Tuesday, 2 January 2018

Prosecutors destroyed hope of fair trial

An editorial  by the Observer of Friday 29th December 2017 stated: - 
"The right to a fair trial is a linchpin of the rule of law and a free and democratic society. The obligation of police and prosecutors to disclose unused material that might support the defence case is critical to ensuring a fair trial. Indeed, a failure to disclose relevant information to the defence team is one of the most common causes of miscarriages of justice. 

In the cases of Liam Allen and Isaac Itiary, both accused of rape, the Metropolitan police failed to hand over relevant text messages to defence lawyers in a timely fashion. 

When this finally happened, both cases were dropped, but not before Itiary had spent four months in jail awaiting trial and Allan two years on bail. 

The [British] attorney general rightly labelled this an “appalling failure” of the criminal justice system." 
[End quote]

In Scotland an almost exact parallel of these two cases is being ignored by Scottish ministers, and repeatedly denied by the Scottish Crown Office. 

It is 29 years since the Lockerbie bombing. On the evening of 21st December 1988, Pan Am 103, flying from London Heathrow to New York, was destroyed by a terrorist bomb. All 259 passengers and crew were killed, and 11 people on the ground in and around the Scottish town of Lockerbie.

Two Libyans were accused by the US and Britain. In a trial held in Holland, one accused, Baset al-Megrahi, was found
Baset al-Megrahi
guilty. He would later be released on compassionate grounds due to the onset of terminal cancer. He died in 2012 at his home in Libya. 

During his trial, a series of mistakes  preventing a fair trial were committed by Scottish prosecutors and the police.

1. Attempt by Scottish Lord Advocate to misrepresent CIA spy record.

The Scottish Lord Advocate misrepresented the nature of several CIA case reports by
CIA witness Giaka
handlers of a so-called CIA "star witness", Majid Giaka. 

The CIA had secretly met with members of the Lord Advocate's legal team. At that meeting the CIA disclosed the contents of the CIA case reports. These recorded that CIA asset Giaka had been under threat of losing his salary and job unless he came up with information of intelligence value. If Giaka had been released, he would have been in danger from Libya's secret police.

The Lord Advocate informed the trial court of the existence of the case reports, and stated that he had studied them carefully. He had concluded that they contained nothing of relevance to the defence case.

Eventually the defence gained access to un-redacted versions of the reports. Their angry submission to the court convinced the judges that Giaka was an untrustworthy witness and he was instructed to take no further part in the trial. 

The Lord Advocate's presentation of events in this matter constituted, in the opinion of the defence, and later the campaign group "Justice for Megrahi" (JfM), an unsuccessful attempt to distort the nature of Scots law.

2.  Concealment of a police diary recording a history of insistent demands for payment and multi-million dollar offers of reward to remaining identification witness, Maltese shopkeeper Tony Gauci.

During the trial, the senior police detective in the Lockerbie investigation was asked: Did he keep a personal record of his investigations? 

He said yes. His diary was in Glasgow, in his office.

Nothing more was asked or said about the diary.

Six years after the trial, during a case review by the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission, the diary was
Gauci. $2m for evidence
discovered. It contained a series of entries detailing insistent demands for money by the sole remaining identification witness, Maltese shopkeeper Tony Gauci. 

There also were quotations from letters sent to the police by the US Department of Justice (DoJ) concerning offers of "unlimited monies, including $10,000 available immediately". The purpose of the $10,000 was not explained. 

Several later entries discussed money and conversations with Gauci in which he and his brother Paul made insistent demands for payment. When the police asked of the US DoJ what Gauci must do to receive the money, the reply was "only if he gives evidence"

The existence and contents of the diary were known to the prosecution team, the Crown Office and the police. Yet they did not disclose it to the defence team nor the judges. 

3. Hand-written notes in a forensic diary which destroyed the provenance of a key fragment of forensic evidence.

Two forensic scientists examined the Lockerbie debris and together wrote a report to be placed before the judges, the prosecution and the defence teams.

One scientist retired. The remaining colleague presented the forensic report and defended it during the trial.

In that report it was stated that a fragment of an electronic timer board discovered at the crash site and recorded as
Timer fragment PT/35(b). 
"PT/35(b)" was "materially and structurally similar in all respects" to timer boards delivered in 1985 to Libya by Swiss suppliers MEBO.

The scientist repeated those words in court. The judges were convinced.

What the judges and defence team did not know was that the fragment and MEBO timer boards were not, in fact, "similar in all respects".

Deep within his forensic notebook, the scientist had recorded, in the margins of two separate pages, his concerns regarding metallurgical analysis of the fragment and control sample. 

