Friday, 14 October 2011

Crown Office blame Reuters for blocking Megrahi tape release: Reuters say they were not asked

[This is the headline over a report published today on the website of Scottish lawyers' magazine The Firm.  It reads as follows:]

The Crown Office is once again at the centre of a row over its handling of the Pan Am 103 case after it accused the Reuters news agency of refusing to hand over a copy of an interview with Abdelbaset Al Megrahi.

The interview has been at the centre of a translation row after different claims of the meaning of Megrahi's words were interpreted.

Relatives have told The Firm that they were working to secure access to the unedited interview. The Firm understands the UK relatives group have been told a declarator from the court is required. 

The issue has taken a bizarre twist after the Crown Office claimed that the Reuters news agency has refused to release its interview. The news agency has refuted the claim and says they have not been asked to provide the footage.

“We can confirm that Reuters have refused to provide a copy of the recent interview with Megrahi," the Crown Office claimed.

"We have instructed translation of the available footage meantime and are considering options in relation to the unreleased footage.”

However the Reuters news agency said the agency has not been asked to provide the footage at all.
"Reuters has been contacted by Dumfries and Galloway Police, but has not received a formal demand for any footage," the agency said.

"We will review any such formal request if we receive one."

Professor Robert Black QC previously accused the Crown Office of an "obstructionist wheeze" by protracting Megrahi's appeal process.

Former father of the House Tam Dalyell went further, accusing the organisation of suppressing information and telling "outright lies".

In 2009, current Justice Committee Convener Christine Grahame reported Crown Agent Norman MacFadyen to Lothian and Borders police amidst claims of improper handling of the evidence in the case.

It emerged earlier this year that the key witness in the Crown case had been bribed to provide his testimony linking Megrahi to the events of 21 December 1988.


  1. The full transcript of the Megrahi interview with Reuters television can be found here.

  2. The accurate translation of the phrase rendered by Reuters as 'The West exaggerated my name' is
    an issue here, but the central one is that the phrase has been taken out of context. It was
    used by Megrahi when he was asked his opinion of the February 17th revolution:

    'Don't get me into the mess of February, March or April. I'm a simple person - more simple than
    you can imagine. The West exaggerated my name...'

    Whatever the exact meaning of the original Arabic, it was not said in the context of the
    Lockerbie bombing, and therefore does not constitute an admission of any sort.

    The root of all this is Reuters' juxtaposition of phrases given in answer to different questions, to
    give an entirely misleading impression. This has been compounded by the universal failure of the
    media to check the facts, despite the fact that if the story were true it would be of great
    significance, since Megrahi's insistence on his innocence has been unwavering for 20 years.

    It would be nice if the Crown Office or McKnacker would get this into their heads and issue a
    statement to the effect that Megrahi made no admission, explicit or implicit, concerning Lockerbie.
    But I'm not holding my breath.