Wednesday 8 February 2012

Lockerbie cover-up continues

Campaigners fighting on behalf of the only man convicted of the Lockerbie bombing have accused politicians, lawyers, civil servants and governments of an "orchestrated desire" to keep details of his case under wraps.

Yesterday, 7th January, Members of Justice for Megrahi gave evidence to Holyrood's Justice Committee on the Criminal Cases (Punishment and Review) (Scotland) Bill.

The Bill aims to release the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission's (SCCRC) "statement of reasons" for allowing an appeal against Megrahi's conviction, which was abandoned before he was released "on compassionate grounds".

But the campaigners say the Bill is "deliberately designed to ensure no useful disclosure" can be made.

Members of the Justice For Megrahi group, who have called for an inquiry into the conviction of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi for the 1988 bombing, said The Crown Office and civil service "will do anything" to stop disclosure. They also said politicians "either have to be dishonest or ignorant" to allow the secrecy to continue.

Dr Jim Swire, whose daughter Flora was killed in the bombing, said there are "profound and international" aspects creating "difficulty" for Scottish politicians who may wish to see the information in the public domain.

He said: "I feel there is an orchestrated desire to delay the resolution of this dreadful case."

Examples of the SCCRC’s findings are known to include the following:

·       Scottish Crown representatives led by Lord Advocate Colin Boyd concealed, from the defence team and the court, matters and witness statements which should have been disclosed under natural justice and the Human Rights Act, and which would have undermined the prosecution case, and strengthened the defence case.

·       Senior police officers, notably DCI Mr Harry Bell and DS Gilchrist, concealed from the court and the defence information contained in police notebooks and official records regarding offers of multi-million dollar payments in exchange for the giving of evidence and conviction of the accused.  Such disclosure would have seriously undermined the credibility of the principal witness in the case, Maltese shopkeeper Tony Gauci, and the CIA’s principal identification witness Majid Giaka.

·       In the matter of failure to declare an important statement from a hidden witness (Mr David Wright), DS Dalgleish and others either deliberately or negligently concealed from the court the existence of the witness and the statement and evidence he was offering at a critical phase of a major police investigation. Mr Wright’s statement, from several points of view, flatly contradicts the evidence of the Crown’s principal identification witness Tony Gauci.  Mr Wright repeated his original statement in an affidavit to officers of the SCCRC during their own investigation. 

·       FBI officers concealed from the court and defence material which would have seriously weakened the prosecution case and strengthened the defence case.

One document in particular reveals the context within which certain parties view the SCCRC’s report.  The reasons for its attempted concealment are clear.
In a briefing note written 15th May 2007  Dalgleish advises his colleagues: “there is ... a real danger that if SCCRC’s statement of reasons is leaked to the media, Anthony Gauci could be portrayed as having given flawed evidence for financial reward…” 

This briefing note omits the fact that an offer of “unlimited money with $10,000 available immediately” was made available to the principal witness in September 1989, just two weeks after his first of many interviews by Scottish police.     

It should be noted that Mr Dalgliesh is now in charge of the continuing investigation of the Lockerbie case.

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