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President’s report

1 October 01

Terrorism is anathema to all who believe the rule of law is sacred – a response to the events of 11 September 2001

by Martin McAllister

A disadvantage of the printed word can be that by the time you read them, events may have rendered them irrelevant. Last month, my Journal was delivered four this report events will have moved on further. 

We all use expressions which can sound trite, such as “It puts everything in context”.  The truth is that it does.  There are nine Scottish solicitors in New York.  I telephoned them.  I did so because I felt that I was doing something useful and which might show support.  It was not until I dialled the first number that I realised that whatever I had to say would be quite futile given what the person on the other end of the phone was likely to be going through. 

A number of the responses were ominously “line disconnected” and given the addresses of some of the offices I can only hope against hope that the reason for the line being disconnected was because telecommunications to the buildings were in the proximity of the disaster scene were disrupted.  I left messages of support on a few answering machines and finally managed to speak to one solicitor who was genuinely pleased that I had taken the trouble to telephone him to wish him well and tell him that his fellow lawyers in Scotland were thinking about him, his family and his colleagues. It was a small thing to do but I hope that the wishes I expressed on your behalf, either to the solicitor or on answering machines were of some comfort and support.  Council also marked their respect with a minute’s silence and reflection before the Council meeting on the 28th September.

There is so little that we can do in situations like this but I am sure that you will share my view that as well as the desperate human tragedy of the thousands of people that were killed, the act of terrorism in itself is a complete and utter abomination to lawyers. In Scotland we accept democracy and the rule of law.  We have not had to fight for its preservation in recent years. The events in Virginia, Pennsylvania and New York showed the result of the abandonment of the rule of law and the fragility of such a strong pillar of democracy.  I only hope that when you read this, more lives have not been lost and pray that commonsense has prevailed and the situation is improving. I also hope that attempts have been made to further the growth of the rule of law, without which we would indeed be in a hopeless situation.