[This is the headline over an article in the current edition of Holyrood, a magazine devoted to Scottish politics and the Scottish Parliament. It reads in part:]
MSPs have decided that a petition calling for an inquiry into the
conviction of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi for the Lockerbie bombing will
It is difficult to tell whether it is a development of any major
significance. Is it simply a minor piece of bureaucracy being allowed to
limp through Parliament before it fizzles out or can it really help
pave the way for a genuine review of the case to take place?
Members of the Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee voted six to
three last week to allow the petition to come back to them at a later
The petition was brought by the Justice for Megrahi group, which includes the father of one of the victims.
Dr Jim Swire, whose daughter died on flight Pan Am 103, insists Megrahi is innocent of the crime.
The [petitioners] said: “It is time for the government of Scotland to show
real independence by standing up to the UK and US governments and other
vested interests and instituting an open and accountable judicial
inquiry that would at last free the people of Scotland and the relatives
of those lost in that terrible tragedy 22 years ago.”
convener, MSP Christine Grahame (SNP), said the petition should be kept
open “until all the parts of the legislative jigsaw come together”.
She added that there was unfinished business in relation to Lockerbie
events, including the unpublished conclusions of the Scottish Criminal
Cases Review Commission, which said Megrahi may have been a miscarriage
of justice victim.
Four years ago, the SCCRC published an investigation into Megrahi’s initial trial and appeal.
It listed several points which could challenge the original conviction.
A ruling has meant that the SSCRC statement of reasons cannot be made
public unless everybody concerned, for instance, the Foreign and
Commonwealth Office, consent.
In the run-up to May’s Scottish Parliament elections, the SNP
insisted it would produce a bill to ensure publication of the SCCRC
This has still to occur – but when it does, many will ask why the Government did not push to have this done earlier.
It is the biggest criminal trial in Scottish legal history and it has worldwide implications.
The number of people who seem convinced beyond a reasonable doubt of Megrahi’s guilt seem to be falling into a small minority.
Later this week, Lord Carloway will publish a year-long review into
the Scottish criminal justice system – an exercise that the Scottish
Government insists will ensure the country can continue to boast a legal
system that is underpinned by fairness and decency.
It becomes increasingly difficult to tell what reputation the
Scottish legal system will continue to enjoy while so many questions
central to the country’s most important criminal case remain unanswered.