Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Secrets and lies: Gaddafi and the Labour Party

[This is the headline over an article published yesterday on the website which includes a long excerpt from a forthcoming book by G A Ponsonby. The whole article merits close attention. The following are extracts:]

Secret documents emerged recently to confirm details of how British intelligence agencies engaged in a series of joint operations with Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s government.
The revelations, made first in The Guardian newspaper, indicate the bizarre attitudes of Labour while in government in London and in opposition in Edinburgh. The party said one thing in opposition, and did the opposite – simultaneously – in government.
According to The Guardian:The papers recovered from the dictatorship’s archives include secret correspondence from MI6, MI5 reports on Libyans living in the UK, a British intelligence assessment marked “UK/Libya Eyes Only – Secret”
“Gaddafi’s agents recorded MI5 as warning in September 2006 that the two countries’ agencies should take steps to ensure that their joint operations would never be ‘discovered by lawyers or human rights organisations and the media’.”
At the time of the joint operations, which it is claimed involved the rendition of Libyans for torture at the hands of Gaddafi’s regime, Tony Blair had also been negotiating a secret deal aimed at extraditing a healthy Abdelbaset al-Megrahi back to Libya.  The Labour Prime Minister also helped broker an oil deal for BP in what came to be known as the “Deal in the Desert”. (...)
In December 2010 the story took an unexpected twist.  News emerged of the publication of confidential US Government files by controversial free-speech group Wikileaks.  Listed in the files were details of confidential top level communications involving US and UK officials.  The communications included discussions on Megrahi and they revealed the UK Labour Government had been secretly helping the Libyans.
The files proved that far from being against the release of Megrahi as they had claimed, the Labour government had fully supported the decision to free the Libyan.
Britain feared “harsh and immediate” consequences, according to the leaked cables, if Megrahi were to die in a Scottish prison.
The US charge d’affaires in London, Richard LeBaron, wrote in a cable to Washington in October 2008:
“The Libyans have told HMG [Her Majesty’s Government] flat out that there will be ‘enormous repercussions’ for the UK-Libya bilateral relationship if Megrahi’s early release is not handled properly.”
Labour politicians had claimed publicly that the decision to release Megrahi was an embarrassment to Scotland – but the documents showed the Labour leadership were in fact favouring his release.
The cables showed that the UK government was aware of dire repercussions should Megrahi die in a Scottish prison:
“GOL (Govt of Libya) officials have warned U.K. Emboffs in demarches here that the consequences for the U.K.-Libya bilateral relationship would be “dire” were al-Megrahi to die in Scottish prison. Specific threats have included the immediate cessation of all U.K. commercial activity in Libya, a diminishment or severing of political ties and demonstrations against official U.K. facilities. GOL officials also implied, but did not directly state, that the welfare of U.K. diplomats and citizens in Libya would be at risk.”
The documents also revealed that the US had been privately suspicious of Tony Blair’s “Deal in the Desert” in 2007. The cable stated:
“Saif al-Islam implied that former UK PM Tony Blair had raised Megrahi with the Libyan leader in connection with lucrative business deals during Blair’s 2007 visit to Libya. [Note: Rumors that Blair made linkages between Megrahi’s release and trade deals have been longstanding among Embassy contacts. End note.]”
The Guardian reported that the leaked documents claimed:  “Anger with the British persists in some American circles, and UK ministers, Labour and Tory, have attempted to distance London from the release insisting it was purely a Scottish decision.”
Further cables from the US ambassador to Libya, Gene Cretz, revealed that the US position was to resist voicing opposition to Megrahi’s release at the time, so as not to risk Libyan retaliation against US interests.
