dutch TV and to the Crown Office contradict each other so starkly. That is a matter for Mr Henderson to explain. Either this fragment was in the US or it was not.
"I am deeply concerned that during the investigation and indeed leading all the way up to the Trial that neither the Crown nor Megrahi’s Defence were ever made aware that this crucial piece of evidence was being ‘waved around for everyone to see’ as DCS Henderson put it.
"Questions also need to be answered about the associated evidence log that was meant to accompany PT-35. It mysteriously does not record that the fragment went to the US or Germany, even though the Crown Office has confirmed in writing that it definitely went to Germany."[7]

Post-1992

Fraser appeared for the United Kingdom in both the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg and the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

From 1992 to 1995 he was Minister of State at the Scottish Office covering Home Affairs and Health. He was then Minister of State at the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) with a responsibility for export promotion and overseas investment with particular emphasis on the oil and gas industry. In 1996 he became Minister for Energy.

In May 2003 First Minister Jack McConnell announced a major public inquiry into the handling of the Scottish Parliament Building project, headed by Lord Fraser. The inquiry heard evidence from architects, civil servants, politicians and the building companies.

In August 2007 he was appointed to the Scottish Broadcasting Commission established by the Scottish Executive.

He was a member of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights and lived at Regent Terrace in Edinburgh.[8]

He died on 22 June 2013. [9]

29 May 1945|22 June 2013| 

Related Document

TitleTypePublication dateAuthor(s)Description
Document:PT35B - The Most Expensive Forgery in HistoryArticle18 October 2017Ludwig De BraeckeleerLudwig De Braeckeleer proves that the Lockerbie bomb timer fragment PT/35(b) is a "fragment of the imagination"


References

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