[The following account of this morning's discussion of the Justice for Megrahi petition (PE 1370) in the Scottish Parliament's Justice Committee comes from Patrick Haseldine:]
On 8 November 2011, the Justice Committee decided by six votes in favour [SNP and Lib-Dem]
and three against [Labour and Conservative] to keep open the Justice for Megrahi petition (PE
1370), which calls upon the Scottish Government to institute an inquiry
into Abdelbaset Megrahi's conviction for the 1988 Lockerbie bombing.
Kelly MSP [Labour, deputy convener], brother of Megrahi's former solicitor Tony Kelly, argued
strongly that the court is the correct route for testing the soundness
of criminal convictions. He could see no role for the Justice Committee
to consider the JFM petition further.
However, Justice Committee
convener, Christine Grahame MSP [Scottish National Party], said the petition should be kept open
until all the parts of the legislative jigsaw come together: there was
unfinished business in relation to the Lockerbie trial; the conclusions
of the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission's unpublished report
remain untested; the SCCRC's power to refer cases back to the Appeal
Court is being restricted; and Lord Carloway, who is currently reviewing law and practice of criminal investigations, is due to publish his report on 17 November 2011.
[The report just published by The Press Association news agency reads as follows:]
MSPs have voted to continue a petition calling for an independent
inquiry into the conviction of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi for his role in the
Holyrood's Justice Committee met to consider
the petition by the Justice for Megrahi campaign, a group calling on the
Scottish Parliament to urge the Scottish Government to open an
independent inquiry into the 2001 conviction of Megrahi for the bombing
of Pan Am flight 103 in December 1988 which killed 270 people.
MSP Christine Grahame, the committee's convenor and a member of the
Justice for Megrahi group, went head-to-head with Labour's James Kelly,
vice-convenor and brother of Scottish lawyer Tony Kelly, who has acted
for Megrahi, over whether the petition should continue.
"Obviously it's an ongoing situation, particularly after recent events,
and new information is continuing to come to the fore. I think the
relevant place for that information to be considered is by the Scottish
police and Scottish prosecutors, and as such I don't think there's a
role for this committee to consider this petition further."
Grahame declared her membership of Justice For Megrahi and her
"particularly high profile in arguing that his conviction is unsound".
She said: "The Justice Committee is not being asked to conduct a
public inquiry via the committee. We're being asked whether or not there
should be a public inquiry. I think the committee will agree that this
is unfinished business. We had the abandonment of the second part of the
appeal, with the SCCRC report untested, in extraordinary
A Scottish Government spokesman said: "The
Scottish Government would welcome a wide-ranging inquiry into the
circumstances of the Lockerbie atrocity and we stand ready to assist in
any way we can.
"However, given the international dimensions to
this issue, the scope of any such inquiry goes well beyond the
restricted remit and responsibilities of the Scottish Government or
Scottish Parliament, and would therefore have to be convened by those
with the required powers. Scottish authorities would co-operate in full
in any such inquiry.
"Scotland's justice system has been dealing
with the Lockerbie atrocity for nearly 23 years, and in every regard the
due process of Scots Law has been followed - in terms of the
investigation, prosecution, imprisonment, rejection of the prisoner
transfer application and granting of compassionate release.
believe that the SCCRC Statement of Reasons should be in the public
domain and that is precisely why we are introducing a Bill later this
year to facilitate publication. The Bill is necessary in order to
overcome objections by interested parties preventing any publication."
[The report in the edition of The Herald for Wednesday, 9 November can be read here; that in The Scotsman can be read here.]