[This is the headline over an article by Lucy Adams in today's edition of The Herald on the materials published yesterday on Abdelbaset Megrahi's website. It reads in part:]
Scottish police officers took an active role in seeking a $3m-plus reward for a key witness in the Lockerbie bombing trial and his brother, previously secret papers revealed yesterday.
The documents, which were never disclosed to defence lawyers working for Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi, also point to another potentially important eye witness whose evidence was never followed up by detectives.
Those revelations, published on Megrahi’s website, further undermine the credibility of Tony Gauci, the Crown’s main witness at Camp Zeist. (...)
It will fuel fears of a miscarriage of justice, and strengthen calls for an independent inquiry into Lockerbie.
A four-year investigation by the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC) found a number of documents which had not been shown to the defence. The non-disclosure would have been a key plank of Megrahi’s appeal, which he abandoned shortly before his release from Greenock Prison in August. (...)
The papers reveal that Tony Gauci received more than $2m after the trial and Paul, who never testified at Camp Zeist but “exercised considerable control over his brother”, received more than $1m. The family previously had financial problems.
Megrahi’s website summary [RB: I can find no trace of this summary on the website] states: “Tony Gauci and Paul Gauci had both expressed an interest in financial reward prior to giving evidence at trial. None of the documents in which references to the brothers’ financial interest or to the FBI offers of reward was disclosed and no mention of this was made to the defence. Many of the references . . . were in diaries kept by police officers. Parts of the diaries were missing and, most unusually, no police notebooks were kept. Letters written by the Scottish police to the US Department of Justice applying for a reward on behalf of the Gauci brothers were also recovered.”
Another section suggests Megrahi might not have bought clothes later found next to the suitcase carrying the Lockerbie bomb. A new witness called David Wright claims to have seen other men buying them in Tony Gauci’s shop in Malta.
In November 1989, Mr Wright called Dumfries and Galloway Police to say he had been in Mr Gauci’s shop when two Libyans bought similar clothing. He said Mr Gauci referred to them as “Libyan pigs”. But his statement was never followed up by police.
A Crown Office spokeswoman said yesterday: “All of these issues could have been raised during the course of the appeal which Mr Megrahi abandoned.”
[A further article by Lucy Adams in the same newspaper is headed "Is this man key to Lockerbie ...or was he just after the cash?" The following are extracts.]
Tony Gauci, a Maltese shopkeeper, became the Crown’s key witness in the conviction of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi, and was the one man who linked the suspect to clothes found in the suitcase that harboured the bomb.
But new allegations published yesterday, which would have been tested in court if the appeal that began in April had gone ahead, have undermined both his credibility and reliability.
Papers on Megrahi’s website reveal that Gauci and his brother Paul were interested in financial reward from the start of the case, and that between them they received at least $3m (£1.88m) at the end of the trial.
Previously-secret police reports dating back to 1999 indicate “the frustration of Tony Gauci that he will not be compensated” and that “in respect of Paul Gauci, it is apparent from speaking to him for any length of time that he has a clear desire to gain financial benefit from the position he and his brother are in relative to the case.
“As a consequence he exaggerates his own importance as a witness and clearly inflates the fears he and his brother have.
“He is anxious to establish what advantage he can gain from the Scottish police.
“Although demanding, Paul Gauci remains an asset to the case but will continue to explore any means he can to identify where financial advantage can be gained.”
Offering witnesses financial remuneration is anathema to the Scottish system, and yet this information, uncovered by the investigation of the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission, was never disclosed to the defence.
Megrahi’s website states: “It is a matter of common sense, and it has long been recognised in Scots law, that the existence of a financial interest and/or the offer of rewards to a witness is of considerable importance in relation to the credibility of that witness.
“Depending upon the nature and degree of any such interest or reward, the law may exclude the evidence of the witness, or leave the effect of same on the witness to be weighed by the jury.” (...)
Megrahi’s website summary [RB: Again, I can find no trace of this summary] also states: “The documents also indicate that Tony Gauci had been visited by the Scottish police on more than 50 occasions – many, perhaps even the majority, of which were unrecorded.
“This information shows that the witness has significantly changed his position over time regarding the items sold.
“In addition there is a clear inference from the timing and context of these inconsistent statements that the witness has been influenced in his recollection by the police inquiries – either by being shown articles such as control samples or fragments or by discussion.”
Expert reports published for the first time on the website also question the validity of Mr Gauci’s identification of Megrahi.