He had written that fragment PT/35(b) contained a
PT/35(b) protected by "pure tin".
protective coating on its tracking of "pure tin". Separately he had written that the control sample board contained a protective coating of "70% tin / 30% lead". 

The police speculated at the time that the heat of the Lockerbie explosion had evaporated the lead. But they made no further enquiries and the records remained within police files. 

Only in 2009, when police records of the event were finally
Police control sample. Protected by alloy 70%tin/30%lead.
available to the Megrahi defence team, were the two hand-written entries regarding PT/35(b) and the police control sample  discovered.

This false forensic evidence was central to the conviction. It convinced the judges that a timer board supplied by MEBO to Libya had indeed been deployed by Libya and al-Megrahi. 

The court had been misled by either perjury, or by gross negligence, by a trusted forensic scientist. 

And so the trial of Baset al-Megrahi ended, in one of the greatest miscarriages of justice ever in Scottish history

In the words of The Observer:

"The police wield immense power over our lives. From Hillsborough to Stephen Lawrence, the Birmingham Six to child sex abuse in Rotherham: the past tells us that when they are not adequately held accountable for that power, the result can be deep injustices of the very worst kind."

English law has admitted its mistakes in the cases of Liam Allen and Isaac Itiary. Does natural justice no longer hold sway north of the English border? When, oh when, will the Scottish government and legal profession act? 

For The Observer editorial, please click here.

Thursday, 21 December 2017

Will the Lockerbie truth be finally revealed?

With grateful thanks to Professor Robert Black QC, we reproduce below a report by Marcello Mega in today's edition of The Times.  It may prove to be one of the most important statements ever made concerning Scottish systems of justice

Investigation into Lockerbie prosecutors nearing completion

[This is the headline over a report by Marcello Mega in today’s edition
of The Times. It reads as follows:]

Retired detectives, former prosecutors who now serve as judges and expert
witnesses in the Lockerbie case will learn early in the new year if they will be
charged with criminal conduct.

Police Scotland said yesterday that Operation Sandwood, their investigation
into claims of criminality by investigators and prosecutors, was at the reporting
stage and was well advanced.

The evidence uncovered will set the ball rolling on what could be the final act
in the drama surrounding the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103, which claimed
the lives of 270 people on December 21, 1988.

As the police team conducted their inquiries investigators working for the family
Alleged bomb-timer fragment PT35(B) - said to be a fake
of Abdul Baset Ali al-Megrahi, the man convicted of the bombing who died in 2012,
made a breakthrough.
Baset al-Megrahi. Falsely convicted, died of terminal cancer in 2012.
Scientific tests carried out on the most crucial piece of evidence in the case,
a fragment of circuit board from a timing device that enabled prosecutors to link
Libya to the bombing, suggested strongly that it was a fake.

This means that the family will continue to push for the Scottish Criminal Cases
Review Commission to refer the case back to the court of appeal to try to clear
al-Megrahi’s name.

The Sandwood team, led by Deputy Chief Constable Iain Livingstone, is taking
advice from an independent QC.

Police Scotland took the view when the allegations were made by the Justice
for Megrahi (JfM) pressure group that it could not be led by the Crown Office as
many of the claims related to the office’s conduct.

The final report, with recommendations about any potential prosecutions, will be
with the Lord Advocate James Wolffe, QC, by February.

The Sandwood team has faced a difficult and sensitive task because it has had
to investigate the conduct of people at the heart of the Scottish justice system.
It would not be unprecedented for former police officers to face charges, and
the forensic experts under scrutiny have already been discredited through their
conduct in other trials, notably a number of IRA cases where verdicts were
reversed on appeals.

However, it would send shockwaves through the system if any of the prosecutors i
n the case, two now sitting as High Court judges and one as a sheriff, faced
questions about their integrity.

Iain McKie, a former police superintendent and now a key figure in JfM, said:
“We have been impressed by Police Scotland and the way in which Iain Livingstone
and others have dealt with this matter and kept us informed.

“If they have established there was criminality, they won’t shy away from it.
I fully believe that. But the problem might be that ultimately it would still be for
the Crown to make a final decision after considering the police report.”

It is likely that if any charges do result, the forensic experts in the case would be
the most likely targets, and the new evidence uncovered by the al-Megrahi family’s
legal team would support that strongly. One of the experts testified at the trial
that the timer fragment was “similar in every respect” to a set of timers supplied
to Libya.

However, it has emerged that while the timers supplied to Libya contained
a tin/lead alloy, the fragment came from a timer made of pure tin. It also yielded
absolutely no explosives residue when tested, so had never been at the seat of
an explosion.
Fragment PT35(B) - protective coating of pure tin. 

