[This is the heading over three letters published in today's edition of The Scotsman. They read as follows:]
W Robert Durward (Letters, 10 August) points out that Megrahi's trial has never been officially acknowledged as a "travesty of justice". However, the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC) stated: "The commission is of the view that based upon our lengthy investigations, the new evidence we have found and other evidence which was not before the trial court, that the applicant may have suffered a miscarriage of justice."
If we take into consideration that this was the biggest mass murder committed in Scotland in modern times, many are rightly of the belief we should rigorously review the whole case and investigate fully the glaring fragility of the evidence used in the Camp Zeist trial.
If the Scottish criminal justice system made a mistake and jailed an innocent man, then it needs to be open and honest if it ever hopes to retain the confidence of the concerned Scottish public.
Monday's STV documentary on Lockerbie was interesting in that Tony Kelly, Megrahi's lawyer, seemed bullish about the new evidence for the SCCRC appeal and especially the fact that Tony Gauci, the Maltese shopkeeper had been given £2 million for giving the evidence that was pivotal to Megrahi's conviction. The US government official would not comment on this, but it does raise some questions as to Gauci's impartiality.
Surely former lord advocate Lord Fraser was mistaken when he told the Sunday Times that "Gauci was not quite the full shilling. I think even his family would say (that he] was an apple short of a picnic". It would seem to me that Tony Gauci is very much "all there, and a wee bit mair", as they say in Fife. But whether justice was best served by this witness is another matter.
A year ago, at the height of the furore over the decision to release the Lockerbie bomber, Scotland was subjected to a barrage of (mostly ill-informed) hostile criticism from the United States.
At that time, you published a letter from me in which I suggested that, with Guantanamo Bay and extraordinary rendition as examples of US justice at work, it ill-suited Hillary Clinton, amongst others, to lecture Scotland on the operation of any justice system, let alone a compassionate one. I have waited in vain for someone of influence in Scotland to express similar views in public. At last, Cardinal Keith O'Brien has spoken out.
Rather than simply "welcoming" his views (your report, 9 August), is it not time for Alex Salmond and Kenny MacAskill to reiterate the words of Cardinal O'Brien on every possible occasion?
Alan R Irons
[The following is a letter published in today's edition of The Herald.]
Jim Swire’s is one of the most uplifting letters I have ever read in your columns (The Herald, August 10). It is a privilege to share the planet with him.
He has suffered as great a blow as anyone can – the loss of a very close relative through personal malicious violence – and yet no rancour is there.
Although he acknowledges that in American culture there is some aspect of vengeance, he does not brand them all so. He says US Lockerbie relatives are the same kind of people he has encountered here and have the same desires as he has. I think we are too ready to assign national attributes. I have many American relatives and friends, and when asked how I find Americans, I reply, some I like, a few I dislike but the great majority I do not know well enough either to like or dislike. That answer would also apply to other nationals I know well: Indians, English and Scots. I imagine it would also apply to those whom I only know in small numbers or have not yet met. Perceived national stereotypes are poor guides to behaviour.
The problem of determining the truth is a persistent one, but I feel a chimera. I have spent my working life in science where hypotheses are tested in the laboratory. Having observed the most plausible hypotheses turn out to be defective, I have little faith in any inquiry yielding the truth. If a well-equipped laboratory cannot be absolutely certain of its results, what chance is there of a committee coming to an ultimately valid conclusion when its evidence is not only volatile but dependent on human observation, not of the directed kind as in the laboratory, but rather of a casual view of an event not recognised as important at the time? Human memory, even at the best of times, is frail.
Perhaps the best we can do is, as Dr Swire suggests, have the incident looked at by a group in whom we can trust, but that will lead to a never-ending regress if we look for faults in its findings. As Dr Swire says, the relatives want closure.
[As someone who yesterday spent over four hours in the company of Dr Swire and Rev John Mosey, I wish to record how wholeheartedly, in respect of each, I endorse the second sentence of Mr Parton's letter.]