Mr Cretz warned the US itself should keep quiet in order to protect its interests:  “If the [US government] publicly opposes al-Megrahi’s release or is perceived to be complicit in a decision to keep al-Megrahi in prison, [America’s Libyan diplomatic] post judges that US interests could face similar consequences.”
The documents suggested that both the UK Labour government and its US counterpart had unleashed false, and seemingly co-ordinated, furore about the Scottish government’s decision to release a dying Megrahi.
The cables also made clear that bribes in the form of “treats” were offered to the Scottish Government by Libyan diplomats, but refused point blank.  The cables revealed that US officials had privately acknowledged that the Scottish Government had acted in good faith at all times and had nothing to gain whereas the UK government, according to the leaked documents, gained massively from Megrahi’s illness and subsequent release.
The cables revealed the Americans were aware that the issue had been hijacked by Unionist politicians at Holyrood who were trying to capitalise on it for political gain: “Meanwhile, local Scottish opposition politicians are using the issue to call into question the SNP government’s credibility and competence.”
“Naysmith underscored that Scotland received “nothing” for releasing Megrahi (as has been widely suggested in the UK and U.S. media), while the UK Government has gotten everything – a chance to stick it to Salmond’s Scottish National Party (SNP) and good relations with Libya.”
The publication of the secret cables was very bad news for Labour.  If true, then Blair himself had offered Megrahi as a bribe in order to clinch the BP oil deal. Both the UK and US governments were aware of the possible economic and geo-political repercussions for both nations if Megrahi was allowed to die in prison.
The documents featured as the main news item on BBC Scotland that day.  However it wasn’t the Labour party which found itself the target of the BBC’s reporting.  Somehow the corporation had managed to turn the incredible story into one attacking the SNP.
“First Minister made the decision to release the Lockerbie Bomber” was the introduction read out by the newsreader on the lunchtime news.
An online article appeared on the BBC Scotland news site with a headline that read:
“Salmond rejects new Megrahi claim”
Incredibly, BBC Scotland had decided the main story from the secret cables was not the former UK Labour government’s privately backing Megrahi’s release, but a short sentence related to Alex Salmond.
The BBC said:
“The leaked documents also appeared to contradict the official Scottish government position on who would make the final decision to release Megrahi.
“In August last year, Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill insisted it was his decision and his alone.
“But the cables claimed Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond told the UK Justice Secretary, Jack Straw, he would make that call.”
Faced with a virtual banquet of information relating to Libya, the UK Labour government and the US government, BBC Scotland had managed to find something they could use against Salmond.  On that evening’s Reporting Scotland the real revelations were ignored as BBC Scotland embellished the reference to Salmond and managed to turn it into that evening’s main news story.
Like the BP oil deal, the BBC had managed to deflect attention away from Labour and towards the SNP.  It was an incredible editorial decision by BBC Scotland news editors.  More so because in a radio interview earlier that day, Jack Straw had let slip that David Miliband, when Foreign Secretary, had written to the Scottish Government saying the UK Government did not want Megrahi to die in prison.
Straw told interviewer John Humphrys: “Somebody did write to the Scottish Government, that’s a matter of public record.
“It’s been out for well over a year, which is a letter from the then Foreign Secretary David Miliband which set out that, and here I significantly paraphrase, but it said ‘other things being equal we think it would be better if al-Megrahi did not die in prison.”

