Sunday, 12 September 2010

Alex Salmond accuses US Lockerbie bomber inquiry of lacking credibility

[This is the headline over a report just published on the Telegraph website. It reads in part:]

Alex Salmond has cut off communications with US senators investigating the release of the Lockerbie bomber after denouncing them for twisting the evidence he has submitted.

In an angry letter to the Senate’s foreign relations committee, which is conducting the inquiry, the First Minister said their behaviour “calls into question your ability to conduct any credible and impartial investigation.”

Mr Salmond accused the senators of selectively quoting from Scottish Executive documents to create the “contrived” illusion the release was influenced by British commercial interests.

He also said they were “unable or unwilling to understand” that the terminally-ill bomber was freed on compassionate grounds, and not under a controversial prisoner transfer agreement (PTA) between Libya and Britain.

The First Minister concluded by saying he was “drawing a line” under his correspondence with them and would not attend a meeting with the senators’ representative, who is due to arrive in Scotland this week.

But Richard Baker, Scottish Labour justice spokesman, said he would use his talks with the official to call for the publication of the bomber’s medical reports. (...)

In a letter sent to Mr Salmond last month, on the first anniversary of the release, Senator Robert Menendez, the committee’s chair, cited five occasions on which commercial pressures were put on Mr MacAskill.

But in his reply, the First Minister branded the committee’s evidence “circumstantial”, adding: “This seems to be a considerable weakening of your original position, but is still totally wrong”.

He said senators had selectively quoted from evidence provided by his administration, without making clear the decision was made on judicial grounds alone.

“To then accuse the Scottish government of selectively publishing correspondence … significantly undermines your credibility,” he added.

Mr Salmond said there is evidence BP’s interests influenced the PTA, but he had opposed the British Government signing the deal in 2007. In contrast, he told the senators: “You were silent”.

He argued his administration’s opposition to the PTA, and Mr MacAskill’s rejection of Libya’s application for Megrahi to be released under the agreement, “fatally undermines your line of argument”.

To get around this, the First Minister suggested the senators have “conflated” the bomber’s failed PTA application and the successful bid for him to be released on compassionate grounds.

Despite his attempts to make clear the distinction, Mr Salmond wrote: “You seem unable or unwilling to understand the nature of these separate legal processes.”

He said this failure to “accept these irrefutable and well-evidenced facts … calls into question your ability to conduct any credible and impartial investigation into these matters.”

Mr Salmond said “appropriate officials” would be made available to the committee’s representative but ministers will not attend.

[The treatment of this story in The Herald of Monday 13 September can be seen here; and The Scotsman's here.]



    Es wäre interessant zu wissen wie die 'Scottish Justice' reagiert hätte, wenn das "Lockerbie-Urteil" gegen Abdelbaset Al-Megrahi umgekehrt (reziprok) ausgefallen wäre, d.h. Al-Megrahi unschuldig wie Khalifa Fhimah; und die SCCR-Commission hätte in den gleichen 6 Punkten ein mögliches "Miscarriage of Justic" zu Gunsten der 'Justiciary' prognostiziert ?

    Ich glaube die Schuldfrage wäre längst rechtsgültig abgeklärt und ad acta gelegt worden.
    Die Verschleppung der Wahrheitsfindung zeigt, dass die Scottish Justice verhindern will, dass neue entlastende Tatsachen und Beweise zugunsten Al-Megrahi und Libya aufgedeckt werden ! Unverzeilich (inexcusable) ...

    Es ist kein Geheimnis mehr, d.h. nachweisbar, dass kriminelle Handlungen (Beweis-Manipulationen) von offiziellen Beamten bis heute von der 'Scottish Justice' unterschlagen werden !

    Edwin Bollier, MEBO Ltd. Switzerland. URL:

  2. Gawd, considering the other new "Megrahi effect" article, one almost gets the view this is all a hit on Scottish independence. And it's trans-Atlantic, Anglo-American Unionists, using the innocent man they so elaborately framed as a political turd to smear the opposition with.

    The most frustrating thing to me (as a distant spectator) is not how low and brazen the whole cynical operation has been over these two decades. Rather it's that such a huge con has continued to work so widely and might just continue despite so much that's come to light - a whole lower half of a skeleton, openly now hanging out of the closet, and still the public facade by all involved top to bottom, that there was never any body or any crime here.

    All in the debate agree it's a mass-terrorist we're arguing over, after all.

  3. It is a bit daft Salmond getting all indignant. He has the ammunition to take these people apart (along with Baker and his comrades in the Labour Party) and will not use it. (His repeated insistence that the verdict was sound does not help.) Both he and MacAskill insist Megrahi IS the Lockerbie bomber. They both know otherwise yet will not go for it. Sorry, no sympathy Alex. You have that SCCRC report. You could say to hell with the release issue, lets look at ALL of it and you could be a bit more willing to actually mention publicly what the grounds for that appeal were instead of referring vaguely to "other concerns".

