Monday, 20 September 2010

Victim's father visits Megrahi in hospital

[The report in today's edition of The Scotsman on Dr Jim Swire's visit to Abdelbaset Megrahi reads in part:]

The father of one of the Lockerbie bombing victims visited Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi in Libya and said he looked better than he expected.

Dr Jim Swire was invited to meet the only man convicted of the Lockerbie bombing and the two men spent about an hour together in Megrahi's hospital ward in Tripoli on Tuesday, it emerged yesterday. (...)

Dr Swire, whose 23-year-old daughter Flora was one of the 270 victims of the atrocity, has long believed Megrahi is innocent and has spearheaded a campaign for a full inquiry into the atrocity. It was the first time the two men had met since Dr Swire visited him in prison in Scotland in December 2008.

He said: "It was a man-to-man confidential meeting. We have something in common, in that he wants to clear his name and I want to see the verdict re-examined under Scots law, so we have a common aim to overturn the verdict.

"I was very relieved to see him as well as he was. He is a very sick man, but he can get out of bed and walk, though not very far.

"I think one of the reasons he has lived so long is he has had good treatment in Libya and he has been returned to his family, his community and his country.

"These are a huge relief to the body in fighting cancer, because your immune system depends very heavily on how much stress you are under. Being in a foreign prison cell is about as stressful as it can be."

Megrahi was jailed for life for the December 1988 bombing of Pan Am flight 103, which exploded above Lockerbie.

He was given a fresh chance to clear his name after the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC) said there were six grounds where it believed a miscarriage of justice may have occurred. (...)

Dr Swire, 74, who lives in Gloucestershire, said he would meet Megrahi again if invited.

He said: "When I go to see him … I don't feel I'm going to see my daughter's murderer. I am satisfied he didn't do it."

It also emerged yesterday that Dr Swire is set to lead an appeal to clear Megrahi's name.

He said he had received legal advice that there was no legal bar to victims' relatives asking for an appeal following the convicted bomber's death.

[It is true that third parties -- not just the convicted person himself -- can make an application to the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission and that more than one application can be made in respect of the same case. In Megrahi's case, the Commission has already decided that there may have been a miscarriage of justice, so that is not a significant hurdle. What is problematic is the requirement that a reference-back be "in the interests of justice". Some of the factors that would have to be considered there are the precise circumstances in which he himself abandoned his appeal and the attitude of his family if he himself is no longer alive. A factor which I think can be strongly argued to be important, is the reputation of the Scottish criminal justice system. This has suffered badly both at home and abroad because of widespread doubts about the justifiability of the conviction of Megrahi. It is in the interests of justice and of restoring confidence in our criminal justice system and its administration that these doubts be addressed. This can perhaps best be done by allowing the Criminal Appeal Court to consider the SCCRC's reasons for believing that there may have been a miscarriage of justice in a fresh appeal challenging the original verdict.

The report in The Times on Dr Swire's meeting can be read here; that on the BBC News website here; and that in the Daily Record here.]


  1. It is exellent of You.
    Thank you Dr. Swire for the visit with Megrahi.

    Edwin and Mahnaz Bollier, MEBO Ltd

  2. "It also emerged yesterday that Dr Swire is set to lead an appeal to clear Megrahi's name."

    This is a very exciting development indeed. A campaign could bring great pressure on all Parties in Scotland and at Westminster for this appeal to finally be heard. Anyone who said it wasn't in the interests of justice would indeed have a lot of explaining to do.

    Is it safe to assume do you think Professor, that Megrahi has already given Dr Jim his consent?

  3. Some of the comments after the Daily Record story are good/funny/inaccurate - however, you sense that most of the readers understand the issues. (here are four)
    tommi wrote:
    Dr Swire is set to lead an appeal to clear Megrahi's name.
    Good on you Sir.
    The UK gvmnt should be forced to hand over the documents that labours Miliband was so desperate to hide that he sealed them from the public before labour were booted out of office.
    It is pretty obvious that sleaze ridden westmidden is hiding the truth.

