Saturday, 20 August 2011

The dossier of doubt over Lockerbie

[This is the headline over a long article by Marcello Mega in today's edition of The Scottish Sun. It reads in part:]

The Scottish Sun today lifts the lid on a top-secret dossier that accuses Scots cops and prosecutors of suppressing seven key areas of evidence that cast doubt on the Lockerbie bomber's conviction.

The Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission looked into the evidence against Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi - and found a murky web of lies.

The SCCRC's explosive report suspects the Scots authorities are behind a deliberate cover-up over the trial that saw Megrahi jailed for killing 270 people in the 1988 bombing of Pan Am flight 103 over the Dumfriesshire town.

Now on the second anniversary of cancer-stricken Megrahi's controversial release from a Scots jail, we can reveal the commission has grave concerns over the evidence against the 59-year-old following a multi-million-pound, four-year investigation.

In the dossier - seen by The Scottish Sun - Maltese shopkeeper Tony Gauci, who helped finger Megrahi as the bomber, is described as an "unreliable" witness.

Police are also accused of lying in court while prosecutors - including then Lord Advocate Colin Boyd QC - are suspected of suppressing bombshell evidence that would likely have seen Megrahi walk free.

Last night Robert Black QC, retired Professor of Scots Law at Edinburgh University and the architect of the Lockerbie trial, told how he believes Megrahi is innocent.

Mr Black said: "Megrahi is not the Lockerbie bomber and these revelations further underline that.

"I said after reading the daily transcripts of the evidence at the trial and before the judges delivered their verdict that there was no way Megrahi could be convicted on the evidence presented.

"That the judges did convict him on the flimsiest of evidence, which required several leaps of faith on a number of crucial matters that had not been proven by the Crown, remains a matter of profound concern for all of us."

Mr Black said it was now vital that a top-level public inquiry is held to get to the truth.

He said: "We need strong leadership now. We need to admit publicly that we got it wrong, and set about putting right that injustice." (...)

[Cabinet Secretary for Justice Kenny] MacAskill has wanted the SCCRC findings to be released for months.

First Minister Alex Salmond and his SNP Government insist the law will be changed to publish the commission's 800-page report - to end ongoing speculation about Megrahi's conviction.

Mr MacAskill declined to comment on The Scottish Sun's revelations but his spokesman said: "We do not doubt the guilt of Mr al-Megrahi."

Some relatives of Megrahi's victims also believe he is guilty. Pete Lowenstein, who lost his 21-year-old son Alexander, said: 'I have great faith in the Scottish investigators and FBI agents. They did an amazing job, and I have no doubt in Megrahi's guilt."

Last night a spokesman for the Crown Office said they had "supported the conviction vigorously and stood ready, willing and able to do so throughout the appeal process which Mr Megrahi abandoned".

A spokesman for the SCCRC refused to comment.

Seven key flaws

Denied fair trial
The Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission says Megrahi WAS denied a fair trial in their damning report.

They said the Crown suppressed from Megrahi's defence team statements showing how much key witness Tony Gauci changed his mind about crucial details over the years.

Maltese shopkeeper Gauci's evidence fingered Megrahi as the man who bought clothes in his shop on the Mediterranean isle that were linked to the suitcase carrying the bomb that blew up Pan Am flight 103.

The SCCRC report says Gauci was an "unreliable" witness but this was not shown to be the case in court.

They said: "The effect of all of these inconsistencies is powerful. The court was left with a distorted and different impression of the witness. In this way Megrahi was denied a fair trial."

Cop lies
The SCCRC found that police said in evidence they first showed Gauci photos of Megrahi on September 14, 1989 - when he had in fact also been shown them on September 8.

The report said: "This was not disclosed to the defence. There is no statement from Gauci produced, no police witness statements produced."

The SCCRC said if Gauci had been shown Megrahi's pic six days before he picked him out as resembling the buyer at his shop, then that ID was totally undermined.

Diary dispute
In its report, the SCCRC challenges the integrity of evidence given by retired Strathclyde DCI Harry Bell, who had a close bond with Gauci.

The commission found that events recorded in Bell's diaries didn't always match what he said in evidence.

The commission noted that Bell claimed the Megrahi photo shown to Gauci on September 14, 1989, was the first one. This was not true.

It also reveals Bell, DC John Crawford, a retired Lothian and Borders cop, and an FBI agent all made statements claiming that Gauci had talked of a "striking similarity" between Megrahi and the buyer.

But Maltese officers revealed Gauci was unsure, was coached and told to age the photos by ten to 15 years.

The report says: "This is different to DCI Bell's evidence at trial. It also implies the witness is unclear."

