Sunday, 1 August 2010

Senators urged to join Megrahi hearing bid

US senators who want a hearing into the Lockerbie bomber's release have been urged to sign a letter asking the Scottish Government to hold its own public inquiry into the tragedy.

The Justice for Megrahi Committee, a group of campaigners who believe Abdelbaset al-Megrahi may have been the victim of a miscarriage of justice, wants Holyrood ministers to launch a probe into the full circumstances of the affair.

It has already petitioned the UN General Assembly for an inquiry into the bombing of Pan-Am flight 103 in 1988 which killed 270 people, as well as the trial at Camp Zeist in the Netherlands which saw the Libyan convicted of the atrocity.

The group has invited US Senators Kirsten Gillibrand, John Kerry, Frank Lautenberg, Robert Menendez and Charles Schumer to sign the letter sent to the Scottish Government just over a week ago. (...)

The letter, written to Scotland's First Minister, Alex Salmond, and Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill by Robert Forrester on behalf of the Justice for Megrahi committee, claimed that "current attacks from the USA and within the UK" have led to suggestions that the Scottish Government might hold its own inquiry.

Mr Forrester said the group's call for an inquiry had been backed by Dr Jim Swire, whose daughter Flora died in the Lockerbie tragedy, as well as Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Private Eye editor Ian Hislop and Professor Robert Black, who has been a high-profile critic of Megrahi's conviction. (...)

In the letter to the senators, Mr Forrester wrote: "An inquiry will no doubt bring with it embarrassment for some as it calls into question their reputations. However, if justice is regarded as a tool with which to achieve expedient results and defend human frailties by obscuring the truth, we are all in a very sorry state indeed. We do not seek retribution, we seek the truth. The ghosts of Lockerbie must be laid to rest."

[The above are excerpts from a report in the Belfast Telegraph. It is based on a report from the news agency The Press Association which can be read here. A substantial number of blogs have also picked up the story. The STV News website also now features a similar report, as does The Scotsman for Monday, 2 August.]


  1. Prof Black, is it not the case that the Scottish Government cannot host an Inquiry which would give it open access to all information required for any Inquiry to achieve anything? I'm of the view that the UK Government must take the lead here and that is why Mr MacAskill has been urging them to do so on the issue of a full investigation into Lockerbie and promising full support from the Scottish Government when they do so?

  2. You are, of course, right that under the devolution settlement the powers of the Scottish Government are limited and there are large areas that an inquiry set up under their auspices could not explore. But the Scottish Government does have jurisdiction over, amongst other things, the Scottish police (who were in overall charge of the Lockerbie investigation) and the Scottish prosecution and criminal justice system which convicted Megrahi. It is therefore nonsense for the Scottish Government to contend that a purely Scottish inquiry would serve no useful purpose.

    That said, an inquiry set up by the UK Government would be more wide-ranging and so potentially much more valuable. But I see no sign of the Scottish Government pressing the UK Government to set one up. I wonder why?

    Further on this issue, see my earlier post The clamour for a FULL inquiry:

  3. You are, as I have previously said, a treasure trove of useful information which lay people out here can use when making representations to our alleged elected representatives!