[This is the headline over a report in today's edition of The Times. It can be read here, behind the newspaper's paywall. The following are brief excerpts:]
One of Scotland’s top legal experts claimed last night that the three judges at the trial of the Lockerbie bomber reached a guilty verdict “contrary to the evidence” because “consciously or subconsciously” they were under pressure to convict from the then Lord Advocate.
Robert Black, Professor Emeritus of Scots law at the University of Edinburgh, added that there was no doubt that the conviction of Abdul Baset Ali al-Megrahi for mass murder had been a miscarriage of justice. (...)
Professor Black dismissed the notion that the trial judges, Lord Sutherland, Lord Coulsfield and Lord MacLean, had been “nobbled” by politicians, but instead said that they had been influenced by the power of the Lord Advocate, Scotland’s leading legal official. (...)
“The Lockerbie case was the most important criminal case there had ever been in Scotland,” Professor Black said. “For the outcome of that case, after all the publicity about the investigation ... for that investigation, and that prosecution to result in two verdicts of not guilty would have been a slap in the face of the Lord Advocate. Consciously or subconsciously these judges were not willing [to do that].” [RB: It is noteworthy that one of the six reasons given by the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission for finding that Megrahi's conviction might have been a miscarriage of justice was that no reasonable tribunal could, on the evidence, have made the finding in fact that Megrahi was the purchaser on Malta of the clothes that surrounded the bomb. Without that finding, Megrahi could not in law have been convicted.]
Professor Black was sharing a stage with Jim Swire, 75, the GP whose daughter Flora was among the victims of the bombing, following a production of the play Lockerbie at the Edinburgh Fringe.
Written and performed by David Benson, it dramatised Dr Swire’s emotional journey, from his first anxiety about his daughter’s safety when news of a terrorist bomb broke in December 1988, through his decades of struggle to establish the identity of the terrorists who had killed her.
It records Dr Swire’s despair after al-Megrahi’s conviction because of his belief that an innocent man was jailed.
In an after-show discussion, Dr Swire endorsed Benson’s production, which set out to demolish all the planks of the case against the Libyan.
The play suggested that forensic tests on a fragment of bomb had been completely undermined because the expert witnesses called at the trial had been discredited. It also cast doubt on the evidence of two witnesses who claimed to identify al-Megrahi as the bomber.