Wednesday 6 January 2016

Petition for Inquiry into Lockerbie to continue

The following has today been posted on the blogsite of Professor Robert Black, Professor Emeritus of Scots Law, University of Edinburgh.

A campaign group calling for an independent inquiry into the conviction of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi for the Lockerbie bombing has welcomed a decision by MSPs to keep its petition “open” and maintain a watching brief on a police inquiry into the case.
Justice for Megrahi (JfM) had claimed the findings of the Police Scotland investigation into allegations surrounding the disaster might “never see the light of day”, because the Crown Office and Lord Advocate had “already come to a view” on allegations it had made casting doubt on the conviction.
[Our note: Those allegations include alleged perjury by a key forensic witness, and deliberate mis-representations by the Scottish Lord Advocate during the Lockerbie trial concerning secret CIA documents discussing the CIA's chief identification witness Majid Giaka]
Al-Megrahi died in May 2012, three years after the Scottish Government released him from a life sentence on compassionate grounds.
JfM had written to the Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland QC early in November, asking a series of questions about his intentions regarding the report of the investigation – named Operation Sandwood – and the appointment of an independent counsel to consider it.
Mulholland had named the Crown Office point of contact as crown agent and chief executive Catherine Dyer, who, he said, had “no involvement whatsoever” in the investigation into the bombing.
Retired police officer Iain McKie, a member of JfM, said yesterday: “We had sent eight questions to the Lord Advocate about how they would deal with the police report, which he failed to answer.
“The committee have now decided to ask these questions on our behalf and that’s a significant step forward.”
The group’s questions focused on the status of the “independent counsel”, their association with the Crown Office and whether they would receive the Operation Sandwood report directly from Police Scotland without any intervention from the Lord Advocate or the Crown Office.
Independent MSP John Finnie told the committee the issue was “all about process” and not personalities.
He said: “We do have the suggestion that the Crown agent is an independent person in this process, or will play a role in this process and, as we’ve seen from the letters, I think any reasonable judgment would say that that’s not necessarily the case, given that the crown agent defended the Crown Office’s position on this in a letter of 2012.”
Finnie added: “I would like the clerk to write to the Lord Advocate with the particular questions.
“Hopefully we’ll get some response to them that would advise what further action, if any, we would need to take.”
A Crown Office spokesman told The National: “Further to the Lord Advocate’s letter of 8 May 2015 to the Justice Committee, and his letter of 24 December 2015 to Justice For Megrahi, the Lord Advocate can confirm that he has had no involvement in the appointment of Counsel undertaking this work other than to identify their criteria of independence and no previous involvement with the Lockerbie investigation.
“The counsel undertaking this work is not under the direction of the Lord Advocate.
“The Lord Advocate considers it important that any criminal allegations against persons who were representing the Crown are dealt with independently of the Crown.
“As indicated above steps have been taken to ensure this is the case.”

Please click here for Professor Black's blogsite.

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