Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Lockerbie inquiry petition 'remains open'

[This is the headline over a report on the BBC News website. It reads in part:]

A petition calling for an inquiry into the conviction of the Lockerbie bomber has been kept open despite an earlier refusal from the Scottish government.

The Justice For Megrahi (JFM) group handed over a petition to the Scottish Parliament in October last year.

It sought an independent probe into the case of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, the only man to be convicted of the bombing which killed 270 people in 1988.

The petitions committee agreed to write to the government and Lord Advocate.

The JFM group claimed it was "imperative" that the case be examined once more.

However, the Scottish government has already indicated that it has no plans to hold an inquiry and "does not doubt the safety of the conviction". (...)

Dr Jim Swire, whose daughter Flora was killed in the bombing, sat through the proceedings during the parliamentary session.

He later said the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC) had already decided there may have been a miscarriage of justice and urged the government to open an inquiry.

Dr Swire added: "I think this will be unwelcome in the dying days of the Scottish government to have had this decision by the committee.

"The issue here is so much greater than Scottish party politics. This is not about the SNP. This is about the integrity and, above all, the credibility of Scottish justice."

[A report on the Public Petitions Committee's proceedings from The Press Association news agency reads in part:]

A petition calling for an inquiry into the conviction of the Lockerbie bomber has been kept open despite an earlier refusal from the Scottish Government.

MSPs on Holyrood's Petitions Committee made the decision after discussing the request by pressure group Justice For Megrahi (JFM).

SNP MSP Christine Grahame backed the group's position, appealing to the committee that the petition should be kept alive.

She argued that recent changes to legislation had raised questions over the remit of the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC), which deals with alleged miscarriages of justice.

She said: "I think the SCCRC has been neutered, in many respects. If I may say to the committee, I wish you to continue to pursue the inquiry route, not close this down."

[Justice for Megrahi's Robert Forrester was interviewed about the petition and the campaign on BBC Two's Newsnight Scotland. The interview can be seen here.]


  1. Sounds like good news to me. Is this basically "we'll ask them again, and try for a more adequate answer?" That in itself would be something, if not quite a breakthrough.

  2. My understanding is that the JFM petition "remains open" for consideration by the new Public Petitions Committee which will be appointed following the Scottish Parliament general election on 5 May 2011.

    I doubt that the new government will be inclined to look again at the question of a Lockerbie public inquiry unless there is a great deal of political pressure upon them to do so.

    Which reminds me of the opening paragraph of the letter I wrote to The Guardian of 16 March 1992:

    "Contrary to Dr Swire's view (Letters, March 14), I believe it is only by taking a positive political position on Lockerbie that the whole truth is ever likely to be teased out. Lockerbie should become an important issue in the general election campaign."

    Will any of the main Scottish political parties have the courage to put Justice for Megrahi into their 2011 election manifesto, I wonder?