Monday, 13 June 2011

Bribery at the heart of Megrahi's Lockerbie conviction?

[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 The programme makers had gained access to the unpublished report of the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission into the case.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?]


  1. It only surprises me that anyone is calling this an "explosive revelation". It's been an open secret for almost two years. Has Snow been living in a hole or something?

    And I seem to recall saying just the other day that it was all very well Aljazeera doing this, and good for them, but it was really the job of the BBC or Channel 4.

    So where were they?

  2. Exactly Rolfe. Our journalists are lazy and seem to have an accommodation with the government on certain subjects - they also tend to get caught in the tram lines once they've made their collective minds up. Investigation has given way to opinion.

  3. Absolutely Rolfe! My thought exactly when I read that sentence. Revelation! How long has it been known for heaven's sakes! They all knew on the day he was released, still the "Lockerbie bomber", that six grounds had been raised by the SCCRC to suggest a miscarriage of justice may have occurred.

    And Snow is a respected journalist! I recall interviews he did at the time of the release on Channel 4 news and shouting at the TV, "MENTION THE SCCRC REPORT! ASK HOW A JUSTICE MINISTER CAN DECLARE A CONVICTION SOUND WHEN THE ESTABLISHMENT'S OWN INDEPENDENT WATCHDOG IS SAYING SOMETHING ELSE ENTIRELY!"

    Its a huge question tho, isn't it about the UK media as a body and its attitude to Lockerbie. We have said before on this blog that had the media taken on all establishments - legal and political - things would have been very different. Why do they not care? Well, apart from Ian Bell of course.

  4. And Marcello Mega, be fair.

  5. The media is suffused with the Oxbridge educated establishment, many with close links to the security services. Anything which might damage the special relationship is strictly off limits.

  6. Actually, thinking about what Snow said, I don't think there's any evidence that Aljazeera had access to the SCCRC report. I think they had access to the evidence Thomson was working on, and the documents Megrahi himself published on his web site.

    And of course all that has indeed been in the public domain for years.

    You know, I expected better of the Grand Old Man of C4 News.

  7. Well, I wondered about that Rolfe, when I saw those pages they seemed to have from that guy's notebook?

    But like I am of the view that no one other than certain politicians and legal people have seen the report. For any of it to get out would mean leaks. I can't see it.

  8. Jo, there's no provision for politicians to see SCCRC material - it's a criminal offence for members or staff to reveal it, and there's no such exception in the legislation.