[The following are excerpts from a powerful article on the website of Scottish lawyers' magazine The Firm by the editor, Steven Raeburn. It should be compulsory reading for every journalist who has covered, and every politician who has pontificated on, the Lockerbie saga.]
No one in Edinburgh, Washington, London or Libya wants to talk about the embarrassment to Scots law and affront to international justice that was the Lockerbie trial. No one wants to talk about the fabricated material that was introduced as evidence, or the flaws in the Crown case or the bribery of key witnesses. No one wants to talk about the daily briefings imposed upon the bereaved families to try and persuade them all was well when the show trial had collapsed under the weight of its own inadequacy. Or how the UK relatives wouldn’t listen to them any more. No one wants to talk about the touted defence case that was quietly and almost totally dropped without comment on the imbalance. No one wants to talk about the witnesses whose testimony wasn’t heard, and those witnesses who were heard, but whose testimony was a tissue of lies and inconsistency paid for by US intelligence. No one wants to talk about the prevarications of the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission, whose report into the Megrahi conviction -at least, those parts of it released- went to great lengths to dismiss the work of investigative journalists over the 19 preceding years, before reluctantly, grudgingly, yet narrowly choking on its acceptance that a miscarriage of justice had in all probability taken place. No one wants to talk about the closed courts, the security vetted, court appointed defenders, the intelligence documentation that is protected by PII, the pressure applied to ensure Megrahi dropped his appeal, the refusal to hold a public inquiry despite the obvious need, the destroyed police notebooks, the inconsistent testimony, the limitations and narrowness of the appeal process, the clear and evident lack of guilt of the man convicted of doing something even the court agreed could not be established with any logic that fit the evidence, far less proven.
No. Instead, our Prime Minister, our First Minister, our Foreign Secretary, a gaggle of US Senators and their Foreign Secretary want to talk about why a bomber was released. The circumstances of how a bomber was released. Who made the decision to release a bomber. Whether BP had anything to do with a bomber’s release. Why a bomber hasn’t died yet. Whether a bomber should be returned to a Scottish jail. Bomber, bomber, bomber. Are you getting it?
On 21 December 1988 a plane was destroyed above Lockerbie. The only evidence of a bomb that was introduced turned out to have been fabricated, and any physicist who knows his semtex -together with any engineer who knows his Boeing 747- will tell you that the tale told by the prosecution was not only incredible, but impossible.
That fantasy tale was spun by US intelligence, sold to a docile media, and kept from our own Crown Office until the trial was well underway, past the point of no return, as it were. By the time the Crown were told how hollow the star witness’s testimony was, and how empty the prosecution case was, the circus was already into its third act.
Our Crown Office were assured by our allies that they had a solid case, and they believed them and felt privileged to have the opportunity to prosecute it before the eyes of the world. They can be forgiven for going into this like babes in the wood, tripping over themselves to be part of the golden ticket. However, they cannot be forgiven for perpetuating the fiction over later years, in the light of its exposure, collapse and discredit, which they do even to this day. (...)
An international petition for a wide ranging inquiry is before the UN, yet none of the compromised governments are willing to sponsor it. They are however very willing to talk with some coordination and vigour about the release of a bomber, but not about what happened or how he came to be incarcerated, the questions which our judicial process had not yet answered before it was halted.
Bomber, bomber, bomber. And throw in some BP, too. That is the agenda, so that is what we read about. Even if you have no sympathy for BP, to see them used as a whipping boy by the very nation whose culpability in creating and sustaining this lengthy farce is an offence to the truth, and a barely credible distraction.
Our allies sold us a lie and sold us out. Our government bought into it then, and our governments shore up that error to this day. It is our justice system and international reputation that is wrecked as a result. And the truth is lost.
But no one wants to talk about that, do they? The terms of the engagement are fully under control. Did someone say bomber?