Friday, 17 September 2010

BBC Radio Four's The Report on Megrahi case

The programme was broadcast yesterday evening. It can be listened to here. Perhaps inevitably, there was far too much on the release issue. But some of the concerns about the conviction were given an airing. Regrettably, Frank Duggan, president of the US relatives group Victims of Pan Am 103 Inc was allowed to assert unchallenged that eight Scottish judges had accepted the evidence at the trial as justifying Abdelbaset Megrahi's conviction. Mr Duggan well knows (as do the BBC programme makers, because I told them) the true position is as follows:

"As far as the outcome of the appeal is concerned, some commentators have confidently opined that, in dismissing Megrahi’s appeal, the Appeal Court endorsed the findings of the trial court. This is not so. The Appeal Court repeatedly stresses that it is not its function to approve or disapprove of the trial court’s findings-in-fact, given that it was not contended on behalf of the appellant that there was insufficient evidence to warrant them or that no reasonable court could have made them. These findings-in-fact accordingly continue, as before the appeal, to have the authority only of the court which, and the three judges who, made them."


  1. RB - I thought you and the cause got a good portion of the programme - it's maybe just a pity the ordering gave Duggan the last word, but his 'piece' just lead on to a question being posed to him (which I have posed here previously), why do the American and British families differ so much in their thoughts on Megrahi? You would think by now Duggan would have a good answer to this question which would add to his argument, instead he said, he did not know and that it was a good question – very ‘unlawyer’ like.

    Mark B. did his brother proud, once again.

    Why was Christine Grahame visiting Al Megrahi? Were these visits private or official? Strange - since that wasn't explained in the programme. Does Menendez know who her whistleblower is?

  2. Cool accent Robert i dint kno you were from south afrikan. or is that bonnie irland where all those IUD guys come from? vbill in appratment 3 across the lobby set me up with some poxie server to listem to the BBC!! wow! just like the forscythe saga on PBS or like the english spoken by jesus. Lord! uncover the truth about Lochrieby etc.Amin. My uncle Ben's sayin that anne o'bell goldy laddie sounds like a reall looker. he's blind tho so i do'nt kno why that matters to him LOL. it all becoming quite clearly to me slowly i thnk my uncle Ben may have been imvolved since he was handling bagage at Logan before his kerosene accident and that was 1988!! spookie?proving it tho will be liking passing a haystack thru the eye of a needle so im working hard to finess my conpireacy real soon like that charles guys did only mines not garbage. im burning the midnight oil at both ends to publish it.

  3. Fine contributions, Mr Black. Glad to hear them give you time. Shame, however, that the programme ended on a lazy/disingenuous reference to "conspiracy theories".

  4. In the broad context reflecting the media sensationalism the piece will be more successful than it might in reaching American audiences.

    Speaking with Duggan and no American family members (that I recall) is a more sound approach. Their emotional legitimacy gives more credibility to the mentality they all seem to share with Duggan, who helped mold it. People should just get it right from the horse's mouth without the adornments of the victims' loss.

    The show covers a lot, and fairly I think. Extremely informative program. Not perfect or as hard-hitting as it might be on the questions over the case, but well-positioned to compel a few more minds over here to consider them.

  5. Blogiston: "Mark B. did his brother proud, once again."

    I must stick up for the man here and correct you - it's Matt, not Mark, and Berkely, not Barkley as pronounced on the show. But he should take on the alias Mark B. Barkley when there's occasion to do so.

    I was also happy with the Professor's use of time, Ms. Grahame's, and even more Oliver Miles, who came across quite well.

  6. Caustic Logic: Apologies to Matt - not sure why I wrote Mark, because I knew he was Matt. KWIM? Thanks CL.

  7. Christine Grahame quotes a passage from the e-mail sent to her by a whistleblower: "The [Justice] Department has strongly intimated to the Libyans that, if Megrahi is to be granted compassionate release, he must first drop his appeal."

    Christine says she made enquiries about the whistleblower and was reassured on the matter of his credibility yet she refuses to identify him on the basis that a journalist never reveals his sources.

    But Christine is not a journalist: she is a Member of the Scottish Parliament. And she is commenting on what Oliver Miles describes as the most crucial and important of issues: why did Megrahi drop his appeal?

    Because the whistleblower was not identified, the Scottish Justice Department was allowed to get away with stating: "We have no knowledge of any such e-mail".

    Christine should either identify the whistleblower or persuade him to identify himself.

    After all, whistleblowers these days are protected from dismissal - which wasn't the case when I wrote my letter to The Guardian on 7 December 1988 (see Sacked diplomat's 'ultimatum' to Prime Minister).

  8. I agree it would be helpful if we knew who the whistleblower was Patrick but I also feel if that person wishes to remain anonymous then we must accept this. I also think that under no circumstances should Grahame identify this person. That would breach a confidence clearly.