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

"Scottish justice ... subject to cynical manipulation"

[What follows is the text of an article published in The Mail on Sunday on this date in 2002:]

The key witness whose evidence helped convict the Lockerbie bomber has enjoyed holiday trips to Scotland and lavish hospitality organised by police officers, The Mail on Sunday can reveal.

Legal experts believe the revelation could have significant bearing on the  case of Libyan Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi, whose appeal against conviction for the murder of 270 people in Britain’s worst terrorist atrocity began last week.

Secret tape recordings, obtained by The Mail on Sunday, reveal witness Tony Gauci boasting about being taken from his home in Malta to Scotland by police for fishing, hillwalking and bird-watching trips.

Astonishingly, Gauci also claims he was taken to Lockerbie to be shown the damage caused by the bomb that ripped through PanAm Flight 103 in December 1988.

The tattered remains of clothes bought from Gauci's shop were found in the suitcase that contained the bomb. The shopkeeper is the only person to have linked Megrahi directly to the Lockerbie bombing, telling investigators he “resembled a lot” the man who bought the clothes.

A Scottish undercover investigator travelled to Malta and secretly taped conversations with Gauci, owner of Mary’s House clothes shop in Sliema, and Det Constable Ian Goodall, a Strathclyde Police officer based in Malta.

Gauci claims he has been taken to Scotland by police on five or six occasions since the Lockerbie bombing.

In the early part of the investigation, Gauci claims he was taken to the small Scottish town to be shown the damage - a highly unusual move as the Scottish justice system frowns upon taking a witness to a crime scene before a trial.

Gauci also reveals that the hospitality of the Scottish police has been extended to four other members of his family. He talks of being taken into the mountains, visiting the Aviemore ski resort, going fly-fishing for salmon and bird-watching. While in Scotland he has on at least one occasion stayed at the luxury £150-a-night Hilton Hotel in Glasgow. A day ticket for a top salmon fishing river can cost up to £1000 a day.

Indeed, Gauci is believed to be in Scotland at the moment. A trip was being prepared for him when the investigator, a former detective, left Malta two weeks ago. It is believed that Gauci might have travelled in the last week under an assumed name.

In a conversation with George Thomson, a leading criminal investigator working undercover, Gauci said he had been an important witness in a terrorist trial and that the police had to look after him to keep the “bad man” in jail.

Asked by Thomson if detectives had indeed looked after him well, Gauci replied: “They have to. They want this man to stay in jail.”

In another conversation, Gauci volunteers information potentially crucial to Megrahi’s appeal that officers took him to Scotland on one occasion “to check the quality of my statement and make sure I am saying the same things.”

There are already question marks over the evidence given by Gauci during Megrahi’s trial at Camp Zeist in the Netherlands, which ended in January last year.

On the second day of Megrahi’s appeal in front of five Scottish judges, William Taylor QC, who leads Megrahi’s defence, said the trial judges had drawn the wrong conclusions from evidence riddled with “contradictions and inconsistencies.”

Mr Taylor said Gauci's evidence was “palpably unreliable” both in its identification of Megrahi and on the question of the date when the Libyan is alleged to have bought clothes in his shop.

Also, the shopkeeper made some 20 statements over ten or 11 years before giving evidence. Most have been leaked to journalists and researchers over the years. They show substantial variations, underlining the difficulty of achieving perfect recall over a long period of time. This suggests his recollection of the crucial events he was involved in might not have been as precise as he indicated to the court.

Robert Black, Professor of Scots Law at Edinburgh University, said the matter of Gauci’s trips had to be fully investigated during the course of Megrahi’s appeal.

Prof Black added: “As far as I am aware, this is not normal practice. I do not know of any other witness in a Scottish murder trial to have been taken on holidays and fishing trips by the police.”

He said that if a witness in a trial had been offered “treats” by one side, the other side ought to have the opportunity to cross-examine him to establish whether he might have been motivated to “improve” his evidence in favour of those giving the “treats”.

He added: “If it transpires that Gauci was being treated in this way before or during the trial, or indeed understood that he would be given trips after the trial, it would require his credibility as a witness to be re-examined and could alter the outcome of the case.

“Senior police officers and prosecutors worked very closely on this case.  If the prosecution was aware of the arrangement, it ought to have alerted the defence.”

One of Britain's most senior retired judges said he regarded the matter as “wholly improper”.

The judge, who refused to be named because he feared it would seem “impudent” to criticise the conduct of a Scottish trial, said: “If I learned that a crown witness had been treated and spoiled by the police or prosecution, I would be very concerned that it might have interfered with the course of justice.

“The defence would be entitled to know and to question the credibility of the witness. If such a matter emerged after a guilty verdict, it would be a valid point of appeal. Whether it succeeded would be determined by the weight of other evidence.” [RB: The retired judge in question is still alive.]

