[This is the heading over a letter from Dr Jim Swire published in today's edition of The Herald. It reads as follows:]
Almost a throwaway line in the Prime Minister’s speech to conference was the allegation that Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi was “responsible” for the Lockerbie disaster (“MacAskill in the firing line over his decision to free Megrahi”, The Herald, October 7).
Maybe there are current issues so grave that attitudes to issues from the past have to be taken on the word of experienced English civil servants without question. Or perhaps the current degree of devolution, coupled to the independence of Scotland’s legal system, has sealed reality from his eyes and ears over Lockerbie.
Yet in 1989 the Conservative (Thatcher) Government handed the investigation and prosecution of the most outrageous of all terrorist attacks in the UK to Scotland. One might expect, therefore, with the current prominence of terror on the agenda, that he should carefully weigh up for himself the implications of the handling of the UK’s nearest equivalent to 9/11.
Mr Cameron relies upon the Lockerbie verdict. However, even a casual review of available material would reveal there are increasing reservations about that verdict.
Mr Cameron should be reminded that eventually the truth has a habit of coming out, and to rely on the verdict is to ignore the opinion of the UN’s observer at the trial, of an increasing number of lawyers, plus some of those bereaved by the tragedy, many people in Scotland and, last but not least, the findings of the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC).
Accustomed as he is to berating the performance of his two predecessors in office, Mr Cameron might also reassess the undignified scramble by Jack Straw to overwhelm the Commons Committee on Human Rights, following Tony Blair’s “deal in the desert” in order to get the resulting prisoner transfer agreement with Colonel Gaddafi’s regime ratified in time to be available for use in stopping an appeal by Megrahi, an appeal many believed would have overturned the verdict. Fortunately, Scotland turned its back on that shady business.
Mr Cameron is well brought up and expensively educated: he will know the parable of the man who built his house upon the sand. [Note by RB: Mr Cameron and Dr Swire are both old boys of the same school.] He should ponder on it now, before taking out a mortgage to build a house which may have no foundations. The SCCRC, and an increasing number of Scottish people, are not content to accept without further review, that Megrahi was guilty as charged. Scotland needs to build its house upon rock, not the shifting mists still surrounding this sad case. Mr Cameron may come to regret his throwaway line.
[The other letters on the topic are also worth reading.]