Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Lockerbie probe appeal at Holyrood

[This is the headline over a report on the Carrick Gazette website (and on the websites of a number of other local newspapers). It reads in part:]

Campaigners calling for an inquiry into the conviction of the Lockerbie bomber are taking their case to the Scottish Parliament.

About 1,500 people have signed a petition by the Justice For Megrahi (JFM) pressure group calling on Holyrood to urge the Scottish Government to open an independent inquiry into Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi's conviction. [RB: The actual number is 1646, from more than thirty countries, although the petition was actually available for signature online for only fifteen of the planned twenty days.]

Members of the group will appear before Holyrood's petitions committee on Tuesday,including Dr Jim Swire whose daughter Flora was killed in the disaster.

Dr Swire said: "It is imperative that the Scottish Government open an inquiry under its own auspices to deal with the corrosive and deeply damaging effects the Lockerbie case has had upon the Scottish criminal justice system." (...)

The petition has already attracted the support of Cardinal Keith O'Brien, head of the Catholic Church in Scotland, as well as Nobel Peace Prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Have I Got News for You? TV star Ian Hislop.

The witnesses appearing before MSPs will also include Edinburgh University Emeritus Scots Law Professor Robert Black, an architect of the the non-jury Lockerbie trial under Scots Law in the neutral Netherlands in 2000, who has since slammed the verdict as a "miscarriage of justice."

Megrahi dropped a second appeal against his conviction in the run-up to Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill's decision to free him on compassionate grounds.

But campaigners say they could possibly try to pick up Megrahi's appeal against conviction if he died.

[A similar report appears on the Newsnet Scotland website; the BBC News website's report can be read here.

Anne McLaughlin MSP's Indygal Goes to Holyrood blog has a post headed Justice for Megrahi petition in Parliament Tuesday. It reads as follows:]

As a member of the Petitions Committee in Parliament I am particularly looking forward to tomorrow's meeting. We will hear evidence from Jim Swire, father of Flora who was one of the victims of the Lockerbie bombing. He'll be presenting evidence in support of his petition calling for an enquiry into the conviction of Megrahi. He'll do so alongside Professor Robert Black and Iain McKie, father of Shirley.

I've met Iain McKie a couple of times through previous work and found him to be both charismatic and inspirational. And of course Jim Swire has to be one of the most compassionate people ever. I don't know if they have a point in claiming that Megrahi is innocent. What I do know is that it would be all too easy (and understandable) for Mr Swire to accept Megrahi's guilt and put all of his negativity energy in that direction.

But he didn't accept it. He has been outspoken in his condemnation of the conviction and as you can see is campaigning for an enquiry into it. I guess it's important to him that they get the right person but how tempting must it have been to turn a blind eye and blame the man with the conviction?

The other thing that occurs to me is that tomorrow, as I imagine is always the case, he will give evidence and in the recesses of his mind will be this image of his daughter, his flesh and blood, a young woman with a zest for life who only got to live for 24 years. That pain must never leave him and for that reason I am in awe of him and have nothing but the deepest respect.

You can watch the evidence session at 2pm [on Tuesday;] click here and scroll down to Petitions.

1 comment:

  1. Very well said by all of the JFM committee members: you've achieved the first objective of the petition.

    Let's hope that the Scottish Government reacts favourably and quickly establishes an independent inquiry into the Kamp Zeist conviction.