Sunday, 15 February 2015

Police insider: Lockerbie case was flawed

A report in today's Scottish Sun on Sunday claims that Scottish police have discovered that the evidence provided by prosecutors in the Lockerbie trial was in part false and that the investigation of the Lockerbie bombing was 'botched'.

in 2012 Dr Jim Swire and members of the campaigning  group Justice For Megrahi submitted a report containing nine claims of wrongdoing and error in witness evidence provided to the Lockerbie trial judges.

 The Sun states:-

"Now a police dossier is expected to prove several key points. A source said yesterday [14th February 2015] "Investigators set about testing them. It seems that some are broadly true but were the result of incompetence and could not be said to be criminal. But that does not seem to be the case across the board.""

The Sun adds: "This report could uphold accusations that false evidence was given in Megrahi's trial."



Friday, 23 January 2015

Third Appeal in the balance



A Scottish High Court judge, Lady Dorrian, has today been asked if families of some of the victims of the 1988 Lockerbie bombing are entitled to launch an appeal on behalf of Baset Al-Megrahi, the only man convicted of the atrocity.

She has ordered that a hearing should take place on the 27th March 2015.
Jim Swire and Aamer Anwar
The Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC) is seeking guidance on the legal status of the relatives of those who lost their lives in the atrocity.


Al-Megrahi died three years ago, having abandoned his second appeal. The SCCRC is considering a joint application from members of Megrahi's family and the Justice for Megrahi campaign group, which includes relatives of British victims of the bombing.

Until now the SCCRC has expressed the view that, despite repeated requests, members of Megrahi's family had failed to provide appropriate evidence supporting their involvement in the application. The SCCRC therefore concluded that the application is being actively supported only by the members of the victims' families.

The SCCRC wants to determine if a member of the victims' families - such as Dr Jim Swire - might be classed as a person with a legitimate interest to pursue an appeal if the case is referred back to the High Court.

Dr Swire and Aamer Anwar, solicitor for the Megrahi family, were among those at court for the latest hearing.

Immediately following the hearing Mr Anwar said: "We would submit that the commission are wrong and that we remain instructed by members of the Megrahi family as well as the British relatives.

"We have been in communication with the Megrahi family, both via intermediaries and directly. Communication is hampered by an extremely dangerous situation in Libya. Finality and certainty in the Megrahi case is unlikely ever to be achieved unless a referral is made to the Appeal Court."

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Mulholland tries to re-write history

Scottish Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland QC yesterday welcomed the opportunity to speak to the BBC, following a well publicised Times article by Magnus Linklater. 

Mulholland speaks to a public many of whom were not born at the time of the Lockerbie bombing, which took place on this day twenty six years ago. 

Journalists too are, many of them,unaware of the complexities of the case, and accept without challenge statements designed to sweep away the truth.

Mulholland stated, without challenge, that there is no doubt whatever about the conviction of Mr Al-Megrahi.

But he knows full well that there are serious doubts, spoken and written by many in the legal establishment in Scotland and elsewhere. 

To these doubts must be added the six reasons given by the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission, who spent three years scrupulously examining the evidence supplied by the Scottish Crown Office, of which Mulholland is now the controlling officer. 

Those six reasons led the Commission to conclude that "there may well have been a miscarriage of justice."

We reproduce below an article from Professor Robert Black's blogsite THE LOCKERBIE CASE. 

The four elephants in the room which suggest the Lord Advocate is wrong

[This is the headline over an article by John Ashton published in today’s edition of the Sunday Herald. It reads as follows:]

The Crown Office has used the 26th anniversary of the Lockerbie bombing to proclaim the safety of the conviction of Abdelbaset al Megrahi, the only man so far convicted of the bombing.

The department briefed yesterday that a review of the case had "confirmed beyond doubt" the Libyan's guilt, while today its head, Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland QC, has personally reaffirmed that guilt.