    While you point out that whistleblowers have more protection these days remember their lives can still be made a complete misery too should they be identified and then choose to remain in a post. Their careers, pretty much, will still be over.

    There are also so many examples of how different types of whistleblower are treated in the media. Look at Dr David Kelly although I admit that was a particular type of case but just look at what the media and our "honourable" politicians did to him and to his family.

    Consider the "leaks" which find their way to journalists from politicians whose only motive is dirty politics and not honour or the public interest.

    Consider the Civil Servant who has signed the Official Secrets Act. When I first became a Civil Servant even the lowliest of CS still went to jail for breaching the OS Act. A jail sentence was automatic. Where do we draw the line?

    Then go to the other end of the gutter and see how the press pays homage to the kiss and tell type who has bagged a married footballer playing away from home.

    It would be nice to think that the media would use information as a means to demand honesty but perhaps the motives of the media are the filthiest, the dirtiest of all.

  9. Sorry to disagree Jo G.

    The whole point about blowing the whistle is that the truth about the dropping of Mr Megrahi's appeal has to be revealed. For that to happen the whistleblower has to identify him/herself.

    Once that person's name is in the public domain, it can be added to the category of persons known as British whistleblowers.

  10. Patrick, we shouldn't need to rely on whistleblowers to do anything on Lockerbie: we have a Scottish Government with access to the findings of the SCCRC, we have a UK government with evidence it has refused to release in relation to the original trial. We also can take the appeal forward if the will exists to do so. No one single, solitary, person who works for the Scottish Government (or whoever) would need to do anything if there was a single ounce of honour within our political and judicial establishments.

    In addition Patrick, we have a UK media which when it suits can turn on the establishment. So it too has its share of blame to take on for having too little to say on too many issues of great importance, like Lockerbie, like Megrahi. It will go on and on about his release, but ask it to rewind to the conviction? Another story altogether. Why?

    It also has a track record of treating whistleblowers abominably, misquoting them even (see David Kelly) and throwing them to the lions when the next new story emerges somewhere else.

    We also wouldn't need whistleblowers on issues like Lockerbie if more of us demanded answers and accountability from the right people. No need then to ask people to take massive risks on their own and put their careers, livelihoods and futures at risk.

  11. "The [Justice] Department has strongly intimated to the Libyans that, if Megrahi is to be granted compassionate release, he must first drop his appeal."

    In BBC Radio 4's The Report Christine Grahame MSP says the above is an extract from an e-mail that was allegedly sent to her by an anonymous whistleblower.

    Predictably, the Justice Directorate reacted dismissively: "We have no knowledge of any such e-mail."

    Until the e-mail is published and the whistleblower identified, that is how the allegation will remain....just an allegation!

    The whistleblower should therefore seek advice from, for example, Public Concern at Work about revealing his/her identity and converting this important allegation into a damning accusation.

  12. Patrick. The politicians and the media of this country have evidence coming out of their ears about this case. It is in the public domain, they know what it says.

    They know Gauci was paid millions for his testimony, they know the bomb almost certainly didn't come on a plane from Malta, they know the guy who implicated Megrahi and his co-accused was rejected by the judges as a fantasist and a liar, they have the court transcripts which prove the judges reached conclusions the evidence contradicted. They know detail on the Heathrow break-in was withheld from the court.

    Why should one ordinary individual release a single email along with their identity and what difference will it make? The media has ignored bigger evidence than that (see above) all this time and had nothing to say about it. They have failed to challenge politicians and the judiciary on any of it. They have failed to connect the dots because they don't want to.

    The whistleblower in this case has no obligation to any of us. Christine Grahame has an obligation however to protect him or her.

  13. To qualify as a whistleblower, I had to reveal my identity.

    The unidentified person who sent an e-mail to Christine Grahame is a mere informant.

  14. Patrick the whistleblowing thing is to me irrelevant.

    We don't need the whistleblower. What we need is a responsible media and a population which demands that those in government behave responsibly and honestly. If that was the case we wouldn't need whistleblowers: if people got up off their backsides and acted on the evidence we already have we wouldn't need the whistleblower.

    I'm not surprised the whistleblower isn't willing to take the risk. Maybe we don't deserve it. If the governments of the UK and Scotland don't care, if the vast majority out in the wider Scottish world don't care, why should the whistleblower take the risks? : )

    You are asking a great deal.

  15. Contrary to your possibly idiosyncratic opinion, Jo G, "the whistleblowing thing" is of the utmost importance.

    To qualify as a whistleblower, I had to reveal my identity.

    The unidentified person who sent an e-mail to Christine Grahame is a mere informant.

  16. Idiosyncratic????????? Are you joking Patrick? Asking a government and a judiciary to examine the evidence? That's idiotsyncratic? Dearie me.

    Bully for you whoever you revealed yourself to be. In my book honest government and real justice remove the needs for ordinary citizens to take risks they really shouldn't have to take.