    Baker is calling for something that is illegal in this country. The medical records of people cannot be made public in the way he suggests. It is against the law yet there he is, a politician, stating he will call for this.

    So come on Alex, that is the calibre of opponent you are up against in Labour. And we know you were against the PTA from the beginning, so how come MacAskill made such a meal of the PTA connection leading up to his decision when the SNP wanted no truck with Blair's filthy little deal in the desert? HE was the one who created the pitfalls for you by talking up the PTA when all along there was only one route for the SNP.

    So either bury your inadequate opponents by using the ammo you have at your finger tips against them or stop whining.

  4. Adam I think the US objective was to create as much confusion as possible. They have certainly succeeded in this, with help from Westminster and from Parties at the Edinburgh Parliament, other than the SNP, whose only objective is to discredit that Party. Lockerbie, Megrahi's possible innocence - do not concern them.

  5. (contd)
    We've had our Foreign Secretary, William Hague, pointing out to the US that their involvement in this matter is inappropriate because they are essentially interfering in the affairs of another sovereign country, right? That's true and it breaches international law. So Hague is saying he won't co operate nor will his department.

    On the other hand we have Cameron out there in the US actually encouraging the US to continue interfering.

    In Scotland we have Labour Members of the Scottish Parliament (Baker) publicly stating he will call for another law (Data Protection covering medical records) to be broken in the Megrahi case. And incidentally Data Protection laws were the ones the former UK Government (Mr Baker's own Labour Party) clutched at in order to avoid releasing certain evidence related to Megrahi's appeal!

    So the big question is, when are Data Protection laws important to Mr Richard Baker? The answer, of course, is when one is involved in a Party-political farce where the real issues are not on the agenda.

  6. (contd)

    The Scottish press are kind of happy just now as are BBC Scotland because they are all utterly convinced that the SNP will lose power in May. They have had a miserable three years so far having to refer to Salmond as the First Minister and they have still not forgiven him for daring to win that election in 2007.

    I admire Salmond greatly. He is currently the best politician in the UK, not just Scotland. I am however deeply disappointed in how he has handled the Megrahi affair. He has convinced many Scots that we can stand on our own two feet but when it comes to our justice system it is already independent from the rest of the UK so he has every right to shout from the rooftops that the Megrahi verdict was a national scandal and a monumental wrong he wants Scotland to put right. He could say the Scottish people should want no part of the establishment stitch-up that was Megrahi's fate. And he could say he wants a justice system for Scotland that we can truly be proud of.

    And if I criticise the man at times it is because I KNOW he could swing this if he really wanted to and gain much more besides in taking his Party and Scotland forward. For the other Parties at Holyrood would be silenced and afraid to even respond because every word that would come out of their mouths would scream that they favour a bent Scottish justice system and a shackled Scotland.

  7. I wish I knew why Salmond and MacAskill are behaving like this. I know Prof. Black has tried to explain it (basically that they're following Eilish Angiolini's orders and lacking the guts or the political will to sack her), but I have a lot of difficulty believing that's the whole story.

  8. Here's a quote from one nationalist.

    "Why do people come on this site to constantly criticise the SNP?? And take the comments off topic as well??

    If you are in the SNP you can speak your mind and tell everyone how wrong they are

    If you are not in the SNP, then why not join the SNP and say where you think they are going wrong?

    Or is it easier just carping from the touchlines?"

    Someone tell me I've misunderstood. Is he really saying even if you vote for the SNP you can't criticise them unless you're IN the Party????

    Does anyone know the percentage of voters in the country who actually belong to a particular Party? The latest figures I can find are from 2005 when a massive......wait for it.......1.5% belonged to a political Party. Yet this guy is saying if you're not in the Party you have no right to criticise. It is easy to understand why so many of us are keen to vote for Salmond but find some of his Party members seriously nuts!

  9. I think some of them can get a bit introverted, certainly. I suspect what the guy meant was that you'd have a far better chance of being listened to and actually influencing party policy and the direction of the party as an active member, than as a non-member simply commenting into the general aether.

    Which is true, but he didn't express it very well, or show any appreciation of the fact that many people simply aren't interested in joining a political party. This shouldn't preclude them from having or expressing an opinion.

  10. Well I guess the percentage of the population who actually belong to a political Party tends to suggest he is talking rubbish.

    He is saying the vast majority of voters, who don't belong to a political Party, don't have a right to criticise. I think in any language that's absurd.