Mulholland has been unusually vigorous in denouncing Megrahi's supporters, who include relatives of the Lockerbie dead, branding them "conspiracy theorists" two years ago. It is hard to imagine his opposite number in England and Wales, the director of public prosecutions, taking to the media to defend a conviction and take on critics. But while this strident tone has raised eyebrows, Mulholland's statements are more notable for ignoring four large elephants in the middle of his legal chambers.

The first is the ongoing review of the case by the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC), the statutory body that has the power to refer convictions to the appeal court. As Mulholland well knows, a previous review by the commission referred the case on no fewer than six grounds. The terminally ill Megrahi abandoned the resulting appeal to improve his chances of being granted compassionate release, but was confident that his name would one day be cleared. Remarkably, one of the six grounds was that the three Scottish law lords who convicted him had made a fundamental error of judgment when they found that the clothes incriminating Megrahi had been bought on December 7. In doing so, the commission, in the eyes of some, came as close as it legally could to saying that the guilty verdict was itself wrong.

More seriously for the Crown Office, four of the other grounds concerned its failure to disclose important evidence to Megrahi's defence team. This included evidence that the Crown's star witness, Maltese shopkeeper Tony Gauci, had expressed an interest in receiving a substantial reward and was under the strong influence of his brother Paul, who regularly nagged the police about being rewarded. The SCCRC discovered Gauci was later secretly paid $2 million by the US Department of Justice, and his brother Paul $1m.

When, in 2012, this ­newspaper published a leaked copy of the SCCRC's 800-page review, the Crown Office went into panic mode, anonymously briefing a Scottish tabloid that Megrahi's case had "more holes than a piece of Swiss cheese" then issuing a press statement that significantly downplayed the commission's findings.

The second elephant is the two-year-old police investigation, led by Police Scotland's Deputy Chief Constable Iain Livingstone, into criminal allegations made against some of those originally involved in the inquiry by the committee of the Justice for Megrahi group.

When the allegations were first made to the then Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill, the Crown Office immediately denounced them as groundless, despite not having seen the detailed dossier of evidence assembled by the committee. Many were shocked by the intervention, believing it might compromise the police inquiry and that it raised serious questions about Mulholland's independence as the chief public prosecutor.
Unfortunately for the Crown Office, the police clearly do not share its contempt for the allegations. If the investigation concludes there was no criminal misconduct, the Crown Office still has to explain why it failed to disclose so much important evidence. In the view of its critics, notably Dr Jim Swire, who lost his daughter in the bombing, the matter must be addressed in a public inquiry - something successive Scottish governments have been reluctant to grant.

The third elephant is forensic evidence concerning a small fragment of electronic circuit board, recovered from an item of clothing that was supposedly in the same suitcase as the bomb. According to the prosecution, it matched boards in timers supplied to Libya by a Swiss firm called Mebo, which shared offices with a Libyan company part-owned by Megrahi.

Evidence uncovered prior to Megrahi's abandoned appeal demonstrated that the fragment could not have originated from one of the Libyan timer boards. The discovery has fuelled claims the fragment was a plant, which has in turn encouraged the Crown Office to call its opponents conspiracy theorists. However, as Mulholland must be aware, the breaking of the link between the fragment and the Libyan timers leaves the prosecution case in shreds, regardless of whether it was planted.

The fourth elephant is the lack of evidence from Libya to implicate either Megrahi or the Gaddafi regime in the bombing. During the country's 2011 revolution, senior officials, keen to curry favour with the West, lined up to accuse the regime of sponsoring the attack.

The best known of them, the head of the National Transitional Council and former justice minister Mustafa Abdel Jalil, claimed to have proof that Gaddafi ordered the bombing.

All this must have been music to the Crown Office's ears, but, when pushed to reveal his proof of the regime's guilt, the best Jalil could offer was that it had funded ­Megrahi's legal case.

Sadly, Libya has become too dangerous for the Scottish police to conduct investigations there. Even if it were not, they would likely find the cupboard was bare. In the four years since the revolution, ­nothing has emerged publicly from the ruins of the old regime to affirm Megrahi's guilt, let alone Libya's.

