Friday, 11 November 2011

MacAskill stands by Megrahi conviction "until such time as that matter were to be reviewed"

[What follows is an excerpt from a report published this afternoon by The Press Association news agency:]

A senior Scottish Government minister has backed Justice Committee convenor Christine Grahame amid allegations that she made sectarian remarks.

The Electoral Commission is investigating the allegations made by Mark Hirst, a former senior political advisor in her office.

She faced calls by Labour MSP Michael McMahon to "consider her position on the Justice Committee until such times as any investigation into this matter has been completed".

However, Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said Ms Grahame has "rebutted these matters firmly" and the allegations should be viewed "with the contempt they deserve".

Mr MacAskill also said he will stand by the conviction of the only man convicted of the Lockerbie bombing "until such time as that matter were to be reviewed". (...)

Ms Grahame is also a member of the Justice for Megrahi campaign.

Earlier this week, she spearheaded calls to continue a petition by the group calling for an independent inquiry into the conviction of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi for his role in the Lockerbie bombing, which killed 270 people in 1988.

[Further details can be found here on the Herald Scotland website.

It lies, of course, within the powers of the government of which Kenny MacAskill is a member to have the matter of Abdelbaset Megrahi's conviction reviewed.  That is precisely what is sought in the petition currently before the Justice Committee of the Scottish Parliament and is precisely what the Scottish Government has been assiduously obstructing.

The Official Report of Tuesday's meeting of the Justice Committee at which the petition was discussed can be read here (at pages 11 to 15 of the PDF document).]


  1. MacAskill once said Megrahi would be judged "by a higher power". If his beliefs are genuine I wonder if he loses sleep over when his own time comes and he faces the same "higher power" over the absolute lies he has told over this case and the central role he has played in assisting successive London governments to ensure the original plan, to keep the truth behind the deaths of almost three hundred people hidden, remains on track.

  2. What politicians say in public and what they think and say privately are often very different things. MacAskill riding to the rescue of Christine Grahame implies the two are close chums.
    But MacAskill is doing this to save his sectarian bill, which is under threat, and not because of any sense of loyality to Christine Grahame.
    What he really thinks can be found here:

    Worth noting also that MacAskill made the decision to send Megrahi back to Libya BEFORE his defence team or Libyan officials had made any application to have him returned.
    He didn't do this because he felt any real sense of compassion, or for any commercial reasons as the Americans have stated, but because MacAskill believed it was politically expedient.
    Fair to say neither he or anyone expected the media furore that followed that decision, when he finally and formally announced it.

    On the question of a Scottish Government led inquiry Grahame said she could not, for political reasons, push Scottish Ministers fully on this.
    "There is only so far I can go," she told me and added that we should continue to try to divert and focus calls for an inquiry on the UK Government instead, knowing fine well they will never hold one.
    For Scottish Ministers the bottom line was this; they were determined to uphold, as they saw it, the integrity of the Scottish legal system... whether or not it deserved it.
    Ensuring Megrahi was out the way and sent back to Libya, his appeal dropped, was critical to achieving that objective.

    Political agendas and expediency (national and international) have characterised this case throughout, with the price paid by the victims relegated to second place along with any real effort to secure the truth behind the bombing of PA103.

    We cannot rely on politicians to ever deliver that truth as the concept is completely alien to them.
    "Openness, transparency and accountability" used to be an SNP mantra whilst in opposition, but that has long been replaced with what they would describe as pragmatism. Others may have a different word for it...

  3. The forest grows quietly and slowly; the tree breaks loud and fast...
    Der Wald wächst leise und langsam; der Baum bricht laut und schnell...

  4. Fascinating essay in LRB on the Western attack on Libya - do read it.


    It is often claimed by British and American government personnel and the Western press that Libya admitted responsibility for Lockerbie in 2003-4. This is untrue. As part of the deal with Washington and London, which included Libya paying $2.7 billion to the 270 victims’ families, the Libyan government in a letter to the president of the UN Security Council stated that Libya ‘has facilitated the bringing to justice of the two suspects charged with the bombing of Pan Am 103, and accepts responsibility for the actions of its officials’. That this formula was agreed in negotiations between the Libyan and British (if not also American) governments was made clear when it was echoed word for word by Jack Straw in the House of Commons. The formula allowed the government to give the public the impression that Libya was indeed guilty, while also allowing Tripoli to say that it had admitted nothing of the kind. The statement does not even mention al-Megrahi by name, much less acknowledge his guilt or that of the Libyan government, and any self-respecting government would sign up to the general principle that it is responsible for the actions of its officials. Tripoli’s position was spelled out by the prime minister, Shukri Ghanem, on 24 February 2004 on the Today programme: he made it clear that the payment of compensation did not imply an admission of guilt and explained that the Libyan government had ‘bought peace’.

  5. Mr Hirst your issue with Ms Grahame is your affair but your claim that she is backing away from the Lockerbie/Megrahi issue is quite wrong. Her conduct at Tuesday's JC Hearing on the Petition calling for an Inquiry into the conviction suggested strongly that she is doing anything but backing away. It was her intervention during discussions which clarified, for at least a couple of people, why the Petition must be continued. She also stressed what the Justice Secretary's own work had done to the old remit of the SCCRC. She emphasised that Lockerbie was "unfinished business" and that there was genuine evidence to suggest the conviction was not sound. In any case she cannot "use" her position as chair foolishly because if she does there will be plenty who are just waiting to rush forward and accuse her of ABusing it.

  6. As for your claim that MacAskill did not anticipate the reaction to Megrahi's release, oh please! He'd had Mad Dog Clinton on the phone in the run up to it so don't give us that. And those of us who are concerned that Scotland did not give any of us justice over Lockerbie already knew before your own revelations that something about the whole SNP approach to the matter stinks. Unlike you I reached my conclusions through watching developments and feeling ashamed of the SNP. You're only saying these things now because you've fallen out with your former boss. Shame on you if you knew these things at the time and it suited you then to think it was ok. Shame on you that your motives for speaking out now are not because you finally believe in justice but are rooted in the need to do political damage to people you used to work for. The truth about Lockerbie is more important than your grievances against Ms Grahame and the SNP.