Tam Dalyell, the most dogged campaigner on Lockerbie in the House of Commons, expressed shock and dismay last night. He said: “If your information is correct, it is very significant. I believe it’s vital to establish who knew about these trips. Did the trial judges know? Did the lord advocates who were in office during the years of the investigation know? If they did, those who have gone on to become judges should be removed from the bench.”

Dalyell said he would be raising the matter with the appropriate authorities and would seek to establish who was paying for the trips. He added: “This raises the most fundamental questions imaginable about Scottish justice apparently being subject to cynical manipulation.”

British relatives of those who died felt it would be inappropriate to comment because the appeal was underway. But one said: “You can take it we are horrified by this.”

A spokeswoman for Strathclyde Police said: “We never comment on matters relating to witness protection.”

Det Ch Supt Tom MuCulloch, head of CID at Dumfries and Galloway police and nominally the senior investigating officer in the case, said through a spokesman: “We do not make any comment in matters relating to witnesses in the Lockerbie investigation.”

Gauci’s contribution to the trial was absolutely central to the conviction of Megrahi a year ago. His co-accused, Al Amin Khalifa Fhimah, walked free while Megrahi was sentenced to life imprisonment, with a minimum recommendation of 20 years.

The key difference in the case against the two men was that in Fhimah’s case, no credible witness existed to give the court a first-hand account of incriminating conduct.

Gauci was able to tell the court that Megrahi “resembled a lot” the man who bought the clothes from his shop weeks before the bombing.

His original description to investigators was of a man much taller and at least ten years older than Megrahi, but when shown photographs of the Libyan agent, he always said there was a resemblance.

However, he also identified other suspects, including the convicted bomber Mohammed Abu Talb, serving life in Sweden for terrorist bombings, as resembling the man.

Despite acknowledging that Gauci’s identification was not absolute, the three Scottish judges who found Megrahi guilty of murder attached much weight to it and clearly were impressed by his evidence.

Taylor has already set out his grounds for appeal to the five-judge bench that will decide his client’s ultimate fate. Already, it is clear that the appeal hinges largely on Gauci’s evidence.

As well as arguing that the judges were not entitled to conclude from his testimony that Megrahi bought the clothes, they will also argue that they were wrong to conclude the clothes were purchased on December 7.

The trial heard evidence that the likely date of purchase was in fact November 23, when Megrahi was in Libya, but opted instead for December 7, when he was in Malta where he worked for Libyan Arab Airlines.

This conclusion was reached despite evidence that it was raining when the buyer left the shop and testimony from Malta’s met office that it did not rain on December 7.

Thomson learned that Gauci already enjoys protection from armed Maltese officers. Witness protection officers in the UK are normally assigned only to someone whose life is considered to be in danger as a result of their testimony in a trial. In such cases, the witness is moved and given a new identity.

Gauci continues to live on Malta and to run Mary’s House with his brother, Paul, a situation that hardly suggests his life is in danger. He is known to locals as Tony Lockerbie.

Monday, 26 January 2015

Double-dealing and naked hypocrisy

[What follows is an article entitled Know Who Your Friends Are published today on the Derek Bateman Broadcaster blog:]

