Terrorists who bombed Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie on 21st December 1988 murdered two hundred and seventy passengers, crew and folk of the quiet Scottish town of Lockerbie. Among the dead was Flora MacDonald Swire, aged twent four.
Two Libyan agents - Abdel Basset Ali Al-Megrahi and Khalifa Fhimah - were targeted by the FBI and CIA as the guilty men. In 2000, in a trial held at Kamp Zeist, Holland, Fhimah was released with "no case to answer". Al-Megrahi was convicted. Much of the world believed that that was where the story ended. Only after twenty years campaigning by Jim Swire, Professor Bob Black and others did the sensational truth begin to emerge.
Three key elements in the conviction of Al-Megrahi were:
1. The identification of Al-Megrahi. In an extraordinary development in 2005, Maltese shopkeeper Tony Gauci was exposed at an unreliable witness by the man who in 1991 indicted Al-Megrahi, former Scottish Lord Advocate Peter Fraser. In Fraser's words, Gauci was "an apple short of a picnic".
The judges had trusted Gauci's confused evidence, unaware of the existence of several other contradictory statements kept secret by the police.
They were also unaware of the existence of a key witness, David Wright, who in 1989 gave a statement to the police which flatly contradicted many aspects of Gauci's evidence. The police quietly filed his statement and concealed the existence of Wright and his evidence from the trial.
The police also concealed from the trial US offers of "unlimited monies" if Al-Megrahi was convicted. It is now proven that Gauci was paid $2 million, and his brother Paul $1 million.
2. A fragment of printed circuit board found by British forensic scientist Dr Thomas Hayes. Its label had been altered by an unknown person, and Haye's notebook entry concerning the finding remains to this day highly suspicious.
Hayes was formerly head of the Forensics explosives laboratory at the British Royal Armaments Research and Defence Establishment (RARDE). His evidence was central to the prosecution case.
And yet he has an uncomfortable history in relation to another major terrorist event, the bombing of Guildford barracks, for which seven members of the Maguire family - The Maguire Seven - were arrested. In that trial Hayes and two of his working colleagues knew of significant evidence consistent with the innocence of the accused, but concealed it from the Guildford bombing trial.
It was only through a Parliamentary judicial inquiry by Sir John May, beginning in September 1989 and concluding in July 1990, that the matter was exposed. The entire Maguire family were freed on appeal.
In the Lockerbie case, in February 2012, startling new evidence emerged. Specially commissioned scientific tests by two independent experts proved that the fragment produced in the trial could not have come from a timer board manufactured by Swiss electronics company Thuring. Thuring supplied electronic circuit boards for a wide range of industries, including Swiss supplier to Libya, MEBO.
3. Key evidence concealed from the court by the police and Scottish Crown officers. Only in 2007 did it emerge (in a four-year investigation by the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission) that many important statements and facts were concealed by Scottish police and Crown officers.
Material kept secret in the personal notebook of the chief police investigator DCI Harry Bell proved that from the earliest stages of the investigation the two key identification witnesses (CIA double agent Majid Giaka and Maltese shopkeeper Tony Gauci) were offered "unlimited monies" for their cooperation and giving of evidence.
To re-establish the reputation of Scottish justice it is imperative that an independent inquiry take place into the undisclosed evidence and its effect upon the course of the trial.