Saturday, 10 September 2011

Statement from Lord Trefgarne and Professor Black

In 1993 Lord Trefgarne approached Professor Black (having been given his name by the then Dean of the Faculty of Advocates) for advice in determining whether there was any legal mechanism whereby the impasse could be resolved that had resulted from the UN Security Council’s demand that the two Libyan suspects be handed over for trial in Scotland or the United States and Libya’s refusal to do so on the grounds that Libyan law did not permit the extradition of its nationals for trial overseas. Over the course of the next six years, Lord Trefgarne and Professor Black worked strenuously to secure acceptance of the neutral venue scheme that Professor Black formulated in early 1994. No payment was sought or received for these endeavours. It was only after Abdelbaset al-Megrahi’s conviction at Zeist in January 2001 and Professor Black had publicly expressed the strong view that that conviction was legally unwarranted [RB: eg on the BBC HARDtalk programme the week the verdict was returned; and in an article in the May 2001 issue of the Edinburgh Law Review] that an agreement was entered into with his lawyer, Dr Ibrahim Legwell, that Lord Trefgarne and Professor Black should receive payment for future political and legal advice on avenues of appeal.

In the event the only sum actually paid barely covered expenses. Lord Trefgarne and Professor Black again emphasise that this was an entirely proper arrangement reflecting the circumstances of the time.

Lord Trefgarne did declare this matter in the House of Lords Register in accordance with the rules then in force.

[This statement is issued in the light of forthcoming publication of a letter sent in 2007 by Lord Trefgarne to Saif al-Islam Gaddafi seeking his assistance in securing the payments envisaged in the agreement with Dr Legwell. No such payments were made (apart from a sum which barely covered the expenses which had been incurred by Lord Trefgarne in funding various trips to Libya for consultations).

The story features (behind the paywall) in the 11 September edition of The Sunday Times.  A news agency report from The Press Association can be read hereA report published on 13 September on the website of The Times (behind the paywall) contains the following:]

The peer admitted today that he had registered his work on behalf of the bombers in just 2003 and 2004 in the Lords’ register of interests despite acting as an advisor for al-Megrahi’s legal team until 2007. 

In a personal statement to the house he will say: “I accept that although the business to which the letter refers was correctly entered in your Lord’s records in 2003 it was removed in 2005, which was clearly premature. I also accept that the use of Lord’s writing paper was inappropriate.”

The letter to Saif, which was discovered by The Sunday Times, referred to “fees owed over a considerable number of years prior to September 2001”. 

The fees were owed by Ibrahim Legwell, a Tripoli-based lawyer who represents al-Megrahi, the only person to be convicted for the 1988 Lockerbie bombing which killed 270 people. (...)
In a statement after the discovery of the letter Lord Trefgarne and Professor Black said that no payment had been sought for advice prior to al-Megrahi’s conviction in January 2001. (...)

He told The Times the money he actually received in relation to the al-Megrahi case, which was paid unexpectedly directly into his bank account, “barely covered expenses” and that his letter to Mr al-Islam produced no results. (...)

He said he had been “confused” in his letter to Mr al-Islam in seeking money for work carried out prior to 2001.


  1. Also Edwin Bollier and MEBO Ltd, can join in the statement of Lord Trefgarne and Professor Robert Black. Tele-faxes of Bollier and MEBO Ltd to Saif El Islam in Tripoli in recent years until March 2011, show that promised aid performance payments of US$ 1.8 million, and US$ 32 million plus 5% interest since 1993, not were paid ...
    We hope that the 'Libyan Transitional National Council' (TNC) can help in this matter. Thanks.

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

    Auch Edwin Bollier und MEBO Ltd., können sich an das Statement von Lord Trefgarne und Professor Robert Black anschliessen. Tele-Faxe von Bollier und MEBO Ltd an Saif El Islam in Tripoli in den letzten Jahren bis März 2011 werden zeigen, dass versprochene Hilfeleistungs-Zahlungen von US$ 1.8 Millionen, plus US$ 32 Millionen + 5% Zins seit 1993 noch nicht bezahlt wurden...
    Wir hoffen, dass sich der 'Libyan National Transitional Council' (TNC) in dieser Angelegenheit behilflich zeigt. Danke.

    Edwin Bollier, MEBO Ltd. Switzerland. URL:

  2. Robert, please get serious about regretting your previous good nature. This is insupportable.

  3. Rolfe's comment relates to a prior comment which I have now deleted because it did not relate to the Lockerbie case or Megrahi.

  4. This story in the Scotsman tomorrow:

  5. But Dumfries & Galloway Labour MP Russell Brown said the public would be "surprised" to hear of Lord Trefgarne's claim.

    "Lord Trefgarne was one of the people who lobbied the SNP to release the Lockerbie bomber just days before Kenny MacAskill visited the terrorist in jail," he said.

    "Now it seems he was in the pay of the Libyans."

    What a nasty little man.

  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

  7. When Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi paid Nicole Kidman a million dollars to have dinner with him I suspect she was smart enough to wait until the cheque cleared!

    Perhaps this casts some light on Saif's claim, belief or perhaps even statement of fact that it was his political acumen that led to Mr Megrahi's release, perhaps as part of his pitch to succeed his father.

    The statement of Lord Trefgarne and Professor Black refers to the impasse that had developed following the Security Council's demands that the two suspects be handed over for trial (as well as further demands.

    This "impasse" was not simply an obstacle to be overcome so Lord Trefgarne's associates (I note his son was a BP Director) could resume trade with Libya.

    This "impasse" came about wholly by design not accident. The objective was not a trial but regime change. I would have thought a former FCO Minister might have grasped it.

    Camp Zeist did remove the logjam and without this New Labour wheeze there would have been no trial. However I believe the Judges bent over backwards to convict because of their loathing for "Camp Zeist" itself. Without it Megrahi may not (would not?) have been convicted in the first place.