The government last month published a bill that could permit publication of information about the case against the only man convicted of the Lockerbie bombing. It has been said the Criminal Cases Bill would let the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission decide whether information it gathered and referred to the Appeal Court should be published.
Abdelbaset al-Megrahi abandoned his second appeal days before he was sent home to Libya on compassionate grounds.
Campaigners want case papers released, but that has so far been prohibited by law. For the documents to be released, the SCCRC needed the consent of the main parties involved, which include the Crown Office, the police and the Foreign Office.
McLetchie said: “I think it is interesting that the Scottish Government’s official position is that it doesn’t doubt the safety of Megrahi’s conviction. We have this obsession about Megrahi and although they say they don’t doubt the conviction, clearly they do as they are playing to that gallery.
“It would appear there are barriers in terms of the release of statements of reasons to do with data protection, which is reserved, and also issues over official secrets, so there are quite a lot of barriers over which the Scottish Parliament can do nothing.
“To my mind it is quite simply grandstanding, it is pandering to a view that Megrahi is innocent, it is pandering to all the conspiracy theorists and if they [the Government] really don’t doubt the safety of the conviction then what are they wasting our time for?
“I would be surprised if all of this ends up being released into the public domain at the end of the day and I think it’s time to draw a line under this but suspect it won’t be until Megrahi passes away.” It is not a view that will deter Megrahi campaigners. In recent years, there has been growing support for the idea that the Libyan may have been the victim of a miscarriage of justice. It is one of several issues that convince McLetchie his new job will be far from dull.
He added: “We are at a time when the police is about to go through major reform and there is some important legislation coming through the parliament. As we’ve seen in the last few years, the justice brief plays a significant role in terms of politics and policy and I expect that very much to continue throughout this parliament too.”