It is less surprising that the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (like its England & Wales counterpart) has decided not to delve into the trial of William Wallace under Edward I of England, than that it should ever have been asked to do so in the first place.

A body set up in the 1990s to investigate alleged defects in the workings of the modern judicial process is hardly the forum to pronounce on acts carried out during the Wars of Independence. Whatever our views of the justice of Wallace's case, why should we as taxpayers in 2009 be expected to pay for any sort of official inquiry into dark deeds of 1305?

True, the Commission will have some difficult calls to make in deciding how far back to extend its reach. Families of First World War deserters shot for showing cowardice in the face of the enemy still nurture a sense of injustice at what happened, and may have a case, but it is difficult see an argument for going any further back into our history, sad and bloody as it often is.

History is generally an effective judge in the long run, and the necessary scholarship is not provided by committees of lawyers, whatever their insights into the cases they were realy appointed to review.