No doubt Mulholland's public declarations will continue to ignore the four elephants in his legal chambers, but he must knows that their ever-fiercer stamping may one day bring Megrahi's conviction crashing around his ears.

John Ashton is the author of the authorised ­biography of Abdelbaset al Megrahi, Megrahi: You are my Jury, (Birlinn, 2012) and Scotland's Shame: Why Lockerbie Still Matters (Birlinn, 2014). From 2006-09, he worked as a researcher with Megrahi's legal team. 

[Here are links to some other reports in the media:

Megrahi was innocent of Lockerbie bombing, insists victim's father
Lockerbie victim's father criticises prosecutor's comments
Lockerbie bombing: Prosecutor's comments about al-Megrahi 'unfortunate'
Remember Lockerbie as crimes of intelligence services are exposed
Lockerbie: Lord Advocate to track down accomplices]

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

How goes Scottish Justice?


Abdelbaset al-Megrahi died two and a half years ago on the 20th May 2012. 


Here are extracts from the statement that Justice For Megrahi issued on that occasion:



Abdelbaset al-Megrahi has now died without having been able to clear his name of the destruction of Pan Am flight 103 on the 21st of December 1988 during his lifetime. Now all those politicians and Megrahi-guilt apologists who regard compassion as being a weakling's alternative to vengeance, who boast of their skills at remote medical diagnosis, and who persistently refuse to address the uncomfortable facts of the case, will doubtless fall silent. Finally, the ‘evil terrorist’ has been called to account for himself before a “Higher Power”.

The prosecution case against him held water like a sieve. We are expected to believe the fantastic tale of the Luqa-Frankfurt-Heathrow transfer of an invisible, unaccompanied suitcase which miraculously found itself situated in the perfect position in the hold of 103 to create maximum destructive effect having eluded no fewer than three separate security regimes. There is no evidence for any such luggage ever having left the ground in either Malta or Germany, it is mere surmise.
Not only that but we have accusations of the key Crown witness having been bribed for testimony; a multitude of serious question marks over material evidence, including the very real possibility of the crucial fragment of PCB having been fabricated; discredited forensic scientists testifying for the prosecution; and, most worryingly, allegations of the Crown’s non-disclosure of evidence which could have been key to the defence. Added to which, evidence supporting the alternative and infinitely more logical ingestion of the bomb directly at Heathrow was either dismissed at the trial or withheld from the court until after the verdict of guilty had been returned.

 The Crown and successive governments have, for years, acted to obstruct any attempts to investigate how the conviction of Mr al-Megrahi came about. Some in the legal and political establishments may well be breathing a sigh of relief now that Mr al-Megrahi has died. This would be a mistake. Many unfortunates who fell foul of outrageous miscarriages of justice in the past have had their names cleared posthumously.

However long it takes, the campaign seeking to have Mr al-Megrahi’s conviction quashed will continue unabated not only in his name and that of his family, who must still bear the stigma of being related to the ‘Lockerbie Bomber’, but, above all, it will carry on in the name of justice. A justice which is still being sought by and denied to many of the bereaved resultant from the Lockerbie tragedy.

 This case has now become emblematic of an issue which affects each and every one of us and poses some profoundly basic questions which we ignore at our peril, namely: what do we perceive justice to be, what role ought it to play in our society and whom should it exist to serve? Our laws and how we apply them to our society are the most fundamental descriptor of how we function as a cohesive and coherent entity. They are effectively a portrait of our identity as a people. 

If, through complacency, we permit cosy, established authority to dictate the terms and to brush under the carpet concerns over how justice is defined and dispensed for the sake of convenience, expediency and reputation, we will only have ourselves to blame for the consequences.

The Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Justice, Kenny MacAskill, says that “Scotland's Criminal Justice system is a cornerstone of our society, and it is paramount that there is total public confidence in it.”