Police Sample board - Protective coating of 70% tin + 30% lead

Gareth Peirce, the lawyer who helped clear the Birmingham Six and the
Guildford Four, said: “[They were] the same forensic scientists who produced
the wrongful conviction of Giuseppe Conlon, the Maguire family and of
Danny McNamee, and had been stood down for the role they played.

“Yet here they were. Without them, there wouldn’t have been a prosecution, far
less a conviction in Lockerbie.”

Al-Megrahi’s elder son, Khaled, said: “We are sure that our cause is right and
we will prevail no matter how long. We know one day the truth will come out.
We will never stop our work to make sure of it.”

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Lockerbie's Twenty Nine year lie.

On the 21st December 1988 a terrorist bomb destroyed flight Pan Am 103 during its journey from Heathrow Airport in the UK to New York.

Sections of the dismembered plane, 243 passengers and sixteen crew members fell across the Scottish town of Lockerbie and surrounding farms and fields. Eleven people on the ground were also killed.

In 1991 two Libyan security officers were indicted for the crime. Their trial began in May 2000.
The key prosecution claims were:
1.  Several weeks before the attack, one of the accused, Baset al-Megrahi, purchased a selection of clothes from a Maltese clothing shop.

2. Pieces of the clothing were found at the crash site.

3.  Embedded within one of the pieces was a 4mm square fragment - PT35(b) - of an electronic timer board.

4.  The FBI had proved that the fragment came from a batch of 20 such boards delivered in 1985 to Libya by Swiss electronics supplier MEBO.

Fragment PT35(b).
5.  Two witnesses would identify the suspects and prove the case beyond doubt. The first, a CIA informant Majid Giaka; the second, a Maltese shopkeeper Toni Gauci. 

The trial judges decided that Giaka  was untrustworthy, leaving Gauci as the sole identification witness.
Discredited CIA witness Majid Giaka
On 31st January 2001 al-Megrahi was found guilty. The second accused, Khalifa Fhimah, was freed with "No case to answer"
Fhimah: No case to answer.

In the years since the verdict it has become clear that the world has been cynically misled by the FBI, the CIA, and British and Scottish governments. 
1. In 1989 Britain's prime minister Margaret Thatcher was advised by the Americans not to enquire into the attack.

Thatcher: Knew nothing of Lockerbie.
2.  Even though she and her entourage had walked across the devastated town one day after the attack, she did not - in her 1993 memoir "The Downing Street Years" - mention the town of Lockerbie, nor the disaster that befell it with the bombing of Pan Am 103. 
When asked by Father of the House MP Tam Dalyell why, she said: "I know nothing of Lockerbie, and do not write about something I do not know about."  Tam Dalyell had the clear impression that she had avoided the question of Lockerbie because the Americans had warned her away from the subject. 
3.  Seven years after the verdict the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC) discovered significant new evidence concealed by police and Crown Office from the trial judges and defence team.
4.  The SCCRC discovered a secret letter written by the King of Jordan to British prime minister John Major indicating that the Libyans were innocent of the crime.
The King's letter claimed that the attack had been Iranian-
Major: Knew Libyans were innocent.
funded in revenge for the 1988 destruction by the USS Vincennes of an Iranian Air-Bus carrying 290 pilgrims to Mecca. 

5. Unknown to most journalists and public, the King had agreed to place in protective custody Marwan Khreesat, expert bomb-maker for a Palestinian group, the PFLP-GC. Khreesat had made bombs for the group in Germany, to be used to bring down American passenger planes heading for the US. 

6.  US and German intelligence knew that Iran had funded the Lockerbie attack. They had assembled a full dossier of intelligence proving that Khreesat and the Palestinian group were guilty. 

7.  On the sudden discovery of PT35(b), however, US intelligence reversed direction and accused Libya of the crime.
    8. The British government tried on two occasions to prevent the king's letter becoming public. The first, a Public Interest Immunity Certificate signed by Foreign Secretary David Miliband; the second, an unsuccessful attempt by Foreign Office minister Alistair Burt to close down a Scottish newspaper to prevent publication of the story.
    Burt: Intended to close down newspaper.

      9.  The SCCRC re-examined evidence given in the trial and discovered that al-Megrahi was not on the island of Malta on the day that the clothing was purchased.
        10.  The SCCRC also discovered that police diaries of chief police investigator Harry Bell contained a record of multi-million dollar offers of payment to the Maltese shopkeeper Gauci "provided" - in the words of a letter to Harry Bell from the US Department of Justice - "he gives evidence." 

