[This is the headline over an item published today on Jon Snow's blog on the Channel 4 News website. It reads as follows:]
While Libya continues to burn, an eerie silence has descended over the British media’s interest in reopening the uncertainties surrounding the Lockerbie bombing. The occasional defecting Libyan minister has pretended to hold previously untold secrets, but nothing has come of them.
It was left to Al Jazeera English to try to lance the boil last Thursday when the channel broadcast an explosive documentary on the subject. The programme makers had gained access to the unpublished report of the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission into the case.
Even more importantly, they managed to see the notebooks and diaries of the Scottish and American investigators written at the time. These were also in the possession of the Review Commission.
In short, the diaries make a blistering allegation – that the central Maltese witness whose testimony was key to convicting Abdelbaset al-Megrahi – had been bribed. The diaries record the apparent “offer of inducements made to Tony Gauci”, the Maltese shopkeeper who identified clothes that were found in the suitcase that carried the bomb on the plane, as having been bought at his shop by al-Megrahi.
Tony Gauci’s brother, Paul, it is claimed, in the same diaries as having “a clear desire to gain financial benefit”. The Review Commissions’ own report states that after the trial Tony Gauci was paid $2 million, and that brother Paul got $1 million reward money.
If true, these would be completely dynamite revelations. Of course, they would have come out in the appeal that Megrahi’s release prevented happening. It is inconceivable that this Scottish Review Commission’s report would not have surfaced at such an appeal. Does this perhaps explain why he was eventually bundled so speedily out of the country?
But the other question remains… why was it left to Al Jazeera to make these allegations?
[The questions posed in the last two sentences are highly pertinent. Here are two more: Can the Scottish Government continue, in good conscience, to deny an independent inquiry into the Megrahi conviction? Can it continue to assert, without becoming a laughing stock, that it is satisfied that Megrahi's conviction is sound?]