I have been silent for some days following a family bereavement and will try to catch up with events.
One thing that happened was the report detailing cooperation between the British government and Libya under Gaddafi:
This tale of betrayal of British and American interests – as opposed to commercial advantages which was their real objective – opens up a whole area of the Blair government to exposure for its double-dealing and naked hypocrisy affecting Scotland. It also leads directly to the door of Jim Murphy and reveals an untrustworthy individual who is the enemy of justice and transparency.
The close ties between the UK’s intelligence and security services and those of Libya are nauseating to read laced as they are with a tone of complicity, subterfuge and sadistic pleasure at rendering back into the hands of the Gaddafi regime political dissidents for torture and death.
Not only did Britain play this sordid game of spider and fly with real people and in full knowledge of the consequences, it also invited foreign agents from Tripoli to operate here in our country where they could pursue and harass Gaddafi’s opponents.
This, remember, was a Labour government, ostensibly a left-of-centre party committed to human rights and an ethical foreign policy.
At play was a desire to bring Gaddafi in from the cold by encouraging him to disown weapons of mass destruction – an initiative with a social conscience which required delicate handling.
Like much else in the contradictory world of Blairism, this became confused with other objectives like securing oil deals in North Africa for BP, a long-time corporate friend of New Labour and benefactor to its lieutenants.
What this attempted rapprochement did not need was to engage Libyan state security as Britain’s best friends in the grubby world of kidnap, torture and kill. Little wonder that when Moussa Koussa defected in 2011 it was to the UK and his friends in the Foreign Office that he turned for sanctuary, to be spirited away unscathed to a new life.
is to the story of how the Labour government simultaneously had an undeclared policy of trying to get the Lockerbie bomber freed in order to improve relations with Gaddafi and ease the way for those oil contracts in the Deal in the Desert. Here, Sir Gus O’Donnell, head of the Civil Service (the one we now we can trust courtesy of Sir Nicholas Macpherson) produced a report for the Prime Minister which proves that throughout the years of Megrahi’s imprisonment in Scotland it was the Labour government’s policy to help get him released.
So two things are going on…the UK is buttering up the man responsible for the Lockerbie bombing to the extent that it is working hand in glove with his state security while simultaneously it is beavering away behind the scenes to free the man they agree performed the actual bombing. It is a twin-track approach to appease the sponsor of the worst terrorist atrocity on British soil.
Meanwhile what was going on in Scotland where the Pan Am flight came down? Well, another Labour member, Scottish leader Iain Gray was regularly excoriating the SNP for  releasing Megrahi – the very thing that the head of the Civil Service now says was Labour policy.
Gray said: ‘The last time the SNP appealed to ‘moral authority’ was when they released the Lockerbie bomber. They were wrong about that and most Scots agree that was the wrong decision. That’s another example of poor judgement.’
Gray used the release as a trump card during the election in 2011. He said: ‘The SNP must provide the US with details of how it reached the decision to free Megrahi, who has always maintained his innocence. We have to make it clear to the US what the basis of the decision to release Megrahi was. I don’t believe that lobbying by BP had anything to do with his release. I think it was a decision made by Kenny MacAskill and Alex Salmond and a decision I think they both got wrong. If we reach the anniversary of his release and Megrahi is still alive, I think Kenny MacAskill should apologise and admit he made a mistake and should apologise to the families of the victims.’
Now you see where this is going…in London it is the secret policy of Labour to work behind the scenes for the release of Megrahi because that will open up trade links and should make Libya a safer place. But up the road at Holyrood, poor old Labour is hammering away at a cracked bell trying to get a ring. How they must have smiled at Westminster when they read of Gray’s desperate attempts to condemn the very policy they were actively supporting.
So why didn’t Gray know the truth? (He told the BBC he didn’t know and made up his own view). After all there is a Secretary of State for Scotland in Cabinet whose job is to represent Scotland and to act as intermediary between the two.
Enter Jim Murphy. For most of this time (2008 – 10) Murphy was Scottish Secretary. (Des Browne is also but more briefly culpable).
Yet it seems Murphy did not disclose any information to Gray or his Labour colleagues to rein in their criticisms of the SNP in case the news leaked that they wanted Megrahi released all along. Why not? I contacted Murphy’s office several times through the BBC and never once received a reply, clearly indicating that he knew he was guilty of deceiving his own party and Scotland on an issue of huge emotional importance. He sided with secret deals with Gaddafi and Moussa Koussa and the torture of dissidents instead of truth and fair dealing, even when dealing with his own side.
Iain Gray’s humiliation came in the 2011 election of course but if he ever wants to revisit the issue with double-dealing Jim, well he’s in his Cabinet today…
[RB: Derek Bateman is entirely correct in pointing out the hypocrisy of Labour over the release of Megrahi. There is no doubt that Tony Blair & Co were striving mightily to secure his repatriation by means of prisoner transfer, but were swift to condemn Kenny MacAskill when he granted compassionate release. But I am extremely disappointed at the reference to “the Lockerbie bomber” and “the man responsible for the Lockerbie bombing”. Does anyone who has taken the trouble to study the case (and who is outside the Crown Office) still believe that Megrahi was the Lockerbie bomber? Certainly, as Ian Hamilton QC has said, “I don't think there's a lawyer in Scotland who now believes Mr Megrahi was justly convicted.” 