          Gauci. $3 million for his evidence
          11.  The SCCRC also re-examined all the evidence given by Gauci. They concluded that his so-called "identification" was founded on numerous viewings of photographs of al-Megrahi in the media and magazines, all linking him to the bombing. Gauci's evidence was therefore not credible, and the trial judges had been mistaken.

          12. From the SCCRC's finding concerning Gauci, another extraordinary fact has emerged. If Megrahi was not on the Island of Malta on the day of the purchase of clothes, Gauci never met him. How then could Gauci recall meeting him or what he looked like?

          Was the Lockerbie fragment PT35(b) a fake? During the trial in 2000 there were suspicions about how it had been discovered and reported on by government scientists. The trial judges had discounted these suspicions.

          Then in 2009 the al-Megrahi defence team made a startling discovery. In the years since the trial and first appeal they had managed to obtain a huge set of documents from police and Scottish Crown archives. Among the documents was the forensic notebook of scientific witness Allen Feraday.

          Feraday had compared PT35(b) with control samples from MST13 timer circuit boards similar to those supplied to Libya in 1985 by MEBO.

          He told the trial judges: "the fragment materials and tracking pattern are similar in all respects" to that of the MST13 timer.

          But nine years prior to the trial, on 1st August 1991, when examining both the fragment and a MEBO MST13 timer circuit board, he had made two hand-written entries in his notebook which contradicted this. 

          Here are photocopies from Feraday's notebook. The first records that the tracking on fragment PT35(b) is protected by a layer of "Pure tin". 
          PT35(b): Protective cover of 100% tin.
          Police control sample: Protective cover of alloy. 70% tin - 30% lead

          The second records that the tracking on the circuit of a control sample MST13 board is covered by an alloy of "70% tin and 30% lead".
          Feraday and the police were fully aware of the difference. Two police scientific advisers suggested that the heat of the explosion might have evaporated the lead content of the alloy, leaving pure tin. 

          Another police adviser working for Ferranti International noted that fragment PT35(b) had indications of being "home made". 

          Neither the scientist's reports nor the Ferranti letter were followed up. All remained hidden in police files. The police and Crown Office ensured that the judges and defence team remained unaware of their contents. 

          In the light of this new information the defence team consulted two prominent independent experts in the field. The experts repeatedly heat tested the evaporation theory with temperatures exceeding that of the bomb explosion. But the alloy of 70/30 tin/lead remained just that. 

          Thuring, the company which manufactured the circuit boards used in MST13 timers , confirmed in an affidavit that they had always used a 70/30 tin/lead combination.  Fragment PT35(b) could not have come from one of their circuit boards. How it was made and by whom remains a mystery.

          Feraday either perjured himself or was grossly negligent. It was upon his statement and the identification evidence by Gauci that the case against Baset al-Megrahi would turn.

          Jane and Jim Swire
          The mystery surrounding fragment PT35(b) was examined in great detail by investigative author John Ashton in his 2012 book Megrahi: The Lockerbie Evidence.

          On the morning of the book's publication, announced at Edinburgh's 2012 International Book Fair, Prime Minister David Cameron described John Ashton's account as "An insult to the bereaved and dead of Lockerbie".

          The Lockerbie campaign will continue. We intend to prove - with the help of prominent friends from around the world - that the Lockerbie verdict was a disastrous miscarriage of justice.

          Sunday, 18 June 2017

          Can Gaddafi's son Saif re-unite Libya?

          [What follows is an article today featured on the blogsite of Professor Robert Black QC. It is based on a long article by Owei Lakemfa headlined There was a country called Libya published yesterday on the Nigerian website The News. We are deeply grateful to Professor Black for his assistance.]

          Saif al-Islam Ghaddafi (...)  the best known son of Muammar Ghaddafi was set free this week. He had
          Saif Gaddafi.
          been detained for six years since November 19, 2011 when following the Libyan ‘Civil War’ he was captured by the Abu Bakr al-Sadiq Brigade while attempting to flee to Niger Republic. (...)