Cash for answers
The commission obtained evidence from police memos that Gauci was made aware from his first contact with investigators that his testimony could be worth MILLIONS.

This contradicted evidence given by Scots and US investigators at Megrahi's trial.

One undisclosed memo reveals the FBI discussed with Scots cops an offer of unlimited cash to Gauci - with "$10,000 available immediately".

If a judge was made aware of this in another case, they'd tell a jury to discount the evidence.

Xmas lights lies
In court Gauci was vague about the exact date on which the clothes were bought.

The date was narrowed to either November 23, 1988, when Megrahi was not on Malta, or December 7, 1988, when he was.

Gauci said Christmas lights were NOT on yet in his hometown Sliema when the suspect visited his shop.

Cops said they could not find out when the lights were switched on.

But the SCCRC easily established it was December 6 - a day too early for Megrahi to have been the buyer.

The commission's report says: "It is clear that the police were in no doubt that Gauci was clear in his recollection." It adds "no reasonable court" could have concluded Megrahi bought the clothes from Gauci's shop.

Defence in the dark
It appears efforts were made to cover up key evidence that would have been useful for Megrahi's defence team.

The commission noted that early uncertainty on the part of Gauci was never passed over to the defence, nor was the fact that Scots detectives feared he was trying too hard to please them.

The fact a senior Maltese detective also considered Gauci to be an unreliable witness was never disclosed to lawyers representing Megrahi.

Evidence supressed
The SCCRC claims Colin Boyd QC, who was Lord Advocate at the time of Megrahi's trial and conviction in 2001, suppressed key evidence.

The trial judges maintained Gauci was "entirely reliable" on the list of clothing he claimed the buyer suspect purchased.

Yet a statement he made in 1999, and discovered by the SCCRC, saw him produce "a wholly different list of items and prices". This, along with many other files that could damage the Crown case, was suppressed. The report says Mr Boyd failed in his duty of disclosure to the defence.

[Long reports marking the second anniversary of Megrahi's compassionate release can be read on the BBC News website here, on the STV News website here, on The Herald website here, on The Scotsman website here, on The Independent website here, on The Telegraph website here, on the Newsnet Scotland website here and on The Times website here behind the paywall.]


  1. The problem with all this is, that it is too rotten to believe in.
    It can't be true, it must not be true: it isn't true. Of course we can trust our politicians (to some extent, at least) and for sure our judges and our police. They would never, they could never...
    Psychologically it is so much easier to close your mind, and accept the nicer picture painted. That Megrahi of course is guilty, and we are the noble guys. And shame on those who say something else.

  2. So the Commission report has been leaked, in whole or part. Where can ordinary punters download the info?

  3. The Daily Record whipping up more mock-indignant criticism with the headline, "Bitter pill as Lockerbie bomber al-Megrahi is kept alive by drug not available in the UK"
    Of course, they do not mention the drug will be available in the UK when it has a license - on completion of clinical trials.
    Playing with the emotions of readers, who may have a similar disease, is irresponsible.
    (Two weeks ago they had a story that suggested Irn Bru could cure cancer)

  4. This is what journalism is all about - and in The Scottish Sun no less.

  5. So the SCCRC report was just about the reliability of Tony Gauci's evidence? They must have glossed over a lot of other stuff notably that it was "plain as a pikestaff" (David Wolchover) that the primary suitcase was introduced at Heathrow. I suspect Mr Mega may be overstating the impact of the SCCRC report.

  6. Now I'm really confused. I thought Gauci allegedly identified Megrahi's picture (you know, the picture that's completely unrecognisable as actually being of Megrahi....) on 15th February 1991. What's all this about September 1989?

    It looks as if someone has their wires badly crossed about the date, which is a pity because it detracts from an otherwise excellent article.

  7. MISSION LOCKERBIE, 2011, 7012.rtf. (google translation, german english):

    First Minister Alex Salmond's and Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill's decision to release Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, was supported from the knowledge on the having identified six possible grounds of the (miscarriage of Justice) overturning the conviction of the Scottish Criminal Cases Reappeal Commission (SCCRC)

    The mysterious physician certification with the prognosis of a 3-month lifetime, was only a means to an end, so the (SCCRC) files must not be revealed...

    Alex Salmond said on 28 July 2011, legislation will be brought forward early in the next Scottish Parliament to allow the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC) to publish its statement of reasons for referring Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi's conviction.

    After opening of the "SCCRC- files" returns back the confidence in the United Kingdom for the Libyan people and helps upon by structure of a new construction of the Libya- British Business -Council -Bridge (New LBBC)
    good luck...

    by Edwin and Mahnaz Bollier, MEBO Ltd. Switzerland. URL: