Saturday, 9 April 2011

Re-open appeal hearing and deal with Lockerbie in a legal manner

[This is the headline over four letters published in today's edition of The Herald. They read as follows:]

I welcome advocate Brian Fitzpatrick’s support for a public inquiry into the Lockerbie bombing and the Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi conviction (Letters, April 8).

I have also called for such an inquiry, although my personal preference would be for the second appeal hearing to be re-opened so that the Scottish justice system could deal with the matter in the proper legal sequence.

At least this would allow the concerns of the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC) to be tested in court, but the Scottish political and legal establishments seem determined not to allow this to happen.

I am sure that if they wanted they could find some way to reconstitute this court procedure, perhaps on the grounds that Megrahi may not have understood that withdrawing his appeal was not a pre-condition of his being granted compassionate release.

Mr Fitzpatrick strongly defends the police officers, the judges and those of his colleagues involved in the original investigation and he is right to do so. It is a pity that he should then demean himself and weaken his argument by describing honourable people uneasy with the verdict, such as the bereaved parent Jim Swire, the UN observer Dr Hans Kochler and many others as “conspiracy theorists weaving a tale of deceit and intrigue to blacken the names of better men”. Such comments are objectionable and uncalled for.

The fact remains that the guilty verdict at Camp Zeist was largely influenced by two pieces of very dodgy evidence – the Malta shopkeeper’s identification of a customer he saw only once several months earlier until he was shown photographs of Megrahi by US agents and prompted by $2 million dollars of State Department cash – and the miraculous find of a fingernail-size piece of a timing device in a Lockerbie field by US security men six months after every other fragment of the plane and its contents had been collected in the most extensive search ever carried out by Scottish police officers.

The trial and subsequent investigations were also compromised by the withholding of certain information from the defence team and the refusal of both British and American governments to release relevant documents to the court. The weakness of the evidence resulted in a not proven verdict for one of the accused, and Megrahi’s guilty verdict must have been at best very marginal. No other evidence has yet been produced to prove any Libyan involvement in the atrocity.

Surely Mr Fitzpatrick’s legal experience, if not his political activities, must convince him that justice must not only be done but must be seen to be done, especially in such a contentious case with the eyes of the world upon our Scottish justice system.
Iain AD Mann

Brian Fitzpatrick defends his fellow advocates who worked at the Camp Zeist trial for their efforts, yet heaps criticism on the Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill and First Minister Alex Salmond when he knows full well that Mr MacAskill followed due process of Scots law when taking the decision to release Megrahi on compassionate grounds.

I admit to having no legal training, but during the trial I could not help but feel an uneasiness, which has steadily increased the more I have studied the available evidence on the Lockerbie tragedy. From the very beginning I thought it strange that two Libyan intelligence officers should be charged but only one found guilty; surely these intelligence officers would have been working together.

I don’t have sufficient knowledge to say whether Megrahi is innocent or guilty, but the SCCRC believes that there may have been a miscarriage of justice and some of the bereaved families who attended the trial also believe that there may have been a miscarriage of justice.

Mistakes have been made before, and it seems to me that there are enough questions requiring answers to justify the holding of a full independent public inquiry to establish the truth, which need be feared only by the guilty.
Ruth Marr

I was incensed by Brian Fitzpatrick’s views, ostensibly in reply to Iain AD Mann but covering all those who have appealed for a proper investigation into the circumstances of the Lockerbie tragedy (Letters, April 8).

Does he think that the estimable Jim Swire, whose daughter was one of the victims “would rather secure a headline than undertake any study of the evidence”? How dare he assert that.

Or what about Dr Hans Kochler who was the international observer at Camp Zeist appointed by the United Nations who wrote, amongst other things: “The trial, seen in its entirety, was not fair and was not conducted in an objective manner.”

If Mr Fitzpatrick, as a defence lawyer, found out that the main prosecuting witness was being paid a large sum of money for his “evidence”, would he not wonder if this compromised proceedings? No, what I and all the others who have queried this long-running saga want is simply the truth. Only then will the relatives of the victims at least have their doubts and suspicions cleared up.

I do, however, agree with his final paragraph in which he says that our country has been diminished by those who have weaved a tale of deceit and intrigue.

The sooner these people are asked to answer for that deception, the better. This can only be achieved once the truth comes out.
Raymond Hendry

Why on earth does everyone appear to assume that Moussa Koussa will tell the truth when questioned about Lockerbie?
David Clark


  1. Iain Mann said: The weakness of the evidence resulted in a not proven verdict for one of the accused, and Megrahi’s guilty verdict must have been at best very marginal.

    In fact, Fhimah's verdict was not guilty (rather than not proven)!

  2. Superb letter by Mr Hendry.