          Saif, given his father’s legacy, his own force of character and the anarchy in the country, is a force to be reckoned with. Many of those who knew peace under Ghaddafi, had perhaps the best social security in the world and the joy of being able to carry out basic human activities like going to the market, taking children to school and family on a picnic, might be nostalgic for the old era. Many in the middle and upper classes who could go to the airport and take an international flight rather than risk a road journey to neigbouring Tunisia, might yearn for the return of the Ghaddafi days. Many of those who lived in a secure and peaceful Libya would long for the days they had a country worthy of its name. Therein lies the appeal of Saif.
          A freed Saif may be crucial in national dialogue, restoration of peace, national reconstruction and unity; a country with multiple governments cannot be said to be a country. But in a large sense, his role will
          Massive reconstruction required.
          be determined by the forces on the ground, the logic of the Libyan trajectory, his perception of the various armed groups in the country, and of course, the extent of the intervention of Europe and America in the internal affairs of Libya.
          It was these international policemen from Brussels and Washington who setup Libya for the kill. It was they and their agents who for decades sold the crap to the world that President Ghaddafi was a lunatic [sitting] on huge oil wells that they can put to better use. They were the forces that isolated Libya and were alarmed that Ghaddafi was not only bankrolling African unity but also wanted an international monetary medium of exchange independent of the NATO countries.
          They are the forces that cooked up the lie that Libya agents planted a bomb in the Pan Am Flight 103 which on December 21, 1988 exploded over Lockerbie, Scotland killing all 259 on board and 11 on ground. These are the same people who accused Libya of sponsoring terrorism and on April 14, 1986, without a declaration of war, bombed Tripoli killing over 70 people.
          They are the same gang that imposed a No-Fly-Zone over the entire country threatening to shoot down any aircraft that violated the ban, until the
          Mandela - defied the West.
          unforgettable Nelson Mandela flew into Libya daring them to bring down his aircraft. It is these same forces that engineered the February 2011 uprising from Benghazi and provided the insurgents massive air power to smash the Ghaddafi government and impose the present chaos.
          Huge food aid programmes needed.
          But for these forces of colonialism and neo-colonialism, Libya might not today, be a basket case. But for them, tens of thousands of Libyans might not have died in half a dozen years of chaos, and the over five thousand Libyans who perished in the Mediterranean Sea trying to reach Europe, might still have been alive.
          Libya was [seven years ago] prosperous and self-sufficient. Today, thanks to the West, 2.5 million Libyans are in need of humanitarian aid including food. Saif’s transformation since 2011, might be for good. 

          Friday, 26 May 2017

          Libya: The Trail of Tears.

          Six years ago Britain, America and France, aided by NATO
          An act of Humanity.
          planes and bombs "liberated" Libya. In Tony Blair's words, it was "an act of humanity". 

          Here is the British government's current assessment. Note the final paragraph regarding travel insurance. Can we afford the premiums?

          There is reference to the Government of National Accord (GNA), officially recognised by the United Nations,  pressurised as it is by the USA, Britain and France.  In reality it is not a government, more of a parish council controlling a small corner of the city of Tripoli. 

          Across the entire country hundreds of warring militant groups, and in Benghazi and the East, the forces of self-proclaimed strong man - a second Gaddafi, perhaps? - General Haftar. 

          Millions of refugees flooding north to Europe. No government, no political structures, no financial structures, no future, no hope. Just Western organisations quietly filleting the nation's oil reserves. 

          2011. A nation destroyed. 
          Britain and Europe are currently troubled by the word "terrorism", and "why do they hate us and our values?" Is the answer staring us in the face, but we cannot, will not, see? 

          An extract from current government advice:

          "The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) continues to advise against all travel to Libya, and for British nationals still in Libya to leave immediately by commercial means. Although the Government of National Accord (GNA) is working to restore stability and security to Libya, intense fighting continues in a number of areas and local security situations can quickly deteriorate.
          Terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks in Libya. There remains a
          Millions of refugees leaving Libyan shores.
          high threat throughout the country of terrorist attacks and kidnap against foreigners, including from Daesh-affiliated extremists (formerly referred to as ISIL) and Al Qaeda, as well as armed militias. Since 2015, Daesh have attacked a number of oil and gas installations and killed or kidnapped workers, including foreign nationals. 
          The British Embassy in Tripoli remains temporarily closed, and is unable to provide consular assistance.
          Fighting has caused the temporary suspension or closure of airports, closed roads and led to the closure of some border crossings. All airports are vulnerable to attack. Tripoli International Airport has been closed since 13 July 2014. Limited commercial departure options are sometimes available, but you should check with your airline. On 23 December 2016, an internal Afriqah Airways A320 flight from Sabha to Mitiga International Airport in Tripoli was hijacked and diverted to Malta. All passengers and crew were released and the motives of the hijackers were political.
          If you choose to travel to Libya against FCO advice, you should consider your security arrangements carefully and take all necessary security precautions, including contingency plans. If you’re entering Libya as a media representative, you should get press accreditation from the relevant Libyan authorities.
          You must get permission before taking any photographs or interviewing at or near military facilities. If you choose to travel to Libya against FCO advice, you should get the right visa, or risk deportation. 
          If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission. 

          If you choose to travel to Libya against FCO advice, you should take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance before you travel."