Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Megrahi appeal documents to remain secret

[This is the headline over a report by Lucy Adams in today's edition of The Herald. It reads in part:]

Hundreds of pages of information pinpointing why the man convicted of the Lockerbie bombing should be granted a fresh appeal will remain a secret.

The Crown Office, the Foreign Office and police have all failed to give their consent to an official request to disclose the material, as has Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi.

The revelation that the official Lockerbie papers may never be published is likely to prove embarrassing for those who have not allowed disclosure and the ministers who suggested the papers would be published.

It will also fuel the frustration of the families of the 270 victims who have waited more than 21 years for answers. (...)

There was a clamour from politicians and relatives for the information to be released last year following the controversial early release of Megrahi on compassionate grounds. The Lybian had been sentenced to life imprisonment by a panel of three Scottish judges sitting in a special court at Camp Zeist in the Netherlands in 2001.

The Scottish Government said it wanted to see as much information as possible made public.

But the information cannot be released without consent from the major parties.

The three-and-a-half-year investigation by the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC) concluded that there were six grounds for believing Megrahi may have suffered a miscarriage of justice. (...)

Under the Crime and Punishment (Scotland) Act 1997, which created the commission to investigate potential miscarriages of justice, material can be disclosed “in any circumstances – permitted by an order made by the Secretary of State” using a simple piece of legislation called a statutory instrument.

Since devolution, the power has passed to Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill and on December 21 he revealed that the statutory instrument would come into force on February 1.

At the time, MacAskill said: “The order laid today allows the SCCRC to disclose information it holds and it is now for them to decide what, if anything, they release.”

The Herald made a Freedom of Information request for the papers to the commission on February 1 which was rejected and, on appeal, the FoI commissioner upheld the decision because permission has not been granted by the main parties.

It is not known why Megrahi has not given approval. (...)

A spokeswoman for the Crown Office said: “The Crown remains in discussion with the SCCRC and police on this matter, which raises a number of complex legal issues, and the suggestion that the Crown has refused permission is not true.”

[An editorial in the same newspaper reads:]

The questions over how Pan Am flight 103 came to be blown up over Lockerbie in December 1988, killing 270 people, have multiplied over the past two decades, with no definitive answers.

Hopes that information gathered by the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC) in its investigation of grounds for appeal by Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi, the Libyan found guilty of the atrocity, would finally shed light on the murky background to the bombing have been dashed by a refusal to disclose the information.

Four months after the Scottish Justice Minister, Kenny MacAskill, used a statutory instrument to allow the SCCRC to release the investigation documents, the commission has refused The Herald’s request for disclosure under Freedom of Information legislation because it does not have the consent of the main parties involved: Megrahi, the Crown Office, the police and the Foreign Office.

This latest impasse is all the more frustrating because the SCCRC is willing in principle to consider releasing the Statement of Reasons, and the accompanying 13 volumes of appen dices which were provided to determine whether Megrahi should be allowed to appeal against conviction.

It follows numerous delays to the appeal itself, the most significant one due to the refusal on grounds of national security to release a top secret document from an undisclosed third country thought to contain vital information about the timer that detonated the bomb. The mass of evidence gathered by the SCCRC during its three-and-a-half year investigation cannot now be subjected to examination and challenge in the Appeal Court because Megrahi dropped the case to improve his chances of returning home to Libya. With the commission finding six grounds for believing that Megrahi may have suffered a miscarriage of justice, that leaves far too many questions unanswered.

It is not known why Megrahi himself, having previously vowed to clear his name, has refused permission for disclosure. He has lived for longer than expected when released from prison last year and returned to Libya but remains terminally ill and, if he was wrongly convicted, that should be rectified sooner rather than later.

Despite the SCCRC’s continuing discussion on disclosure with the Crown Office, the Foreign Office and the police, it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that it is keen to avoid re-opening the diplomatic and political issues surrounding the Lockerbie bombing. The UK relatives seeking a public inquiry were told that was not possible while a criminal investigation was continuing. When that concluded, the Scottish Government and Foreign Office each said only the other had power to call an inquiry.

Many of the relatives of the victims are plagued with doubt about whether justice was done at Camp Zeist. For their sake, and to remove the uncertainty that has clouded the case and damaged the reputation of the Scottish justice system, it is essential that the truth is established. After 12 long years, that is the vital lesson of the inquiry into Bloody Sunday which is published today. Lockerbie remains the worst terrorist attack suffered in Britain; it must not remain unfinished business.


