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.”