"I am a documentary film maker wrapping production on a feature length film of the Lockerbie disaster, which I have been shooting for the past three years. The focus of the film is the humanistic effects that have taken place since the bombing, with three families in the United States being the primary subjects. I have trailed them through the various anniversaries of the bombing, their children's birthdays, and was with them last year on this date when Megrahi was released, an event which was particularly devastating to them as most of the Americans believe he was guilty of the crime.
"As the people I've interviewed for this film have been primarily American, aside from a handful of people from Lockerbie itself, the interviews I have shot so far are leaning heavily towards the side that Megrahi is guilty. As an objective journalist and filmmaker, I feel I must include the voice of the opposition to counterbalance the views that have divided the people of the UK vs US. (...)
"I am writing to formally ask for an interview with you for this film. With your expertise and your prominence with regards to the case/trial I feel you are an invaluable voice in this story. Please consider this opportunity, and feel free to ask me any questions about me and my film. (...)
"You can rest assured the film itself will be held to the highest journalistic standards."
This is what the documentary maker wrote. The resulting filmed interview took place yesterday.
For more than an hour, all was unexceptional, the questioning covering my upbringing in Lockerbie, my recollections of the event itself, how I became involved in attempting to bring about a trial and my views about the trial itself and the conviction of Abdelbaset Megrahi. I covered at some length my concerns about the flimsiness of the evidence against him, concerns in many instances shared by the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission in its 2007 report on Megrahi's conviction.
But then the entire tone of the proceedings changed. How could I hold myself out in the media as an expert when I had advised the Libyan government in relation to the Lockerbie case? The fact that I had never hidden this and it was in the public domain from the time that I first went public (in late 1997) with my January-1994 scheme for a non-jury trial in the Netherlands cut no ice with the interviewer. And if not all media outlets gave prominence to my contacts with the Libyan government, this was my fault rather than that of the journalists and media editorial staff concerned. How could I justify seeking to undermine the verdict of the Zeist court? The detailed account that I had given, and now attempted to give again, of the crucial instances in which the judges' conclusions were simply contrary to the evidence were swept aside, as were the concerns expressed by the SCCRC. After about half an hour of this, I brought the interview to an end and left the hotel room in which it had been held. This was precisely what the interviewer had been seeking to achieve. With hand-held camera running, I was followed through the hotel corridors with the interviewer ranting, amongst other things, "Do you sleep at night?"
I wonder what will happen to the first hour's recorded material? It contains lots of interesting stuff. But I doubt if it will ever see the light of day. The documentary maker had decided that what his film needed was a villain, and I was cast in the role. It will no doubt go down well in the United States and in certain Crown Office and police circles. It may also, for a time, serve to deflect attention from the terrible miscarriage of justice suffered by Abdelbaset Megrahi. But the truth will ultimately prevail.
Magna est veritas et praevalebit.