  1. It is not known why Megrahi hasn't given approval. Well, let's look closely at that text.

    .... to date none of them has provided their unqualified consent to publication of the documentation.

    A spokeswoman for the Crown Office said: “The [....] suggestion that the Crown has refused permission is not true.”

    So, none of the interested parties has provided unqualified consent. What does that mean, exactly? The Crown Office is denying that it has refused permission, although it is in the above caegory. Just what does an interested party have to agree to, to be counted as providing "unqualified" consent?

    Then again, the editorial says

    Despite the SCCRC’s continuing discussion on disclosure with the Crown Office, the Foreign Office and the police, it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that it is keen to avoid re-opening the diplomatic and political issues surrounding the Lockerbie bombing.

    Well, that was kind of what we were concluding, I have to say.

  2. And then again,

    .... the refusal on grounds of national security to release a top secret document from an undisclosed third country thought to contain vital information about the timer that detonated the bomb.

    Do we really know that the mystery document relates to the timer fragment, or is that just journalists making stuff up?

  3. That the document relates to timers was disclosed at the first procedural hearing (in October 2007) in the appeal following the SCCRC's reference of the case back to the High Court: see http://lockerbiecase.blogspot.com/2007/10/procedural-hearing_11.html

  4. Thank you, that is extremely interesting.

    You know, it's really hard to search this blog!

  5. I've just read that post now, thanks. I'm afraid all that is merging into a blur for me after nearly three years, though I recall major media interest at the time.

    The only major surprise in the hearing was the Crown's revelation that the foreign country from which the document in question emanated was not the United States of America. The general assumption amongst commentators (myself included) had been that the source of the document was the CIA or the FBI.

    Is it still possible it is the CIA or the FBI that was blocking the release? That maybe the document technically "emanated from" somewhere else, but is currently in the possession of and under the control of the USA?

    The wording of that statement just sounds very very careful to me. But maybe I'm reading too much into it.

  6. A few nagging questions about some apparently incestuous media Lockerbie links:

    a. Is it true that Lucy Adams of The Herald is a BBC governor?
    b. Did I read somewhere that Lucy collaborates with Ian Ferguson of Lockerbie revisited and Cover-up of Convenience fame?
    c. Isn't Ian Ferguson's co-author John Ashton reportedly doing a TV documentary with Abdelbaset al-Megrahi to prove his innocence?

    Enough of all this media backscratching, let's get to the nitty gritty: U.N. must investigate the targeting of Bernt Carlsson on Pan Am Flight 103

    Refurbishing: The doubtful UN sanctions against Libya in the Lockerbie-Affair (April 1992- August 1998)

    The people of Libya have suffered, deprieved of their human rights, as the UN-sanctions were put in effect throughout 7 long years.
    Until today with each opportunity Libya is made responsible for the Lockerbie-Tragedy.
    It is high time to banish the Lie over Libya from the world and bring back Libyen and Mr. Abdelbaset Al Megrahi, to his earned honour!.

    At the first hearing on the 19th of October 2007 the Appeal court in Edinburgh suddenly confirmed after more than 3 months the existence of a document "under national security"; but keeps ist content closed.
    Procecuting counsel Ronnie Clancy added that the secret document did not originate from the USA or one of ist agencies as the CIA.

    The following important text unfortunately is in German language.
    Please perhaps someone can translate the text professionally into English?

    Die UN wäre glaubwürdiger und sollte verpflichtet werden Fakts zuschaffen, um das "Document under National Security", welches am 13. September 1996 von einem unbekannten Staat dem Lord Advocate in Scotland zur Entlastung Libyen's übergeben wurde, zu öffnen und die Identität des Staates aufzudecken.

    Background about the "Document under National Security" (Pll):

    Aus dem Dokument soll ersichtlich sein, dass "the crucial evidence, the MST-13 Timerfragment (PT/35)" welches Libyen mit dem Panam 103 Attentat in Verbindung bringt, manipuliert war.
    Wieso wurde bis heute die Geheimhaltung über die Herkunft des Dokument's (Pll) nicht geöffnet?
    Antwort: Weil damit Libya endgültig als unbeteiligt an der "Lockerbie-Tragödie" erklärt werden müsste!
    Für die UN und die Scottish Justice würde es offensichtlich, dass es sich beim Urteil im "Lockerbie Case" um ein "Scottish Miscarriage of Justice" handelt!

    Abgestützt auf Fakts kommen nur zwei Staaten als Lieferanten des Dokuments (Pll) infrage, die Schweiz und Deutschland?
    Nur diese Staaten hatten die nötigen Informationen über die wahre Beschaffenheit des MST-13 Fragments.
    Deutschland durch die forensische Prüfung am 27. April 1990 bei Fa. Siemens.
    Die Schweiz durch die unerlaubte Beschaffung und Auslieferung eines MST-13 Circuit Board (Prototype) am 22. Juni 1989 ihres Offiziellen und die Erkenntnisse von Ing. U. Lumpert (Konstrukteur und Lieferant des MST-13 Timer PC-Boards, see Affidavit).

    Nach den Motiven gefragt, ein "Document under National Security" dem Lord Advocate früzeitig zur Verfügung zustellen, kommt eigentlich nur die Schweiz infrage? Deutschland hatte kein Motiv.

    Die Schweiz hingegen hätte mindestens 3 Motive, sich bis heute gegen eine Öffnung des "Pll" der "Scottish Justiciary" zuwehren:

    1.> mögliches Motiv: Aus Angst, nach dem angekündigten "Lockerbie-Gerichtsverfahren" am 1. September 1996, als mitschuldig bei der Beweisfälschung überführt zuwerden, wurde Lord Advocate von offizieller Seite frühzeitig darüber unterrichtet, dass das MST-13 Timerfragment nicht von einem nach Libyen gelieferten MST-13 Timer abstammt. Die detaillierten Fakts um das MST-13 Timerfragment (PT/35) sind bekannt...

    2.> mögliches Motiv: Mit der Überweisung des "Documents under National Security", vor dem Gerichtsverfahren, hätte sich die Schweiz vor einer allfälligen Schadenersatzklage Libyen's, US$ 35-40 Milliarden, juristisch abgesichert.
    3.> mögliches Motiv: Um die möglichen kriminellen Hintergründe seiner "Offiziellen" und Ing. U. Lumpert zuschützen.

    Is Leader Gaddafi's call for the Jihad against Switzerland the reaction for not give the OK for opening of the PII ? That could make sense ?

    by Edwin and Mahnaz Bollier, MEBO Ltd., Switzerland,
    URL: www.lockerbie.ch

  8. I too find it hard to search the blog. And I've had things that don't appear.

    So I'll post in relation to something Rolfe wrote on about the 16 June 2010. It reads as as follows:

    It is interesting that Rolfe asks for more facts. In my opinion facts is just what we don't need, as they are likely to be misleading or simply a distraction. I am not interested in writing pretty stories a la Seymour Hersh; I am interested in solving Lockerbie, and at the risk of making Rolfe, him, or should I say her, irate again, you start with theory and then apply facts to that.

    I have eight facts that point to a second explosion on the Maid. But when I promote this account, each is taken on its own and I am told it is impossible. I cannot see any reason for the impossibility of each or the facts taken individually.

    To take one example. The AAIB report says that there was not more than one IED. Rolfe tells me that it is impossible to conclude that one reading of this statement was that there was one IED and one explosion that was not IED.

    I am copying this entry, as I have had three items not appear on Professor Black's blog site, and it seems I am not the only one.

    He tells me I am not censored, so where did they go. By the way the 15 interline passengers are neatly listed in Crawford's book from p80 on, though the amount of luggage each had is not given. But it is known I am sure. All the personnel are inaccurately described if they have US Government connections and Crawford is silly enough to say of some that have "no known state function". Singularly not said of Curry, Gannon, laRiviere, McKee or O'Connor, but these folk are misleadingly defined. Curiously, I had to source my copy of Crawford's book from a on-demand outlet in Victoria, BC, Canada

    Now, did it get posted this time or not?

    posted as norr....etc with google a/c password

    at b201006161011

  9. Charles, whenever I post in this blog, the text appears immediately. There is no evidence at all of moderation or a pre-approval process. Some posts do vanish, particularly the spam links, but even these appear at first!

    So if you think you have posted somethimg, and it doesn't immediately show up, I think the reasonable conclusion is that you did something wrong, and need to post it again. Maybe you forgot to confirm a previewed post? I know I've done that once or twice.

    I also think you should refrain from derailing threads which have a very specific subject. This one is about the refusal of the SCCRC to make public the documents relating to the grounds of appeal. We don't need other matters cluttering it up, from you or Ebol. If you have something to add to an older thread, then add it where it belongs.

    As an aside, this is why the forum format is much better than the blog format for discussions of this nature. Anyone can start a thread about something they want to discuss, they don't have to wait for the blogger to do it. And active threads always stay at the top, so that you don't have to scroll back weeks to find the conversation you're still having.

    But if you won't participate in a forum, that's your loss.

  10. Patrick:
    (a) the BBC's Lucy Adams (http://www.bbc.co.uk/pressoffice/biographies/biogs/executives/lucy_adams.shtml) is not the same person as The Herald's chief reporter;
    (b) The Herald's Lucy did collaborate with Ian Ferguson on the interviews with Megrahi and his family published after his return to Tripoli: http://lockerbiecase.blogspot.com/2009/08/truth-never-dies-megrahi-demands.html
    (c) It has been reported that John Ashton (Ian Ferguson's co-author on "Cover-up of Convenience") is engaged with Megrahi in preparing a documentary. However, I do not think that there is any truth in this report. He is, however, I believe, working with Megrahi on the latter's autobiography.

  11. Regarding the ultra-top-secret document, Buncrana at JREF notes....

    Norman McFadyen, a leading prosecutor for the crown at Zeist, signed a non-disclosure agreement with the CIA on June 1, 2000 pertaining to this particular document. This serious breach of fundamental judicial process and right to a fair trial also appears to have zero consequences.

    During their 3 year investigation, the contents of this document were then known by the SCCRC, and formed the basis as one of the reasons why the considered Megrahi may have suffered a miscarriage of justice, and referred the case back to the appeal court in June 2007.

    During the submission of the PII by the UK govt during Megrahi's second appeal, it was revealed that the document was in the possesion of D&G police, and given that 'no consent' had been agreed with the country with whom the document originated, then it would remain undisclosed.

    I'm very confused about the role of the CIA and the USA in this. Buncrana speaks of a non-disclosure agreement being signed with the CIA. Then we hear about disclosure now being refused by "the country with which the document originated". And we know that country is not the USA.

    You could go round in circles all day on this.

  12. 1. I do not see that the prosecution has ever confirmed that the secret document dealt with the timer.
    2. The prosecution has never said a single word about the content.
    3. The assumption concerning the timer question was supposedly brought up by the defense and published by the media.
    4. I think we should believe that the document does not stem from the USA. I cannot see any reason why they should not tell the truth at this point.
    5. My guess is that the document comes from Israel and that it is so fundamental that its publication would derail the prosecution´s case.

  13. Mr Megrahi must be a forgiving chap or does not share my view that John Ashton's "World in Action" documentary broadcast on the eve of Camp Zeist, in which Professor Black opined that the evidence was insufficient for a conviction, was a factor in his conviction!

  14. Thanks very much, Robert, for clarifying the Lucy Adams, Ian Ferguson and John Ashton points.

  15. To remain secret. MyOmy, what a surprise. And the people are silent, with so few to confirm the rule.
    I recall something called "the freedom of information act". Is even USA ahead of Scottish justice?

  16. Rolfe is blogging a lot on Randi. I don't. I don't want to sign up.

    S/he is coming round to the point that she does not believe the Bogmira material. Neither do I.

    What don't we throw out all the materiall and start with a tabula rasa, and then insert one by one the facts we can agree on.

    For the first fact, I'd like to start with the claim that Pan Am 103 was destroyed on 21 December 1988.

    A big first step, I know, for it has been doubted!

  17. I'm not "blogging" anywhere, Charles. You need to look up what a blog is. I don't have one.

    I'm discussing on a forum. It's a public forum and anyone can read it. If you want to join that discussion, you're quite at liberty to do so. If you don't want to, that's your choice. But I for one have no intention of embarking on a complete detective investigation on the comments section of Professor Black's blog.

  18. Oh, and you might be quite surprised where some of my thoughts are taking me. Open mind, tabula rasa and all that.