As he has made clear on Twitter (@DerekBateman2) Derek Bateman is not someone who believes that Megrahi was guilty. The point he was making was that Labour Government ministers believed that Megrahi was "the Lockerbie bomber" and that Gaddafi was "the man responsible for the Lockerbie bombing” (or at least said that they did) but nevertheless had the dealings that they did with the Gaddafi regime.]

A convenient scapegoat over Lockerbie

What follows is an item first posted on this blog on this date two years ago:

"Justice was never done"

[Destroying Libya and World Order: The Three-Decade US Campaign to Reverse the Qaddafi Revolution is the title of a book by Professor Francis A Boyle which is due to be published on 28 February 2013.  A blurb on the Amazon website reads as follows:]

It took three decades for the United States government -- spanning and working assiduously over five different presidential administrations (Reagan, Bush I, Clinton, Bush II, and Obama) -- to overthrow and reverse the 1969 Qaddafi Revolution in order to resubjugate Libya, seize control over its oil fields, and dismantle its Jamahiriya system. This book tells the story of what happened, why it happened, and what was both wrong and illegal with what happened from the perspective of an international law professor and lawyer who tried for over three decades to stop it. Francis Boyle, who served as Qaddafi's lawyer at the World Court, provides a comprehensive history and critique of American foreign policy toward Libya from when the Reagan administration came to power in January of 1981 up to the NATO war on Libya that ultimately achieved the US goal of regime change. He deals with the repeated series of military conflicts and crises between the United States and Libya over the Gulf of Sidra and the fraudulent US claims of Libyan instigation of international terrorism during the eight years of the neoconservative Reagan administration. He reveals the flimsy factual basis and legal machinations behind the Lockerbie bombing allegations against Libya initiated by the Bush administrations I and II. In 2011, under the guise of the UN R2P "responsibility to protect” doctrine newly-contrived to provide legal cover for Western intervention into third world countries, and override the UN Charter commitment to prevention of aggression and state sovereignty, the NATO assault led to 50,000 Libyan casualties and the complete breakdown of law and order. Boyle analyzes and debunks the doctrines of R2P and its immediate predecessor, "humanitarian intervention”, in accordance with the standard recognized criteria of international law. This book provides an excellent case study of the conduct of US foreign policy as it relations to international law.

[An excerpt from the book on the same website reads as follows:]

After the Bush Senior administration came to power, in late 1991 they opportunistically accused Libya of somehow being behind the 1988 bombing of the Pan American jet over Lockerbie, Scotland. I advised Libya on this matter from the very outset. Indeed, prior thereto I had predicted to Libya that they were going to be used by the United States government as a convenient scapegoat over Lockerbie for geopolitical reasons. Publicly sensationalizing these allegations,in early 1992 President Bush Senior then mobilized the US Sixth Fleet off the coast of Libya on hostile aerial and naval maneuvers in preparation for yet another military attack exactly as the Reagan administration had done repeatedly throughout the 1980s. I convinced Colonel Qaddafi to let us sue the United States and the United Kingdom at the International Court of Justice in The Hague over the Lockerbie bombing allegations; to convene an emergency meeting of the World Court; and to request the Court to issue the international equivalent of temporary restraining orders against the United States and the United Kingdom that they not attack Libya again as they had done before. After we had filed these two World Court lawsuits, President Bush Senior ordered the Sixth Fleet to stand down. There was no military conflict between the United States and Libya. There was no war. No one died. A tribute to international law, the World Court, and their capacity for the peaceful settlement of international disputes. Pursuant to our World Court lawsuits, in February of 1998 the International Court of Justice rendered two Judgments against the United States and the United Kingdom that were overwhelmingly in favor of Libya on the technical jurisdictional and procedural elements involved in these two cases. It was obvious from reading these Judgments that at the end of the day Libya was going to win its World Court lawsuits against the United States and the United Kingdom over the substance of their Lockerbie bombing allegations. These drastically unfavorable World Court Judgments convinced the United States and the United Kingdom to offer a compromise proposal to Libya whereby the two Libyan nationals accused by the US and the UK of perpetrating the Lockerbie bombing would be tried before a Scottish Court sitting in The Hague, the seat of the World Court. Justice was never done. This book tells the inside story of why not.

