[Following the appearance of Justice for Megrahi committee members before the Scottish Parliament's Public Petitions Committee last Tuesday, Dr Morag Kerr who had not been able to attend the hearing contacted me to express her congratulations on the team's performance. However, she felt that one point had not perhaps been adequately stressed. I agreed, and asked Dr Kerr to let me have a piece for posting on the blog. Here it is.]
The question has been asked, would it not be fair to say that Megrahi had his chance, he had his appeal ongoing, but he chose to drop it. Why should he be given another bite at the cherry?
To ask such a question is to misunderstand profoundly the point of the petition. Despite its name, “Justice for Megrahi” is not and never has been concerned with giving Mr al-Megrahi “another bite at the cherry”. It is concerned with establishing the truth, which transcends the mere fact of a verdict against one individual.
Over a million pounds of public money was spent by the SCCRC on their 3½-year investigation, and the outcome was an 800-page report with 13 volumes of appendices, and no less than six grounds on which a miscarriage of justice was suspected. What has been revealed of that report suggests that the original investigation quite simply got the wrong man, which means that the real perpetrators of the Lockerbie atrocity have never been identified.
Mr al-Megrahi stated that he dropped the appeal in order to improve his chances of returning home to Libya before he died. It appears he was mistaken in that belief, and how he came to be under that misapprehension might in itself be an interesting question. Be that as it may, the dropping of the appeal left the SCCRC findings untested in court. It is the contention of JFM that this unfortunate development should not be allowed to bury the truth, if the truth is indeed contained in these 800 pages.
Taking a wider view, it cannot be overemphasised that the conviction as it stands is acting as an insuperable barrier to any further investigation of the Lockerbie disaster. While JFM is not asking the Scottish government to investigate the identity of the real perpetrators, which would indeed be outwith its remit, it is clear that if indeed the wrong man was convicted, this is the first error that must be addressed before any further steps can be taken to hold a more wide-ranging enquiry, or indeed to re-open the criminal investigation.
[Dr Kerr has also pointed out that in an answer I gave in the hearing I referred to Tony Gauci's having described in police statements the purchaser in his shop as being over six feet tall and over 50 years of age, whereas Mr Megrahi is 5 feet 8 inches tall and was at the time 38 years old. At the relevant time (November/December 1988) Mr Megrahi was in fact 36 years of age.]