    Die Antwort auf BBC Radio Four's report on Mr Al-Megrahi case:
    Die Lockerbie Verschwörung war ein geheimer Krieg gegen Libyen, hauptsächlich vereitelt mit Hilfe von MEBO !

    Computer "Babylon" translation, german/english language:

    The answer to the BBC Radio Four's report on Mr Al-Megrahi case:
    The Lockerbie conspiracy was a secret war against Libya, thwarted mainly with help from MEBO !

    Edwin Bollier, MEBO Ltd., Switzerland.

  18. PS Forgive the typo in the most recent post.....but idiotsyncratic has a ring to it too I think. : )

  19. You're forgiven Jo G!

    On the subject of unidentified "whistleblowers", do you recall this article by Marcello Mega in The Scotsman of 28 August 2006:

    "A former Scottish police chief has given lawyers a signed statement claiming that key evidence in the Lockerbie bombing trial was fabricated.

    "The retired officer - of assistant chief constable rank or higher - has testified that the CIA planted the tiny fragment of circuit board crucial in convicting a Libyan for the 1989 mass murder of 270 people.

    "He has confirmed that parts of the case were fabricated and that evidence was planted. At first he requested anonymity, but has backed down and will be identified if and when the case returns to the appeal court."

    Why didn't this "former Scottish police chief" have the guts to identify himself straightaway, and come forward with the evidence that would have cleared Abdelbaset Megrahi?

  20. Here's another article from Mega, with more detail. It's dated June 2007.

    By my reading of the evidence, he has homed right in on exactly the suspect pieces of evidence. If I were to imagine a whistleblower coming forward to reveal that my suspicions are correct, this is just about exactly what he'd say.

    Apparently the SCCRC rejected his evidence, saying it was confused and contradictory. I'm not convinced the SCCRC really wanted to get to the truth of this part - actual misconduct on the part of the investigation, as opposed to the judges simply having read too much into Gauci's evidence.

    I too would very much like "The Golfer" to come forward and show us what he's got.

  21. @Rolfe: a very useful further link to this unidentified "whistleblower".

    I have two observations about the date (24 June 2007) of the article:

    1. It is three days before Tony Blair hands over power to Gordon Brown.

    2. It is four days before the SCCRC refers Megrahi's case back to the Court of Appeal on the basis that he may have suffered a miscarriage of justice.

    Which brings me back to this fundamental question:

    Why didn't this "former Scottish police chief" have the guts to identify himself straightaway, and come forward with the evidence that would have cleared Abdelbaset Megrahi?

  22. Good question. Get back to us when you've got some idea of the answer....

  23. Why didn't this "former Scottish police chief" have the guts to identify himself straightaway, and come forward with the evidence that would have cleared Abdelbaset Megrahi?

    I've asked my Facebook friend Marcello Mega this question.

    One of us will get back to you with the answer....

  24. Looking forward to it! Marcello Mega writes very well about Lockerbie.

  25. Why didn't this "former Scottish police chief" have the guts to identify himself straightaway, and come forward with the evidence that would have cleared Abdelbaset Megrahi?

    In response, I've just received this Facebook message from Marcello Mega:

    "Hi Patrick,

    "Hope you're well.

    "Really, you'd have to ask him that.

    "But fear not, I'm planning to go back to 'Mr Golfer' shortly. I've been warned not to and been told he might get violent, but we'll see.

    "Hopefully, you'll read more about him, and learn who he is, before the year's out.



  26. Well, how intriguing! Let's hope Mr. Mega lives to tell the tale!

    I wonder who warned him not to go back to the Golfer, and suggested he might be violent? Do we set much store by the account of a man prone to irrational violence, I wonder?

  27. More from Marcello Mega about the 'Golfer':

    Hi Patrick,

    I know you care deeply about Lockerbie, as I do, but to be honest I don't normally publicise what I'm about to do and prefer others not to do so either.

    My message was intended for you, but I realise I didn't mark it as private so no complaints. But the effect of you putting it on your [Facebook] profile or news feed is to warn him of my intentions, so I've lost any chance of the element of surprise. He will not welcome me with open arms, as I made clear, so I'd rather have caught him cold.



    And more from me:

    Thanks Marcello: sorry if I've been a bit clumsy!

    To be a whistleblower is not easy, as I know from personal experience.

    This former Scottish police chief might well possess a whistle but he's either unable or unwilling to blow the damn thing!

    I have this advice for him:
    a. he needs to identify himself;
    b. he should publicly reveal all of the information he has on the fabrication and planting of the Lockerbie trial evidence; and,
    c. he should apply to the High Court in Edinburgh to have Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi's conviction quashed.

    Please relay this advice to the 'Golfer' whose handicap will be greatly improved, but only if he follows it to the letter!


    Patrick H.

  28. Interestingly, the 'Golfer' was mentioned in last night's BBC Newsnight Scotland programme.

    He was described as a 'detective sergeant' (and not 'of assistant chief constable rank, or higher').