Sunday, 25 January 2015

The Lockerbie inquiry petition

What follows is an item posted on this blog on 25 January 2011:

Lockerbie inquiry petition 'remains open'

[This is the headline over a report on the BBC News website. It reads in part:]

A petition calling for an inquiry into the conviction of the Lockerbie bomber has been kept open despite an earlier refusal from the Scottish government.

The Justice For Megrahi (JFM) group handed over a petition to the Scottish Parliament in October last year.

It sought an independent probe into the case of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, the only man to be convicted of the bombing which killed 270 people in 1988.

The petitions committee agreed to write to the government and Lord Advocate.

The JFM group claimed it was "imperative" that the case be examined once more.

However, the Scottish government has already indicated that it has no plans to hold an inquiry and "does not doubt the safety of the conviction". (...)

Dr Jim Swire, whose daughter Flora was killed in the bombing, sat through the proceedings during the parliamentary session.

He later said the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC) had already decided there may have been a miscarriage of justice and urged the government to open an inquiry.

Dr Swire added: "I think this will be unwelcome in the dying days of the Scottish government to have had this decision by the committee.

"The issue here is so much greater than Scottish party politics. This is not about the SNP. This is about the integrity and, above all, the credibility of Scottish justice."

[A report on the Public Petitions Committee's proceedings from The Press Association news agency reads in part:]

A petition calling for an inquiry into the conviction of the Lockerbie bomber has been kept open despite an earlier refusal from the Scottish Government.

MSPs on Holyrood's Petitions Committee made the decision after discussing the request by pressure group Justice For Megrahi (JFM).

SNP MSP Christine Grahame backed the group's position, appealing to the committee that the petition should be kept alive.

She argued that recent changes to legislation had raised questions over the remit of the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC), which deals with alleged miscarriages of justice.

She said: "I think the SCCRC has been neutered, in many respects. If I may say to the committee, I wish you to continue to pursue the inquiry route, not close this down."

[RB: Four years later, the petition (PE1370) remains open. It is expected to feature on the agenda of the Scottish Parliament Justice Committee for the meeting to be held on 3 February 2015.]

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Dear Muammar ... Yours Tony

The following reports in today’s editions of The Herald, The Independent and The Guardian, although not directly related to the Lockerbie case, perhaps add support to the contention that the Blair Government was determined, by hook or by crook, to secure Abdelbaset Megrahi’s return to Libya: Dear Muammar ...Yours Tony: Blair letter is latest evidence of UK-Libya links and Letter between Tony Blair and Colonel Gaddafi revealed as part of documents seized following Libyan revolution and Revealed: How Blair colluded with Gaddafi regime in secret.

From my own meetings with Libyan officials at the very highest level, I can testify that the Libyan government, as a result of its dealings with Tony Blair, Sir Nigel Sheinwald and Sir Mark Allen, believed in 2008 that the repatriation of Megrahi was a done deal. There was a distinct measure of consternation and some scepticism when I informed the Libyan officials that the question of repatriation was one for the Scottish Government, not the UK Government.