Scotland’s independent and professional arbiter in the matter of referrals to the Court of Appeal, the SCCRC, believe that, on no fewer than six grounds, Mr al-Megrahi may have suffered a miscarriage of justice at Zeist.

Whether or not the courts are the right and proper platform to deal with this case, the conviction has been in the hands of the High Court of Justiciary since 2001 producing no resolution whatsoever and, moreover, how amenable are the courts now likely to be towards sanctioning another appeal given that they have been invested with new powers which allow them to reject applications which question their own judgements? Fine words are not enough. Action is required. 

If Scotland wishes to see its criminal justice system reinstated to the position of respect that it once held rather than its languishing as the mangled wreck it has become because of this perverse judgement, it is imperative that its government act by endorsing an independent inquiry into this entire affair. As a nation which aspires to independence, Scotland must have the courage to look itself in the mirror.

Signed:
Ms Kate Adie (Former Chief News Correspondent for BBC News).
Mr John Ashton (Author of ‘Megrahi: You are my Jury’ and co-author of ‘Cover Up of Convenience’).
Mr David Benson (Actor/author of the play ‘Lockerbie: Unfinished Business’).
Mrs Jean Berkley (Mother of Alistair Berkley: victim of Pan Am 103).
Mr Peter Biddulph (Lockerbie tragedy researcher).
Mr Benedict Birnberg (Retired senior partner of Birnberg Peirce & Partners).
Professor Robert Black QC (‘Architect’ of the Kamp van Zeist Trial).
Mr Paul Bull (Close friend of Bill Cadman: killed on Pan Am 103).
Professor Noam Chomsky (Human rights, social and political commentator).
Mr Tam Dalyell (UK MP: 1962-2005. Father of the House: 2001-2005).
Mr Ian Ferguson (Co-author of ‘Cover Up of Convenience’).
Dr David Fieldhouse (Police surgeon present at the Pan Am 103 crash site).
Mr Robert Forrester (Secretary of Justice for Megrahi).
Ms Christine Grahame MSP (Member of the Scottish Parliament).
Mr Ian Hamilton QC (Advocate, author and former university rector).
Mr Ian Hislop (Editor of ‘Private Eye’).
Fr Pat Keegans (Lockerbie parish priest on 21st December 1988).
Ms A L Kennedy (Author).
Dr Morag Kerr (Secretary Depute of Justice for Megrahi).
Mr Andrew Killgore (Former US Ambassador to Qatar).
Mr Moses Kungu (Lockerbie councillor on the 21st of December 1988).
Mr Adam Larson (Editor and proprietor of ‘The Lockerbie Divide’).
Mr Aonghas MacNeacail (Poet and journalist).
Mr Eddie McDaid (Lockerbie commentator).
Mr Rik McHarg (Communications hub coordinator: Lockerbie crash sites).
Mr Iain McKie (Retired Superintendent of Police).
Mr Marcello Mega (Journalist covering the Lockerbie incident).
Ms Heather Mills (Reporter for ‘Private Eye’).
Rev’d John F Mosey (Father of Helga Mosey: victim of Pan Am 103).
Mr Len Murray (Retired solicitor).
Cardinal Keith O’Brien (Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh and Cardinal in the Roman Catholic Church).
Mr Denis Phipps (Aviation security expert).
Mr John Pilger (Campaigning human rights journalist).
Mr Steven Raeburn (Editor of ‘The Firm’).
Dr Tessa Ransford OBE  (Poetry Practitioner and Adviser).
Mr James Robertson (Author).
Mr Kenneth Roy (Editor of ‘The Scottish Review’).
Dr David Stevenson (Retired medical specialist and Lockerbie commentator).
Dr Jim Swire (Father of Flora Swire: victim of Pan Am 103).
Sir Teddy Taylor (UK MP: 1964-2005. Former Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland).
Archbishop Desmond Tutu (Nobel Peace Prize Winner).
Mr Terry Waite CBE (Former envoy to the Archbishop of Canterbury and hostage negotiator).