    20/9/2010 9:13 AM
    Badger82 wrote:
    I would like for Megrahi appeal against his conviction and clear his name.
    There is so much hidden from the public and the US don't want anyone to know that they bombed an Iranian passenger jet only six months prior to Lockerbie.
    There is only one culprit who had a motive, Iran, who the US had a war with, fought on their behalf by Saddam Hussain.
    Also make sure you buy George Galloway's book when it is released it will enlighten you further.

    20/9/2010 11:49 AM
    djdonuts61 wrote:
    Whether this man did or did not commit these attrocities , he was convicted , found guilty by not once , 3 times , until his latest appeal which was put off because he was dying lol , Dr Jim Swire should use his energy to remember his daughter , killed by the people this man represents , Life should mean life .

    20/9/2010 12:35 PM
    tisonlyagame wrote:
    Lots of doubts about this conviction and I'm sure that Dr Jim Swires remembers his daughter every day and doesn't need reminded.
    Was right and proper under Scottish law that he was released and shame on people who disagree with that.

    20/9/2010 1:36 PM

  4. Alas Blogiston, I'm listening to STV's news at six. We have the Conservatives' Aitken saying "Well there you are then, if Dr Swire is saying Megrahi is in good health clearly it is right we are asking questions!" And of course, Richard Baker for Labour is whining about the outrage of it all that he was released and if its such a big deal why did he drop his appeal. : (

  5. Just as well the Conservatives in Scotland are not exactly opinion formers - their influence being less than zilch. Labour are a harder proposition - granted - but I think most people can see they are playing petty local politics with this subject when they get the chance.
    I listened to Swire on BBC Radio 4 PM this evening talking to Eddie Mair. Swire made it clear that he had been invited to Libya, and even then, in cooperation with some government department. He also made it clear he stayed clear of talking to Megrahi's medical team despite them being around - as he said he did not want to be interviewed on that subject. He spoke regarding Megrahi dropping his appeal which we all know about, and reiterated the only reason Megrahi is still alive (but still terminally ill) is because of the beneficial effect of being home with his family. Swire is learning how to handle the media by predicting their 'angle' and only answered questions that furthered his agenda. Mair treated him with respect and overall it was a very positive interview for Swire - maintaining control is the key.

  6. Didn't stop Lord Foulkes from announcing that Dr. Swire had reported that Megrahi is "very well indeed" - so it' all the SNP's fault of course.

  7. Foulkes' shocking interpretation of what Swire said would be hilarious if it wasn't so utterly disgusting. I mean if these people can't even watch the man, watch his lips and hear the words leaving his mouth without then announcing he said something he simply didn't say there really isn't much hope for them.

  8. And of course good old BBC Scotland were at pains to stress that now the appeal is dropped there is no question of the conviction being challenged! So there you go. Swire's intention to attempt to get an appeal up and running again will be ignored too by BBC Scotland. So much for being there to report the news.

  9. Jim Swire is on Newsnight BBC2 (Scotland) at 23.00 for those resident in Scotland, or for the rest of us who rely on Satellite to get the Scottish TV channels.

  10. Cracker of an interview. Well done that man. And he made it perfectly clear that he has every intention of getting the appeal going again, unless Megrahi's lawyer daughter beats him to it.

  11. How can Dr Swire get the appeal going when Megrahi dropped it? Surely it's not legally possible unless I presume Megrahi was put under some pressure and it can be proven, which is highly unlikely.

  12. As I understand it, it may not be possible while he's still alive, but after his death other interested parties my be allowed a bite at the cherry.

    If it could be shown that he was coerced or misled into dropping the appeal then it might even be possible to revive it as things stand, but he may not want to go that route, obviously.

  13. The Newsnight Scotland interview was ace!

    Ruth I think Prof B has previously posted about how, if the establishment is truly concerned about the SCCRC position on the original conviction, it could actually hear the appeal because it is in the interests of justice that it be heard. Prof B will maybe elaborate again. The beauty of what the SCCRC said is that it was said in an independent statement by them on Megrahi's case. It said the verdict could be unsafe. That statement remains a matter of record. That allows the legal(and political?) establishments to ignore the fact Megrahi dropped his appeal and examine the matter again.